Choosing a floor covering is a priority, said Los Angeles-based interior designer Betsy Burnham.
Burnham and two other experts offered tips on durable, easy-to-clean flooring that doesn't skimp on style, from cork to porcelain tile to washable rugs.
Burnham and designer Brian Patrick Flynn, founder of decordemon.com, are fans of cork flooring in high-traffic areas.
Cork squares are durable, made from natural wood fibers and can handle moisture. They also absorb sound and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Cork offers a look similar to hardwood, but is less expensive. And you can replace just one tile if a section gets damaged.
Another choice is Flor carpet tiles, Flynn said. "You can add color, texture or pattern," he said "then cut the end tiles to size." Flor tiles can be laid out to give the look of an area rug or wall-to-wall carpeting.
Flynn also recommends vinyl plank tiles. These inexpensive tiles are thin, durable and easy to install. They can be mopped clean. Installation simply requires a utility knife.
Rugs can be a great way to delineate the space at an entry, and many styles are washable.
Rather than investing in one expensive rug, Burnham said, buy several that can be swapped out when one is being cleaned.
Meg Caswell, host of HGTV's "Meg's Great Rooms," suggested shopping for carpet remnants. You can hava a remnant piece cut to size and banded with a canvas edge or patterned fabric, Caswell said.
Stylish but inexpensive and washable rugs are widely available online, from Ikea.com to eBay.com or Etsy.com.
Another approach that Flynn and Burnham recommend: Buy a vintage rug that's already worn. Faded colors and frayed spots are part of the charm, so you won't mind the further wear and tear.
If you'd prefer the finished look of wall-to-wall carpeting, Flynn suggested buying several smaller rugs and attaching them underneath with carpet tape. The edges can be cut to fit, giving a permanent, wall-to-wall look, but pieces can be removed for cleaning.
Caswell often recommends porcelain tiles for high-traffic entries. "The minute I say porcelain tile, people think it's going to shatter, that it's fragile," she said. "But really porcelain tiles are truly the most durable tiles out there."
Porcelain tile, Burnham said, "looks like stone, but it's much less expensive than actual stone. "it's so much easier to sweep out or mop up because you can get it wet."
These designers favor slightly bolder colors, patterns and textures that hide dirt and signs of wear.
For wood floors, Flynn suggested, "have a pattern painted directly onto it using porch and deck paint," which he calls "insanely durable." Consider adding another coat of sealer to it just before the winter.
Caswell said entries are a great place to "be riskier and push yourself, so you can incorporate a little more of your personality. You're making that statement when someone enters your home."
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