How to combine different types of flooring for a wow effect
How to combine different flooring types: common questions and solutions
In more ways than one, floors create the foundation of a home, not only in the structural sense, but also when it comes to interior design. The floor is the canvas which anchors a room and can dictate its final look and feel. While the trend over recent years has seen the same type of flooring throughout the house, mixing it up can prove to be a smart choice, elevating each space and creating distinctive environments, each with their own character.
But, that said, combining different types of flooring does come with pitfalls, and the trick is to find a combination that is not only functional but also creates an overall cohesive aesthetic effect.
In this article we take a look at the most common flooring combinations and suggest a few key guidelines to help you choose solutions for the main rooms of a house that work well together. We’ve also thrown in 4 examples of gorgeous floors to get the creative juices flowing, so let’s get on with it!
While in many cases it may be easier and preferable to install the same floor surface throughout the house or in a single room, there is no reason not to think about a mixture. This may be for purely aesthetic reasons or, in some cases, due to practical or structural necessities. While we at Salvatori generally favour a uniform approach, and this is seen more and more frequently in new builds, you can absolutely achieve a stylish contemporary effect with mix and match flooring.
There are at least 5 good reasons why you might choose to combine different types of flooring in your home:
- If you’re doing a partial renovation, it means you don’t have to tear up the entire floor throughout the house
- If there is beautiful old flooring in one part of the house, you can keep it
- To create a sense of movement
- To create focal points or sections if you are breaking up a large open space
- When you want to make the floor a starring element in the décor of a particular space
During a renovation, changing an entire floor can make a large dent in your budget, and also prolong the whole project. In such cases, if the existing flooring is in good condition, you may decide to only change the areas that are more subject to wear and tear, such as the hallway, bathroom and kitchen. If the floor consists of beautiful old stone or wooden parquet, for example, that you want to preserve, but you are missing tiles, it’s a case of either tearing up the whole thing or augmenting it with another material and in that situation, the key thing is to choose that additional material with care.
Mixing your flooring up can bring additional benefits beyond the practical ones in terms of cost and time savings. When done well, the effect can be to really transform a room, placing an original stamp of style on it. It’s also a very effective interior designer trick to break up large open spaces into areas for different use, but without the physical and visual incumbrance of walls. Another advantage here, of course, is that it will inevitably increase the flow of light through the entire area. This is particularly popular in an open plan kitchen-cum-dining zone. It also works well in bedrooms with a freestanding bathtub, with the change of flooring not only serving as a visual device, but also, if the main part of the bedroom is in wood or carpet, for example, and the bath area in tiles, it is a highly practical option.
As you can see, there are many instances when mixed flooring is called for, and even more so if the walls and furnishings are in neutral tones, as adding a splash of colour or shaking the décor up at floor level can prevent a room from becoming too safe and monotone.
And, if you really want to experiment, there’s the mix&match approach, but more on that shortly.
There is no strict set of rules when it comes to mixed flooring solutions, and as always, much of it comes down to personal taste, the contrast you’re looking for and the characteristics or idiosyncrasies of the environment you’re furnishing. Overall, however, there are 3 types of combinations:
- The same material, same colour, but different texture
- Same material, different colour, giving a mix&match effect
- Different materials
If you are looking to achieve a soft contrast, then you are probably best opting for a single material in the same colour, but by changing the texture or pattern, the overall effect gets a touch of panache. This is very much the Salvatori approach when we are working with a uniform floor, also a look, as we said before, that is currently very much in vogue. What’s more, if you’re working with stone tiles, simply mixing up their size, shape or texture is a surefire way to create a comfortable and relaxing environment.
If, instead, you want to create something a little more dramatic, but without sacrificing the feeling of continuity and harmony of a space, you can combine two colours, either in the same or different materials. Whether you alternate your colours in a regular pattern or opt for a dominant background with accents in the secondary colour, you are guaranteed to create an arresting visual impact. This is the so-called mix&match approach, and is the perfect opportunity to be bold and let your creativity run free.
Aesthetics aside, sometimes you need to mix up your flooring for purely functional reasons, and most commonly this is because certain areas of the home require a particularly hardwearing or resistant solution. Nine times out of ten, we are talking about the kitchen, bathroom or laundry, While the latter two are invariably separate rooms, closed off from other areas, a kitchen can be part of an open plan design, so in this case you will need to pay extra attention to the combination of floor materials.
