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Monday, March 1, 2010

French floors



When I had a meeting a few weeks ago with my architect and designer, my architect pulled out this sample board of a floor that he had in mind for the house:

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Given that we are designing a French inspired house, a beautiful herringbone or chevron floor seems like a natural fit. My designer suggested that we keep the floor color as similar to this natural oak color as possible, and my architect noted that this sample is just a starting point, the planks can be made longer, wider, thicker based on his specifications. Chevron and herringbone floors are definitely a fit for my style – I have literally over 100 pictures of rooms with these kind of floors in my inspiration files.

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However, when it comes down to making a decision between the two – I am now looking at my pictures with even more scrutiny. Here is a side by side look at the two styles. On the left: a chevron style floor, where the planks are set on the diagonal, and meet in a center line. On the right, the herringbone pattern, where the planks are also set on a diagonal, but interlaced. Although the looks are very similar, they each have their own distinct look and feel.


Herringbone

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One of my favorite pictures from Suzanne Kasler’s book ‘Inspired Interiors’ – in fact, this was selected as the cover. I have looked at this picture a dozen times, but only just noticed that the floor is in a herringbone pattern – to me the ebonized finish is what defines the floor, rather than the herringbone pattern.


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Designer Lori Tippins (whose home is a source of endless inspiration to me) used a herringbone pattern in the floors of her family room and kitchen. The size and scale looks very similar to the sample board that my architect showed me.


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A herringbone floor created with short planks. The size and scale of the planks can be adjusted for different looks.


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A lovely, well worn herringbone floor in an apartment designed by Miles Redd; these planks are medium in length. Image via House Beautiful, photo credit Thomas Loof.


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A charming space in a S.R. Gambrel designed townhouse, with well worn herringbone floors adding interesting texture to the space.


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This picture, from a Southern Accents showhouse, utilizes thinner planks in a herringbone pattern – these are perhaps 3” wide. I prefer the planks to be wider, although this is still a beautiful look.


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The chevron and herringbone pattern is frequently seen in materials other than wood. In a stone and tile store in Atlanta, Materials Marketing, there were some beautiful examples of stone floors with herringbone and chevron patterns.


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This stone floor in a herringbone pattern is in the basement of a beautiful home that I saw recently, with interiors by John Oetgen.


Chevron

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There is something so architecturally pure about an empty room, and even with no furniture this room is beautiful in part because of its stunning chevron floors. Image via Blayne Beacham, from a home listed by Beacham & Company REALTORS.


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A charming French room, with striking chevron floors.


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One of my favorite entry hall pictures. I like how the center seam of the chevron floors lines up on axis with the center of the door. Image via Southern Acccents.


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Designer Ty Larkins’ house has beautiful chevron pattern floors. The planks are on the shorter, narrow side, which gives the floor a lot of pattern. Image via Cote de Texas.


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A pretty chevron floor in the city apartment of Phoebe and Jim Howard shows the importance of the scale of the wood pieces on the design of the pattern.


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A charming apartment in Paris – to me, the chevron floors in the space are quintessentially French, and to be more specific – very Parisian.


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A vignette with four of my favorite elements: a chevron floor, interesting chairs, books, and art hung gallery style.


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One of my favorite rooms in Max & Company, Phoebe and Jim Howard’s store in Atlanta, is this bedroom that has an unusual chevron floor that is set in two directions, making an interesting ‘x’ pattern where the two directions meet.


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Architect Design has had a magnificent series of posts on Petite Trianon, and the billiard room caught my eye because of its chevron floor designed with long planks.


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One of my favorite pictures of a dining room, from a house in California with interior design by Betty Burgess. I had to look closely to see whether these floors are chevron or herringbone, but given the straight seam, my guess is chevron. (Click here for intaglios very similar to the ones seen in this picture).


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Another room, from the same house. Clearly Burgess is letting the beauty of the floors take center stage as a design element; note that she did not use a rug in either room. This image and previous image via Veranda, photo credit Roger Davies.


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I came across this show-stopping picture last week on the Splendid Willow blog. The post was about the mirror, but I couldn’t get my eyes off the floor. What an interesting handling of the chevron floor – it is almost like panels done in a checkerboard pattern, with varying shades of light and medium tone wood.


