After the first time Anna Beagley saw gray floors, she couldn’t forget them. “It was love at first sight,” she said. “They are a nice neutral color but still give the room a light and airy vibe.”
She hasn’t looked back since 2021 when she remodeled her home in Utah and installed gray vinyl flooring. “I can add dabs of any color I want without really worrying if it’s going to clash,” said Ms Beagley, 34, an analyst.
But she started noticing heated talk about dust-stained floors taking place online. The tastemakers have drawn a line, and it’s black and white: either you love them or you despise them.
The gray floors were a source of vitriol for many people, who expressed their disgust on social media with posts that often went viral. One user tweeted, “Every time the original hardwood floors are replaced with gray plank vinyl, a year is taken from my life.” Another tagged them “AirBnbcore”. In an Instagram post that garnered nearly 170,000 likes, designer Bilal Rehman said gray flooring “sucks life out of any space you have.”
Sometimes all the hate directed at gray floors can feel boring, Ms Beagley said. “Sometimes it’s laughable. These are floors, people. It’s not life or death,” she said. “Other times I get a little frustrated, if you don’t like them, don’t understand them, but why does anyone feel the need to loudly proclaim their hatred for them?”
Over the past few years, gray flooring has become a default option for many developers. Designers and architects believe that the vast greyness is the result of the dominant minimalist aesthetic of the last decade, as well as developers who see it as a safe and harmless option. Gray flooring in apartments is also often laminate – a synthetic material that gives the appearance of wood and is cheaper than real hardwood flooring.
In 2021, “Ultimate Grey” was a Pantone color of the year. Today, with interiors awash in gray and people closely associating the color with corporate neutrality, some designers are beginning to notice that customer tastes are moving away from ashy, smoky and oily. silver.
“Grey flooring is the most common type of flooring we use in our multi-family apartment projects,” said Olga Cotofana, senior design manager at property development company PMG. The company’s buildings with gray floors include a skyscraper in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which opened in 2020, and an apartment complex in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, which is slated to open later this year. “Gray flooring works well in new build real estate developments as it appeals to the masses and works well with a variety of interior design elements and architecture that are trending right now,” Ms. Cotofana said.
Lowe’s has seen an increase in sales of gray wood, vinyl and tile, said Dean Schwartz, the company’s senior vice president of merchandising. “Along with an increase in consumer demand for a cool, modern aesthetic, we’ve seen sales of gray blinds increase in recent years,” Schwartz said.
“They’re non-confrontational,” said Demetrios A. Comodromos, co-founder of architecture firm Method Design. “The desaturated approach also speaks to millennial color sensitivities, like Pepto-Bismol pink, pale yellows, and other desaturated colors that have been trending in recent years.”
For Audra Williams, 47, it’s what the gray floors symbolize that arouses annoyance. Ms Williams lives in a rural part of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, where many homes have been bought by investors and converted to rentals. She saw one apartment in particular keep showing up on Facebook Marketplace, and it had gray floors.
“To me, it’s just layers of lack of care or concern for whoever will be living in this building,” said Ms Williams, an independent communications consultant. “People feel really helpless. So many people renting right now can’t find anything other than this super gray, dark, and pretty cheap floor. People tend to choose it for others more than they choose it for themselves.
Diana Viera, managing partner at design firm Italkraft, said she started noticing the take-off of gray flooring in the United States after its presence at the Salone del Mobile design shows in Milan in the 2010s. Usually, whatever new design is in Italy, it starts spreading in the United States,” she said.
What comes next is a tale perhaps best summed up by Miranda Priestly, the fictional fashion editor played by Meryl Streep, in “The Devil Wears Prada,” telling her assistant how trends can go from high-end brands to sewing to casual clothes. After some luxury designers debuted cerulean garments in their collections, she said: “Then it leaked into department stores and then spilled into a tragic Casual Corner where you have it without any doubt fished out of a trash can.”
This is probably the story of gray floors. And because flooring can range from expensive (like natural stone or hardwood) to low-end (like laminate) options, the gray color trend could be applied to most types of homes, including including McMansions in gated communities, luxury condominiums and older homes. be returned.
“Because you have these huge price differences in materials, it allows you to market so that everyone does,” Ms. Viera said.
But now that gray flooring is ubiquitous and no longer something intentional or seemingly new, people don’t want it so badly, Ms. Viera said.
Among wealthy owners, the move away from gray is already underway. “In high-end luxury residential homes that are very personalized, these are the first people to start going in a different direction because they can afford something different,” Ms. Viera said. Her customers go to the extremes, either black floors or very light sand tones, she added.
However, many people don’t have the luxury and extra income to decide against a home just because it has gray floors.
Lucía Massucco, a 28-year-old artist, is not a fan of flooring. “It’s impossible to have a warm, cozy vibe with them,” Ms. Massucco said. “They have a very soulless and clinical feeling to them.”
But last year, while looking for an apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia, Ms. Massucco struggled to find a modern apartment without gray flooring. Any options with other types of flooring, she found, were either luxury units out of her budget or old, run-down units. Deciding not to go bankrupt over aesthetics or risk living with bed bugs, she opted for a one-bedroom apartment lined with light gray planks.
Feeling stuck with the gray floor led to all the backlash online.
“Soulless”, but “functional”
Social media provides a platform for people’s likes to spread and disgust to go viral – being a hater can lead to likes and followers.
Floors are subject to the same fast-rotating trend cycle that has already been observed for jeans, houseplants, headphones or croissants. The internet isn’t helping to slow things down either, making the hottest trend all the more elusive, appearing and disappearing so quickly that most people can’t keep up.
And within a few years – or sometimes even earlier – people start to hate them. For example, parquet flooring – in which wooden slats are arranged in repeating geometric patterns – was once all the rage in 1960s and 1970s New York. Clients today are put off by them, said Keyan Sanai, agent at Douglas Elliman in New York. “It’s something I have to hide now,” he said.
And while he’s heard complaints about gray floors lately, Mr Sanai said it’s sometimes better for guests because it means the apartment has been recently updated, even though it’s is not the best designed. “If you’re lucky enough to have floors that aren’t 100 years old in an apartment in New York, I think that’s exciting as is,” he said.
Claire Lower, 36-year-old editor at Lifehacker, a blog for life hacks, bought her home in Portland, Oregon, which came with gray floors, in 2020. She called the floors “soulless and “corporate neutral”. but noted that they were, at least, easy to clean. “They are functional. There’s nothing wrong with them, so they’re not a priority to do again,” she said.
Yet Mrs. Beagley is in love with her gray floors. “When I found gray floors, I was absolutely over the moon,” she said. “I can add dabs of any color I want without really worrying if it’s going to clash.”