Checkerboard flooring ideas have become one of the most popular flooring choices in recent years. But while it may be very much on trend now, it is strongly rooted in the past, as far back as ancient Egyptian temples and royal palaces before becoming a popular fixture in American homes, not to mention diners, in the 1950s.
The reason for its enduring appeal is simple – it's a timeless look that can work in almost any decor and it looks as relevant now as it did decades ago. It is a choice of flooring that can work in practically any room, definitely one that should be on your list of kitchen flooring ideas, and there are a variety of ways you can achieve that distinctive look, from paint effects to the use of vinyl flooring.
While the combination of black and white is the classic, more established style, a number of color options like red and white or brown and white give this well-loved look a fresh and modern interpretation.
'Checkerboard patterns are a massive trend for 2022. This spring is all about making bolder color choices for your home and having fun with check,' says Lucy Tunstall, creative director at Harvey Maria. 'Checkerboard flooring has always been chic and we've given the classic black and white a modern update - try softer neutrals such as brown or pastel blue to freshen up a dull area or forgotten space.'
Searching for some inspiration on how to incorporate it into your home? Look no further than these 10 ideas from our interiors experts which will have a transformative impact on your space.
10 ways to use checkerboard flooring ideas
1. Use it to zone a specific space
In open plan kitchens in particular, zoning is important to separate spaces with different functions.
This is most commonly achieved with rugs or low-level furniture, but checkerboard flooring can be a good way to define a space like this beautiful banquette eating spot designed by LA-based Sarah Solis Design Studio (opens in new tab).
Founder Sarah cleverly echoes the floor with the seating and table and the punctuations of green give the look an added freshness.
2. Enliven it with high-impact color
One of the biggest advantages of checkerboard flooring is that it can act as a neutral, allowing for more vibrant pieces to take center stage.
Here, the soft charcoal and white flooring act as a contrast to the bold raspberry pink elements and lime green lamps. This flooring was cleverly created by color and paint expert Annie Sloan (opens in new tab) using paint and you can create a similar look using our DIY tutorial on how to paint a checkerboard floor.
‘Geometric shapes look fabulous and modern and are easy-peasy to create,’ says Annie of this checkerboard paint idea. ‘Start with a neutral color for your base, then begin creating your pattern. Use the right tools. Get a pencil, a tape measure, and draw out the guidelines before applying masking tape to ensure sharp lines. Using the correct brush will help too – a small brush with flat edges will help keep sharp lines. My top tip, this is an obvious one but – always make sure to start at the furthest point from the room to keep your handiwork in check!’
3. Go for a marble option for a luxe look
If you are after an instant note of luxury, marble flooring is the way to go. Add that to a checkerboard design and you not only have a beautiful floor but one that will stand the test of time.
‘I settled on a checkered marble floor by Floors of Stone, this gave me the perfect base, it felt Victorian, grand, and slightly faded. It’s not the cheapest floor but it is a place worth spending your money in my opinion,’ says Helen Parker, deVOL's creative director. ‘Tiny flecks of pink within the marble were beautifully similar to my favorite Farrow and Ball paint color Setting Plaster, so the walls were now decided on too.’
4. Turn it into a focal point in your shower
A checkerboard design can bring subtle yet interesting pattern to your bathroom. While it is great as a bathroom floor idea, go one step further and use it for your shower floor as a more eye-catching twist, especially if you want a small bathroom to look bigger.
One of the many joys with a checkerboard design is that you can use different materials to achieve the look. Here, for both the walls and floors, porcelain tiles are the most durable option while still achieving a high-end result.
‘Our Piazza collection of porcelain tiles offers a practical alternative to real marble,’ says Louisa Morgan, creative head of Mandarin Stone (opens in new tab).
‘This marble effect tile offers four colorways which can be mixed and matched to create your own specific design. The Piazza Amber & Nero have been used here to make a traditional checkerboard floor.’
5. Emphasize the checkerboard with a decorative border
A hallway is the ideal place to have a checkerboard floor, one of many hallway ideas, as it gives a striking first impression and it gives a very strong grounding for the various doors that open off it. Create an even bigger emphasis with a decorative border which helps tie in the look and make it appear more cohesive.
“The style of the Victorian era has an enduring appeal in modern interiors and is characterised by the iconic tiled flooring of the period, says Sarah Escott, design manager of Amtico (opens in new tab).
