Small kitchen floor tile ideas — 10 new, interesting ways to transform your floors

From marble to colorful zig zags, a clever choice of floor tiles can make the right design statement in a small kitchen

Two-tone kitchen with pink base cabinets and wood wall cabinets with terrazzo floor
(Image credit: Studio Duggan)

Small kitchen floor tile ideas are an immensely versatile and popular choice. As well as having the practical element, it can be an impactful addition to the space by bringing in fun and character and a cleverly chosen tile can help make the space look bigger, a great idea for small kitchens. 

‘So long as you've not chosen an encaustic tile, tiles are hugely practical, being easy to clean and maintain and work incredibly well with underfloor heating,’ says Oana Sandu, the lead designer of interiors studio Blakes London. 

‘On the whole large format tiles offer a more contemporary pared-back look, but they can be trickier to lay so a tiler may charge a little more. Also, be mindful of where the breaks in the tiles will be as this will be more impactful on larger tiles.’

If you decide on using tiles as your preferred kitchen flooring idea, it is important to remember that they can be quite hard underfoot and may not be as forgiving as a wooden floor. 

‘This might be something to think about if you spend hours standing in a kitchen or have a young family,’ says Oana. ‘Tiles also tend to make a room feel colder and don't dampen noise as well as other flooring materials. It's worth thinking about that when considering the other elements of your kitchen design as these effects can easily be overcome by choices you make on the other materiality in the room.’ 

There are some great kitchen floor tiles ideas around — here are 10 ways to help inspire your small kitchen design

1. Choose a zig-zag formation to zone an open-plan space

Open plan kitchen with red and white tiled zig zag floors

(Image credit: Blakes London)

Zoning is particularly important in small kitchens as it is sometimes visually tricker to clearly define different areas. This is where clever kitchen tile ideas can come into play. 

‘For example, in open plan living space where the kitchen shares a continuous floor with a living or dining space, an interesting solution to this is to use timber flooring or even a porcelain effect timber tile in the living spaces and then transition to a bolder more exciting tile in the kitchen space,’ says Oana Sandu, lead designer of interiors studio Blakes London. In this project by Blakes London, a zig-zag formation tile is used to highlight the kitchen space which plays into the timber flooring in the living area.

‘The options are pretty endless, hence why adding tiles to your kitchen is always a guaranteed way to add personality to your home,’ says Oana. ‘Once you've chosen your tile, don't forget to pay every bit as much attention to your choice of grout color as this can change the look and feel of a tile layout in an instant.’

2. Choose a large format tile to minimise grout lines

White kitchen island with wooden stools

(Image credit: Quorn Stone)

Lots of grout lines can draw attention to the floor of a small kitchen and can have the visual effect of restricting the floor of the space.  The answer? Large-format tiles. 

‘With state-of-the-art machinery advancements, large format porcelain is becoming an on-trend and popular tile size to choose. Stone effect porcelain is most commonly in 900×600 or 800×800 tile sizes, but recently 1200×600 super-size porcelain tiles have become available and really do make the perfect addition for a stunning kitchen floor space,’ says Isabel Fernandez, Director at Quorn Stone.

A large format tile helps to minimize grout lines and maximize the focus on each tile. ‘Another consideration is whether you lay the tiles width or lengthways from the point you stand (from a doorway or viewpoint). For narrow spaces, width ways will make the space appear wider. For shorter spaces, lengths ways will make a kitchen appear longer. Your eyes will naturally always follow the line of the tiles.’

3. Consider painting your tiles for a unique look

Kitchen with painted tile floor by Annie Sloan

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

In a kitchen where space is limited. It is important to let every element sing, including the floor. One option is to update your kitchen color scheme and paint your tiles to get an individual design or you can use paint to refresh existing tiles for a quick and affordable revamp.

‘You can paint your tiles for a fraction of the cost of shop-bought.  The only skills you need are patience,  imagination, and forward planning.’ says color and paint expert Annie Sloan.

‘In this kitchen, the floor tiles were covered in masking tape, with only a strip left exposed, which we painted black. When dry, we positioned on the floor in alternate directions for a simple yet graphic look,’ she explains.

It is important to factor in the time and patience that the painting will require so you can get the best results. ‘It’s always better to paint in an area you can avoid completely whilst everything dries, probably about 48 hours. Tiled surfaces need to be given plenty of drying time between coats and before lacquering.

‘If you can’t do a whole floor, do a half at a time. Patience and painting go hand in hand: the more care you take whilst painting, the less likely you are to make mistakes.’

4. Choose a penny tile to create subtle pattern

Galley kitchen with penny tiles and blue cabinetry

(Image credit: Blakes London)

Penny tiles are becoming an increasingly popular flooring option and a huge interior design trend because they fit both modern and traditional interior schemes, including a galley kitchen. Magnus Nilsson, lead designer at Blakes London agrees. ‘The penny tile is a fabulously versatile little creature and as such can be put to work in almost any scheme. Its ability to be expressed in a multitude of differing ways makes it a popular choice for many homes.’

A plain tile with a matching grout color offers a clean simple look and feel while still bringing texture and interest to a scheme. ‘Change up the grout color to something more contrasting, and immediately you create a different look and feel,’ says Magnus.

