Making the Move

Consumers seek furnishings and flooring with character

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COVID-19 has changed the way people live. For example, last year, we witnessed a massive exodus from cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to suburban areas. From February 2020 through July 2020, a study by MYMOVE found that the number of people moving in the United States was a staggering 16 million. While you might think these were “temporary” moves, more than 14 million have made their change a permanent one. Being able to work, shop, and go to school online has opened the door for these shifts.

Along with the movement of people coincides the movement of their possessions. Storage units in many cities are actually at full capacity. Considering the actual “shelter” differences from metropolitan to suburban, it is natural that we are seeing a shift in furnishings. Visualize “vintage” rather than “used” furnishings. 

As people move, they are leaving old items at consignment shops to sell. Behind them comes someone who reclaims these furnishings, which have the added bonus of not requiring a long order fulfillment time. Today, both moves and supply chain delays for furnishings are driving this “reclaimed” trend. With people spending more of their days at home, they are also finding time and motivation to touch up, paint, or refinish the furnishings. Now, just imagine what kinds of flooring people are seeking to match their new “vintage” furnishings. 

Beyond the movement from the city to the country, there also has been an uptick in families that are building second homes. Some are being built in rural areas because the family wants a place to unplug, and be able to walk about their own property without masks and hand sanitizer. These consumers now seek furnishings and flooring with “character.” Some of which is reclaimed.

One project that I can speak about is a century-old family barn renovation, which, when finished, will be a second home. It is designed to be a place for their entire family to gather together with the focus being on durability, low maintenance, and warmth. The owners reached out to me to discuss which flooring would look best from a design perspective. 

Photo courtesy of Emily Morrow Home.

While true reclaimed flooring offers a fantastic visual and an amazing story that is unlike any other, it can come with challenges such as a higher price tag and the potential of being limited in supply. For this particular project, the client decided they wanted engineered hardwood that comes with a warranty, could be installed on a slab and in a basement, was factory finished, and offered a wide and controlled range of visuals. 

Within this article, you will see a few photos of Candace G.’s family barn in Kansas, which recently turned 100 years old. When it came to selecting the hardwood flooring, Candace also was taking into consideration having enough contrast with the bright white paint of the interior barn walls, and what would tie in best with the stairs as well as the kitchen cabinets she had painted “Hale Navy.” 

Photo courtesy of Emily Morrow Home.

Candace had stumbled across a blog post that said “if you need a little hand-holding in making your decisions about your design or flooring, email” She contacted me, and what resulted was a lively virtual design consultation. In the end, her final two favorite styles were “Suddenly Sonoma” and “Authentic Luxury,” each having hand-crafted distressing and dimension, and each offering a unique look. She couldn’t decide between the two, and ultimately decided to go with both options by using Authentic Luxury for the upstairs levels and Suddenly Sonoma for downstairs.

As I write this, the flooring was not yet installed, but these images give you an idea of the colors and layout of this antique property, as well as the samples they considered throughout the home. If not for the ability to utilize technology and to mail samples, it’s certain that her process would have been more difficult and drawn out. With technology, not only was she able to get the design and hardwood flooring expertise she needed, she also was able to check on the status of her order via texting and keep her installer looped in on her approximate delivery date for the flooring.

Photo courtesy of Emily Morrow Home.

Hearing firsthand Candace’s desires drives home the fact that consumers are hungry to bring a rustic calmness into their living spaces. Thankfully, options to bring this feeling into homes is easier to introduce than ever before. By combining reclaimed furnishings, reclaimed wood flooring, or engineered hardwood flooring that deliberately exudes rustic warmth and character, more and more consumers are taking control of their living spaces and infusing natural beauty into their lives. 

Emily Morrow Finkell is an interior designer and CEO of EF Floors & Design LLC in Dalton, Georgia, a provider of hardwood floors and home furnishings, and an NWFA design contributor. She can be reached at

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