One of the few unpleasant aspects of our mid-century home is the icky gray 50-year-old linoleum that occasionally interrupts our otherwise lovely hardwood flooring. In our search for an inexpensive alternative we keep stopping at plain old vinyl tile used creatively to form interesting patterns. There’s something comfortingly familiar about the tiles — maybe because they remind us of practically every elementary school hallway. But forming them into colorful patterns elevates them from institutional humdrum to unique and retro.
Vinyl is very cost effective, but unfortunately it's not especially eco-friendly, though it is certainly more so than it used to be when it was often made with asbestos — as you can see in the 1957 ad above (for that reason be very cautious when removing old vinyl or linoleum and better yet, consult a professional). However, natural and sustainable linoleum tiles could be used for many of the same effects.