A floor of authentic, rich hardwood adds an unmistakable air of elegance and charm to a room. That’s why this choice of flooring for home interiors is extremely popular. Both designers and homeowners love it.

In a recent gathering of designers from California companies, flooring was discussed in general, and hardwood’s praises were sung in particular.

"I have hardwood throughout my whole house," said Dana Johnson, who’s the Design Center Sales Manager, "We’re using wood more in areas of the home where you haven’t previously seen it, like bedrooms and hallways."

Johnson added that hardwood has been seen in America’s kitchens for several years. When it’s carefully chosen and well sealed, hardwood flooring is a fine choice for this most active area of the home.

Johnson’s colleague, Gaylene Higgins, is another designer partial to hardwood. Higgins is fond of adding extra impact in her interiors through layering and mixing -- specifically hardwood and area rugs.

"I do a lot of hard surface in family rooms and use rugs for warmth and a cozy feeling," she said. "You can roll up the area rug when the kids have a party, and when you get tired of that rug, you can get another one. It’s easy to replace them."

She pointed out that when hardwood and area rugs are used together, redecorating can be as simple as replacing or switching a rug with something in a different color or pattern. So hardwood makes a wonderful, versatile base for a number of fashionable looks.

In terms of trends, Dana Johnson has noted some obvious directions. "Hardwood is going more toward distressed planks, planks in wider widths, and exotic woods. It’s no longer just plain maple or oak. We’re seeing more mahogany, cherry, teak, walnut. Also, mixing woods is done a lot now."

With hardwood being used all over the house, durable finishes and solid warranties are more crucial than ever before. Manufacturers like Shaw have stepped up to the plate, developing outstanding finishes that provide long-term abrasive wear resistance and stain and spill protection.

Of course, to some, a scratch here or there is nothing to get concerned about. Robin Phelps, Design Center Operations Manager, noted that with all the distressed and hand-planed looks on the market, little dents, dings, and scratches are scarcely noticeable. And even when they are, she doesn’t mind. "When we scratch or dent our hard wood, it adds character," she said.

Character does seem to be a hallmark of hardwood. This flooring material imparts a sense of longevity, permanence, and lasting appeal. Hardwood simply never goes out of style.

In addition, as if to score one last point for what he seems to consider a nearly perfect flooring material, Dana Johnson said, "And I like the way it sounds when you walk on it.

Information provided by Mercury Carpet & Flooring