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A Stylish Foundation: The Best Flooring for your MCM Home

While a fully remodeled Mid-Century Modern home is the ideal, the reality of things is that you’ll probably have to renovate part or all of a MCM home if you want to restore it to its original beauty. This is a tremendously enriching and fun experience. It’s not hard to renovate your home with style that is true to Mid-Century Modern aesthetic with just a little planning. One of the best ways to convey an authentic Mid-Century Modern design is to select flooring options that are consistent with the home’s style. The best part? The options are practically endless.

Natural Tile

Slate flooringSlate, terrazzo, bluestone, and travertine are just some of the original flooring materials used in MCM homes. These natural flooring materials are consistent with the ideal of mid-twentieth century building: an integration of the indoors and outdoors is paramount. Slate tiles exhibit a fine grain and come in a variety of colors. The most common of these colors is a variation of grey or a coppery sand tone. A monochromatic color scheme is best for MCM homes, otherwise your floor will look too much like a cottage floor.

Travertine is a type of limestone, and in terms of color, can be thought of as the lighter version of slate. Travertine comes in various hues of cream and beige. For the proper Mid-Century Modern look, travertine and all hard surface flooring should have a matte finish. Very few finishes were shiny or glossy in the original design schemes for these homes.

For the proper Mid-Century Modern look, travertine and all hard surface flooring should have a matte finish. Very few finishes were shiny or glossy in the original design schemes for these homes.

Terrazzo is a flecked tile that is made from a composite of natural materials. The look is similar to linoleum patterns of the MCM period. Finally, bluestone flooring is very similar to slate, but many homeowners report issues with sealing and protecting bluestone as it is very porous, so take that into consideration when selecting new flooring material for specific rooms.

Cork, Bamboo & Hardwood Floors

Kitchen view into other spacesCork flooring was a staple in Joseph Eichler’s homes, but they work beautifully in any Mid-Century Modern house. Affordable and sustainable, cork is produced today, making it especially easy to replace your current floor with new versions of the classic. If you’re planning to put cork down in your light flooded space, be aware of the fact that it will probably fade in the sunlight. It’s also not recommended for bathrooms where repeated exposure to moisture can damage the cork.

Bamboo is a contemporary and trendy alternative to MCM flooring. Although it wasn’t present in original interior designs for these homes, bamboo is wildly popular today both for its affordability and its sustainability. Because it’s a natural material, it is consistent with Mid-Century Modern design aesthetics, even if it’s not an original building material.

Hardwood floors are another good choice for updating your MCM house. Pick a wood with a subtle grain in a medium tone, like maple. The light color will help to keep the space airy, and the durability of hardwood floors almost can’t be beat.

Carpet

Although carpet is typically used sparingly in MCM homes, it can be a very nice addition to yours, particularly in rooms that need some sound absorption, or in a space that could use a little warming up. Keep it conservative with light colored neutrals or go for a bold statement with a rich, bright hue like lime green.

FLORFor a versatile, contemporary option, check out FLOR. The eco-friendly company crafts modular carpet systems that you can personalize for your space and to your style. Simply stick the removable carpet “tiles” to your hard surface floor and remove them when you’re tired of the look.

The 20 by 20-inch squares can be removed for spot cleaning after a dinner party; just carry an individual square to the kitchen sink, wash and put it back in place. When you’re tired of your FLOR squares, or you’re just in the mood for a new set, simply ship them back to the company—on their dime—and your used FLOR squares will be recycled into new material.

Laminate & Linoleum

Laminate flooring offers an alternative to homeowners who want to achieve the look of hardwood floors without the cost. If your home has a radiant heating system, laminate helps to conduct heat better than hardwoods, so take this into consideration when picking out flooring.

Linoleum flooring—and solutions that are very similar to it like vinyl floor covering—offer versatility and durability without a large price tag. Armstrong’s Raffia is a beautiful option.

RaffiaThese rectangular tiles take inspiration from nature and feature a very fine grain that satisfies the desire for contemporary design within the aesthetics dictated by MCM homes.

Of course the best flooring for your Mid-Century Modern home is the original floor, whether it’s stone or linoleum, or something else. If at all possible, retain this flooring as you restore the space to its original glory. If not, the above examples are just some of the many options available to MCM homeowners.

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Megan Winkler

Megan Winkler

Megan Winkler is a professional writer, editor, and author with an extensive portfolio. Her works include interior design coffee table books and advice articles on the best ways to turn a house into a home. She credits her master’s degree in history and her relationships with professional designers for providing historical and philosophical context to her design pieces. Megan is passionate about Mid-Century Modern and historic homes, and believes they provide modern generations with a glimpse into the past.

2 Comments

  1. Rusty Price says:

    Thanks for the well thought article with such great photos. Favoriting your article for reference for my flooring project.

  2. Steve Schuh says:

    I’ve always loved the look of terrazzo — large spans of cement (now epoxy) flecked with marble, glass, or aggregate chips ground and polished to a smooth surface with few joint lines. A classic, extremely durable MCM flooring choice for both commercial and high-end residential applications, terrazzo is available today in tile format but was traditionally (and still today) poured in place. Expensive in the short term, terrazzo requires little maintenance and will last forever. Love it!

    http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/5868202/list/Terrazzo-Makes-a-Comeback-for-Floors-and-More
    http://www.greenwiseflooring.com/terrazzo.htm

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