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Kitchen flooring

The Old House Web

By Anna Kasabian

From fabric to paint, from ceiling trim to floors, the materials we choose to design a room contribute to the whole look. Depending on what we choose, we either make that space a focal point, play it down or blend it into the scene.

Try looking at these details as little oases of art. Consider migrating away from new materials and hunting down unique old palettes, patterns, and materials. People are introducing reclaimed staircases, garden gates, fireplaces and flooring to their rooms.

vintage elements
The floor becomes a focal point of the room when done with salvaged historic terra cotta pavers.
Photo: Courtesy of Vintage Elements, Wholesale and Import

Here are some ideas to consider for using reclaimed stone and tile:

  • Use antique tiles as the splash of color and art on a sea of white floor tiles. When you do this you could put the antique tiles next to new, white tiles and make them the focal point.
  • If you choose to create the floor entirely with antique tiles, create a more interesting floor with a border of colorful tiles and a solid color on the interior.
  • Use antique tiles to create a rug that leads to a place in a room, like the tub or shower area, or the dining room.
  • Create an interesting shape that shows off the colors and scenes in your tiles, and center it in the floor.
  • Use antique tiles as a border. Mix solid colors, or mix patterns, or both as you wrap a room.
  • If stone is your preference consider mixing color blocks of slate to create a more interesting floor.
  • Look for limestone from France or Ireland that has visible fossils on the surface. Use black slate as a contrast in squares, diamonds, or trim.
  • Consider old city bricks for a kitchen floor where theres a lot of traffic and cooking going on. Its not a fussy surface, and has a lot of character and color in the right room. These would work well in a mud room as well.
  • For a really different look mix wood with stone and/or tile on the floor. Imagine a floor with reclaimed pine, and little squares cut out for antique tile inserts.

The possibilities seem endless, and so are the looks and moods you can create.

Today there are companies all over the United States and Europe that are in the business of finding and reselling stone and tile theyve purchased when cathedrals, mansions and their gardens, villas, and even old streets have been taken up and resold.

The Old House WebGuide to Suppliers has many listings for such companies -- from stone importers to salvage yards to companies to reproduce tiles from historic designs.

Anna Kasabian regularly contributes design features and advice to The Old House Web. She writes extensively for lifestyle publications and is the author of eight books on design and interior decorating. Anna's books are available throughThe Old House Web Restoration Bookstore.

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