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Checkerboard vs Harlequin? Let’s talk about your options when it comes to designing the direction of your floor tiles. Get to know the difference between Harlequin and checkerboard flooring so that you know exactly what to do with your space.

Technically speaking, the pattern we installed in our mudroom is actually called Harlequin flooring.  But for the sake of familiarity, we use the term checkerboard flooring.


Even major designers uses this term regardless of the technicalities. But I want you to know the difference between checkerboard and harlequin flooring so you can get clear on the look and vibe you are after.

Checkerboard vs Harlequin: Design Differences

The checkerboard flooring design is technically when the tiles are arranged on the floor in a straight pattern–similar to a chess or checkers game board. The square pieces of tile are laid parallel to the focal wall and the direction of the room.

Contrast this to a Harlequin floor which is installed at a diagonal. It takes on a diamond shape when facing the focal wall or main flow of the room.

The difference in installation is whether you are lining up the square edges with the wall, or starting the tile at a diagonal.

These pretty blue and white checkerboard floor tiles look diagonal because of the angle of the photo. But you can see it is technically a checkerboard design because of how the flat edges of the tile line up with the walls.

Whereas this beautiful space has the points for the squares lined up with the wall and the tile flows through the room at a diagonal.

Should you choose the checkerboard or harlquin pattern?

Of course, that is personal preference, but I’ll shed some light on my own thoughts based on what I have observed.

The straight-on checkerboard pattern does give more of a retro diner vibe. That is the typical angle in which we are most familiar with those types of spaces.

The Harlequin angled pattern is a little more timeless. It also evokes more of a Renaissance vibe since that is where the diamond pattern may have originated.

However, there is always room for rule-breaking and making it work no matter what. One of my favorite examples of a squared checkerboard pattern is in this room, which feels very European and timeless.

Perhaps it is the varying shades of stone, or the wood tones surrounding it, but it all works beautifully together. It looks nothing like a diner!

And this darling cottagecore dining room appears to be also in a checkerboard squared-off pattern, and it absolutely works.

It’s worth it to take the floor tiles and play around with the angle to see what you prefer. Just keep in mind that the harlequin pattern is more difficult to install. But well worth it in my opinion!

I’d love to hear what you think about both options! Do you have a preference when it comes to harlequin or checkerboard? Let me know in the comments!

Be sure to catch up on the rest of this series all about checkerboard flooring!

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  1. I love these photos of the harlequin pattern and the checkerboard patterned floors. I’m having the harlequin pattern installed throughout a closet and master bathroom and am so excited about how timeless it looks. Great job explaining them too!

  2. Cami thank you for all this info and showing us your fabulous floors. I bet hubby had some sore knees after his labor of love. I would love to have a place to install the harlequin pattern in my home, esp. the light gray and off white I like so much, maybe some day! You should be so proud off all you’ve accomplished in your home in such a short time, it’s homey and so lovely!