Vancouver Interior Designer: Which Flooring is the Best for Your Kitchen? Tile or Hardwood

Every time I consult with a client on colour for a new kitchen floor, I always steer them to hardwood over tile, cork, marmoleum or vinyl. Why? Because hardwood is like jeans, it pretty much goes with all colours.

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There’s nothing neutral about any of the other flooring choices. So, if you choose an orangey cork floor to tie in with the rest of the oak flooring in your house (for example) you now have an orange floor in your kitchen, and that becomes a “fixed” colour that you must consider as part of your colour scheme.

As I mentioned in this post, the days of defining each space with a different flooring choice is over. In my mom’s carriage house, I specified the hardwood flooring to go throughout the kitchen, master bath and powder room. It makes the space feel even more spacious and is totally timeless.


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This week I consulted with a couple who had couriered three marmoleum samples to my home prior to our call. Light gray, medium gray and charcoal. Their countertops were Uba Tuba granite which is primarily green. My immediate advice was to eliminate the marmoleum from consideration and take their hardwood flooring through. And here is my rationale for why:

1. The gray flooring in no way relates to the granite (which was already installed).

2. With a gray floor this kitchen will always say “installed during the gray trend.”

3. There is not a stitch of gray anywhere else in their home (nor were they interested in adding any).

There really is nothing more beautiful than a white-on white kitchen (below)! Why mess around with countertopsbacksplashes and flooring in a bunch of different colours and undertones? The chances of them all going together perfectly are so slim it’s just too much effort only to be annoyed in the end when it doesn’t turn out quite the way you envisioned.

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I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want something like that to bother me every time I walked into my brand new, (not to mention) expensive kitchen. I would want my kitchen to be timeless, way beyond the shelf life of a 10 year trend cycle.

What’s my second choice if hardwood is not an option for your kitchen? There is no simple answer here, just make sure whatever you choose that it works with the era of the rest of your house, especially if you don’t have any plans to coordinate the rest of your home to the trendy colours you’ve just selected for your kitchen.

Which flooring is in your kitchen?

Related posts:

The Colour of Wood vs. Wall Colour: How Important is it Really?

Which Hardwood Floor is the Most Timeless?

The Best Tile Floor for Your White Kitchen

Five Steps to Selecting the Colour for Your Kitchen

Download my eBook, It’s All in the Undertones. If you have a computer, you can download my book!

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.

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  1. I like tile in the kitchen, the larger the better, with extremely narrow grout lines.

    And now I'm a big fan of porcelain tile that looks like wood – it now comes in extra wide planks. We have it in our exterior entryway and I used it in several places in a showroom – white (in a Schonbek "crystal room"), dark charcoal and walnut in part of a fake condo. When told it's wood, everyone touches it b/c they don't believe it.

    Just one example – http://www.mosaictileco.com/ They've used more than one color but I think there's enough natural variation in just one. The super-fine grout lines aren't noticeable.

  2. Food might be prepared here, with guests conversing using the host ahead of and immediately after meals, when the sink may also serve as a bar sink for the serving of cocktails.

  3. My entire house has orangy-pine-looking laminate. I wish I could replace every square inch of it. Since that's not possible, I would love to put down a hard wood floor in the kitchen; but how to match it to the existing laminate in the rest of the house would be a challenge. My kitchen opens up to the dining room and the entry hall, so it would definitely have to tie in in some way. Thoughts?

  4. There are a lot of other options than hardwood if you are looking for a flooring that works a little harder for you in the kitchen. Cork is not always orange there are lots of different variations. And there are a myriad of beautiful porcelain tiles out there that look like wood, or any other traditional flooring material.

  5. When in doubt I specify cork..it’s great for kitchens
    and like anonymous says it comes in myriad of colors.
    So, don’t match your laminate,but stay in general color “tones” and it will look beautiful! More affordable than hardwood.

  6. hello maria,
    just found your site and am really liking your advice and opinions. you are addressing issues that i have been questioning and have found no good answers to – until now.
    i am faced with a dilemma. i remodeled my kitchen and just had a granite counter installed. i am very unhappy with the choice. i deliberated very carefully over the granite selection only to discover how poor it looks “in my home”. at this point i have no option but to live with the choice i made.
    i will be painting the walls and adding a new floor in the kitchen which will help to bring out the better colors of the granite, but i am skeptical. i know that i can somewhat “improve” the appearance of the granite with these measures, yet i would love to have it removed and replaced it with something i can be happy with. for now this is not possible due to the cost. i have even considered covering it with another material, but have no ideas.
    the granite is imperial white and the cabinets are ikea in cherry wood, shaker style doors. i plan to paint the walls in Behr antique white and use Tilecrest porcelain
    tile, the silk road in white. the new paint and flooring will serve as a backdrop to the cabinets, thereby enhancing their appearance. the granite top will have no other patterns or colors to compete against and will also standout with what little beauty it has.
    so, i am saying i can “doctor” the current situation. i will see how much of an improvement it actually makes.
    thank you for reading my letter. it helps to have a professional such as yourself to “vent” to. do you have any input to offer, i’l even accept sympathy under the circumstances.
    with regards, ben roath.

