Monday Inspiration: Chequerboard Floors

Podcast listeners will know that on last week’s episode Sophie and I had a discussion about where trends will come from in the absence of trade shows (currently taking place online) and the fact that many of us are no longer strolling past high street windows and past showrooms. Maybe this is where instagram and pinterest will become even more influential. All I can say is that I suddenly feel like checks are, or might be soon, a thing.

chequerboard tiling at Matilda Goad's house image by yuki sugiura
chequerboard tiling at Matilda Goad‘s house image by yuki sugiura

First is this heavenly kitchen belonging to the designer Matilda Goad as featured in the current issue of House & Garden. It’s not just the combination of sage green cupboards and plaster pink walls – we’ve all been looking at pink and green for a while now – but the added disruption of the red and cream tiles on the chimney breast. There are currently no tiles in my kitchen but if there were they would, right now, be checked. Topps Tiles have a fabulous collection of Minton Tiles in either rustic or smooth finishes and a variety of colours including a similar deep red and cream.

lino floor by beata heuman
lino floor installed as part of a design by beata heuman

Then there’s that other great designer of the moment Beata Heuman, and if you think trends are something that flow through the ether I had gathered four images for this post and then a friend sent this me saying she wanted to do similar on her kitchen floor…. so there you go. And this, Beata points out in instagram is lino. Yes good old linoleum which is currently having a bit of revival as a) it’s much better than it was all those years ago when you remember it as peeling and yellowed in rented flats and b) it’s made from renewable sources (including linseed oil)  and it’s eco-friendly as it can be recycled, re-used or reincorporated into the environment at the end of its life. Not to be confused with vinyl, which is a synthetic material made from petrochemicals. Marmoleum and Forbo are other brand names for lino.

chequered floor via the modern house
chequered floor via the modern house

Or what about this kitchen, via The Modern House, with its green and white chequered floor (also linoleum). Black and white is a classic of the genre (to coin a phrase) but the green looks fresher and brings a modern modern take to this kitchen. If you explore further you will see that again the walls are a soft pink but the owner has added yellow chairs to the mix to, once again, disrupt the now classic pink and green.

chequered floor at el fenn marrakech
chequered floor at el fenn marrakech

Staying with green and white and I couldn’t not remind you of the glorious El Fenn hotel in Marrakech where the pink has deepened to aubergine and there’s a hint of a yellow chair in the foreground. These are Zellige tiles, which are classic in Morocco, where they are traditionally made from clay near Fez. It’s not a cheap option but the shimmering finish and irregular handcut finish is always stunning. Try London Encaustic to see a range of colours.

A wood and dark grey chequerboard floor in this grey painted bathroom adds a modern twist and the pink shower curtain softens the scheme.
A wood and dark grey chequerboard floor using paint by Annie Sloan

So we’ve looked at classic Victorian tiles, eco lino and high end Zellige. Let’s finish with the DIY option of painted floorboards. This is another micro trend which has been gaining ground on Instagram as the designer Emily Wheeler recently did her hallway (and created a mini tutorial on her highlights look for DIY floors). She used three coats of Polyvine dead matt heavy duty floor varnish over the top which is a good tip for any painted floor, chequerboard or not.

painted checked floor by Emily Wheeler
painted checked floor by Emily Wheeler

And if you have five minutes and want to bring a happy tear (or three) to your eye then I urge to watch this flashmob playing Ode to Joy in Sabadell in Spain. I have watched it about three times (and counting) and it’s just heavenly.


Tags : Chequerboard Floorsfloor tilesflooringfloorswall tiles
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Wow, what an inspiration kick this post was. I have not even thought about chequerboard floors. That green one from el fenn marrakech looks amazing.

  2. Heavenly post today thanks Kate – Ode to Joy indeed! They floors are an added bonus – also divine.
    Thank you for brigtening up my day, a million miles from sunny Spain x

  3. Thank you very much for this flashmob. Like other cities in Catalonia, Sabadell enjoys a great and old tradition of classical music. It usually starts in schools and among young people.

  4. Hi Kate,
    So delighted to see this. I have chequered tiles in my hallway and had considered removing them as I cannot get more of the same tile. I initially had what I call a “runway” thru’ the wooden floor but wanted to tile the whole area. They are Spanish marble (similar to what I grew up with, funny how we go back to childhood living!), so will be desperately scouring for more…wish me luck!!

  5. Thank you Kate for your usual wonderful post. Inspiration and wisdom. And humour. That flash mob has set me up nicely for the day – should be prescribed therapy.

  6. I compliment Emily Wheeler for the strength of her knees and her ability to work so precisely whilst on them!
    She must be so chuffed every time she enters her house, which is always a good thing.

  7. Thank you so much Kate – for the continued inspiration and wise advice – and the wonderful flashmob this morning. I so enjoy reading your posts, they are a golden ray in my day! Hope you have a lovely day in the sunshine today. Lucy – you are so right about music, literature and art – I was thinking just the same yesterday x

  8. Or four… or five…
    I was lucky to see a flashmob like that in Vienna once, and just the feeling of the street bursting into song made me sob. And every time I see one online makes me feel the same: whatever happens to us, individually or collectively, we have music, literature and art to fall back on. They remind us of our shared humanity.

  9. Bloody hell what a Monday morning post! Yes I’m crying….at the music and the chequer board – not a fan!
    That video has completely moved me, from 2012, it makes me realise how much we have lost during this, the strangest of years. Reminding us of how much joy total utter strangers could bring to our lives on chance interactions or walking by at the right time. I hope that we see more of this again when we can. Have a great week people. X

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