Design Inspiration: Hello Herringbone!

It’d be fair to say that the look of herringbone parquet has been somewhat out of flavour trend-wise for several decades. Not maybe at the luxury end of the interior design market, where beautiful timbers laid in this classic style will always look wonderful no matter what’s on trend, but definitely at the regular residential and bar end.Classic Herringbone flooring.jpgNot any more!

If you’re an avid reader of interiors magazines or a Pinterest peruser, you must have noticed the new way to lay herringbones….. and it’s anything but classic. It might be de rigeur to stick to one finish in stately homes and country piles, but contemporary interiors are demanding more personalised options. Whether that’s coloured timbers, tiles or a combo of the two, the sky’s now the limit. Quite literally, if you also clad your walls and head for the ceiling.


Starting with a timber effect alone, try gently mixing different finishes as here in Manchester’s Beef & Pudding. The slight blue grey tones helps stop the effect being too blandly brown and add a contemporary touch to the warm naturals. The floor works well to ground the rustic yet city vibe, a great choice if you want your home interior to feature industrial choices but don’t want it to look like an actual factory.Beef & Pudding.jpgThe below looks like a wall image, but there’s no reason it couldn’t be floor laid with good planning in the right property. We’re stepping deeper into design territory here with the dark grey chevron edging the wooden herringbone, then into concrete. I think these are timber, but it’s kind of hard to tell. I’m also unsure of the source of the amazing image. Anyone?cf97c7e51d24232e9fb54bf0a13ef926.jpgFor the even more adventurous, there’s timber and colour. You can buy herringbone timber flooring reclaimed or new, and in all sorts of different sizes and finishes. One option is to add in some colour yourself with either a wash, a stain or a full on matt or gloss paint – all best done before the blocks are laid.

These reclaimed wall boards by Havwood for Nandos aren’t strictly speaking a herringbone pattern (note the angled ends which make then ‘Hungarian Point’) but the look is similar. The random coloured boards look weathered and naturally worn giving an interesting finish. There’s no reason why this look couldn’t be translated to flooring and the boards varnished over to seal and protect them. Havwood Relic Reclaimed Nandos.jpgOr what about full on colour-blocking with timber?Classic Parquet yellow herringbone floorClassic Parquet have a whole page dedicated to coloured wooden herringbone flooring and how to create your own unique look, which they can provide to order. It is of course possible to do something completely bespoke and paint the individual wooden blocks yourself to mix in with the regular timber, but if your DIY skills don’t stretch to that, maybe give them a try.

Their floor above in herringbone yellow, white & timber looks fun and funky, whilst the one below in chevron white and timber is more classic in feel, but still super modern. Choose your pattern and colour carefully to get the end result spot on for your style.Skipstop House HavwoodsLUXURY VINYL TILES

There’s nothing to stop you getting the effect of timber herringbone but using a luxury vinyl tile, perfect in commercial applications areas, but also for kitchens, bathrooms and hallways for their ability to repel water and be so darned hard wearing.2016-04-10_0009.jpgLVTs are made in all sizes but can be cut to what you want, plus are available in just about every colour imagineable and also in fantastic timber effect finishes. They’re also very thin so if heights and levels are enough of an issue to render tiles and timber impossible to use, you can still get the look with this material.AmticoCollection_ManningtonCommercial-copy.jpg


Precision is needed when mixing timber and tile, which is why there aren’t many images with this mix of materials. This basin area floor by designer Patrycja Domanska was likely overseen by an architect, a designer and a skilled tradesman! Mixing up a herringbone floor using both tile and timber means having exactly the same depth, length and width of the different material blocks, which generally means bespoke, i.e. costly.Patrycja Domanska.jpg

The design for this bathroom floor zones the areas perfectly and having tiling for wet areas and wood for drier areas does make sense practically. However with the advances in timber effect tiles, I’m unsure I’d use wood at all in wet areas and would probably use ceramic / porcelain throughout. But, they’d be colder (unless you had underfloor heating) and you might not want the tiles to run through to hallways and bedrooms… Decisions decisions eh?!


Now, we’re talking! Recent developments in technology mean ceramics and porcelains have become much more interesting and also much more affordable at the less expensive end of the spectrum. Wood effect tiles and block colour are being used to fabulous effect by designers in bars, cafes and shops and the look is easy to not only replicate but adapt and personalise to your taste and home.U Color Ceragres 1I adore these wild and wonderful effects in colour created by Céragrès in glazed porcelain, though I’d probably opt for their monochrome patterns and zone the tiles more clearly than the random effect below.U Color Ceragres 2.jpgStill hugely contemporary but much less in yer face is the Fay Toogood designed bathroom below. It might look random but I’ll warrant that many hours were spent choosing exactly the right spot for each colour block. Could you go this brave to bathe?!Faye Toogood bathroom herringbone.jpgThis month’s Wallpaper magazine featured a stunning Mumbai bakery which has harnessed 2016 herringbones to perfection, along with it’s mid-greys, pale wood and the brown paper pull down menu board. la-folie-1.jpgSketch London had it nailed a while back with their luxury marble floor tiles in sexy chevrons, a very linear crisp feel to this design yet using an age old material – super clever.Sketch.jpgWhat say you lot then eh? Could you be brave enough to actually fit a floor like this at home, or will these amazing designs stay in the more commercial arena?

Some practical considerations if you’re thinking about parquet are:

  • To lay parquet you need a solid base, whether that’s concrete or screed, or some form of flat unbroken finish like plywood or chipboard. You never lay it direct onto floorboards.
  • Always use a fitter who is used to and well experienced at laying parquet timber flooring. It’s not the same as just throwing down a laminate or boards. It can be temperamental and needs thought and care to make sure it goes down and then stays down.
  • Timber herringbone needs to acclimatise and breathe in the room for several days before laying. Cheap newly made timber blocks may well not have been properly dried, remember you get what you pay for. Check that reclaimed blocks haven’t been stored in the wet, good companies will keep them dry and safe during storage.
  • For new build homes with solid floors throughout, laying parquet is relatively easy as you already have lovely level floors both down and upstairs.
  • For older UK homes with solid ground floors, you need to make sure the substrate is level and dry with no moisture ingress and fairly stable temperatures, especially for timber.
  • For older houses with suspended timber floors, you can’t simply glue wooden parquet onto floorboards as they’re likely to crack and move. This is because there’s some movement in most people’s joists and floorboards – the same reason you can’t tile directly onto floorboards! If levels aren’t an issue you can ply over the floorboards then lay the wooden parquet. If you need to watch your heights, you might have to lift the floorboards and lay the 18mm ply across the joists, first ensuring the joists are solid and secure. Get an experience fitter to give you some advice if there are all these considerations to take into account.
  •  Most people don’t tile onto large areas of suspended timber flooring and the vast majority of tiled herringbone images you’ll see will be over solid floors. In the average home, bathrooms are relatively small and the floor will have been 18mm ply-ed and secured to prevent tiles moving and cracking. It’s beyond annoying when builders don’t prep floor properly and tiles crack, it’s happened to me as a designer and I’ve wanted to kill ’em because invariably you can’t get any more tiles! Good workmanship is all in the prep, no matter what finish you’re choosing. If you do have a large room with joists and floorboards which you are determined to tile, get professional advice unless you are super super competent DIYer.

Hope those tips help! Sian x

See some more Herringbone Heaven over on our Pinterest: HERE

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