Modern Flooring: Where Form Meets Function

Updated: April 12th, 2024

    As the world around us constantly changes and evolves, so do our tastes in everything from fashion to technology to the ways we spend our leisure time. Interior design trends, like everything else, change quickly and often, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing! One could argue that such dynamism encourages designers to embrace new concepts and adapt quickly to the changing needs of homeowners. 

    The “modern” design trend, in particular, has gained immense popularity in recent years for its ability to seamlessly blend form and function. As a crucial element of any room, flooring takes center stage when it comes to achieving the modern aesthetic. At Empire Today®, we love everything about the modern flooring trend, and we’re excited to walk you through the latest innovations, materials, and design elements that are reshaping the way we think about flooring in the 21st century! 

    Modern Flooring Style 101 

    It’s no secret that the choice of flooring can make or break the character and functionality of a home, especially where the modern design aesthetic is concerned. Fortunately, materials science has caught up to the desire for beautiful, durable, and affordable modern flooring, providing a huge variety of options that not only meet, but often exceed the expectations of today’s design-savvy homeowners.  

    Before we delve into the types of modern floors (one of our favorite topics!), let’s take a look at the history and various elements of the modern design trend. 

    What Exactly is a Modern Home, Anyway? 

    If you’ve ever been inside a modern home, or if you’re lucky enough to live in one yourself, you’ve likely experienced the feeling of calm serenity bestowed by the open floor plans, sleek lines, functional shapes, and abundance of natural light. Here’s a more detailed look at the various elements that make up the modern home design trend: 

    • Open floor plan – Modern homes often feature open floor plans that merge the kitchen, dining area, and living space into one cohesive expanse. 
    • Minimalism – Modern design does away with the dusty knicknacks and display cases of bygone years. This trend is characterized by clean lines and a minimalist approach to decor. 
    • Neutral color palette – Neutral colors create a calming, zen-like atmosphere in a modern home, serving as a backdrop for unique flooring patterns, and carefully-chosen, bold accent pieces, and furnishings. 
    • Natural light – Modern homes frequently feature large windows, sliding glass doors, or other methods to maximize natural light and create a sense of spaciousness. 
    • Functional furniture – You will probably never find a matching set of overstuffed recliners featuring built-in cupholders in a modern-design home. Modern pieces typically have clean, geometric, or rounded shapes and are designed to maximize both usability and comfort. 
    • Connection to nature – Whether it’s the use of natural materials in furnishings or decor, or a seamless connection between outdoor and indoor living spaces, modern design often includes some type of tribute to Mother Nature. 
    • Sustainability – Many modern homes prioritize sustainability and eco-friendly features, such as energy-efficient windows, solar panels, and the use of recycled or sustainable materials whenever possible.  

    Modern vs. Contemporary style  

    Simplicity and functionality are the cornerstones of modern design. In a typical modern home, you’re more likely to find an open floor plan and light colored, neutral walls and flooring. The decor may be sparse, with an emphasis on natural materials like wood, stone, or exposed brick, blending with modern lines and shapes to create a bold design statement.  

    Contemporary homes, on the other hand, are designed and built based on whatever the current architectural trends reflect. Because trends and aesthetics are ever-changing, there is no “one size fits all definition” for contemporary design. 

    Modern Design Roots 

    The roots of modern design span not only many centuries but also vastly different cultures. Because of the diversity in its origins, modern design encompasses a wide range of design subsets, each with its own unique characteristics and influences.  

    • Scandinavian/Scandi – Scandinavian (also called Scandi) design gained international recognition in the mid-20th century and continues to be a prominent aesthetic today. It focuses on clean lines, uncluttered spaces, neutral/earthy tones, and highly functional furniture and kitchens. The Scandanavian word “hygge” is often used to refer to the feeling of coziness, contentment, and well-being, which is the goal when designing a Scandi interior. 
    • Japandi – This serene approach to interior design combines the best of both Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics. Japandi favors simplicity, practicality, a sense of spaciousness and flow between rooms, and a heavy connection to natural materials with a spotlight on their imperfections.  
    • Bauhaus – Founded in Germany in 1919, the revolutionary Bauhaus design school aimed to create a new approach to design education by bridging the gap between art and industry. Bauhaus design places a strong emphasis on functionality, simplicity, and abstraction and has an enduring influence on the modern design aesthetic. 
    • Mid-Century Modern – This American design aesthetic, characterized by its blend of form and function, minimalism, and unique materials used, was heavily influenced by the Bauhaus movement. The period of economic growth following World War II, along with advances in materials and manufacturing, allowed designers to create innovative and iconic furniture pieces that became synonymous with the mid-century modern style. 

    The Wild World of Modern Flooring 

    In the early days of the modern design trend, flooring choices were a bit limited. Oak or maple hardwood has always been favored for its classic simplicity, along with uniquely mid-century materials like linoleum or terrazzo (originally used as a low-cost flooring for homes and public buildings in 15th century Italy , and was favored in mid-century modern homes during the middle of the 20th century). Concrete could also be left exposed in a home or building and polished up to create a clean, industrial look that fit with the modern aesthetic. 

