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Photography by Brittany Ambridge

Linoleum, dingy diners serving $1 coffee, and Formica countertops: These may be the first things that come to mind when thinking of checkerboard flooring, but there is a way to make this retro kitchen style feel fresh. We’re seeing a resurgence of the pattern in home design (hint, hint: check out our Winter issue), and if you’re planning to renovate in the next few months, the kitchen is the best place to start.

Perhaps the biggest draw of this trend is its versatility. Try the checkerboard design in marble, tile, painted hardwood, or even vinyl, depending on your budget and aesthetic.

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Photography by Tessa Neustadt for Style By Emily Henderson

Designer Brady Tolbert used peel-and-stick tiles (Self-Adhesive Vinyl Floor Tile, $15.99+) for his contemporary, modern kitchen. “I wanted to cover the linoleum flooring with something that was not only functional, easy, and DIY, but also something that felt authentic to the character of the Spanish-style apartment,” Tolbert explains. “The black and white was a graphic combination that was modern but also totally timeless.”

Tolbert opted to lay the tiles on the diagonal for a more modern look, and he says peel-and-stick checkerboard floors are the perfect solution for renters. “It took one afternoon and cost under $50 to redo the entire floor. It transformed the look of the kitchen and is still one of my favorite elements in the room,” he says.

So whether you too are renting or renovating, give checkerboard a chance. Here are some of our favorite spaces that prove the “dated” trend can be redone in a manner befitting 2020 and beyond.

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Photography by Simon Bevan | Design by Ben Pentreath

Here, checkerboard is used to infuse bold style into a small kitchen. It perfectly plays off the matte black accent walls, which provide an edgier contrast to butcher block counters and simple white cabinets.


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If it’s good enough for the South of France, it’s good enough for us. Try your hand at a rustic, French-country–style kitchen by opting for checkerboard in more subdued tones, like a pale gray or even light blue instead of black.

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Photography by Paul Costello

We’re loving the way this kitchen combines a shiplap ceiling, subway tile backsplash, and checkerboard floors. The patterned flooring adds another dimension to an already eclectic space.

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Photography by Austin Trenholm

If your kitchen has older wood floors in need of a revamp, try a fresh coat of paint. A strategic paint job can go a long way in completely changing the character of a room—just think how different this kitchen would look with regular hardwood. A checkered pattern, paired with that gorgeous pale blue retro fridge, balances out the contemporary features of the space in a unique, visually exciting way.

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Photography by Monica Wang

Linoleum flooring may not be for everyone, but in some cases it looks just right. This bright and airy kitchen is an example of the latter. Whitewashed features and rustic wood counters help keep the space from veering into kitsch territory. Plus, the checkerboard approach is a great way to add some color.

See more kitchen styling ideas:
Our Favorite Kitchens From Around the World
The Next Big Trend in Kitchen Seating Is…
14 Budget-Friendly Kitchen Cabinet Makeovers

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