Regardless of whether we are talking about open space or separate rooms, there are generally four key rooms where design and decor make a real difference:
- Living area
The choice of flooring will obviously, to a certain extent, depend on each room, given that the four spaces fulfill very different functions. The bedroom, for example, should be a calming, welcoming environment that is conducive to rest, so a lovely wood-effect floor in Stone Parquet in Imperiale, a travertine in warm caramel tones, would work well. The same principle applies to the bathroom, which is another space in the house that should provide a haven, so soft contrasts and natural materials are also an ideal choice here.
The living room and kitchen are more dynamic environments and while a uniform floor creates a seamless effect, a mix&match solution can elevate these areas. That might be in the form of a zonal contrast, using inserts, or a more widespread mix&match total look, but either option will add a touch of flair.
When it comes to delineating two different flooring types, there are three main solutions:
- A precise demarcation
- Nuanced change
- An insert to mark a change in level or height
The separation between two different floors can be done in a very precise way, almost as though you had a “border line”, or you can take a softer approach, fusing the two zones in question and eliminating any exact distinction. An example of this would be to use tiles of the same dimension but lay them in a different pattern in the areas where the two zones connect, thus playing with the “boundaries” but maintaining a sense of fluidity.
In some cases, when you divide two types of flooring, there may also be a disparity in level, and here the trick is to insert some sort of metal or plastic strip, that not only serves as a visual divider, but also helps eliminate the risk of tripping.
Now that we have covered the main principles of mixing two different flooring types, let’s take a look at how to work with mix&match floors, with 4 stylish and striking ideas that are perfect for a modern home.
While a floor in a single colour, material and design, is generally the best solution, when done well, a mixed look can take the style credentials of a space up a notch, as in this living room which combines warm, relaxing tones of our Stone Tatami Texture. The combination of welcoming colours and textures that evoke wood and nature bring an almost mystical, ethereal air to the space.
The contrast is there in the form of dark inserts in Pietra d’Avola Honed, but they are perfectly judged so as not to dominate, instead adding an element of depth and interest, that taken together with the natural tones of the walls and the clean, understated furnishings, works to create a peaceful, harmonious environment.
If you’re looking for maximum impact and bold lines, the winning recipe is that age-old combination of light and dark, and what better white stone than classic Bianco Carrara, contrasted with a rich deep brown or black as our Pietra d’Avola Honed.
In a large room with clean lines, vast windows and minimalist décor, a black and white floor is a dazzling design feature that stamps originality and style on the space. The juxtaposition of the two colours also brings a certain rhythm to the room.
If the dark and light combo is a little too dramatic for your tastes, how can you achieve a softer contrast and design a living room that beckons you in with its relaxing atmosphere?
That’s where a mix&match solution with colour inserts steps up to the plate as in this photo where splashes of honed Pietra d’Avola break up the soft creamy tones of Crema d’Orcia to create a kind of visual series of signposts, leading your eyes to the gorgeous modern take on a French window and the view beyond.
The ultra-minimalist design and neutral tones of the entire room, both in terms of furnishings and accessories, are taken to a whole new level with this audacious yet calm play of colours.
Back to another example of strong contrast that creates movement and interest, if you also want to open up a room, you need to think not only about the colours you choose, but also how you lay them.
Working on the diagonal has the effect of amplifying a space and, where it is perhaps irregularly-shaped or not perfectly symmetrical (often the case in older buildings), this approach also serves to camouflage any “geometric defects”.
This wonderful vast room with its simple, delicate lines, becomes almost like a theatrical setting through the artful combination of grey, perfect in Gris du Marais® or Grigio Versilia. The tiles have been laid in an elegant diagonal pattern with a nod to the past, bringing depth and a real wow factor to the entire space.
As we have seen, the most straightforward choice, and that currently most in vogue, is to opt for a uniform floor for a more seamless look, but without total discarding the idea of going completely the other way and combining two different materials, finishes or colours. This latter, more “daring” option can bring benefits in terms of cost and timing and, if done with a clever design eye, it is a simple and effective way to introduce an interesting décor element to any space.
So, the bottom line is that our advice is to not be afraid to experiment. Unleash your inner interior designer and create rooms that dare to be a little different and original!
When it comes to flooring, there are a myriad of possible combinations of colours, materials and textures to choose from, but that’s where the fun starts. We would love to help you find a way to stamp your unique personality and style on your own home with a stunning floor, so why not contact us and put our heads and imaginations together!