Ask the designer

This week interior designer Aisling O’Toole,, answers all your flooring queries. Email:

Q I’m deciding on flooring for my new home, but with so many options how do I decide?

A. Flooring is usually the first thing people notice in a room and sets the mood of the space. The first thing that you should keep in mind is functionality — for example, wooden flooring may suit a bedroom but not a bathroom. Next, consider the style of your home and room and which flooring will best complement this. Natural materials, such as wool carpet, will give the room a homely feel, whereas manmade ones such as resin will give it a modern edge.

Maintenance is another important factor when choosing your flooring.

For the time poor, low-maintenance stone tiles or pre-sealed wooden floors may be a good choice. Whatever you choose, always go to a reputable flooring specialist and don’t rush the decision — because if you make the wrong one, you may have to live with it for years!

Q. My wife wants to get solid timber flooring for our living room, but I think laminate would be better — who’s right?

A. Both of you are! Generally, solid timber flooring looks more beautiful and with proper care can last a lifetime. Hard-wearing washed oak or ash engineered wood flooring is very on trend right now. And if it does get damaged, solid timber is easier to repair or refinish than laminate. On the other hand, laminate flooring is more scratch, stain, fade and moisture resistant than the real deal — so is perfect for high traffic areas like the living room. From bamboo to beech, laminate has also come on so much in recent years that it’s often hard to tell the difference. Both types of flooring have their pluses and minuses — ultimately it comes down to personal preference.

Q. I’m sick of the carpet on my stairs — any ideas?

A. From tartan to animal print, carpets have been deliciously reinvented in recent years — and your stairway is the perfect place to make a statement. Stripes are big for stairs this spring — think bold raspberry and lime green or orange and mud brown. When replacing the carpet on your stairs, accurate measurements are key — you can find out how to do this yourself on — or your carpet store will be happy to help. Carpet can be installed using either the waterfall method, where a single piece of carpet is used to cover the stairs from top to bottom, or the cap and band method, individually cut and fastened on each step. Take a look at the creative carpets by Crucial Trading available from GO’C Carpets (01- 8601845).

Q. What type of tiles do you recommend for my bathroom?

A. Tiles are a no-brainer for the bathroom, but large or small, ceramic or glass, plain or patterned, deciding which ones isn’t quite as simple. Durable, easy to clean and readily available, ceramic tiles are the most popular. But porcelain or marble mosaics are my personal favourite. Some advantages of mosaic tiles are that they are suitable for both walls and floors, non-slip and can be used to create your own design. Scattered mosaics are big news for bathrooms in 2012 — such as a black feature wall with scattered silver or grey pieces.

Cut down on cost by focusing on wet areas such as the floor and shower, rather than the entire bathroom. TileStyle in Dublin have an amazing range of mosaics. See


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