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Keep to date with the latest in flooring development and innovation at Atkinson & Kirby.

BBC News Feature: Brexit Challenges for Welsh Manufacturers

Last week, we were invited by BBC News Wales to discuss how Brexit has affected our trade with Ireland. Josh Burbidge, Managing Director of Atkinson & Kirby spoke on the issue. While we are currently still trading with Northern and Southern Ireland, the uncertainties surrounding documentation for products like timber is causing significant shipping delays. To rectify this issue, we would like to see more of an alignment between the UK and Ireland on which documentation is required.  We took steps to prepare for the UK leaving the EU customs union and single market at the end of last year but have still faced significant disruption to our business. To overcome the challenges, Atkinson & Kirby is working closely with freight partners, as well as our customers to work out the best way to supply stores and home-delivery depots. However, these challenges are adding extra pressure on top of the demands the company is facing because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Josh Burbidge, Managing Director of Atkinson & Kirby, said: “Last year, much of the focus for our business had shifted to dealing with the demands of the pandemic. For many months, all talk of Brexit had disappeared while businesses grappled with the Covid-19 crisis. But now the disruptions we face are twofold, with Brexit and coronavirus having an impact. The pressure on our supply chain teams has been significant and continues to be a challenge.” Josh continues: “We keep up-to-date with Government advice and have attended multiple webinars providing guidance on Brexit. But a lot of this advice has been generic and has often left us searching for answers on certain aspects of post-Brexit trade. Ultimately, despite this guidance, there has been mass confusion post-Brexit, and more needs to be done to help businesses like ours.” Read the full article from the BBC here: https://hubs.li/H0HgQvx0. Watch the interview on iPlayer. You can also listen to Josh Burbidge discussing the matter further on BBC Radio Wales at 25:30 here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000sk94.

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How To Get Bridgerton Inspired Flooring At Home

As the nation sits through another lockdown, many homeowners are taking time to reconsider their interior design choices and with little else to draw inspiration from, people are looking to their favourite TV shows to create their next interior aesthetic.   With viewing figures projected to reach upwards of 63 million households within just 28 days of its release date,* it’s fair to say that Netflix’s latest hit period drama, Bridgerton, has taken the world by storm. It is, therefore, no surprise that we’ve witnessed a surge in the number of customers requesting a ‘Bridgerton’ style flooring for their homes.  What is ‘Regal Revival?’ The pastel wall panelling and exotic parquet flooring that gave the Bridgerton manor houses their oh-so regal aesthetic are now becoming popularised as part of a trend we have dubbed the ‘Regal Revival’. Drawing inspiration from the Regency era, the ‘Regal Revival’ trend offers a contemporary twist to the Neo-Classical grandeur of period interiors. This modernised Bridgerton aesthetic is characterised by deep-toned parquet floors, abstract paintings and square panelling, finished with gold accents. Read on to find out which flooring you should choose to transform your home into the Bridgerton Manor... Parquet Flooring First popularised in 17th century France by Louis XIV, parquet flooring was a common feature in regal homes until in 20th century. Considered a symbol of luxury and opulence in the Regency period, it is no surprise to see parquet flooring featured heavily within the Bridgerton palaces and manors. To achieve this regal look today, opt for a deep-toned parquet flooring such as Eltham Walnut or Harlesden Smoked Oak. The parquet blocks can be laid in a range of patterns to match the overall style of the house, while the deep walnut tones create a classic timeless look.   Smoked Wood Flooring Smoked wood floors also feature heavily on the set of Bridgerton. The darkened wood contrasts with the light pastel walls and help to draw attention to the intricate neoclassical wall detailing. Choosing a smoked wooden flooring, such as Greenwich Smoked Oak or Sheraton Smoked Oak, is a great way to achieve a regal interior in the 21st century. The process of smoking the wood creates a distressed aesthetic which provides a beautiful rustic charm, while the engineered hardwood makes the flooring suitable for contemporary homes as it supports underfloor heating.   To see our full collection, visit:  https://akirby.co.uk/shop  

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Top 2021 D├ęcor and Flooring Design Trends

