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How to Get the Herringbone Floors of Your Dreams

white kitchen with herringbone floors
Designers' Favorite Herringbone Flooring IdeasVictoria Pearson

Picking flooring for your home is one of the most foundational choices you make for your space, literally and stylistically. And boy are there options—not only for materials (hardwood, ceramic tile, natural stone, terrazzo, the list goes on!) but for different patterns and applications, too. Simply switching the orientation of hardwood floor planks can completely change the feel of a room, allowing it to live larger, appear more modern, or masquerade as a historical residence. If you've seen beautiful herringbone pattern floors in a home you love, you know exactly what we mean.

"I truly think that herringbone floors are timeless and pair well with any style," says Jennifer Hunter, an interior designer in New York City. "I use them in projects ranging from historical residences to very modern homes. It's all about the mix—the floors are what provide the foundation for the home, but they take cues from the rest of the decor too."

Herringbone floors have been trending in recent years, but they actually date back to ancient Roman times, when herringbone was the preferred pattern for stability and longevity. That being said, most designers and homeowners today choose it for purely aesthetic purposes. Herringbone patterns can breathe new life into classic materials, allowing you to bridge the gap between a traditional ethos and of-the-moment style.

Looking to add herringbone pattern tile or wood floors to an upcoming project or your own home? Read on to learn everything you need to know about selecting, installing, and designing herringbone floors, including all the different materials you can incorporate into this classic application.

peterssen keller architecture hnh homes nate berkus associates 5200 dundee rd, edina, mn 55436
Spacecrafting Photography

What Is a Herringbone Pattern Floor?

Herringbone floors have an easy-to-distinguish triangular pattern, but they can commonly be confused with a similar (yet less classic) chevron layout. Here's the difference between herringbone patterns versus chevrons: While chevron floor planks or tiles are cut at an angle and meet at a peak, herringbone floors terminate in a traditional 90-degree angle and are set in a staggered diagonal pattern. "Parquetry—which generally refers to a variety of intricate wood floor layouts—became popular with French nobility in the 1600s," explains Hunter. "Herringbone and other parquet flooring patterns became popular with society's elite circles. The design made a significant mark on the world of interior design, becoming synonymous with luxury and elegance." Another fun fact: Herringbone patterns resemble the zigzag bones of a herring fish, thus the name. The more you know, right?

Herringbone Pattern Material Options

Almost any flooring material you fall in love with can be laid in a herringbone pattern. From classic hardwood planks and perennially popular brick to more luxe choices like marble and natural stone, the timeless pattern looks fresh with each new application or material, ensuring no one home feels alike. "Because herringbone floors can be realized in many different materials, it's important to think about the use of the space, the aesthetic of the home, and the scale of the space," advises Hunter. These are some of the most commonly seen materials used for herringbone pattern floors.

Hardwood

kitchen island
COURTESY OF M VIAMONTES ARCHITECTURE + INTERIORS

Perhaps the most popular herringbone floor material is hardwood, thanks to its traditional feel and historical accuracy. While most wood herringbone floors have to be cut and laid piece by piece, an increasing number of flooring companies, such as Stuga Studio, are latching onto the pattern and creating easy-to-install, perfectly sized planks to help you (or your installer) achieve a dynamic pattern. Hardwood herringbone pattern floors look best in larger spaces like kitchens, dining rooms, or open floor plans. In the luxe cook space above, the team behind M Viamontes Architecture + Interiors paired herringbone wood floors with other high-impact finishes like burgundy cabinetry and Calacatta Viola marble.

Brick

design by dominique delaney brick flooring
Laura Sumrak

Brick is another classic material choice for herringbone patterns, effortlessly playing into its historical feel. As with any tile or natural stone application that involves grout, the prominence of the herringbone pattern depends on the width of the grout lines and the grout color you choose. Want a high-impact look? Opt for contrasting grout and thick grout lines (or even overgrouting), as seen in the above kitchen by designer Dominique Delaney.

Natural Stone

12,000 squarefoot, tuscan style residence in rancho santa fe, california designed by kari arendsen, principal at intimate living interiors
Karyn Millet

If you're looking for a versatile material that's beautiful and functional for a bathroom or mudroom, natural stone is your best bet. Marble is a particularly popular choice for designers and homeowners who love herringbone patterns, but materials like soapstone, limestone, and even travertine perennial classics too. Above, designer Kari Arendsen of Intimate Living Interiors turned to a timeless Carrara marble tile, laid in a chic herringbone pattern, to bring much-needed texture and visual interest to an airy, all-white bathroom.

Ceramic Tile

house beautiful whole home 2023 1906 hinsdale\, illinois house
ANNA SPALLER

Looking to get funky with a herringbone pattern? Look no further than ceramic tile, which modernizes the classic look in a way that's fresh and infinitely customizable. Because ceramic tiles come in so many sizes and colors, the herringbone patterns you can create using this material are endless. Stick to a single hue for a more understated look, or mix a few—as the J. Jordan Homes design team did in the charming pink bathroom above—for a playful, personality-packed space.

Things to Consider With a Herringbone Pattern Floor

Before choosing to lay down herringbone floors, there are a few important factors to consider. Talk through these points while shopping and going over plans with your contractor before you commit to this covetable—but slightly complicated—floor pattern.

Budget

As with any large interior finish, such as window treatments or countertop materials, you want to be mindful of budget when deciding whether or not to use a herringbone pattern. As a general rule of thumb, wood herringbone patterns use more material and require more labor (and thus cost more) than a traditional horizontal hardwood floor installation. The same holds true for stone or tile, though it's more common to find those materials pre-laid in herringbone-patterned webbed sheets, which streamlines installation and brings down your labor costs.

Room Size

Truth be told, there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to how small (or large) a room you can install a herringbone floor pattern in. "In a great room, we love doing hardwood herringbone floors to capture a grand and more formal look," says Hunter. "However, for a mudroom, we often use bricks laid in a herringbone pattern. It adds pattern and texture to a space that is otherwise very utilitarian." That being said, if you opt for the application in too snug a space (like a petite powder room), there's a chance you may not get the full visual impact of the pattern. If you have your heart set on herringbone flooring in a small room, opt for a petite format floor material—like a slim marble tile—over traditional hardwood floor planks.

Home Layout

Herringbone patterns are a major commitment in an open floor plan. It's not that you have to use them in every room, but you do need a plan for delineating your layout if you want to lay them in only one area. Most people choose to lay a herringbone pattern in one area within a border of more traditionally laid wood or tile. For example, if your kitchen flows directly into your dining area but you want to give that space a little something, you can lay a herringbone pattern floor in the dining "room" and surround it with horizontal planks that will flow seamlessly into the rest of your space.

modern living room with glass doors
Thijs de Leeuw/Space Content/Living Inside

Where to Use Herringbone Floors

When it comes to choosing where to lay a herringbone floor, your options are wide open. The application does have an air of formality to it, making it especially well-suited to stately spots like a luxe dining room or posh powder room. That being said, you can utilize this floor pattern in any space in your home to lend an added layer of visual interest and design personality. Given their durability and strength, herringbone floors are also a great option for highly trafficked areas, like mudrooms and laundry rooms. Herringbone patterns are a popular choice for outdoor walkways and patios too.

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