Harper & Sandilands, the makers of Melbourne’s renowned flooring brand Royal Oak Floors have carved themselves a solid reputation as one of the best in the industry.
Responsible for supplying some stunning flooring for some of the biggest and most prestige projects in the business, we caught up with Kim Harper to discuss his business and the intricacies of premium flooring.
Kim Harper is the owner of Harper and Sandilands and has been with the company for over 30 years.
He employs 5 staff in his showroom and spends most of his days visiting architects and designers, helping visitors in the showroom, dealing with forward orders and key suppliers.
Kim’s favourite part about his business is introducing new and successful products into the market that become successful and worthy.
When asked where Kim sources his inspiration, he couldn’t look any further than the architects and designers he works so closely with. “The great architects and designers we work with who keep finding new ways to use flooring other than on a floor!’ says Kim.
It’s clear that in such a hugely competitive industry, being original and creative are what keeps you at the top.
Despite Harper and Sandilands having such a broad range of stunning flooring products, it wasn’t hard for Kim to pinpoint his favourite Royal Oak Floor.
“I am sentimental about our colour Smoked & Limed because when it was first released it became a sensation and still sells very well. Now I prefer the 4 grey colours we do. Getting grey colours to work on large areas of flooring has previously been impossible using wood stains. We developed a chemical process to make beautiful grey colours that still have good colour and tonal variation between the boards. If you don’t have this variation the floor becomes bland.”
Despite greys being Kim Harper’s favourite, White Smoked is currently the best seller from the Royal Oak Floors range.
“It's a very pale colour and when laid has a very soft and Scandinavian aesthetic” Kim offers.
According to Kim, one of Harper & Sandilands biggest challenges since being in business was the completion of a 250 square metre extension of their South Yarra showroom.
“It actually went very well apart from the noise and the dust” claims Kim.
The Harper & Sandilands new showroom is certainly a thing of beauty and its worth heading down just to see, even if you’re not interested in purchasing a new floor! The floors and walls are adorned with stunning timber coverings from top to bottom. The smell and feel of the timber alone is enough to get you thinking about buying a whole new floor.
As one of Australia's industry leaders, we were keen to find out what sets Harper & Sandilands apart from other retailers in the industry.
Kim is quick to attribute the uniqueness of his business to his suppliers.
“We were in the fortunate position of being the first company to successfully market a range of pre-finished engineered flooring in Australia. This meant we got the pick of the best manufacturers” says Kim.
Although Kim believes Harper & Sandilands have access to some of the best suppliers, this isn’t the only differentiator for his business.
Kim is proud to point out “we pride ourselves on being leaders and not followers. We much prefer to introduce new products and “lead” a market rather than follow behind someone else. Develop don’t copy is our motto," remarks Kim.
Choosing a floor for your home can be an extremely difficult and sometimes agonising decision. With so many different colours, styles and sizes available, we asked Kim for some advice on how to make the decision process an easier one.
“We like people to really think about what floor they want, as it is truly a long-term decision and requires careful consideration. Some people know immediately and others can get tortured making the decision. We are here to help and the best tip is to come into the showroom, look at the floor you like, memorise it, close your eyes and “paste” it into your project,” advises Kim.
Finding a floor that works for you and your home is often the biggest part of the challenge and Kim offers some sound advice for those looking for clarity on how modern floors can work for your home.
“Modern interiors are all about uncluttered, unadorned but beautifully detailed spaces, higher ceilings, white walls and fewer pieces of furniture. One of the most important elements in that space becomes the floor so the floor will set the “feel” of the space”, Kim proclaims insightfully.
Despite the advent of online shopping and various other methods of finding the perfect flooring solution for your home, Kim still believes coming into the showroom is still the best way to find the perfect product for yourself.
“The best way to shop is to come into the showroom and see large sample floors rather than relying on photos or small samples".