  7. In our former 1950’s ranchburger, down here in Texas, I had beautiful hardwoods, throughout most of the house. When redoing the kitchen, I could not install wood due to a subfloor situation. After agonizing, I chose vinyl wood planking. It abutted the wood and NO one could ever tell that it wasn’t wood. It served my purpose in a busy kitchen with boys and dogs. I actually really liked it!

    • Diane,

      I am also looking at vinyl wood plank products for my kitchen. But since I have fairly narrow plank wood flooring throughout the rest of my condo, it’s hard to find the same width in vinyl planks. Could you tell me where you found your vinyl plank product? I appreciate your help.

      PC

  8. Thanks for this post Maria! I keep stumbling on your website and really enjoy it.
    The reason I’m here today was because I had a second of regret regarding my flooring choice. My dishwasher line failed and made an absolute mess. Now my original hardwood throughout my 1930’s edmonton bungalow is being replaced. I went with a handscraped oak in a darker grey brown. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I was having a little bit of doubt about hardwood in the kitchen but after reading your post – I’m over it! Thanks again!

  9. Hi
    My entire house (1880’s) is softwood, Douglas fir. It is really beat up in the kitchen and I need to replace it with something that can be cleaned. It can’t be refinished. It’s too worn. Is marmoleum tile in a checkerboard pattern really a mistake? I’m looking for timeless but I will never be able to match the patina’s of the wood in the rest of the house.Please advise.

    • Choose one of the colours to coordinate with the existing wood and then go lighter or darker to co-ordinate with the countertops or cabinet colour. I think that’s a great idea. Maria

  10. Hi,
    loving your articles, we’re redoing our kitchen in 4 weeks time. We have natural birch hardwood floor thoughtout the house except for the kitchen. The plan is to sand/revarnish the existing (oranges) hardwood, leaving it in natural color. And put prefinished matching hardwood floor in the kitchen.

    The kitchen will be with white shaker cabs and we really want leathered absolute black countertop. Will it look odd with the natural/whitish floor? I’m thinking this is still better than tiles anyway. I don’t want to stain or have dark floors, but that is usually the kind of floor with this type of kitchen.

    thanks!

  11. Choosing a wood floor for the kitchen is risky. I started with a kitchen/family room that was 1950’s knotty pine (and looked 60 years old!) with a refrigerator and stove top and dishwasher to match (horrors) and turned it into something pretty and livable — and without replacing the cabinets (although it took a lot of labor to get them as beautiful as they are now). I’ll post B&A’s if anyone is interested. The one thing I will comment on right now is this: Choosing the floor was so difficult. I visited at least 30 stores and talked with salesmen until I was about to scream. But what one wonderful salesman told me was that you can spill a little water now and then on these modern wood floors and it will be okay, but on about the 30th spill the water will start making “inroads” into the under layers and then your troubles begin. Since I care for my elderly mom and am always dropping little plops of this liquid and that carrying things back to her room I chose a thick sheet vinyl flooring with no “grout” lines, and it turned out so nice. Everyone asks about where to get it and I love cleaning it with a mop and water only. It was the best decision I made. The “solid” pattern I chose has a soft industrial look of concrete with a whitish background and touches of gray that go with my lovely, lovely gray walls (SW: Worldy Gray; so beautiful) and a touch of caramel that matches the fridge/dishwasher, which I didn’t have to replace! So understanding how you actually live your life is important when it comes to making your decision about flooring for the kitchen.

  12. We did wood look tile in our recent kitchen/utility reno. Does it look bad like a faux imitation of a wood floor? I suppose that depends on who you ask. To me and to most it appears to be hardwood. Will send a pic if you would like to see it. I wanted and needed a wood floor but after having a busted hose in the kitchen am soo thankful that I have tile. My only regret (if you can call it that since it is really not a big deal to me) is that the tile grout dried a little lighter than I wished it had. Always enjoy your posts. We are just DIY people but I have learned a great deal from you!

  13. Has the world gone insane or is everyone stupid? Why on earth would anyone in their right mind come to another person’s professional website and give advice to other readers in the comments section? If you want to give advice, get your own website. Don’t you realize how incredibly rude that is? Not to mention, that if you are not a professional your advice is presumptious, unwanted (at least it should be unwanted) and probably incorrect. Jeez, there is not a modicum of manners left on the planet.

  14. Good Morning Maria! Am reading your posts and ideas concerning flooring. In this post 09/03/2011, you said that you would install wood floors throughout a house- even in the master bath. Do you still suggest that? ie. also in the front foyer and mudroom? I’m thinking in terms of water damage of course. Also, would you recommend using a high end laminate throughout a home, as opposed to engineered hardwood?

    Thanks so much for your informative posts!