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A chevron floor in stone, at Materials Marketing stone and tile store in Atlanta.

So far, my project team has not discussed the floors in any great detail, but it is helpful to look through all of these pictures before making a decision. What are your thoughts? Are you team chevron or team herringbone? In your mind, is there something distinct about the look and feel of each pattern?

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84 comments:

  1. Wonderful images. I like both styles of flooring, but I'm gravitating towards the chevron. Let us know what you decided.

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  2. Thanks for this great post on chevron vs. herringbone. I think the choice depends on the amount of movement you want to introduce into the rooms. They are both absolutely beautiful. Because I require more energy, I would choose the herringbone in a shorter plank. For a more subdued, peaceful room, the herringbone in a longer plank and softer staining. Thanks for making me think.

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  3. I second that... wonderful images. I am liking the chevron... seems less busy... love love the picture that you have captioned "A charming apartment in Paris – to me, the chevron floors in the space are quintessentially French, and to be more specific – very Parisian."
    Oh and that mirror with the words on it, wow... how cool is that mirror.
    Regards, Carol Ann

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  4. I agree with Mary. I prefer a calm environment, so I would probably go with the chevron. If using the herringbone, it would definitely be a wider plank, but both are beautiful.

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  5. The herringbone pattern is our pick. Amazing images.

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  6. I have always loved the Herringbone pattern. It's such a classic! These images are truly inspirational!!

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  7. I like the herringbone pattern as well. These images are gorgeous.

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  8. I can't choose, depends on the whole package of rooms flows and style. I prefer less prominent seams: where the lines catch the eye more than the wood.

    Does anyone know the history? I'd guess that longer planks are more difficult to come by in the old world and these patterns are design solutions for short planks.

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  9. I love each and everyone, I think I like Lori's floor the best . I can't wait to see what you do.

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  10. I really like the herringbone pattern on floors. The chevron is beautiful as well, but to me chevron tends to look more modern and hard. I think the feathering of the herringbone tends to lend a softer look that I am really drawn to. I'm sure either would be amazing in your home though. Good luck deciding which one to choose. xo, Cristi

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  11. While I am drawn to the chevron bc it feels a bit more modern (which I like) I think the herringbone might be better based on the things you've said about the homes architecture. Either way, I am on board with keeping the wood as natural as possible. I am a big fan of ebonized floors but it doesn't quite show off the pattern or detail unless the light hits it just so. Best thing about such lovely floors - fewer rugs required! This look stands on its own! Marija

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  12. I'm partial to the herringbone but chevron is nice as well. Funny you brought up SK's book cover because I never noticed the floor pattern until you just pointed it out.

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  13. I would go for herringbone myself , I think it is an incredible floor pattern , gorgeous .

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  14. Both styles are so gorgeous - and both Parisian - but I lean toward the herringbone. It seems to be the softer of the two, but that's me. I'm sure whichever one you choose will be stunning, you have wonderful taste.
    Could I take a copy of that Parisian room for my personal files, we're redecorating our apartment here in Paris and I have an exploding collection of images of decorative mouldings, my weakness.
    Merci

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  15. I am a herringbone girl myself. The chevron is stunning, but when I look at the images that you have posted of it I find my eye drawn directly to the floor and nothing else to the room. Something to think about. Good luck.

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  16. I personally prefer the herringbone. I feel there's something a bit stark and "arrow" like about the chevron floors that turns me off. But either choice is fabulous, and I'm eagerly anticipating seeing pics of your new house!! Your bedroom in your current house was actually the inspiration for my recent bedroom re-do. I was already using similar colors, but I loved the simple, peaceful feeling of your room, and I tried to emulate that in mine. :)

    ~Sarah

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  17. In my mind the chevron pattern, no matter how it is laid and size of boards etc, tends to be a little more dressy than the herringbone. So I would ask if you are more casual or formal? Both are beautiful and classic and would be a wonderful addition to your home.

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  18. So beautiful!!!! I think I'd go with Herringbone because it doesn't create those distinct lines and flows a little better, but both are so gorgeous that I don't think it matters either way.

