Changing the surface you walk on can have the same impact as painting your walls a whole new shade. Color, texture and pattern all do their part by creating style underfoot.
1. Ceramic & Porcelain
Tiles provide you with a huge variety of patterns and colors that can create different effects depending on their configuration. Highly elaborate geometric-patterned floors are synonymous with the generous decor of Victorian and Edwardian homes and are ideal for adding a period feel. Try a black and white checkerboard design with a decorative border in the kitchen, bathroom, hall or conservatory.
For a more bohemian look, opt for Mediterranean-style encaustic tiles — their muted shades of color and natural patina will complement the pared-back charm of uneven walls and imperfections in older properties. For a cost-effective and original look, create a patchwork of patterned tiles by laying them randomly. This is a great way to use stock ends of tiles from high-street retailers, and the resulting design would suit a plain scullery or industrial-style kitchen.
Our tips for tile floors:
Lay tiles on a subfloor that is level, structurally sound, clean and dry: Preparation is key for producing the best results.
Always ensure you order at least 10% more tiles than you think you need. This will allow for mistakes and waste. (You’ll need even more excess tile if you are using larger tiles or going for more decorative, patterned layouts).
The warm tones and textural character of wood are a natural fit with a country interior. They might be a cost-effective option too, if your original floorboards are in good condition. One big trend right now is the “distressed” aesthetic, which retains the wear and tear, patina of paint and extreme weathering of the boards. But if you prefer a cleaner look, sand back your floorboards and finish them with wax or varnish.
Alternatively, floor paint can enhance a room, and a painted floor also allows for some creative stenciling. Engineered flooring also provides a contemporary feel. For a modern Scandinavian look, opt for wide boards in limed oak or maple. If your home is an elegant period property, add sophistication with beautiful herringbone parquet. Hardwearing porcelain tiles are also now available in styles that mimic distressed wooden boards but are more resilient.
Our tips for wood floors:
Moisture causes wood to swell and warp, so avoid using it in rooms that often have high humidity levels, such as bathrooms. Unless you can fit an extractor fan, keep the space well-ventilated, and be prepared to mop up spills.
Search salvage or reclamation yards for replacement flooring that matches the period of your home. You just might be able to find wide oak boards, English elm, pitch pine or herringbone parquet.
Concrete is a great surface that, when polished, creates a cutting-edge architectural statement. It’s also durable and versatile, which makes it the ideal solution for a contemporary floor in an ex-industrial space, log cabin-style retreat or barn conversion.
The simplicity of concrete also means it can be teamed with underfloor heating and used to link functional open-plan living spaces, such as kitchens and dining areas, or to provide continuity between an interior room and an exterior courtyard. Embrace the rough, natural patina of poured concrete, or stain it for a rich, sophisticated feel.
Our tips for concrete floors:
Concrete floors need to be level, strong, stable, damp-proofed and thermally insulated to meet current regulations, so for the best results, always employ the services of a professional builder.
Stone flooring is hardwearing, requires very little maintenance and never looks out of place in a country home. It comes in a range of attractive hues from dark granite, basalt or slate to pale marble, brick and limestone. Shop around for different finishes too: The texture can be “honed,” “riven” or “tumbled,” or it can be smooth and polished for a more contemporary look.
Flagstone floors naturally suits a country setting, so if you have an original one you should consider restoring it to its former glory. If you are planning on laying a flagstone floor from scratch, shop locally for stone in keeping with the style of your property, or visit a salvage yard for reclaimed pavers that have a time-worn surface with character.
Our tips for stone floors:
This type of flooring feels cool in the summer but also conducts heat well, so it works with underfloor heating and is a good choice for kitchens and bathrooms. It perfectly combines practicality with the comfort of warmth underfoot.
Stone can work both inside and out to create a seamless link between the living space and the garden. Add decorative interest by combining pavers of different sizes.
5. Wool & Cotton
Carpet adds instant comfort and color, whether it’s a bold floral, classic plaid design or a plain, understated and natural shade. Opt for a lively pattern in a cottage with character to add personality and visual warmth.
For narrow corridors or stairs, experiment with runners in stripes of different widths to create a feeling of space. Pure wool and felt make for a particularly warm option, due to the insulating qualities of the natural fibers. Carpet is a great sound insulator too, which makes it an ideal choice for upstairs bedrooms in older homes with creaky floorboards.
Large flatweave cotton rugs offer a simple, movable solution that can add warmth and style, and they cleverly define different living spaces in open-plan areas. They are also great for adding a dash of color, pattern and texture to an otherwise plain room — without the cost of committing to a whole new floor.
Our tips for wool and cotton carpet floors:
For the best results, always choose the finest underlay you can afford — the better the quality, the less a carpet will show signs of wear and the longer it will last.
Ensure you select the right carpet or rug for the job. Check the label for its durability and suitability, particularly for heavy-traffic areas and stairs, where a wool-mix option (incorporating hardwearing man-made fibers) might be worth considering.
6. Plant Fibers
Plant-fiber floorcoverings such as coir, sisal, jute and seagrass will introduce a rustic, natural feel to a space. They tend to vary in color, so always sample test first with your existing furnishings, and, as they differ in durability, select the right one for the right room. Jute is the softest and only recommended for bedrooms, while seagrass is medium in strength and good for living rooms and kitchens.
Coir and sisal are the toughest, so they are both suitable for areas of heavy use, such as hallways. Available in a range of fine weaves and textured boucles, these materials are a great way too add a touch of coastal-style elegance to your home.
Our tips for plant fiber floors:
Plant fibers react to high levels of moisture by expanding or absorbing water, which can lead to buckling and shrinking. Avoid using this material in high-moisture rooms, such as bathrooms.
Never clean plant fibers with water. Doing so will cause the fibers to go moldy. Instead, vacuum or clean using a specially formulated dry-cleaning solution.
floor ideas, plant fibers
7. Vinyl & Linoleum
Ideal for adding low-maintenance, cost-effective style, these materials are hugely practical, and they’re especially great for kitchens and bathrooms where a wipeable surface is needed. Vinyl is waterproof, but lino is the more eco-friendly option and has lost its dated image: Quirky designs and bright colors are now widely available for both, along with effective designs that mimic textures such as wood and stone.
Try a classic checkerboard look in contrasting colors for a vintage-style kitchen, or consider incorporating a colorful pattern or floral design to add a pretty and unique touch to a bathroom.
Our tips for vinyl and linoleum floors:
Lino is biodegradable and doesn’t harbor dust or dirt, which makes it a great choice for asthma sufferers. It does need sealing against moisture for use in bathrooms, however.
Before laying vinyl or lino, ensure the subfloor is clean, dry and dust-free. For best results, install a layer of plywood onto which you can fix the vinyl or lino.