My dream in life is to own a home that has original 1950s checkered tile flooring in the kitchen (and obviously this home is located in the South of France or somewhere equally romantic). Also in this fantasy, I have chickens and horses and never ever have to put makeup on but somehow always feel flawless. Hold for applause. But honestly, the real important aspect of this dream is the checkered tiles. I’ve always loved them and have found them inherently charming ever since I became a lover of design.
But when you work or immerse yourself in a creative industry, it’s inevitable that certain trends become oversaturated and a little unstimulating. I was completely on board with the resurgence of the checkered trend over the past couple of years, but lately, I’ve felt myself getting somewhat fatigued by these square decals. I truthfully didn’t want it to be true, so I confronted my recent distaste for checkered decor head-on. I sought out all the checkered interiors as a sort of immersion therapy and then noticed a clear pattern of thinking. The truth when a trend is everywhere it starts to feel basic. It doesn’t help that the checkered pattern is thriving in fashion as well, so this pattern is truly everywhere (I feel like as soon as Urban Outfitters is on the bandwagon, it is astronomically mainstream). But then I realized there will always be applications of this pattern that feels classic, refined, and timeless. And even still, it can be applied in trendy, modern ways. This pattern has been around for so long that it’s gone from classic to trendy, back to classic so many times and at the moment, I believe (and hope) it’s back to being classic. Let’s observe why:
When we talked about it over zoom, Emily’s take was so simple yet so true: it’s just squares. I had to laugh when she said it because it’s amazing how a simple shape that we learn about as toddlers can be such a hot topic in adult life. But the fact that it is “just squares,” is why it’s so classic? It’s just a bunch of squares, pushed together, switching off between two colors. How fabulously simple yet bold. Is this why they constantly show up in art and design? Because it is so simple yet so visually interesting? Maybe so. In any case, I am getting ready to embrace them once again.
I am happy to say I still love a checkered rug even though I’ve seen it done billions of times. But just because something is uber-trendy, doesn’t mean it is no longer good. When something has such a long history in interior design as the checkered pattern does, it can become versatile enough that it works with endless styles. In this case, the checkered rug remains classic yet cool especially when it falls within the color palette.
A checkered rug moment can add a hint of playfulness to a minimal space with ease. The above bedroom is the epitome of a serene, natural oasis. All the textures and colors are calming and neutral and just a pop of checkered is the perfect accent to add a fresh modern flair.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen the checkered pattern in every color possible but sometimes, it’s completely refreshing to see it in its original black and white form.
When I chatted with the rest of team EHD about my thoughts, Emily noted that checks are the most classic looking when you leave it at just one per room. I tend to agree, but then a photo like the above stops me in my tracks. But the truth is, one check per room IS the most classic iteration of the trend. If you do mix with other checks, it’s immediately more modern (but still cool). The trick is to vary the scale of the squares and make sure the colors are different enough but still close enough in the color wheel. And adding a dog or two doesn’t hurt.
Another modern interpretation of the checkered trend is small-scale patterned upholstery. The shape itself, as I’ve already pointed out ad nauseam, is simple yet interesting enough that it’s easy to mix with other patterns if you are going for a maximalist look.
Small hints are always going to catch my eye and remind me of the impact even the tiniest amount of this pattern can make. With small checkered decor, a bright or unexpected color is a great way to add a pop of visual interest.
It is my humble opinion that a checkered blanket or even scrap of fabric instantly adds an eclectic and collected feeling to a space. In the room above by Amy Convery of Pops and Piaf, the fabric draped over a vintage chair stacked with books is the interior styling version of the effortlessly cool girl.
If you are wondering when the checkered pattern is at its most classic, it’s via large-scale tile. Full stop. I truly cannot see a checkered tile floor or wall and not stop scrolling. It’s always good and reminds me why this pattern is perhaps the most versatile and timeless of them all.
Case in point, this bathroom has been on one of my various inspiration pinboards for years and years and years. This is my ideal checkered tile scale, and I love it paired with another small scale patterned tile. That is the beauty of the checkered tile–it’s so pleasing to the eye to mix with other tile patterns and scales because it’s (you guessed it) so simple!
Now if you are wondering what tile floors I envision in my dream home, it’s this. Black and white oversized checkered tile is the hill I die on. I just think it always looks good and cool.
I had to steal this photo from Caitlin’s chartreuse exploration post because it perfectly portrays how versatile checkered tile flooring can be. With so much good stuff going on here (cowhide rug, zebra print, a chartreuse ceiling to boot) the checkered tiles ground the space (both literally and figuratively).
As much as I covet checkered tiles in a kitchen, I equally adore them in bathrooms. So much so in fact that I am desperately looking for the right scale of checkered vinyl tile so I can make this dream come true in my own tiny rental bathroom.
A modern farmhouse dining room is exactly where large checkered tile flooring belongs. It’s hard to beat because although it catches your eye immediately, it’s never too loud when it’s on its own so it becomes an easy vessel to add intrigue without going full maximalist.
Another note on the checkered tile is how the color choice can inform the style you are going for. Classic green or red will give off a more retro vibe immediately, making it a great jumping-off point if that is the look you are going for.
We often think of this pattern in association with the 50s but its roots go way way wayyyyy back. The actual checkerboard was created in 3000 BC so it should come as no surprise that the pattern in design came around earlier than we think. Possibly earlier than we even know about. So it makes perfect sense that it has an old-world allure to it as well, making it a perfect element in Victorian-style homes.
I leave you with this famous shot of the Questel staircase in the beautiful palace of Versailles as a reminder that the history of this geometrical pattern, if nothing else, transcends its popularity in our modern times. So, will checkers ever cease being classic? I can’t imagine so.
If you are in the market for some hints of this trend in your home, here are some of our picks:
1. Nerikomi Black & White Checkered Ceramic Vase by Fizzy Ceramics | 2. Checkerboard Shaggy Rug | 3. Moroccan Checkered Ottoman Square Sofa Pouf | 4. Large Checkered Area Rug | 5. Checkerboard Throw Pillow | 6. Large Beige and White Checkered Rug | 7. Checkered Panel | 8. Irregular Checkerboard Bolster Pillow | 9. Sanna Room Divider | 10. Dark Brown & White Checkered Moroccan Wool Area Rug | 11. Check VI – Green — Checkerboard Print Bench | 12. Vintage Mid Century Checkered Berber Pouf
Now I would love to know your thoughts so sounds off in the comments below. xx