Living room flooring ideas are, quite literally, the groundwork upon which the rest of your design stands, so choosing the right floor for your space is important for achieving a successful scheme. There’s also the added pressure of considering the practical requirements of your room, as well as fulfilling the aesthetic you want.
Whether you've got a large, open-plan space or a compact snug to work with, the choice of color, material and style for your floor will play a role in defining all the other living room ideas you choose for your space.
Thankfully, we’ve got experts on hand to help, with inspiring ideas to suit all kinds of living room setups. From tips and tricks to help you deal with a small space, to different ways to add unexpected color underfoot, discover how leading interior designers strike the perfect balance between functionality and style.
8 on-trend living room flooring ideas to try
1. Trick the eye to maximize a feeling of space
There are a few tried and tested methods that can help to make a room feel bigger than it is, and being clever with the flooring you choose is one that can have a truly transformative effect. If you’re faced with a narrow space, a herringbone wood floor could be a great small living room idea.
‘In this particular project, the space was long and relatively slim, so a straight plank would have elongated it even further which I did not want,’ explains Alexandria Dauley, Founder of Dauley Designs. ‘Instead, I opted for a herringbone laying pattern which actually creates an illusion of width - it also has the added benefit of bringing some pattern and interest into what was otherwise a pared-back neutral scheme.’
Alexandria’s use of a statement rug in the center of the room also helps to trick the eye by drawing attention to the most spacious point, making the whole area feel more expansive.
2. Be bold and try patterned carpet
Do you love striking prints and eye-catching designs? Opting for a patterned carpet in your living room might just be the decorating decision your home has been waiting for. Forget your memories of drab and dreary patterned carpets - the latest living room trends are bright, bold and super stylish.
‘Choosing carpet is now more exciting than ever,’ says Lorna Haigh, Creative Director at Alternative Flooring. ‘Geometric patterns are a great option for an easy-to-live with wall-to-wall carpet. They can be toned down with a calm and neutral palette, or can be paired with brighter pops of color for a more adventurous look.’
As well as looking great, going for this type of flooring in your living room also has practical benefits. ‘Patterned carpet not only brings energy and atmosphere to a room, but it helps to hide dirt and marks too!’ says Lorna.
3. Add color by layering rugs
If you’re not quite ready to commit to an entire room of patterned carpet, try experimenting with layering rugs to inject an element of fun and surprise into your living room flooring. This stunning project by Romanek Design Studio is a perfect example of how to add a touch of color underfoot to an other neutral living room, without overwhelming the space.
‘The pink circular rug was a wild card - and I always like to have a wild card on standby just to turn a room on its head,’ says Brigette Romanek, founder of Romanek Design Studio. ‘This room is beautiful, relatively neutral and everywhere your eye lands, there is something great to look at, but I just felt it needed an extra bit of umph,’ she says. ‘The pink rug provided this, without changing the mood of the space.’
When choosing flooring for your living room, Brigette offers the following advice. ‘The most important element is to think about how you want to feel in that space, and how you want it to function. There starts the conversation that will help you decide on colors, decoration, patterns - all of it,’ she says. ‘For example, if you want a serene room, you will probably go with a soft minimal color - if any - and something cozy underfoot. Alternatively, if you are looking to do something bold, you might just start with a graphic palette and create the room from there.'
'Really think about your wants and needs. That should get you started.’
4. Use a larger rug to unite all the elements of a living room
As well as being a way to inject additional color, another way to utilize rugs as a flooring choice in your living room is to choose a design that helps with the cohesion of your living room color ideas. A carefully selected piece can integrate each part of the room for a really put-together look that’s easy on the eye.
Amy Lau, Founder of Amy Lau Design, used a custom rug by Fort Street Studio to tie this space together. ‘The colors of the painting, the sofa and chairs, the light fixture and the vase on the table are all echoed in the rug,’ she says. ‘Not only that, but the shapes and locations of the furniture too are also reflected in the pattern of the rug.’
‘My top tip for choosing a large living room rug,’ says Amy, ‘is to look at the space as a whole to ensure each piece speaks to the other, and to not be afraid of incorporating color or organic shapes to add warmth and interest.’
5. Create symmetry between the walls and floors
Wood flooring has been commonplace in our home for centuries, and remains hugely desirable to this day. Not only does it possess a long list of practical benefits - durability, heat retention and ease of maintenance to name a few - but it also has an innate aesthetic quality that makes our homes feel cozy, comfortable and welcoming.
With so many appealing qualities, why reserve it just for the floor? Taking this beautiful material up onto the walls makes for a gorgeous modern rustic living room look and pleasing symmetry too. ‘The concept for this project was to celebrate real materials,’ says Stefanie Brechbühler, co-founder of Workstead. ‘With reclaimed Heart Pine on the floors, we decided against drywall, and instead clad the walls in natural Cypress - it gives the house incredible warmth and also creates an unexpected yet wonderful olfactory experience.’
