Terrazzo: the material that we loved to hate is a trend

If you asked me a few years if I like terrazzo I would surely think you are crazy. You see, until recently I thought it must be the most appalling flooring option. Can you blame me? In past years, in Athens, where my experience comes from, mostly in the 50s, 60s and 70s, terrazzo was largely used in low and middle class apartments as a low cost and durable material. It was a time where a large part of the population moved massively from rural areas to the big cities and the need for cheap housing was critical. So terrazzo was a common solution. So common that there is even a very popular greek song talking about dancing on terrazzo floors back in the 60s.

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And while I can remember of some rare cases where a black and white terrazzo floor could admittedly look chic and stylish, the majority of them looked miserable and depressing. I remember brown and mustard yellow and ugly beiges and even burgundy! What are you supposed to do with a burgundy terrazzo floor?  Of course those mid century apartments still stand strong and together their terrazzo floors. So when someone who looks for an apartment to rent finally finds one, one of the first questions he is asked is “and what about the floors?” and if the answer is “terrazzo” he gets plenty of pitiful looks. Because he will now have to struggle to hide it or incorporate it into the decor. With doubtful results, unless he is very talented in home decor.  

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Anyway, it is commonly known that trends come and go, and so is the case with terrazzo which has made a comeback during the recent years and still grows strong in 2019. Luckily, old materials and styles that come back do so with a new, fresh air. Terrazzo got rid of his old fashioned - in a not good way - style and is now a stylish and elegant flooring material.

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For those of you who are not familiar with what exactly is terrazzo, let me copy from Wikipedia:

“Terrazzo is a composite material, poured in place or precast, which is used for floor and wall treatments. It consists of chips of marble, quartz, granite, glass or other suitable material, poured with a cementitious binder (for chemical binding), polymeric (for physical binding), or a combination of both. Metal strips often divide sections, or changes in color or material in a pattern. Additional chips may be sprinkled atop the mix before it sets. After it is cured it is ground and polished smooth or otherwise finished to produce a uniformly textured surface.”

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So while in older days marble left overs were the main ingredient of terrazzo, quartz, granite and glass and even metal fragments are the new additions. Easy to clean and durable as cement but far more fun with its abstract pattern it is ideal for modern interiors .

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The obvious use is of course for floors. In bathrooms and kitchens it doesn't stay confined to the floor but goes up the walls and covers the countertops. Other times it is used for a total terrazzo look, from floor to ceiling. Stairs, backsplashes, tubs and sinks complete the list. Terrazzo adds a very distinctive, bold style to any room of a house. The chips inside the connective medium vary from tiny to extra large and the color combinations are uncountable.

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And all the above brings us to a point where I am about to pronounce three words I’d never think I'd put together in a row: I like terrazzo!

Not unconditionally though:


- I prefer small to medium chips instead of large ones.

- My preference regarding the colors is in the family of grays which I think is a great match for rustic, industrial, mid century interiors.

- I ’d rather skip the earthy colors, brown, mustard, terracotta, beige etc.

- I very much like bright colored chips and glass ones for their transparency, I think they can give a playful, modern style to a space.

- I am not for the total terrazzo look. I think it is fun and stylish for a restaurant or shop but it would be overwhelming for a home.

But of course all this is merely my personal view.

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If you like the look but are not ready to make a long term decision you can add the terrazzo look to your space by going for the less permanent options. From wallpapers to cushions and from coasters to side tables there is a whole array of decorative objects looking like terrazzo.

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What about you? Do you like it of no? Would you consider using terrazzo in your home?