New "Stone Medallions" from Historic Floors of Oshkosh, allow for a stone insert in hardwood floors.

Pergo Select Accents offer the ability to design a dynamic floor to custom specifications.
When I was a full-time employee of various floor covering manufacturers, I became totally immersed in thinking that the only surface that existed in the room was the floor! The theory was that you began the planning and decoration of a room with the largest surface -- which, of course, is the floor.

The theory I learned in design school was that there should be only one focal point in a room. You don’t want the eye of the observer to be pulled in disparate directions by a variety of elements that are all vying to be the center of attention. This exclusive focal point may or may not be the floor.

Today’s decorating trends have tended to lean toward minimalist design. This, I think, is great news for the floor covering industry because it allows the floor to become the legitimate focal point of the room.

A couple of developments have led to this phenomenon. In the kitchen, the placement of cabinetry, in an unfitted fashion, precludes extensive use of patterned wall coverings. And the popularity of maple, birch and cherry cabinets, with their more subtle wood grains, has given the floor the opportunity to become the focal point.

The trend in bathrooms has been toward larger spaces. The simple addition of hundreds of square feet has given designers the ability to create design statements on the floor. And open planning in the more public areas of the home now allow for floor covering materials to delineate spaces where walls once stood. Manufacturers have taken advantage of this and today offer myriad patterns and colors that coordinate with each other and allow the homeowner to create attractive flooring options.

But something else has happened to the floor. Designers are using borders, insets and medallions to personalize the floor installation. This seems to be a retro trend that has its roots back in the 1950s -- even the ’30s and the Victorian era -- when skilled mechanics executed fancy sculpted designs in carpet and other materials. When that generation of installers retired, the beauty of decorative floors came to reside strictly in the printed pattern of the material. With the increased popularity of more decorative fabrics, wood species and decorative motifs on cabinetry and furniture in the late 1960s and ’70s, a less patterned floor became more fashionable.

Today, manufacturers have responded to the request of customization by offering pre-set borders and medallions, which makes the job of decorating the floor easy and foolproof for the installer. This trend also allows for some rehab of the floor later on, just in case the end user is leery of putting pattern into the floor at the time of installation.

While it’s true that any good floor covering installer can create custom design details, it’s essential for the average consumer to have an idea from which to work. Ceramic tile, by nature of its modular sizing, has been the quintessential product for versatility. If you were to research interiors from the early part of the 20th century, you’d notice extensive use of decorative tile and custom designing with tile. After World War II, our country began an extensive housing boom that resulted in the use of plain tiles, just to keep pace with the enormous demand for the product. The idea was to provide cost-effective housing as quickly as possible. As a result, the art of decorative tile installations fell by the wayside.

Just by adding a color strip, this maple floor from Pergo becomes a real show stopper.
Today, the tile industry has returned to its traditional love for decorative tile and decorative design with tile. Traditionally, only well-heeled consumers -- not average homeowners -- were able to pay for this customization. So, the industry responded by developing pre-mounted products that reduced both the price of the product and cost of installation. Now, pre-set borders and medallions are an expected accessory to most product lines. The ease of installation and cost savings allow virtually everyone to have something a little different for the floor.

Other flooring categories besides tile also are responding with factory-manufactured products that allow creation of wonderful and unique designs for the floor. Arguably one of the most influential manufacturers in this area was Pergo, a recognized leader in the design of laminate flooring. The company’s newest product innovation, Pergo Select Accents, allows anybody to create a unique design statement in a floor. The line includes a collection of modular floor tile and strip components designed to work specifically with Pergo Select laminate flooring. Select Accents offers the ability to customize the look of the floor without the specification, installation and cost challenges of a custom installation.

As a result, attention-grabbing flooring solutions are now possible while meeting the same quality and performance expectations of Pergo Select. Available in five shapes and 14 colors, the pieces provide design accents, distinctive patterns and limitless possibilities. Anything from simple wood accent tiles in a traditional plank installation to complex tile patterns using multiple accent pieces can be executed.

In the wood floor product segment, Historic Floors of Oshkosh has introduced the Stone Medallion Collection. Their traditional wood collection has always included medallions, but they now offer stone designs to complement wood or any other type of floor covering material.

These medallions are available in a variety of round and square patterns in two sizes, and in an assortment of colors of Cambria quartz. Historic Floors of Oshkosh provides everything the installer needs to do the job right. The medallion is wood-backed and pre-grouted, and comes with a template, router bit, adhesive, trowel, matching grout, and complete instructions. The medallions are designed for use in 3/4-inch unfinished or pre-finished floors.

Historic Floors of Oshkosh also manufactures borders for wood floors, many of which can be viewed at the company’s website at There you will find tons of borders and more than 50 stock medallions from which to choose. The company offers dozens of wood species and will fabricate custom designs in either a 3/8- or 3/4-inch thickness.

Indeed, the consumer’s desire to have custom floor designs has inspired manufacturers to provide products that ably satisfy that desire. Plus, technological advances now allow those designs to be easily installed. I’d call that a win-win proposition for all concerned.