Wood Flooring - Borders
by Charles Peterson with Andy Engel
It may seem counterintuitive, but an ornate floor that runs all the way to the walls of a room can often look less impressive than one surrounded by a simple border. When you walk into a room with an ornate floor like this, no hierarchy exists to tell the eye where to look and the floor can start to seem almost ordinary.
Surrounding the field of an ornate floor with a border and apron grabs your attention front and center. It says, "Look here," emphasizing the importance of the field.
Borders and aprons both surround the field of an ornate floor, but they are distinct from each another. A border is a narrow, decorative band that directly surrounds the field. Often ornamented with inlays of repetitive forms to create a pattern, a border also functions as a sort of picture frame to set off the field.
An apron is the area between the wall and a border, typically separated from the border by a feature strip of a contrasting wood. Aprons tend to be less ornate than the border or the field. There are two main reasons for this: first, their comparative plainness accents the ornamentation of the rest of the floor; and second, it's likely there will be furniture around the perimeter of the room that would conceal an ornate apron.
There needs to be a balance between the border and the field. You can achieve this balance in many ways, but essentially the border and field should both contrast to differentiate the areas and complement each other so they don't compete for attention.
Borders normally incorporate a species of wood that contrasts with the field. Harmony is achieved through the balance of wood tones and flooring patterns. Sometimes when the field consists of multiple species of wood, the border will incorporate the same ones but in a different pattern to provide harmony and contrast at the same time.
Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...
This article is excerpted from Wood Flooring by Charles Peterson with Andy Engel, copyright © 2010, with permission of the publisher, Taunton Press.
Borders should be distinct from the field and complement it.
Photo: Courtesy Charles Peterson
Extra Large Image
In wood flooring, aprons provide neutral transitions between more ornate floor details and a room's walls. The sections of plain wood flooring in the niches of this room serve as aprons, while the area bounded by the pairs of curved accent strips is a border.
Photo: Randy O'Rourke/ Courtesy Taunton Press
Extra Large Image
Click on thumbnail images
to view full-size pictures.