When you begin to make decorating decisions for a new home,
one of the first considerations is how to finish the flooring,
walls, and ceiling. As the name of the style Contemporary
Light suggests, these components are to be primarily light
in color. They furnish the backdrop for the colors and
furnishings that are to come.
To get a feeling for the atmosphere which light colors
create, visit some model homes which havenâ€™t been furnished yet.
Upon entering, you will be greeted solely by the particular
architecture of each room. Try to soak up the atmosphere, the
feeling coming from a space defined by its light colored tones.
Itâ€™s open, itâ€™s airy, itâ€™s simple and, therefore, enjoyable and
Walls and Ceiling
In a Contemporary Light setting paint usually is used
on the walls and ceilings.
What colors are best? Sophistication and airiness are
realized by using light grays throughout the space. Off-whites,
beige, or creams are always correct. A cheerful but subdued
yellow tone is a good candidate. Variations on the yellow theme,
tangerine or mango shades in pastel, are becoming ever more
popular; sea foam also is relatively new and popular color.
As I mentioned in a previous column here, to give a small
apartment the feeling of spaciousness, use one color throughout
the home. Later, you can add an accent color to one or two
walls. Create interest by complementing and emphasizing a color
found in furnishings and accessories. If your space is larger,
you can use two colors throughout: one as the primary color and
the other as the secondary one. They should be kept light and in
relation to one another. For example, you may want to paint the
majority of the house off-white and use a yellow tone in the
kitchen and babyâ€™s room.
The ceiling is painted in the same color as the walls, or you
can add some white to lighten up the tone. The lighter the tone,
the higher the ceiling appears to be.
Wallpaper, if used at all, should be used sparingly or as an
accent. New geometric designs or textured wallpapers could add
vibrancy to the room. Wallpaper always means extra work, while
paint in a room can be changed easily and without too much
Molding at the ceiling isnâ€™t recommended, but if you canâ€™t
resist, purchase molding with clean, simple lines. The width for
the molding of an 8â€™ ceiling is about 3", more if the ceiling is
Just a few tips on paint: Interior paints are latex paints;
quality paints have more pigment and youâ€™ll be happier with the
results. Flat paints are generally used in living rooms and
bedrooms, and semi-gloss paints are best for kitchens, baths,
and trim. There are new finishes, sheens, called satin or
eggshell; they allow you to clean off marks with water and
perhaps a little detergent. Use them in high-traffic areas, as
in hallways and childrenâ€™s rooms.
Ask for references and obtain estimates from at least two or
three licensed paint contractors before you hire one. The least
expensive contractor may not be the one you want to pick. It is
important to listen to what a contractor has to say and try to
ascertain how knowledgeable he/she is. Try to determine with
whom you could work the best. It just makes life so much easier
when you have a good rapport with the people you will be dealing
The type of flooring usually is a given when you rent or
purchase your first home. You may be happy with it or not. You
may be able to change it immediately or not until a later date.
Whatever the case, plan now for the overall future look of your
home. There are many choices for flooring, and they all have
their advantages and disadvantages. The best choices for
Contemporary Light are hardwood floors, carpets, and tile.
Hardwood floors are prevalent in many older homes and work
very well with Contemporary Light interiors. They might
have to be refinished if they are not in a good condition. The
uniformity of the flooring material in smaller homes also gives
the feeling of spaciousness. If the hardwood floors are dark
wood or are stained with a dark finish, the walls and later
furnishings should be light to create contrast. If the floors
are of a lighter tone, e.g. oak or maple, use light colors
throughout or bring in more intense colors. Hardwood floors are
an excellent surface for area rugs which add color and design to
Although not wood but a member of the grass family, bamboo as
a flooring material is gaining in popularity. The strips are
smaller in width and they can be natural or stained. The look is
fantastic! In price itâ€™s comparable to hardwood. For the
environmentally-minded, bamboo is the choice. It can be
harvested every three to five years and, therefore, slows the
depletion of the hardwood forests.
Engineered and laminated wood flooring are alternatives to
hardwood. Engineered wood flooring consists of layers of wood
cross-grained and bonded to the top decorative layer. Laminated
wood flooring does not contain wood; the top layer is a
decorative laminated paper such as used for laminated kitchen
countertops. Engineered and laminated wood floors generally are
less costly than hardwood floors and may be easier to maintain.
Carpeting can provide the most immediate and least expensive
flooring transition in a home. It reduces noise better than
hardwood and some people believe it creates a warmer atmosphere.
For the Contemporary Light look choose carpets in
off-white, beige, gray, or pastel tones. Donâ€™t worry about
keeping modern carpets clean. Choose one with a stain resistant
finish, and spills can be cleaned up without problems. Carpeting
especially suited would be cut pile, such as velour and Saxony.
The shaggy carpet with its cut piles of an inch or more has made
a comeback recently. A Berber carpet is a classic which can work
well in a contemporary setting. Select the padding for
underneath the carpet carefully; it determines the wear of the
carpet and the comfort for the user.
Kitchens and baths usually require a different type of
flooring than is in the rest of the house. An exception would be
hardwood or bamboo floors, which can be used in the kitchen and
the rest of the home. They have been proven to work quite well
as long as spills are cleaned up immediately. Stone, such as
marble or limestone, or ceramic tiles are a perfect match for
contemporary settings and are good options for kitchen and bath.
They provide a very clean and simple look. For stone flooring
donâ€™t pick highly polished finishes. The polish wears off of
moderate to high traffic areas, leaving a marked path in the
middle of the floor. Also, water, common in the kitchen and the
bath, can be most dangerous! Honed tiles are a good choice. If
the tiled area will be large, make sure your sub-floor can
handle the weight. Stone tiles can be very heavy.
If you encounter any linoleum that was laid before 1978, it
may have asbestos backing. That may require a special technique
for removal, and a contractor may be limited in how he/she can
work with this material. Consult a contractor before attempting
to remove this linoleum yourself. Todayâ€™s linoleum has an
updated look and selected patterns can be used in the
If you like and can afford the unusual, there are other
products on the market. Concrete flooring has gained in
popularity recently. Slate flooring is a possibility. Cork tile
would be an alternative to stone as it is considered "soft"
flooring and would be easier on the user and on anything dropped
on the floor. Even leather has been used as flooring. Sisal---a
grass---has been woven into area rugs and wall-to-wall
carpeting. Sheet vinyl---different than linoleum---has come a
long way, offers interesting finishes, and is less expensive
than stone and ceramic tiles.
My suggestion on flooring would be to find the look that you
like and then try to see if the cost is within the budget. You
may splurge on the living room and kitchen and have to make a
compromise on the bedroom flooring. Remember, though, conformity
and light colored materials are the key to a home in
Contemporary Light! Try to use up to two, at the most three,
different materials for the flooring. It will give you the look
you are trying to achieve with the materials you most favor.
Read More Articles