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Outside of funhouses and roller rinks, warped floors are usually considered a defect rather than a virtue. They make it impossible to place furniture (unless you like wobbly tables), they’re the bane of safety nuts (two words: trip hazard) and they often warrant a call to a contractor (it’s possible the subfloor needs replacing).

STONE SOUL: In this Montecito, Calif., home, a floor of river stones is gently uneven but smooth on the soles. Designer Patrick Sheahan notes that it “creates an awareness of the feet and provides a sense of connection to a natural state of being, such as a walk on a beach.”

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CHALLENGING LIFE: The green, lumpy, concrete floor in the Bioscleave House (a.k.a. the Lifespan Extending Villa) has the dramatic indentation of a deflated, spinach soufflé. The designers, artist-architects Arakawa and Madeline Gins, took about a decade to complete the $2-million, Long Island, N.Y., project. It was their conviction that a physically challenging house (one where you had to actively engage your body to get from one room to another) would improve health and lengthen life-span. Anyone daunted by fears of losing balance, rest assured: Fire poles dot the space to provide something to hold onto.

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NO ROUGH EDGES: Japan’s 403architecture created a subtly undulating, toe-tantalizing floor by using off-cuts of reclaimed wood, randomly arranged on the ground. It might seem like the bedroom in an apartment in Hamamatsu, Japan, is a giant splinter trap, but each piece of lumber was carefully sanded to get rid of any rough edges.

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