The Balancing Act of Function and Design

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Hardwood flooring is beautiful and functional, but there is a balance to strike between the two to achieve an outcome that will stand the test of time for your customers. Everyone desires a space that feels stylish and uplifting. It can be challenging to get the tradeoff just right, but finding a hardwood product that will deliver on both function and design is possible. Here are the key things you want to remember when discussing this with a client.


Homeowners not only want, but have come to expect, the trifecta of hardwood flooring that is stylish, durable, and on budget. With more options than ever before in flooring, it’s essential to be well-versed on what hardwoods are trending right now, and how they stack up on price and performance.


Two highly popular options are oak and maple. Oak is a classic wood that has been popular for decades. It’s known for its resistance to wear and is available in multiple finishes and colors to suit almost everyone’s style. White oak is red hot right now. Maple is similarly resistant to scratches and dents. Most homeowners love its smooth, uniform grain pattern, and it’s available in multiple finishes and colors also. These provide two great options for hardwood that are both functional and beautiful.


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You need to balance both function and design when helping guide your customer in selecting their new floor and keep in mind how heavily the space will be used. Functionality is the “common sense” factor. You want flooring that will last years, perform well under foot traffic, and be easy to maintain. Once you have a narrowed list of hardwood flooring that will perform well in the space, you can look at each for its style. To enhance your space, you can plan with texture, color, pattern, and finish.


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A common mistake to avoid is choosing design over function. It may make sense in the near term. Sure, it looks great when freshly installed, but once it has been lived on for a few years, whoever must maintain the space may soon regret the flooring selection.

Does it dent easily, change color, or show every bit of dust and dirt? These are big concerns for someone who uses the flooring daily.

Another common mistake is forgetting to consider if your customer has pets, children, allergies, etc. Glossy finishes will show scratches and pet hair. Be sure to ask these critical questions to truly understand the lifestyle of the person using the flooring regularly. The function always should be first to ensure a lasting product.

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As you work to master the balancing act of function and design when it comes to hardwood flooring selection, remember this: your first and most important job is to understand your client’s needs and lifestyle so that you can educate them about their options. They should view you as a knowledgeable and trusted resource who has a valuable opinion to share. This will help you steer conversations and decisions in the right direction to avoid regret and mistakes regarding flooring selections.

Don’t allow your client to choose a product that will fail to meet their personal needs. Even if it’s “their choice,” it reflects on your relationship and guidance. Consider making a checklist of questions to ask each client. Over time, you’ll build a great feel for the best products to meet each unique need. Not only will this help you deliver great results, but you also will build a solid reputation along the way. A happy client is always your best marketing tool.

Brittany Stout is the builder specialist and designer at Touch of Color Flooring, a family-built and operated business with locations in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, and Richmond, Virginia. Touch of Color has six core divisions: Builder, Multifamily, Senior Living, Commercial, Retail, and Design, and services seven states throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Learn more at

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