The other half of Workstead, Robert Highsmith explains, ‘We used horizontal Cypress tongue-and-groove paneling on the back wall to allow the floor, wall, and cabinets to become one material tone.’ The result is one of reassuring continuity, providing the living room with a sense of cocooning comfort.
6. Go dark and dramatic with black wood
Perhaps you’ve had traditional wood flooring for a while, and are looking for something a little different? Black wood could be the perfect addition to for a dark living room revamp. ‘In the right space, black or dark flooring can really help elevate the room and accentuate the furniture and décor,’ says Jen & Mar, co-founders of Interior Fox. ‘In the instance of this project, the room has a lot of natural light, so the use of the black floors lifted the space – especially against the lighter soft furnishings and white walls.’
You may think black flooring could be hard to decorate with, but in fact the opposite is true. ‘What’s really fun about the use of dark or black flooring is that it acts as a visual weight where the furniture placed on top looks like it floats above it,’ says Jen & Mar, ‘and when it comes to interior decorating, you’re always looking for interesting ways to use color. Consider black as a neutral,’ they explain, ‘it will allow you to play with other colors and textures – you can use almost any type of rug and the black flooring won’t compete against it.’
7. Consider concrete for open plan spaces
It can be tricky to decide on a floor type in an open plan room - especially if part of it is a kitchen, which comes with its own demands of practicality. For these particular spaces, concrete could be the way to go.
Designed by Alfredo Paredes Studio, this dreamy open place living room utilizes a concrete floor across the whole room to give cohesion and much needed functionality to the kitchen space, while also employing a beautiful extra large rug to provide much needed coziness underfoot in the seating area.
8. Change your flooring from room to room
Flooring can be a great way to characterize different areas of your home, and opting for a design that’s specific just to your living room will make it feel unique and differentiate it from more transient or productive spaces. ‘The opportunity to lay a new and consistent floor across all rooms can really help to increase the feeling of space and connectivity in a home, but sometimes there’s benefit to helping spaces feel subtly zoned,’ explains Andrew Griffiths, founder of A New Day.
There's an opportunity to get creative and combine contrasting styles and designs that you love, but it’s also worth noting that the difference doesn’t need to be stark to make an impact. ‘In this West London project we used the same wood floor finish throughout, but the living room is laid in a herringbone pattern which contrasts to the planks used elsewhere,’ says Andrew. ‘This wood flooring idea gives the spaces coherence and enhances the feeling of space, but at the same time the living space takes on a slightly different feel and its own identity.’
What's the best flooring for a living room?
While a living room should hopefully be a place you can relax and unwind, the chances are it’s probably a multi-functional space and demands a flooring option that can withstand busy family life. Co-founders of Interior Fox, Jen & Mar, recommend asking yourself some key questions; ‘Consider the main purpose of the living room - will it be used to entertain with a high foot traffic, or is it more intimate and intended to be cozy? Another important element is whether there is a good amount of natural light, as that would then dictate the colors to consider.’
Patterned carpets or rugs can be a brilliant option if you want to inject some color and drama into your scheme - and they’re also great for concealing spills and stains, especially if the pattern is busy. Carpet may be preferable in certain properties for its ability to absorb sound, ‘For example, if you live in an apartment where noise control is a priority,’ say Jen & Mar. ‘Jute or seagrass carpets are both durable and stylish.’
Wood is a classic choice, as described by Andrew Griffiths, founder of A New DAY. ‘Wood flooring is a beautifully timeless option for living room flooring, and for good reason,’ he says. ‘It brings a natural warmth and texture to a room, but can be paired with pretty much anything so if you invest in a good quality option, you have a floor that will stand the test of time.
Should floors be lighter or darker than the walls?
There are a couple of schools of thought when it comes to opting for darker or lighter floors - and ultimately it will depend on the size of your space, the light levels it receives and, of course, your sense of style too.
‘In small spaces, try to go for a lighter floor with a slight sheen to reflect light,’ recommends Alexandria Dauley, founder of Dauley Designs. ‘Try to also use the same flooring throughout the space.’ This will allow your eye to travel around uninterrupted and increase the feeling of expansiveness.
That’s not necessarily to say darker floors should be ruled out for small spaces, as Jen & Mar, co-founders of Interior Fox explain, ‘Black or dark colors typically have the tendency to make rooms look smaller, however if used correctly it can be incredibly versatile and suits many spaces. It adds a level of contrast often needed to really transform a space into something unique.’
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Interiors stylist and journalist Amy Neason was the Deputy Style and Interiors editor at House Beautiful for years. She is now a freelance props and set stylist, creating work for a range of national publications and brands such as Imogen Heath. She has previously worked at Established & Sons, and her skills include styling still life and interiors shots for editorial features and sourcing unique products to create inspirational imagery.
She is particularly respected for interpreting seasonal trends into feature ideas and style stories.
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