No matter how much attention you pay to your décor, it may never look exactly right if the bones of the room aren't thoughtfully designed. This is something we easily overlook when moving into a new space. We take the floors, the moldings, and the hardware for granted—but all these details can be altered if you're willing to go through a cosmetic renovation. And while a great rug will help hide ugly floors, it will never compare to really getting the floors you truly want. It also won't help improve the value of your home like new flooring will.
Are you considering replacing your floors in 2021? There are a ton of factors to consider. First, are your existing floors salvageable? Quality hardwood floors can often be fixed with a good sanding, a new finish, or even a coat of paint. If you're dead set on replacing your flooring altogether, consider whether you want a hardwearing option for high-traffic areas or if an elegant look and feel are more important. To help you make the best decision possible, we rounded up some of our favorite flooring trends of 2021. Some are holdovers from 2020 flooring trends, and while they may not necessarily be new flooring trends, we tapped interior designers to tell us why they expect them to continue. Beware—you may find yourself renovating sooner than you think.
Discover the great interior floor trends interior designers expect to see in 2021.
If you've inherited original hardwood floors that are still perfectly acceptable but may have seen better days, consider a coat of paint before ripping them out. Sometimes, a glossy black or white paint can give your space a dramatic flair—and it's much more cost-effective than installing entirely new floors. Whether painted or stained, the look is timeless, says Sherri Monte, a Seattle-based interior designer with Elegant Simplicity. "We've seen a slight deviation from the white and airy vibe into a more dark, moody and saturated look," Monte adds. Do note, says Monte, that "the darker the floors the easier it is to see imperfections."
As far as tiles go, large hexagon tiles are one of the most popular flooring options of the moment. They come in many different colors and textures, ranging from matte black to moss green, or even antique terra-cotta. This low-maintenance flooring option is great for high-traffic areas and will still be on-trend in 2021—though we may see homeowners opt for a smaller-sized tile.
"I can see a lot of ways hexagon tiles are still in—specifically in bathrooms on the floors of the shower or as an accent in niches," says Monte. And while a small hexagon tile in Calcutta or Carrera marble is classic, adds Monte, "the large oversized hexagon tile isn't something [our clients] are very big on anymore."
Another flooring option that seemed to be everywhere in 2020 is terrazzo, due in large part to the larger trend happening in décor in general. It can be a fantastic hardwearing option in a midcentury or art deco home. According to Monte, terrazzo hasn't necessarily gone completely out of style, "as terrazzo in neutrals like gray or beige is somewhat timeless." Adds interior designer Samuel Amoia, who is based between New York and Los Angeles, "It’s very versatile; it can be used in entryways, living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and basements and it’s a great economical choice with tons of variations and color options."
Wide Plank White Oak
Forget what you think you know about hardwood flooring trends—the most popular (and most beautiful) style of the moment is wide plank white oak in a matte finish. Brett Elron, Owner and Lead Interior Designer of Barter Design in New York, says, "Wide planked white oak flooring has grown in popularity recently due to its natural look and feel." While it's been around for some time, Elron says the wide plank style adds a different feel to it. It's elegant, it warms up your space thanks to the blonde wood hues, and looks stately and low-maintenance.
Plus, says Monte, the light color makes your home feel expansive, and "the wider plank gives a more grand and slightly luxurious feel to a home." Consider wide plank floors with texture for a more lived-in feel, says Monte, such as wire-brushed, hand-scraped or wide plank white oak that's distressed in some way.
Herringbone or Chevron Patterns
Another popular hardwood option—which lends itself better to a narrower plank—is to lay it out in a herringbone or chevron pattern, creating an elegant motif that's reminiscent of elegant Parisian apartments. This type of installation can be a little more costly, but it'll be entirely worth it once you see what a beautiful impact it can make in your space. Interior designers, however, are divided on whether these unconventional patterns should be trending in 2021.
While Elron believes their geometric design will still resonate with homeowners, Erica Reiner, Owner and Principal of Los Angeles-based Eco Method Interiors is skipping chevron for herringbone. "Herringbone has a more classic and timeless look than chevron," Reiner says.
"I like to see herringbone in simple neutral colors like white, silver, greige, or ivory where the pattern it makes can do all the talking. Butting a white herringbone tile pattern up against an original or vintage wood floor in a nice walnut or mahogany color has a divine effect," adds Reiner. On a similar note, Monte thinks both patterns are modern yet classic, especially when paired with neutral colors and materials like Carrera, Calcutta, and hardwood floors.
Consider applications like backsplashes, kitchen floors, and entryways for these patterns.
Though polished concrete floors have been around for a while, they're being used in entirely new ways—like in this elegant California kitchen pictured by Amber Interiors. The blonde wood cabinets and stark black countertops elevate the polished concrete, which feels more refined than industrial here. This is a great option for indoor/outdoor spaces and high-traffic areas.
"When done right, [polished concrete] can work well with a lot of different designer's approaches, from industrial or modern across residential and commercial sectors," says Reiner. Plus, "it's sustainable, durable, low maintenance and has a minimalistic and clean vibe to it," says Monte. And while it may come off as cold in suburban homes, "embellishing concrete with furnishings, rugs, and décor in an urban living space is very hot," Monte adds. And when the design trend shifts and you're not feeling the concrete anymore? "You can simply tile or hardwood right over them," offers Monte.
To get that coveted beachy feel, consider whitewashing your hardwood floors. This looks best with wide plank floors but can also be beautiful with regular width planks. This can be easily executed with most existing hardwood floors as a cost-saving alternative to replacing the flooring entirely. Reiner is a fan. "I'm into this trend, especially when paired with contrasting black accents like black metal hardware, sculptures, picture frames, and other accessories," Reiner says. Whitewashed floors "showcase a lot of texture where each plank looks unique and has a ton of character," says Monte. "They also feel modern."