Patterns and Colors

Here comes the fun part--or not. The floor is an important component in your home’s interior both functionally and aesthetically. Not only can a well-chosen and -installed floor serve functional traffic needs, it also can add to the home’s beauty and comfort. If you enjoy decorating rooms you’ll like what a floor can help you do. The floor can become the glue that cements your decorating ideas into a comfortable living space. If you’re not into decorating, you can take some hints from interior decorators on how to use the patterns, colors, and textures of flooring materials to turn a house into a home. 

All flooring materials have patterns. Carpeting uses small loops and strands of fiber to create a uniform pattern. Sculpted and printed carpet adds colors and dimension to produce patterns in the flooring. Wood flooring (real or imprinted) offers seemingly random patterns or grains and colors. Tiles typically include patterns within them or at least offer a consistent pattern when installed with grout. Sheet flooring, too, typically includes primary or secondary patterns that add to the character of the room they floor.

The flooring material’s form (square, long and thin, hexagonal) participates in the floor’s pattern. A large floor of jagged tile may consist of numerous smaller tile (form) set in a specific pattern. Sheet vinyl (form), however, may have printed patterns.

As you’re looking at floors in other houses and buildings, look at the patterns in the flooring materials for ideas on what you like and don’t like. Are the patterns flat or dimensional? Are they random or do they repeat? If they repeat, how frequently?

Color is an important decorative aspect of floors. A well-chosen flooring color can add beauty and livability to a room that may otherwise seem plain. Most decorators suggest that flooring colors be complimentary to those on the walls and furnishings. However, some interesting effects can be made with flooring that is understated or overstated compared to the room’s colors. Remember, though, that it will be easier to change the room’s colors (paint and trim) than to replace the floor with a new color.

When shopping for room paint during a recent remodel my clients took samples of the wood and tile flooring materials they had selected for the primary living areas of their home. They eventually found wall paint that they thought went well with both. The ultimate test was to paint a piece of scrap drywall and hold it up to the flooring materials in various lighting situations (window light, incandescent light, fluorescent light). After living with the test materials for an entire weekend they decided to step the paint color down one tone. A wise decision that they continue to enjoy.

There’s one more element to designing a floor you can live with: texture. Texture is how something feels¾or looks like it might feel. For example, a carpet has a soft texture. However, short-loop carpets may look soft but be firm to the foot. Or a wood floor’s finish may look slippery but actually grip feet well.

The point here is to make sure that the flooring material you select has the texture, real or imagined, that you want it to have. Vinyl flooring may have a seemingly textured pattern to it yet actually be flat so as not to trap dirt. Look for a texture in your chosen flooring material that fits the functions you want it to have.

Pro Tip

Make sure you bring flooring samples home and look at them in various lighting conditions before buying. Flooring materials always look different under various lights. Most retail stores use fluorescent light because it is less expensive and because it shows products off well. Most homes use incandescent or natural lighting for a warmer look. For example, fluorescent lights typically emphasize reds and minimize grain in wood flooring. Textures are emphasized by lighting that hits the surface from an angle.


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