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Hello, Terrazzo! This Throwback Trend Is Back in a Big Way

June 01, 2018

Or should we say, "Hello again, terrazzo?" This flooring trend that was popular in the 1970s is coming back better than ever, and it’s not just for floors this time. We’re seeing terrazzo in everything from countertops to showers to lampstands.

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Photo: Angus Mill

What Is Terrazzo?

Even if you’re not exactly sure what terrazzo is, you’ve definitely seen it and probably walked on it. Terrazzo is a durable, speckled material, usually made from small pieces of marble, quartz, glass and other materials that are set in concrete or resin and smoothed down flat. There can be a lot of variety in color, size and shape of the smaller pieces that make up the larger slabs or tiles, which means it’s easy to achieve a one-of-a-kind look in your space. This London kitchen designed by POST-OFFICE features sage cabinets (also a major trend this year!) and statement-making black terrazzo with specks of green, yellow and orange. This engineered marble terrazzo, which you may have seen popping up on Instagram and Pinterest, is called Marmoreal, which means "marble-like," and was designed by Dzek in collaboration with Max Lamb.

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Photo: Miguel de Guzman

Stepping Back in Time

You may think of terrazzo as a material popular in the 1970s, but its origins go back much further than that. It stems from the 18th-century Venetian pavement that became popular in Mediterranean designs when flooring makers started taking scraps from higher-design flooring like marble and quartz and combining them to make the mosaic-like speckled flooring we now know today as terrazzo. NOMOS Architects brought inspiration from Italy into their design of Paradiso, a café in Geneva, Switzerland. "We chose this particular combination of black-and-white Carrara marble with Verona red to emulate the classic Italian café and because it’s sturdy and easy to maintain and will only get better with time," Lucas Camponovo, an architect at NOMOS, said.

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Common Uses

Technological innovations like divider strips and the electric grinding machine made the production process easier, and Art Deco designs favored terrazzo, beginning in the 1920s. One of the more recognizable terrazzo floors - the Hollywood Walk of Fame - was created in 1958. You’ll often find terrazzo in museums, schools and public buildings since it’s widely available and easy to clean. Plus, it's long-lasting and can be refinished repeatedly.

MORE: The Pros and Cons of Terrazzo Tile

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Photo: Phillip Ennis (Design by Sawyer | Berson)

Watching Your Step

While terrazzo is often used as flooring in highly-trafficked areas since it's durable and long-lasting, it can be slippery if not sealed properly. You'll want to discuss adding non-slip additives to the surface with your contractor, especially if you have kids or elderly family members. Saturated with rich blue and gold hues, this eclectic, inviting sitting room combines Italian-inspired tumbled marble terrazzo floors with midcentury modern touches like the Sputnik-style light.

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