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When it comes to flooring, our instinct is to play it safe with plain wood, like a wide-plank white oak or maybe a maple in a chevron pattern if we’re feeling daring. Sure, our floor should be able to withstand muddy shoes and paw prints, but where is it written that this essential surface has to blend into the background? It’s time to consider going in a new direction—one that’s clad in paint, stone, and, yes, even carpeting. All the trendy ideas we’re loving right now are almost too pretty to walk on. 

A (Brush)stroke of Genius

If your worn-down wood boards are in good condition, all it really takes for them to look brand-new is a can of paint. A dark, solid hue grounds a room that’s filled with eclectic furniture (and in Zippora Seven and Terence Connors’s cottage, navy helps the vintage yellow sofa pop). Another DIY approach: Create faux mosaic scenes or mimic the look of tiles with stencils. 

Check Mate

Plaid, patchwork, checkerboard—you can create dynamic patterns with basic square tiles. Designer Alex Boudreau spent countless hours in Photoshop mapping out her four-part motif (each hue is directly inspired by the Mexican landscape). If you don’t want to put so much effort into the layout, flip the tiles upside down so that when they’re installed, the pattern comes out totally random. 

Sweep It Under the Rug

Adding wall-to-wall carpeting to our renovation-trends-to-watch list for 2021 was a no-brainer. The covering has come far from its beige and gray days. Now you can get it in bubblegum pink, eco-friendly sisal, and punchy animal prints. Do the soles of your feet a favor and take it beyond the bedroom. 

Go With the Flow

Photography by Prue Ruscoe, House of Glam, Gestalten 2019

Flagstone is still very much an appropriate pick for a patio, but did you know you can bring the big and chunky pavers inside, too? Think of it like an oversize take on traditional terrazzo—one that is durable and forms a visual connection between exterior and interior living areas. 

Follow the Brick Road

An entire ground-floor level covered in earthen clay blocks one-ups an exposed brick wall any day. The pavers cost from about $3 to $10 per square foot, making them less expensive than natural stone. They’ll also help keep your home cool during the warmer months (just plop down a few shag runners in the winter). Renovators, are you ready to hit the ground running? 

Our Winter Renovation issue is here! Subscribe now to step inside Leanne Ford’s latest project—her own historic Pennsylvania home. Plus discover our new rules of reno.