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  19. Love your posts. "French floors" was perfectly timed for me as I was looking for something slightly unusual for a planned update to my powder room. I'm going for the stone herringbone detail. For me, the herringbone exudes warmth and charm. Although I also like the chevron, it's graphic nature is more pronounced and therefore seems better suited to a contemporary setting.

    Sandy

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  20. I love the herringbone pattern in the light pattern! It is so beautiful I would love that flooring in my condominium!

    Karena

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  21. Really close call, as both are stunning, but herringbone by a nose for me. In our recent renovation which sadly did not incorporate new floors, our mason did a herringbone brick pattern in our new fireplace. Needless to say, I love it.
    Good luck!
    PS Going back to stare at the mirror with the typography on it...wow!

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  22. I have always preferred the herringbone pattern, especially if Suzanne is recommending a more neutral colour in the finish. Can't wait to see photos of the finished product!!

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  23. Herringbone was my pick but I would never be unhappy with a chevron pattern. In my dreams I imagine Parquet de Versailles for my flooring....xv

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  24. I really prefer herringbone. Even though both designs are geometrical I feel herringbone has a softer look. Chevron is a bit stiff to me.

    Hope you're having a great weekend!

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  25. Thank you for the comments, everyone! I love to hear everyone's perspectives and reasons for their preferences.

    I do agree, though, that chevron feels a bit more contemporary, with its cleaner lines. I like the interest of herringbone, with its pattern. I have no idea where my architect and designer are thinking about putting this floor, but I am looking forward to finding out!

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  26. If you are taking a poll, I vote for herringbone :) I agree that the chevron seems to make the room about the floor, and because it is more graphic with the seams and "stripes" my eye goes directly there. Lovely but I tend to ignore all other details . . .

    Good luck with your choices!

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  27. i don't think i realized the difference between chevron and herringbone before, so thank you!

    we have an alabama marble herringbone floor in our foyer and i love it!

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  28. I love the chevron...put it in the foyer of a home recently (with the lines centered on the door like that image from Mary Evelyn McKee's house) and it's one of my favorite parts of the house. These are all beautiful images (as always!)

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  29. Loooove it. They are both great, but I think the herringbone will be more lasting. The chevron is trendy right now, but the herringbone has that timeless style of high quality, and may never go out of style! I don't love the image of the kitchen with those floors, though... I like it in all the other rooms of the house.

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  30. Team Herringbone. I am a little partial however just having installed my glass tile backsplash in the the same pattern. On a floor I like a little less distinctive stripe, which I think the chevron lends itself to. Either way you go- it will be wonderful!

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  31. I'm partial to the chevron floors. The herringbone is nice too, but I think the chevron looks more simple and sophisticated.

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  32. I would be on team herringbone. We stayed in a lovely inn down in the south of France that had beautiful herringbone floors that were simply gorgeous. Then in the apartment where we stayed in Paris there were traditional hardwood floors laid in a straight pattern. Although they were still beautiful, the herringbone floors had already won my heart!

    Kat :)

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  33. Team Herringbone! I prefer floors to be more like a soft background. The lines that result with each "stack" of planks in the chevron style are way too busy for me. Although I adore the floor with the large X-pattern.

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  34. I have always loved the chevron most - looks more organized and less cluttery and I like the long chevrons in the photos you showed. Like the Paris apartment. I would say you would be well-blessed to have either!

    xo Terri

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  35. I love herringbone floors (especially antique ones) If new, I prefer them in light oak with a waxed finish. Flooring is such a critcal part of any interior space, one cannot spend too much time or effort in specifying the perfect flooring for a particular space. thank you for such an interesting post with so many great examples of flooring. i will keep for my records. Francine

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  36. I lean toward herringbone in general because it is a bit softer. However, I would use the chevron where I wanted some extra drama/interest or were implying direction like an entryway.

    Sami G.

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  37. Great post as usual. I've noticed both the Chevron and Herringbone patterns in many of the European interiors I'm drawn to. The floors do tend to grab your attention though. If that's what you want, I think it's great. I've noticed that the Herringbone pattern tends to show up alot in tile in bathrooms and kitchens, which I like.

