Our Favorite New Trend: Contrast Floors

Updated 10/23/17

We adorn our walls with fresh coats of paint or statement wallpaper and draw our guests' gaze to the ceiling with bold lighting and intricate moldings, but when it comes to flooring, there's usually little room for creativity—or at least that's what we thought. While searching for stunning imagery for a story about our favorite interiors of all time, we stumbled across one shot that took our breath away: a standalone bathtub on Carrara marble tiles that gradually transitions into wooden floorboards. It turns out you were floored by the jaw-dropping image too, giving the snap over 10,000 likes on Instagram.

We're not the only ones… Interior designers around the world are starting to embrace the trend dubbed "tile transitioning." Whether on the walls of a bathroom or the floor of an open-plan dining room, interlacing tiles with wooden floorboards is seriously showstopping. Plus, according to experts, it's not as hard as you'd imagine to incorporate it in your next renovation.

Is this the next big home décor trend? We're betting on it. Take a look at some of the best interiors that take statement floors to the next level—and find out how to do it yourself. 

contrast floors
Preston Schlebusch for The New York Times ; interior design by Studio DB

It might look complicated, but Studio DB's Britt and Damian Zunino, the duo behind this stunning bathroom space, say transitioning tiles to wooden floorboards is surprisingly straightforward. "The first step is getting your contractor on board, but the actual work isn't that complicated," they told MyDomaine. 

The pair has experimented with this trend on two projects, including their own modern home in Armenia, New York, and they say it's a perfect solution to segment an open-plan space. "We had the advantage of designing a similar floor for a loft in TriBeCa before our own home," says Britt Zunino. "In that project, as well as our own, the bathtub is in an open master suite. We loved the idea of the tile anchoring the bathtub," she explains, which visually divided the sprawling space without walls.

small space kitchen
Courtesy of Royal Roulotte

Looking to bookmark this for your next kitchen renovation? Zunino says one of the key things to keep in mind when trying this trend at home is the type of materials. "We love the idea of tile bleeding into a softer material like wood," she says. The transition between hard and soft materials gives the space texture and clearly defines the two areas. So, before you fall in love with a gorgeous geometric tile, buy a sample to take home. Experiment by placing different tile samples side by side with wooden floorboards to compare the texture. 

Courtesy of Espacio en Blanco Estudio

We've seen our share of sleek, modern homes that nail this trend, but this classic interior proves any space can experiment with tile transitioning. This Barcelona home blends monochrome checkerboard tiles with whitewashed floorboards sporadically to give it a modern edge. If you're considering this trend in a traditional kitchen, be sure to update décor, too. The treatment instantly modernizes a room, so make sure this theme carries throughout the space by updating pendant lights or drawer pulls. 

Merola Tile Porcelain Mosaic Tile $8 per square foot
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Studio M

While it's easy to get caught up in the aesthetics, there are a few practicalities to consider before calling a contractor and tearing out your bathroom floor. Pause and work through the logistics. "The biggest challenges are making sure the leveling of both materials is spot-on while addressing the different types of underlayments," says Zunino. 

It's also vital to make sure the tiles cover wet zones, like under basins or near the shower, while the floorboards mark typically dry areas, like the doorway. "[Make sure to check] the waterproofing membrane and that there is still room for expansion and contraction," she recommends. 

Modwalls Chevron Handmade Ceramic Tile $43 per square foot
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@Kessara

Renovating a studio apartment can often feel like it's fraught with spatial issues, but we've got good news: This trend is made for small homes. "I think this type of floor treatment is most appropriate in areas of transition, [like] entry areas, open baths, or even kitchens," says Zunino. Why? "It's a creative way to delineate space without a hard line." 

Rocket, a Nordic-inspired coffee bar in Bangkok, makes the most of an open-plan kitchen by gradually phasing out the tiles into hardwood floor. The stunning end result maximizes the tiny space. 

Stone Center Carrara White Marble Tile Sheet $11 per square foot
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Wichmann and Bendtsen via Dwell

Not sure which tiles to choose? Yes, there are endless color options of stone, ceramic, and concrete tiles, but there's a method to selecting the right style for your space. Firstly, consider the broader color palette of the room. This incredible converted silk factory in Spello, Italy, boasts minimal décor, so a smattering of hexagonal tiles in different shades of gray adds depth to the room.

Next up, take a look at the existing décor. If you opt for geometric tiles in different hues, furniture should be kept understated. Take cues from award-winning Italian interior designer Paola Navone, who let the unique tile flooring in this home take center stage with wire furniture that doesn't detract from the overall design.

Villa Lagoon Tile Mixed Gray Hex Cement Tile $13 per square foot
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via Designs By Katy

Not ready to renovate your floors? This gorgeous bathroom dabbles in the trend by gradually fazing out the hexagonal tiles towards the ceiling to make a honeycomb-like pattern. The best bit? You don't need to worry about matching the tiles with bespoke wooden panels so it takes a fraction of the time and effort.

So, are you with us? Our bet's on this stunning tile trend to dominate Pinterest. Which interiors are you adding to your board?

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