Period Style on a Budget

For those of us who are looking beyond pure functionality in our floors, it can be great fun to try and recreate a specific period style – especially if the rest of your house is already decorated with certain period themes in mind.

Start by thoroughly researching the era you are interested in – you can borrow and browse books from your local library or even go as far as visiting museum exhibits and going on home tours.

Find out about the colours favoured and the materials commonly used in the period you’d like to capture, so that you can recreate the look in your home or workplace, even if you do not manage to find or can’t afford exactly the same raw materials.

Medieval Gothic (c.1150 to 1550 and revived in the 19th century)

A style that dominated during the Middle Ages, until the Renaissance in the early 15th century and then revived again in the mid-19th century by the Victorians, the Gothic style is heavily influenced by church architecture with ecclesiastical details such as pointed arches, ogee arches, stained glass and heraldic emblems such as coats of arms, mythical beasts and the tree of life.

For floors, go for large flagstones if you can afford it or fake the same effect with clever ‘stone blocking’, a paint technique. Alternatively, if you have floorboards, stain them a dark, oak colour.

Georgian (1714 to 1837)

The Georgian style is famous for being airy, with austere lines and a focus on harmony and symmetry. Furniture was delicate and soft furnishings tended to be made of glazed cotton, with a pattern of small sprigs of flowers.

Colour schemes tend to be pale and light, such as pea green, Wedgewood blue, dusky pink, soft grey, flat white and stone.

For floors, bare floorboards covered with Oriental-style Rugs recreate the Georgian period well.

Many of the older, grand houses had pale marble or stone floors with keystone patterns and you can “cheat” this look by using more affordable linoleum in the same pattern.

Victorian (1837 to 1901)

The Victorian era is famous for its excessive ornamentation –from plump, heavily upholstered furniture to opulent accessories and dark, rich colours such as ruby reds and forest greens. It was also a time of imitation and reproduction, with people favouring an eclectic mix of styles in their homes.

Floors in the Victorian Style have a faded grandeur, with patterned carpets laid so that they leave a border of polished floorboards around the edges of a room. Tiles were also used, especially in areas of heavy traffic such as kitchens and hallways.

Traditional Victorian tiles were highly patterned, with the pattern baked on using a kiln but it is possible to achieve the same look much more cheaply using production tiles.

For hallways and stairs in the Victorian style, use a runner in a plain, dark colour such as green or red, with a contrasting stripe and make sure the outside treads are stained a dark brown.

Edwardian (1901 to 1910)

The Edwardian Style was very much a reaction against the clutter, dark colours and heaviness of the Victorian era, with people wanting something fresher and more cheerful.

Thus, the style is very informal and light, even feminine, with delicate bamboo and wicker furniture and a lot of floral patterns and pastel colours. Floors in the Edwardian style should be highly polished, ideally in wood block – but a similar effect can be achieved with cheaper laminate – overlaid with oriental-style rugs.

If your house already has wooden floorboards which are a light yellow pine, make sure you stain them a darker oak colour with varnish. Alternatively, for higher traffic areas, you can opt for bricks in a herringbone pattern or red quarry tiles – or recreate the same look with laminates or vinyl.

Art Deco (c.1908 to 1935)

A style that began in Europe, especially in Paris, during the early decades of the 20th century, Art Deco was popular until the outbreak of World War II.

This style favoured geometric and angular shapes, with textures such as chrome, glass and shiny fabrics as well as highly polished wood and glossy black lacquer mixed with satin and furs. Travel was becoming popular for the first time so exotic accessories from foreign lands – such as animal skins, ivory, tortoiseshell and Egyptian artefacts – were common adornments in the home.

To get floors reminiscent of this era, opt for plain polished parquet or, for cheaper options, linoleum in abstract designs or vinyl tiles in a black-and-white chequerboard design.

Floors were also often overlaid with large rugs in geometric patterns – for inspiration of styles and colours, check out the original handmade versions by artists such as Duncan Grant then choose similar styles in more affordable materials. Another common decorating style was a large circular rug as the centre point of a room.

The 1960’s

The notorious hippy era of free love, drugs and pop music, the 1960’s are often seen to represent all that is “groovy”. Despite the spirit of rebellion, people plundered the past for inspiration, coming up with a mix of Victorian, Edwardian and Art Nouveau styles which was then given an irreverent twist to make it all its own.

Materials like plastic and PVC were popular and homes were designed to be as open-plan as possible, with sliding doors and moving screens encouraging flow from one room to another.

Colours were vibrant, such a bright purple or red and deliberately clashing shades, such as orange and pink. As for floors, the shag pile rug ruled – the bigger the better! Bean bags and lots of scatter cushions across the floor also help to create a 60’s vibe.

See Also
Victorian style tiled floor
Flooring: Victorian Style
Floor tiles
Flooring: Edwardian Style