    I think my favorite of your pictures is the one from Kasler's book. I prefer dark Jacobean-stained floors regardless of what pattern is on the floor. The great thing about using a dark stain on a herringbone floor is that it seems like your eye is less drawn to the floor pattern. Only after you look a bit closer do you notice the pattern. The pattern then becomes a feature that adds depth.

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  38. Herringbone. Not as harsh a look and flows beautifully.

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  39. Lovely examples of both and I admit I found myself scrolling up and down a few times to see the difference in a few of the images. I think I am on team Herringbone. I think it is softer and flows better. But, I am sure whatever you choose will be stunning.

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  40. I'm with James regarding the dark stain and the extra layer of detail upon closer inspection. I'm sure whatever you choose will work beautifully.

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  41. Too often the chevron pattern steals the room.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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  42. I really love these examples...love the style of french flooring..give a new dimension to the room. Great post..thank you for sharing x

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  43. My very favorite is the herringbone! It is so unique and makes a beautiful statement!

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  44. Gorgeous Gorgeous pictures and rooms! My vote will, if there is a poll..., is the herringbone. Someone commented that the chevron was a bit more harsh and modern and I echo that. Nothing more classic than a good wood herringbone - love!! Can't wait to see what you choose!

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  45. The Parisian apartment with the Chevron pattern floors is pure perfection in terms of color and interest. Also, the look of aged oak flooring will make it look even more remarkable.

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  46. I love the herringbone in the light finish, like the ones in the Southern Accents Showhouse, a little widder and a little more distressed. Beautiful examples to choose from. I orderd Suzanne's book, can't wait to get it.
    Thank's for your inspiration,
    Martha

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  47. without question....
    it is the most elegant, and timeless floor that you could choose to install in your home.
    this is all very exciting!!!

    xx

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  48. Team Herringbone. The floor in Lori's kitchen is so beautiful. Warm, timeless and, to me, more soothing that the chevron.

    That said, you cannot go wrong with either.

    Please tell us what you decide.

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  49. I vote for herringbone. To me, it’s a softer and less intrusive look – very beautiful and unique. Look forward to seeing what you end up with!

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  50. I'm a herringbone fan - intricate yet quiet at the same time. I find the sharp center lines of the chevron a bit too dynamic.

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  51. So glad you shared all these wonderful photos with us. I am in the process of making this same decision for my master bedroom. I vote for the herringbone - the blurred edges seem more peaceful to me. The chevron is just as beautiful, but seems much more formal. Really, you won't go wrong with either! Can't wait to see the final outcome.

    ~Cristina

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  52. I think the Chevron is my choice. It's more formal to me but beautiful and lovely. Both are beautiful though. Hope you are well.

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  53. Oh how I love anything herringbone! You showed some incredible samples of floors. I do prefer herringbone over chevron though.

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  54. I didn't know the difference...thanks for that!! This is a wonderful collection of images. The tile is especially amazing.

    Best,
    Michelle

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  55. I have herringbone (and they are most likely laminate! agh!) in my Austrian apartment, but I still love them...and the pattern. With our high ceilings and old moldings over the doors I feel fancy even though our apt. is mostly Ikea. ha. I like chevron as well, but think herringbone fits your personality and taste more..more elegant perhaps?

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  56. Definitely Chevron Floors and Oval windows. Divine.

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  57. Team Herringbone. I would prefer mine in a pied-a-terre in Paris.....

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  58. With the natural oak, I think I am on team herringbone for this one! They are both elegant and beautiful, and I think your images captured that. Can't wait to hear what you decide!

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  59. Well, of course I love both because my taste is all over the place! However, the dining room by Betty Burgess is stunning on many levels and it looks like you, to me. So, good luck choosing - which ever way you go, it will be gorgeous, I am sure of that.

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  60. Absolutely beautiful pictures. Great post. Thanks for letting us know the difference between Herringbone & Chevron. Either way it looks like you will have a beautiful floor.

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  61. What a beautiful and informative post: I recognize many of the pictures but hadn't always paid attention to the flooring choices. I have always loved the herringbone pattern above all others -but chevron is more 'accurate' for a french interior. It's personal choice -you're not in France so my recommendation is to go with the herringbone! I can't wait to see what you choose.

