The black wood floor that we chose for our living room is a big talking point.
Many months ago, when we first moved to our new house, we popped along to a local branch of Carpetright to take a look at their flooring options.
Contrary to the name, Carpetright don’t just sell carpets. We visited the Clapham branch and were taken aback at their lovely range of flooring products, including a large selection of wood effect vinyl, laminate, and engineered wood.
Carpetright challenged us to choose flooring that we perhaps wouldn’t have considered before, and to be a bit daring with our choice. I wouldn’t say we’d never considered engineered wood before, it was actually our favourite out of all the flooring options, but we were definitely apprehensive at just how sensible a choice it would prove for our young family.
Why engineered wood?
A brief perusal of online forum conversations will tell you that many people opt for ‘risk free’ wood effect vinyl where children are concerned, whereas others sing the praises of engineered wood, even in areas exposed to lots of water, like kitchens. It was really hard for us to tell which would be the right flooring option for our young family, and we put a lot of time and thought into researching the decision.
Sam and I both felt that tiles would be too cold. We knew we didn’t want carpet. We really really tried to get on board with wood effect vinyl tiles, but we knew the installation process was a lot lengthier than a floating wood floor, and we just really didn’t like the slightly sticky feel underfoot that you get with vinyl. Considering the price points were surprisingly similar, we just didn’t love vinyl enough, even the high end stuff, to consider spending the same amount of money as we were prepared to spend on real wood.
Wood feels wonderful underfoot. It’s warm and textured, and there’s nothing that can quite achieve that real wood look, except for… real wood.
So, we took Carpetright up on their challenge, led with our hearts, and opted for engineered wood.
Our colour choice for our wood was another thing that was a bit out of the ordinary for us. It was Sam’s idea to go for a black wood floor. Carpetright have a lovely selection of classic natural oak engineered wood, but we kept coming back to the darkest shade on the shop floor, Kahrs Unity Forest.
Initially, I wasn’t sure if a black wood floor would be too striking, would it overpower the room? Make it feel oppressively dark? But we loved the images of black wood floors that we searched on Pinterest, and in the end we’d spent so much time thinking about it, we knew we’d probably regret it if we went with our ‘safe’ choice. I think that’s the thing with any bold interior design choice, you just have to go with it, otherwise you will always wonder.
Our black wood floor has been in for a few months now, and we are so, so happy with it. It is striking without being overbearing, and it gets so many compliments. I never normally think of flooring as a feature of a room, but that is how I feel about our living room – the floor makes the room.
Does a black wood floor make a room too dark?
As with my worry about a black wood floor darkening up the room too much, I can honestly say that I have never felt that way once since we had our engineered wood installed. Our living room is north facing, and although it does get a fair bit of sunlight at a certain time of day, it’s mainly a cosy, dark room so the floor compliments that really well, and we love retiring to our cosy space of an evening once the children are in bed, or for family movie afternoons at the weekend.
I actually don’t think a black wood floor would have worked half as well if we had installed it in our south-facing suntrap of a kitchen/dining room. And we’ve balanced out the dark by keeping the walls white and uncluttered, so there is a very light and airy feel to the room.
Kahrs Forest Oak engineered wood is actually a very very dark brown shade. When it was first installed with no furniture in the room and in direct sunlight you could definitely see this much more obviously. But our living room is a room that doesn’t get much natural sunlight as it’s north facing and since all our furniture was put back in the room it’s only ever looked black to me now and I feel the warm red brown of the wood adds an important tone. A true black wood floor would probably look quite flat in comparison.
The engineered wood installation process
Because we really love that real wood feel, we would have been prepared to go the extra mile to install wood flooring, but one of the great bonuses to engineered wood is that there is virtually no pre-prep necessary. Unlike tile or vinyl tiles which need screeding and glue before installing, engineered wood just needs a layer of underlay, and then can be laid over your existing floor. The one we have is a floating system that slots together, so there is no glue or anything fiddly to worry about. And should one piece or section become damaged and need replacing, it is easy to replace.
Carpetright can add beading to create a ‘seam’ between the floor and the skirting boards. Or, if you want the wood to run straight up to the skirting boards, like we did, you can remove the skirtings before installation and put them back on afterwards. This is what we did, except we replaced our ancient skirting boards with some lovely new ones from Skirting World. The skirting boards came pre-primed, so were already white when they went on and just need a little top coat of paint to finish off the look.
The day our Carpetright fitter came to install our flooring was one one of the most exciting moments of our entire house renovation so far. Sometimes, it can be really difficult to imagine the full effect of an entire wood floor when you are staring at a small sample of wood in the shop. As soon as our fitter began laying down our floor, we could tell it was going to look even better than we had expected. After living with dusty old rugs and off-cuts of carpet on our living room floor for six months, I couldn’t believe we were finally going to have proper flooring. That one simple change, changed the feel of the entire room in an instant – it was now somewhere nice to hang out in.
I filmed a video of our installation day, including a before and after of our living room. Sometimes I forget what the room was like when we first moved in to this house, and just how much has changed in a relatively short space of time. I’m so glad I documented it, as it’s come such a long way, it’s hard to believe it’s the same room.
Renovating our first house has definitely been a learning curve. We’re only a year in from starting, and already there are things we know we would have done differently with the benefit of hindsight, and different products we would have chosen.
One instinct that we followed our heart on and has turned out to be 100% the right decision for us is our decision to have engineered wood flooring.
Before / After:
How does engineered wood stand up to family life?
It’s funny to look back and think that we were so concerned about the effects of moisture and the children on an engineered wood floor. We’ve found that spillages handily pool and bead together on top of the wood rather than run off it and seep in, thanks to the layer of moisture barrier protection that the wood is treated with. We even have engineered wood throughout our kitchen and it’s been completely fine for the eight months since we’ve had it installed.
There have been a few scratches, owing to the general wear and tear of a high traffic area more than the children’s toys, but we like the idea of a weathered floor that shows signs of life. I think if we had opted for wood effect vinyl, over time it would look tired. But a well-worn wood floor shows character.
Moving from a very small house to a house with much more space, we have a lot of furniture gaps to fill. But rather than rushing to buy everything now we are taking our time, filling the gaps slowly as and when we find something that we truly love. And in the meantime, enjoying a relatively uncluttered living space.
The mid century coffee table (which I LOVE), we found on a local selling site. And our sofa was from Freecycle. One day, we’d like to save up for a big comfy sofa, big enough for all of us. But seeing as we are now saving for a wedding, I think that day is still very far off in the future!
I’m also on the lookout for a rug for the living room, I’m thinking Scandinavian style, geometric, and possibly monochrome to compliment our black wood – Unless you count a Swedish company that doesn’t ship to the UK, I haven’t yet found ‘the one’, so if you’ve seen anything that fits this bill please let me know.
Our Kahrs Unity Forest oak floor is stocked at Carpetright. Check out their website to see their full range of flooring.
Our amazing engineered wood flooring was provided for by Carpetright for the purpose of this feature.
Skirting boards were provided by Skirting World.
Our opinions are, as always, honest and 100% our own.