    The perfect modern floors should provide a clean, neutral backdrop for your signature furniture and decor (or be a focal point in and of themselves) and look great in natural light, while also being durable and easy to care for. Fortunately for today’s homeowners, this can be achieved within almost any budgetary constraints thanks to the plethora of flooring options available at Empire®. 

    Modern Flooring Materials 

    The modern design aesthetic has the advantage of being able to harmonize with almost any type of flooring. With the wide assortment of flooring products on the market today, making that minimalist dream a reality has never been easier. 

    • Wood and wood-look – When it comes to creating that sleek, clean, uncluttered feel of a modern home, look no further than wood floors. Whether traditional hardwood is your jam, or you prefer one of the many wood-look products, such as laminate or vinyl plank, Empire has got you covered. 
    • Tile and stone-look – Natural stone surfaces lend a high-end look to any space, but concerns over comfort, complicated installation, and affordability can make them off-limits for many homeowners. Fortunately, advancements in the design and manufacturing of stone-look vinyl or tile products provide the elegance of natural stone without the issues that accompany the real thing. 
    • Carpet – Never underestimate the impact an incredible carpet can have on the look and feel of a modern living area or bedroom. Empire carries a wide selection of carpeting that can enhance the feeling of spaciousness, warmth, and “hygge” the modern homeowner is looking for.  

    Neutrals and Beyond 

    Pale neutrals like greige (a combination of grey and beige) may be synonymous with modern design, but in reality we are allowed to be as neutral or as bold as we like while still fitting within the modern aesthetic. A light or neutral colored floor provides the perfect backdrop for that bright, vibrant area rug or bold, statement furniture pieces, while a beautiful dark or patterned floor can become a gorgeous statement piece in its own right. 

    Texture and Patterns 

    Modern design often incorporates contrast or texture to add visual interest. For example:  

    • A sleek, dark wood floor against light walls or the use of textured tiles can create a dynamic visual effect. 
    • Choosing a wide plank floor can create fewer seams overall, which adds to the feeling of spaciousness and simplicity, especially in smaller spaces. 
    • The use of natural or natural-looking flooring materials, such as wood, wood-look, and stone-look, are beloved ways to add the element of texture and character to a modern space. 

    Open Concept Flooring Solutions 

    One of the simplest and most effective ways to achieve an open concept feel, regardless of how your home was designed, is by using a consistent flooring material throughout the entire space. Whether it’s hardwood, laminate, tile, or another material, a seamless transition between rooms creates a cohesive and unifying look. Strategically placed area rugs are a great way to define separate living areas within an open concept room while also adding a bit of texture and color. 

    Selecting Your Modern Floors 

    Modern Flooring Collage

    Functionality is just as important as form when it comes to modern aesthetics, and this goes for floors, too. The decision requires taking a variety of factors, such as durability, beauty, and ease of maintenance, into consideration. We’ve outlined some questions to ask yourself as you embark on this journey. 

    • How should your floors compliment your lifestyle? Kids, pets, climate, and which room(s) the floor will be featured in all play a major role in selecting the perfect floors. 
    • How well does the floor complement the overall color scheme and design elements of your space? 
    • Do you want the floor to stand alone as a stunning conversation piece or be an elegant backdrop to your unique fixtures and decor? 

    When you book an appointment with Empire, a flooring consultant will come to your home and help you find the perfect floor by taking your lifestyle, budget, and personal aesthetic into consideration. 

    Maintenance and Cleaning Tips 

    Keeping your flooring investment looking its best is paramount to maintaining that clean, modern look. Regular sweeping or vacuuming (only a soft bristle broom or vacuum with a hard floor setting for anything other than carpet) lays the groundwork for a sparkling home. Doormats placed at entrances not only look great, they can help prevent dirt and debris from being tracked inside.  

    Different flooring types may require specific cleaning products, so be sure to check the manufacturer recommendations. In general, avoid using any type of harsh or abrasive chemical cleaner, and avoid using excessive amounts of water. 

    To further protect your new floors, consider investing in Empire’s Service Plan, which covers damage such as scratches,stains, and warping (above and beyond the individual product warranties).  

    Less Is More 

    The allure of modern interior design lies in its ability to capture the essence of contemporary living. When it comes to achieving the combination of simplicity, functionality, elegance, and sophistication that is the goal of the modern aesthetic, your choice of flooring can make all the difference. 

    At Empire, we are firm believers that the foundation of every great space starts from the ground up. We are dedicated to guiding you through the exciting world of modern flooring possibilities and helping to ensure that your home not only meets but exceeds your expectations for years to come.  

    Schedule an Appointment Now
    Let us show you what's possible.

    More Stories for You