Needless to say, we will all be keen to see the back of 2020 and find out what 2021 has in store for us. After spending the majority of this year at home, most of us have had plenty of time to reconsider our interior design choices. With this in mind, we’ve predicted which décor and flooring designs will take off in 2021... Japandi Characterised by simplicity, minimalism and functionality, ‘Japandi’ is the harmonious blend of Scandinavian and Japanese design. As we move into 2021, there appears to be a growing interest in sustainability. Studies have shown that as a result of the pandemic, over a third of consumers are now more environmentally conscious in their purchasing habits.* As a result of this, we are now observing a notable shift in people’s interior design choices, with more and more opting to focus on nature and the natural world. ‘Japandi’ helps to connect living spaces with nature by ‘bringing the outside in’ with an array of plants, greenery and sustainably sourced materials. The trend transforms the home into a tranquil space as it focuses on colours and textures that surround us in nature, such as linens, terracotta and greenery. A rich smoked oak flooring, such as Ness Smoked Oak, is a great choice to compliment this earthy palette. Or alternatively, to achieve the light and spacious minimalist look, choose a muted natural toned floor, such as Chiswick Oak. Rustic Vogue A sophisticated take on the hugely popular ‘Cottagecore’ aesthetic of 2020, ‘Rustic Vogue’ is the perfect blend of the traditional farmhouse with the modern comforts of city living. As we move into 2021, we are seeing a shift from city to rural, as the home becomes a calm and serene haven away from the hustle and bustle of city life. ‘Rustic Vogue’ can be characterised by raw woods, soft textiles and limewash colours, with hints of sleek design and modernist touches. This trend encourages natural elements and celebrates the beauty of imperfections, such as exposed wooden beams, tumbled linens and woven textures. Flooring with exposed knots, such as Wyvis Smoked Oak, will help to create the illusion of raw wood. Or alternatively, for a more rustic and weathered aesthetic, a white-washed wood such as Mayar Oak should be selected. Regal Revival Drawing inspiration from the ‘Arts and Crafts’ movement of the 19th century, ‘Regal Revival’ is a sophisticated fusion of Gothic grandeur and contemporary minimalism. Born as a response to industrialisation and mass machine-produced items, the ‘Arts and Crafts’ movement celebrates simple and honest craftsmanship. Moving into 2021, our ever-growing reliance on digital technology has meant that people seek to find solace in handcrafted products within the home. Characterised by deep tones, wall panelling and parquet flooring, ‘Regal Revival’ transforms the home into a place of self-expression and traditional charm. Deep-toned parquet flooring, such as Sloane Smoked Oak, will help to complete the ‘Regal Revival aesthetic, as the rich deep coffee tones add luxury and style. The parquet blocks can be laid in a range of patterns to suit your individual style, helping you to personally connect with the flooring in your home. Vivid Zonal Distinctive and bold, ‘Vivid Zonal’ is an energetic and optimistic style that breathes new life into minimalist interiors. Brightening up the home using colours to create areas for work or relaxation, this post-modernist inspired trend is for those unafraid to experiment with unorthodox materials and features. Characterised by sleek, non-decorative mouldings, colour blocking and DIY furniture, ‘Vivid Zonal’ is playful yet sophisticated and considered. The trend focuses on muted flooring and furniture combined with bold paint choices and colourful décor, and so to achieve this look, you should opt for a flooring with minimal colour. Manoa Oak has a delicate grain that seeps through the chalky finish, creating a distinctive style which can help draw emphasis to the vivid colourways of trend. To view our full collection, visit: https://akirby.co.uk/shop.    *https://www.liveareacx.com/blog/pfs-livearea-research-consumerism-conscious-commerce/

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How the Pandemic Changed Our Interior Design Priorities

With the majority of us spending more time at home, the UK has seen an increase in people looking to give their home a makeover and create useable, multi-purpose spaces. Whether it’s designing a dining room come playroom come office space, or getting that Zoom background just right, our interior design needs have changed dramatically this year. Read on to get the lowdown on how the pandemic has changed British interior design priorities in 2020... The rise in ‘grounding’ design trends It’s not just the physical design requirements that seem to have changed as a result of the pandemic; our need for more natural and grounding materials is growing in popularity as we become more environmentally conscious. This compliments several trends we see at the moment, including ‘Biophilia’ which focuses on a ‘human-centred’ approach to living and prioritises wellbeing, down-time, and natural materials.  ‘Cottagecore’ is another trend that has grown in demand this year. The aesthetic celebrates the joy of a simple, self-sufficient, rural life, with a return to traditional skills and crafts. It taps into a desire to be at one with nature, and to live in a world outside of the one currently inhabited, with eco-friendly elements that reflect our need for calm.  The eco-conscious consumer With these trends in mind, many of us are also taking more care to find out the provenance of where products are sourced from, as well as their environmental impact. When it comes to flooring there has often been the misunderstanding that wood is not a particularly ‘green’ however, hardwood flooring can be sustainable and much kinder to the environment than first thought.  One of the most sustainable woods is oak. With UK forest management and protection programs regularly replanting oak trees in woodland areas, it has one of the smallest carbon footprints of all woods and releases fewer toxic emissions during the manufacturing process than other options.  The FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council) makes it easy for you to ensure you are purchasing from an environmentally conscious company and that their products are sustainable. The FSC® sets the strongest available standard for new wood globally, guaranteeing that timber has been sourced ethically from well-managed forests.  Buying British With the pandemic having an impact on many local, family businesses, there is also new drive to support and appreciate British manufacturers. Manufacturing is an integral industry,  in 2019 – 2020 the sector’s annual output accounted for £192bn to the UK’s economy, demonstrating how vital manufacturing is in supporting Britain’s financial recovery.* We are committed to constructing all of our products sustainably. By producing a selection of solid wood floors and flooring accessories at our own mill in Chirk, North Wales, we are cutting the emissions that are caused from transporting goods from mills to warehouses to consumers. We are also extremely proud of our ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems certification, which demonstrates that we strive to minimise our environmental impact as a business.  View our full range here Source* https://www.theengineer.co.uk/manufacturing-lead-post-coronavirus-britains-recovery/