‘The eye-catching design is a combination of complex decorative patterns and colors that culminate in a striking checkerboard. Throughout time, it remains synonymous with style and sophistication.’
6. Pair checkerboard with stripes for a clever pattern mix
A checkerboard floor doesn’t have to be the only key pattern in a room – add an additional one like stripes for more depth and visual interest.
This look is particularly effective in a space like a bathroom which is often void of color and pattern. It is also one instance when it is worth avoiding the classic black and white checkerboard flooring option. Many bathrooms tend to be made up of large white pieces which often make the space feel sterile so it is a great idea to bring in a checkerboard with bolder combinations as an easy opportunity to add color.
7. Echo the look with a clever, well-made vinyl
If you want to get the checkerboard look but your pockets are not deep enough to splash out on stone or tiles, a luxury vinyl is an option worth considering. 'Vinyl flooring is durable, easy to look after, and suitable for every room, making it a practical and cost-effective option for your home,’ says Josh Barber, buyer at Flooring Superstore (opens in new tab).
‘On top of that, because it comes in such a broad range of styles, you can achieve almost any look with vinyl flooring.’
This luxury vinyl flooring from Amtico successfully mimics a traditional farmhouse style checkerboard kitchen floor with deep grey slate is offset by a rich terracotta.
‘The variety of designs available makes it possible to reproduce the look of different flooring types, like wood and stone, without the extra care that is needed with natural materials,’ says Sarah Escott, design manager at Amtico (opens in new tab).
8. Use it as a focal point in a neutral scheme
Adding checkerboard flooring to a room with neutral decor is a great design trick when decorating with neutrals. It gives it a sophisticated feel and draws the eye into the space, allowing it to travel through. Here, the softer tones of the walls and light wood is grounded by the monochrome tiles which becomes a standout feature in itself.
‘Fitz Honed Black & White Marble is both elegant and timeless and recreates a traditional checkerboard floor,’ says Louisa Morgan, creative head of Mandarin Stone. With a soft, worn look, this monochrome marble mix suits both modern and traditional properties.
9. Create the checkerboard look with painted floorboards
If you have wooden floorboards and are looking for an easy refresh, you can learn how to paint a checkerboard floor yourself with paint and just a little patience.
To achieve this relatively easy transformation, you’ll need to use a tape measure and pencil, to draw out the guidelines and masking tape to get a sharp edge.
‘Choose your color and start at the furthest point in the room from the door using a small brush with a flat edge and fill in the squares,’ advises Annie Sloan who created this bathroom look. ‘Once the first coat has dried, apply the second coat and leave to dry fully before applying Chalk Paint Lacquer – you will probably need two to three coats of this.’
‘After it has dried, it will go through a further curing process over 14 days to fully harden. You will be able to walk on it, but be gentle.’
10. Pick a bold color for an energising feel
While a black and white checkerboard look is a timeless classic, choosing a bold shade can give a space a fresh vibrant look. A red and white checkered floor is a popular alternative choice and in this space by Harvey Maria, the flooring, a beautiful vinyl, compliments the soft blue cabinetry and creates a contemporary, edgy feel.
‘Our LVT floors are incredibly practical, completely waterproof and slip resistant.’ says Lucy Tunstall of Harvey Maria. ‘They require very little maintenance and our patterned designs enable you to add a pop of pattern or color, even in a small space with an otherwise neutral decor. Investing in key features like flooring adds a premium feel to your home and creates a cosy and stylish aesthetic.’
Are checkerboard floors out of style?
Checkerboard floors are a timeless classic and have been a popular flooring option for decades. The beauty with checkerboard floors is that they can be incorporated into any kind of home, from period properties to palaces and you can create them with a variety of materials including wood, vinyl and stone.
When were checkerboard floors popular?
Checkerboard floors were popular in the Renaissance period, which took place from the 14th to the 17th century. More recently they gained popularity in the 1950s where they were widely used in American diners.
As the Deputy Editor of Livingetc, Busola Evans works across both print and digital and specialises in kitchens, bathrooms and projects. She is an expert at explaining how to improve, extend and convert your home. Prior to her current role, she was Associate Editor on both Livingetc and Homes & Gardens. A journalist for more than 20 years, she has written for a number of newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Sunday Times Magazine and Grazia, and was an interiors columnist for the London Evening Standard's ES Magazine.
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