Flooring inspiration from around the world – Africa and Latin America

In the first of this two part blog series, we began by looking close to home with European inspired flooring and then turned eastward to explore floors with an Asian persuasion. If the rustic hardwood floors of Scandinavia or the traditionally jute carpets of India weren’t quite your cup of chai, we’ll continue our global expedition.

In this second post, we turn our gaze southward across the Mediterranean Sea to explore the diverse African styles, before hopping across the Atlantic to see what the Americas have to offer.

African Flooring

African Tiles

Africa is the hottest continent in the world – over 25% of it is covered by the Sahara Desert – so cool flooring styles with minimum insulation are naturally very popular. As we’ve seen with many Southern European and Asian flooring designs, tiled floors are a very effective way to keep interior spaces cool while also looking warm and stylish. Ceramic tiles are a popular choice as they are durable, waterproof and can come in a variety of colours and sizes.

Terracotta, porcelain and slate are common and affordable tile choices while more luxurious tiles made from marble and granite will come at a higher price. More commonly found in bathrooms and kitchens in the UK, floor tiles can be found in almost any room in many African homes. Their water resistance, hardiness and charm make them a fun but practical choice for a kitchen-diner area where there is an increased risk of spills.

For a warmer, softer and more cost-effective alternative, opt for vinyl stone flooring. It is easier to lay and softer underfoot but, as they are almost indiscernible from real stone tiles, will still achieve that cool African look. Vinyl stone floor tiles come in a multitude of styles, sizes and colours and are able to replicate any stone tile look. Choose darker, earthier stone-effect tiles for an authentic African inspired floor.

African Solid wood floors

Africa is a land rich in natural resources with some of the oldest and largest forests in the world. It follows that the people of Africa would use this healthy supply of wood as flooring for their homes. Hardwoods such as African teak, ebony, mahogany and zebrawood are beautiful and robust woods that can introduce an African accent to your home’s interior.

Solid wood floors are popular across the globe for their natural aesthetic and great resale value. Although they may not exhibit the diversity in colour that ceramic tiles or stone vinyl flooring can offer, there are a surprising variety of hues to choose from. Consider the exquisite blackness of ebony wood compared to contrasting stripes of zebrawood or the warm red grain of padauk versus the pale golden brown of African teak.

Authentic African hardwood floors are a beautiful and worthwhile investment in any home, but they can often be expensive. Opting for engineered or laminate wood is a cost-effective way to achieve a stylish solid wooden floor look without the associated price tag. Whilst many African hardwoods are sourced sustainably and can easily be resold and recycled, choosing to use engineered or laminate wood for your flooring is a more environmentally friendly option.

Latin American Rug

Latin American Solid wood floors

Perhaps the only continent that can rival Africa when it comes to the diversity and size of its forests is South America. Home to the largest rainforest in the world, The Amazon, wood is the signature flooring material in this part of the world. To introduce some Latin American flair into your home, incorporate exotic woods such as Brazilian cherry, rosewood, goncalo, cumaru or tropical walnut. These woods can be found with a variety of grains and many striking, fiery colours typified by reds, browns and yellows.

For UK homes, the versatility of oak makes it a great alternative to rarer imported Latin American woods but it may be harder to find the exact look you want. Opting for engineered, laminate or vinyl wood flooring allows you to match the exact colour and grain of your desired American wood but at a fraction of the price. It’s hard to argue with that!

Whilst there have been significant advances in sustainable forest management, some tropical hardwoods are still illegally procured. Their diversity and natural durability has lead to their great popularity, which has unfortunately made them a highly prized commodity to illegal loggers. Happily, all timber entering the EU market has to be identified, recorded and risk-assessed by the EU Timber Regulation to ensure it has been sustainably sourced. If you do choose genuine South American wood flooring, you can enjoy them in the knowledge that they have been sourced from a certified, traceable supplier.

Latin American Carpets and rugs

When it comes to textiles, it’s hard to compete with Latin America. The numerous cultures that span this fertile continent have been weaving beautiful works of fabric art for at least 10,000 years. It’s therefore no surprise that after all that practice, textiles created in Latin America have influenced interior design all over the world. The combination of traditional indigenous craftsmanship and vibrant Spanish and Portuguese styles has created some colourful and timeless designs.         

So how do you incorporate Latin American flair into your flooring? The answer is in the colours. Bright hues such as reds, greens, blues and yellows are all woven together in a fantastic clash of colours. The material is less important here; it’s the colours that take centre stage. Many UK based companies such as Alternative Flooring offer a huge variety of vibrant, Latin American inspired carpets that explode with colour. Great examples are the Flowers of Thorpe or Felix Raison woven jute carpets from the Quirky B range.

If you can’t bring yourself to carpet a whole room in this way but still want a Latino flavour, limit the carpet to the stairs or find a vibrant rug in the Latin American style for your living room or bedroom. There are thousands to choose from on the market or, better still, create your own rug so you can have a unique piece of Latin America that is perfect for your home.

If you want to learn more about how you can incorporate these or any other styles into your home don’t hesitate to get in touch with our helpful experts at Hudson Flooring. We’d love to help you find the perfect flooring and rugs to achieve your ideal look!