Whether marble or concrete, hard floors will win admirers.
For a recent residential project, interior designer David Hicks combined marble that was often used in Italy in the 1800s with large tiles of travertine on the floor.
"Stone is such a great surface as it can be sealed and wears very well. It is easy to clean and maintain if it is marble or granite, while sandstones need a little extra care."
Extending the stone beyond the floor to the walls can create a stunning space. For one penthouse bathroom, Hicks used marble slabs on the floors, walls, and joinery to create a clean, streamlined look. "The space looks like one big beautiful cube of seamless stone."
Sydney architect Hannah Tribe loves hard floors - concrete or stone - with underfloor heating. "We use solar water to run hydroponic heating, which is a beautiful heat that doesn't dry your skin. And in summer, concrete has a thermal mass [absorbs heat]."
And concrete flooring doesn't need to look cold and uninviting. For an apartment overlooking Bronte Beach, Tribe used a concrete slab with coloured pigment to give the floor a soft brown colour.
Concrete is clean and modern, says interior designer Aaron Wong. "I like the raw concrete look. Just polish gloss over it and it's easy to maintain. White-coloured concrete creates a minimalist feel, and it can really showcase furniture."
When architect Koichi Takada designed model Jennifer Hawkins' home, he used limestone flooring. "The white colour highlights the blue of the ocean. It looks absolutely stunning."
Bounce the light
Tiles are gaining ground, and with printing processes they can look like stone, says Takada. "Large-format tiles give a luxury look, and there's less grout. It looks impressive."
In designing One Central Park East, Takada used polished ceramic tiles on the floor.
"Coupled with the mirror vanity, joinery bounces the natural light throughout the bathroom. The reflections and the movement of light provide the small space with a sense of openness and perception of depth."
Carpet is useful for winter and there are some beautiful carpets around, but there is too much maintenance, says Wong. "I'd rather have a rug on timber floors." But the softness can feel luxurious. Takada likes an "amazing soft fluffy carpet" from Belgium.
He recommends carpet for the bedroom as walking on timber can be noisy, and stone is hard on feet.
Takada's philosophy is based on the way people live. "We get our inspiration from nature.
"We go to nature to find the texture and colour and bring that into our design."
Koichi Takada Architects
(02) 9331 4868
(03) 9826 3955
Tribe Studio Architects
(02) 9211 3211
0414 269 571