Unexpected Flooring Ideas

It’s official, the home interior design industry has entered a permanent state of shoe gazing. That’s because some of the most eye-catching features of the modern home can be found by looking down, on the ground below your feet.

Thanks to state-of-the-art textile technology and mold-breaking innovations, the residential flooring market is looking way up. Here are the top 10 ideas for taking your floor to newly inspired heights.

The “X” Tiles

The market for textured tiles has entered an unprecedented streak of innovation, providing designers with never-seen-before patterns, styles, and dimensions. The magazine-winning tile trends range from a solid, simple design but laid in unusual arrangements such as diagonally, in a zigzag, basket weave, European fan, and intricate mosaics.

Alternatively, there’s the ordinary inlay of extraordinarily patterned tiles, such as hexagons, herringbones, rhomboids, fish bones, arrows, arabesques, and scallops.

Another hugely popular tile choice is the ceramic slate that looks like wood, concrete, bamboo, resin, fabric and even wallpaper.

As far as configurations go, modern designers are saying goodbye to symmetry and consistency and hello to mixing-and-matching different colored and sized tiles such as shiny embossed penny rounds with oversized rectangular mattes. Or, on the other end, the “one-material” trend is equally popular, whereby one-color palette is used floor to ceiling, wall to wall, for the entire room.


According to a January 1 HGTV article, ““This year, there’s a new floor in town - terrazzo tile.” Terrazzo has actually been around for centuries, from ancient Egypt to 18th Century Venice to 1920’s art deco as the “poor man’s” marble. Terrazzo is a composite material consisting of marble, quartz, granite, glass, and so on, poured into a matrix of concrete or epoxy resin, to create a polished uniform surface with “chips” of color and design. The modern incarnation is sleek, sophisticated, and abounding with options for color, sheen, and variegation.

Hardwood Laminates

Organic wood floors may be universally beloved, however, the often high cost and maintenance of natural timber makes this floor choice less than universal. Until now. Thanks to new, streamlined technology in low cost wood laminates, it’s possible to enjoy the look of natural wood without the less-than-appealing price. “Faux” wood planks are made of high-density polyurethane with a closed cell structure which come in hundreds of realistic styles, grains, and textures nearly identical to the genuine article. Cedar, knotty pine, eucalyptus, barn wood, faux wood. Paint and stain away. Take a look at a few examples here.

They are renewable, durable, naturally termite resistant, and available in countless colors, sheens, and mattes.

Wild Baseboards

The other permutation of modern wood flooring that separates it from its predecessors is its layout. The conventional, vertical tongue-and-groove installation has given way to countless creative configurations, such as:

  • Laying wood beams horizontally rather than vertically
  • Laying planks in bold geometric patterns like herringbone, zig zags, angles and fans
  • Substituting flat planks for bamboo poles
  • Laying wide, rectangular plywood sheets to create a bold, contemporary look.
  • Beadboard: In between each plank is a little indentation or ridge called a “bead.” Achieves a farmhouse chic statement.
  • Shiplap: Like beadboard, only the planks overlap and fit together with a rabbit joint. Signature of coastal designs.
  • Parquetry: Once reserved for high school gymnasium floors, this incredibly durable option is known for its mosaic of wood pieces into geometric patterns like basket weave, 6-sided stars, chevron, and herringbone.

Carpet Coup

Remember the drab ole’ days when the floor of new homes resembled a monotonous sea of wall-to-wall beige carpeting?

Well, times have dramatically changed thanks to a stylistic carpet coup. Today’s soft-footed flooring market now offers the entire spectrum of bold, vibrant hues, jaw-dropping patterns, and unprecedented designs, textures, and weaves. From elegant cut-and-loops, modernized frieze “shags,” and sleek, tight-woven Berbers, there are endless options for taking your home’s carpet from stale backdrop to stunning focal point.4

The best innovation to come out of today’s market is carpet tiles. Now, installing the carpet of your dreams no longer requires the back-breaking work of carrying and navigating one uniform roll the size of a blue whale up and down stairs and through narrow doorways. Simply peel off the adhesive backing and place each tile into the desired position. Accidentally spill red wine on your new carpet? No problem. Simply remove the stained tile and replace it with a new one. You can mix and match patterns and colors, create checkerboards or stripes or whatever your design vision may entail.

Leading the final five most “pinteresting” flooring options is linoleum. If you’re thinking of the iconic lime green and yellow floors of Donna Reed’s 1950’s kitchen, you’re absolutely right. Modern retro linoleum is making a serious comeback thanks to its eco-friendly footprint -- linoleum is made of a biodegradable epoxy of linseed oil, cork dust, tree resin, wood flour and ground limestone. Other benefits include durability, stain resistance, and an unrivaled color palate.

Concrete flooring is also rising in popularity as a less expensive alternative to natural stone, while also achieving the look of stone via a process known as stamping. For a streamlined, industrial aesthetic, poured concrete reigns supreme.

Leather floors are making their way in homes across the country. Here, the leather is derived from the centermost part of the cowhide, a thicker, more elastic material than is ordinarily used in handbags and belts. The feel on the feet is soft and warm, a great cushion for small, moisture-free rooms such as closets and meditation areas.

Cork is popping out as a popular flooring alternative to hardwood. Made of the very same stuff that you see in wine bottles, cork is harvested from the bark the cork oak tree. It’s revered for its anti-microbial, insect-repellant, allergen-reducing, fire-retarding, maintenance-free durability. Simply stain to your desired effect, open a bottle of red, and enjoy!

Rubber is also meeting the road for popular flooring options. Made of recycled tires, the modern-day rubber floor comes in a variety of vibrant colors, and creates a naturally moisture-resistant surface for bathrooms, sunrooms, and kitchens.

For more inspiration, check out our Pinterest board "Flooring We Love." 


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