What’s on tap for flooring trends in 2019 and beyond?
Embracing new trends and staying on the cutting edge of design while still making restaurants safe for employees and beautiful for customers is a tough balancing act for operators. High- traffic areas require flooring made of durable materials, yet durable doesn’t always translate into attractive, trendy or popular. Plus, operators need to factor in the cost and time necessary to replace or repair damaged or lackluster flooring. With trends changing often, what’s an operator to do?
According to experts, staying on trend for 2019 means operators should put their design trust in classic flooring materials (with a modern-day twist, of course).
“Quarry tile has been around a long time, and for good reason. For a busy commercial kitchen, quarry tile is by far the best flooring you can have in part because it’s slip-resistant and has non-porous properties,” advises Tim Spiegelglass, owner of Spiegelglass Construction Company in Maryland Heights, Missouri. “Luxury Vinyl Tile, known as LVT, is ideal for the dining room – it’s inexpensive, durable, and available in a wide range of colors and styles to match your décor. From a construction standpoint, we like it because if down the road there’s an issue with the floor, it’s easy to replace the problematic section without any impact on the rest of the floor.”
A material more commonly found in abundance outside of pizzerias is concrete. At first consideration, the hard-working, hard-wearing material may seem like an odd choice for anything but sidewalks, let alone a restaurant, but concrete is strong and versatile. And with the right treatment, it can be surprisingly stunning and offer a unique, highly-customized look to a restaurant.
“Polished concrete is modern and durable, and we use it quite often in restaurant design,” says Abigail M. Carlen, marketing director at Holst, an architecture firm based in Portland, Oregon. “At the Wylder [an Idaho-based pizzeria designed by Holst last year], it complements the concrete structure and other natural materials used in the design.”
Daniel Levine, director of the trends consultancy The Avant-Guide Institute, agrees that concrete is hot for restaurant flooring.
“Concrete is timeless. It might be polished, stained or embedded with gold cracks,” says Levine. “Concrete provides a seamless, monolithic floor that’s easy to clean. Crumbs can’t fall into the cracks. It’s non-slip.”
Another flooring option that doesn’t seem to be losing popularity with restaurant operators is hardwood, which remains a solid choice for design in 2019. According to Levine, hardwood also helps operators evoke a specific atmosphere in their restaurants.
“Hardwood flooring appeals to a natural look sensibility,” says Levine. “It’s more about family and creating a warm atmosphere.”
More importantly, classic hardwood flooring can be updated to reflect a modern, trendy design aesthetic.
“Forward-thinking restaurants use a herringbone or a houndstooth pattern,” Levine says.
A sense of place can also be laid out by the flooring choice in a restaurant. For operators who want to pay homage to a specific location, such as Italy, Levine notes they often install palladium flooring.
Additionally, operators can use their flooring choice to complement and support the identity of their restaurant. For example, a restaurant that focuses on locally-sourced, organic ingredients and clean labeling should opt for a flooring material that supports that specific philosophy.
“One of the biggest trends in food right now is clean labeling, locally-sourced, organic. The flooring should be, too,” says Levine.
According to Levine, trends, whether in design or not, aren’t siloed to specific industries, but more reflect what is resonating culturally. A driving trend in today’s world is documenting and sharing images via social media. As a result, some pizzeria operators are embracing this trend and opting for floors that get attention or are “Instagramable,” he notes.
Although flooring trends for 2019 revolve around tried-and-true classic materials with an updated twist such as an unexpected pattern, unusual treatment, or one-of-a-kind color or stain to make them more modern or to reflect the sensibilities of a restaurant, overall, it isn’t a super dramatic trend change from last year.
“Some trends change the world quickly, and some are incremental,” explains Levine.
A small change can be enough to create a wow factor in a restaurant. To further designate the identity of a separate room or partitioned space, for example, operators can opt to include a floor that’s different than the rest of the flooring featured in the restaurant. By introducing a new look in a smaller space, operators can see how a trendy flooring material looks and feels and how it truly serves or supports the aesthetic of their restaurant before committing to a complete floor overhaul.
For all the effort put forth in creating a floor that stands out, operators can also expend the same effort in a flooring that fades into the background, notes Levine.
Whether operators want to make their restaurant flooring a showstopper or a background supporting character in their design scheme, it’s important that any choice, from top to bottom, truly reflects the uniqueness and identity of their restaurant.
DeAnn Owens is a freelance journalist living in Dayton, Ohio. She specializes in features and human-interest stories.