‘Penny tiles are perfect for spaces where you may wish to add text to the floor. A simple hello in an "entryway" or a jovial "splash" written in a bright color on the floor of a kid's bathroom can be hugely impactful.’  

5. Pick a patterned tile that complements the colour of the wall 

Colourful kitchen with yellow cabinet, green walls and tiled floor

(Image credit: Forbes Rix)

A patterned tile can bring a dash of color to a small kitchen but it doesn’t need to be in isolation. To choose the right tile, take your starting point from the color of the wall like in this project by Forbes Rix Design

These dynamic Alvito floor tiles from Fired Earth pick up on Farrow & Ball’s Calke Green which is painted on the walls, and the Off Black base units. The tiles help pull the whole look together and are more pleasing to the eye and distracts from the size of the kitchen. ‘We recommend a maximum of three colors to keep it from becoming too busy,’ says Forbe Rix’s co-founder Natalie Forbes. 

6.   Choose a porcelain tile for a durable, stain-proof option

Kitchen with beige porcelain tiled floor

(Image credit: Quorn Stone)

For fuss-free flooring in a small kitchen, porcelain tiles are the way to go. They are extremely durable and easy to wipe clean and can come in a variety of colors and styles. As they are so hard-wearing they are particularly suited for areas of high traffic like hallways and kitchens that are in need of a slightly rustic touch. 

 ‘Stone effect porcelain has come a long way in recent years and the designs produced in Italy and Spain are second to none and extremely uncanny to a stone,’ says Isabel Fernandez, director at Quorn Stone. ’A porcelain tile is non-porous and will therefore provide a stain-proof option which can be preferable with young children!’

7. Add some luxe with a marble 

pink kitchen with chequerboard floor

(Image credit: deVOL)

For a feeling of luxury, you can’t go better than marble. Marble does not come cheap, but in a small space the cost becomes easier to justify. In this kitchen by deVOL, the marble kitchen flooring not only feels opulent but gives a vintage feel to the design, elevating simple wooden cabinetry. 

‘I settled on a chequered 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.’

8. Incorporate terrazzo for color and pattern 

Two tone kitchen with pink and wood with terrazzo flooring

(Image credit: Studio Duggan)

Terrazzo flooring has seen a resurgence in popularity over the last few years because it helps create decorative surfaces that are more interesting than alternative, plainer materials. Terrazzo is a very good choice for flooring in a small kitchen because it can bring in color and pattern without overwhelming the space, particularly if you are already nervous about using color. 

‘In this London kitchen we loved the warmth of the nude/pink kitchen cabinets against the bespoke terrazzo floor but wanted to add some masculinity and impact with wood wall cabinets,’ explains Tiffany Duggan, founder, and director of Studio Duggan and TROVE.

9. Add terracotta for a natural warmth

White kitchen with terracotta flooring

(Image credit: Floors Of Stone)

Terracotta tiles may be more associated with rustic kitchens in Mediterranean homes but they can be a fantastic addition to more modern interiors. Not only do they look good and can come in a number of formations, they are also very durable. There are many ideas on how to decorate with terracotta.

‘We recommend the terracotta for kitchen customers looking for something timeless and traditional,’ Kathryn Collins, manager at Floors Of Stone. ‘The beautiful deep red, russet tones give an instant warmth to a room and work perfectly alongside a simple, shaker kitchen in pale shades such as our linen or damask. Practical, rustic, full of character, no other floor covering looks as authentic as these.’

10. Use black and white tiles to visually expand a galley kitchen

Turquoise galley kitchen with black and white flooring

(Image credit: Pluck)

The right tile can make a small or narrow kitchen look much bigger than it is. The black and white tiles in this kitchen designed by Pluck has the effect of lengthening and widening the space so it feels more spacious than a classic galley kitchen.

'The floor in a kitchen can be one of the largest surface areas visible in the room which means it should not be an afterthought in your scheme, says Leila Touwen, co-founder of Pluck. ‘Color, pattern, natural materials or contrasting hues your flooring choice will make a big impact on the design and feel of your kitchen, there it should be taken as seriously as decisions over wall color and cabinetry and furniture.' 

What is the best flooring for a small kitchen?

The best flooring for a small kitchen is a large format grey stone effect porcelain tile – minimal grout joints combined with low tonal variation from tile to tile, provide a sleek modern look and will make a kitchen look bigger.

‘If a more classic/traditional style is desired, we often find going with a light colored tumbled limestone with a grey undertone works well, the hint of grey ties the floor in with the kitchen and the tumbled edge suggests an aged floor laid for many years,’ says Isabel Fernandez, director at Quorn Stone. ‘Opting for a lighter base tone avoids the space becoming dominated by the grey which often produces a more contemporary feel.’  

What is the most hard-wearing flooring for kitchens?

Porcelain tiles are generally considered the most hard-wearing flooring option to use in a kitchen because of their strength durability and versatility. 

‘As well as kitchens, porcelain tiles are great for floors especially in wet areas like bathrooms, whilst ceramic tiles are better for walls or areas with less moisture or tread,’ says Rob Whitaker, creative and product director of Claybrook. ‘Porcelain tiles can be harder to cut on the whole, and require an experienced tiler with the correct equipment, and some porcelain tiles will also be suitable for outdoor use.’

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.