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50 Shades of Flooring

One of the great things about wood flooring is that the options are endless. Hardwood flooring comes in many different colours, styles, species and looks, which means it works in any room, in any home and this immense variety means wood flooring never really goes out of style and is a great investment. Durable and long-lasting, the wide variety of hardwood flooring colours and shades can instantly change the style and ambience of any room. With the continued demand for stylish, hardwood flooring designs, we have worked closely with leading trend forecasting consultancy, Trend Bible, to create trend led flooring designs to ensure there is a style for every customer. Those with minimal tastes are leaning towards weathered natural textures, rustic materials and bleached woods to create a connection to the landscape, as well as smoked floors with earthen quality, which makes for a calming and ground space. On the opposite side of the spectrum, after years of ‘scandi’ minimalism, bright and playful yet sophisticated antidotes are coming into play. Using grey and white tones throughout homes allows light to reflect and open up the room, creating the illusion of a larger space. Retro styles are inspiring the trend of rich warm sheens, pink tinged timbers and decorative patterns for a combination of style with comfort. Parquet flooring, the mid-century style with a twist is the art of inlaying intricate wood blocks into flooring, traces its origins back to the 1600s, in Versailles, as an alternative to marble flooring. It continued to be popular until its demise sometime in the 20th century. However, it’s now having a huge comeback as parquet flooring remains a warm, sturdy and versatile option for modern living areas. Josh Burbidge, Flooring Director at Atkinson & Kirby, said: “Parquet flooring has had a huge revival as it echoes timeless quality - it also means customers can add some personality and subtle pattern into their home. “Finding the right flooring is crucial when renovating a home as it’s the focus point of décor. The shade of a flooring sets the tone for the entire ambiance of a room; for an open and calming room, the shade of wood should be lighter, to create a cosy, warming environment, dark tones are better suited.” You can see our wide range of hardwood flooring here. 

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The Features of Smoked Floors

Smoked flooring is becoming an increasingly popular wood flooring choice due to its ability to withstand more damage than a non-smoked floor and the unique colours fuming can create. Let’s take a look at the unique features of smoked floors.  Fumed or smoked wood flooring has been treated in an enclosed environment to change its colour. This process involves introducing ammonia (ammonium hydroxide solution) into the atmosphere by placing a container with the solution on the floor of the chamber. The ammonia in the atmosphere causes the tannins in the wood to be brought to the surface changing the wood’s appearance. The concentration of tannic acid within the wood determines the final colour and appearance of the oak.  Variation  Variation is a feature of smoked floors, each plank responds differently to the smoking process resulting in a wide range of colours displayed on each plank of flooring. Not every tree, or even every board contains the same quantity of tannic acid, therefore the colour and appearance can vary significantly from board to board and throughout the finished floor. The smoking process gives the floor a varied range of complimentary tones which give a completely unique finish and unlimited design options, as no two boards will be exactly the same colour.  Smoking typically creates a rich brown colour. By changing the temperature of the enclosed chamber, the tones in the flooring can be altered. Hotter temperatures can result in red tones, while cooler temperatures typically introduces green tones into the oak. The varying colours between each board allows for them be laid in creative beautiful patterns that become a unique feature of your home adding a real wow factor.  Smoked Through Veneer A unique feature that occurs due to the fuming process is that that the colour displayed on the face of the board is the colour that runs through the whole veneer (wear layer). This allows for the board to be sanded and refinished while retaining the original colour of the board. As the colour extends throughout the oak, any scratches will not result in a removal of the colour. The colour extends throughout the oak top layer so any scratches will not result in a removal of the colour. This also means that any scratches in the board won’t show up as much as they would with a stained or natural oak board. When scratches occur in stained and natural boards they can remove some colour, requiring extra maintenance and the sourcing of an oil that matches the original colour. Smoked floors are extremely popular in high traffic areas due to this.  Around 1600m2 of our popular Ness Smoked Oak was selected for the Eden Locke aparthotel developments in Edinburgh. The unique features of a smoked floor means that the floor will remain in pristine condition for many years to come, even in the busy hotel setting.  Cost Smoked boards typically cost more than a stained or natural floor, however the saving made on maintenance costs for scratches and sourcing a matching dye means that the initial cost can be higher, but overall the costs tend to match up later on due to the additional maintenance costs of a non-smoked floor.  Expert tip: Fuming and smoking both refer to the same process, both ‘smoked’ floors and ‘fumed’ floors have gone through the same process. Smoked boards have a unique range of complimentary tones and a whole host of benefits making smoked boards an attractive flooring option. See our full range of smoked floors here. 

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