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  62. I find chevron more formal and stiff (in a good way) while herringbone is more ornate and less formal. Also I feel that chevron goes better with darker stained/colored wood because herringbone's a bit much too busy. (With the exception of the Susan Kassler photo because yes I agree, the ebonized finish takes greater importance over the herringbone pattern.)

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  63. The Chevron seems more formal and yet modern because of the clean lines adjoining where as the herringbone seems more casual and country because it's a bit more busy and less streamlined.

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  64. I'm on team Herringbone.

    I might also suggest a herringbone pattern with as little grooving between the boards as possible (when sweeping, the grooves catch everything, herringbone or chevron.) Your architect seems naturally on the ball for this--just a thought for others. :)

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  65. wow - quite a number of comments on your blog! I just found you and thought I'd leave a "hi". I just love these floorings. one of my favourites. The other is wide oak planks with whitening. Great pics. Great blog. I'll visit again soon. Regards, Open House, Norway

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  66. I suppose I'm on Team Herringbone. Not only do I prefer the look (somehow it seems a bit subtler to me), but from a structural standpoint, the fact that the seams don't perfectly align will help ensure a longer life for the floor (or at least, that's what I've been told).

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  67. Team Herringbone! Definitely.

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  68. At first I saw the herringbone and thought wow, but then when you showed the chevron pictures, I thought WOW!! Love both but if I could choose, it would definitely be the chevron pattern. I can't wait to see which you choose.

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  69. Oh I am so late to the party....thought it was on French doors...glasses while blogging perhaps!

    I love hardwood floors, which I nicer ones in my house. The samples you posted are all great...no bad choices here!

    One of your favorite images is also one of mine for all the reasons you stated! :)

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  70. When I see chevron floors, I only see stripes...except for the Max and Co.chevron which is the most unusual floor sample you showed. If you want timeless, go for herringbone! These floors are interesting without dominating a room.

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  71. There is really nothing I love more than a herringbone wood floor. One day my house will have one. Excellent collection of images!

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  72. My favorite is the herringbone - it's beautiful and looks as though it will be more calming to live with. Although I have to say the chevron in that one Parisian apt. is stunning.

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  73. Both styles are beautiful, but I'm on Team Herringbone. It has a softer look to me, without the seams where the rows in the chevron pattern meet. Although I have to say, the chevron floor done in the X layout is stunning.

    Kelly

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  74. Great photos...I am installing the "Chevron" in my Living Room. I was also torn between the two styles.Thank you for making my decision easier!

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  75. Team Herringbone! You know- I've never really thought about the difference between the two until this post. I usually just glance at a floor like these and say "chevron." Good to know there is a distinct difference! I like the herringbone only because the chevron seam make it look like a stripe pattern from afar. But either one would be beautiful I'm sure! xoRH

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  76. i too am very drawn to both of these flooring styles. it really depends on the room. not that you need any more inspiration, but are you familiar with franck briatte's reference book on parquet flooring?

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  77. I loved this post so much. I'm going to print it out for my article notebook so I can refer to it many times!

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  78. obsessed with herringbone floors - thanks for posting so many great images!

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  79. Love wooden floors! Think it is in my Swedish genes to do so! :)
    I so enjoyed your post on these two gorgeous styles - the images and your comments are great.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    xCharlotta

    P.S. You are right about Splendid Willow - it is an amazing blog and Monika (author) a brilliant style detective. A must-read people!

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  80. I made a few researches on french floors for my final ID project and i absolutely loved both herringbone and chevron. They create such a smooth flow to a room, but still keeping with the french aesthetics. Just love! However, if i would choose for my house, I would choose slim medium sized herringbone!

    So, thank you so much for this post, because it is such a nice feeling to see beautiful floors, haha. I hope you're a having a terrific day!

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  81. Herringbone...it is a more luxe look. Chevron does tend to look more modern and doesn't flow as well in such a large space. Although I do love a good Chevron pattern in pillows, rugs etc.

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  82. We just had our builder over today and I am insistent about a herringbone antique brick floor in the mudroom. I used to visit a neighbors horse barn when I was little that had the same treatment and I have been dreaming of my own every since. So classic!

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  83. True it is so classic and it has never really gone out of fashion . It still looks beautifuland elegant. I am thinking to have a smiliar design . thanks for sharing the article.

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