From a design standpoint, flooring is far more than the surface you walk on and mop up. Designers and remod- elers routinely use flooring to alter the way a room looks and works; with a little planning, you can reap the same benefits. A custom-designed floor can be a cost-efficient solution to an awkward kitchen floor plan-it can help unify a complicated layout, highlight an interesting focal point or direct traffic away from specific appliances and work areas.
Before you decide on a flooring material, consider the possibilities of designing with flooring. Think of your floor as a big canvas and your flooring as the paint. You can design with almost any kind of flooring, including sheet vinyl, vinyl tile squares, ceramic tile, laminate flooring and wood strips or planks. The only difference is that instead of using just one color or pattern, you design inset shapes or borders to accomplish your design goals. You can use the following principles with any flooring, as long as you keep in mind the limitations of the materials you’ve selected.
Using Visual Tricks
First, examine your kitchen and determine what you’re trying to accomplish. Do you want to redirect traffic, highlight a focal point, unify a fragmented room or make the room look bigger, wider or longer? Here are some visual tricks you can use to accomplish these goals:
To make a square room look more dynamic and interesting, divide it into large triangles of color.
To make a narrow galley kitchen appear wider, run a series of wide horizontal ladder stripes perpendicular to the long walls
To make a short kitchen look longer, run narrow stripes of contrasting colors parallel to the long walls.
To unify a kitchen that has many jogs, nooks and crannies, create a perimeter border that fills in the deviations and draws a straight line along an inner color
To make a large room look smaller, use two or more bold, contrasting colors.
To make a small room look bigger, use no more than two light, cool, low-contrast colors (such as off-white and beige, or white and pale blue).
To fill in a large open space, set several increasingly smaller squares inside one another, or place a patterned square inside a solid-color square (or vice versa). You could also place the color field on a diagonal, or define it with intersecting diamonds
To redirect traffic, use borders to mark the pathways.
You can draw attention (and traffic) to a built-in island or breakfast bar by highlighting p the floor around it. For example, if the floor has a perimeter border, repeat it around the island. If the floor is plain, surround the island with a strong color. Another approach is to create an “area rug” around the island in an accent color. You can use the same technique to set off a kitchen dining area. For example, anchor a breakfast table and chairs in a colored square or rectangle, then surround it with a 2-in.-wide border in a third color.
When selecting colors and shapes, you might repeat the lines of other elements in the room, such as an arch- way or a cornice curve. Or, you can reproduce any shape that appeals to you, such as a favorite detail from a quilt pattern. To gather floor design ideas, collect photographs from home improvement books and magazines.