During the late medieval period, as upstairs rooms became more common in domestic dwellings, so did the practice of flooring them with timber planking. The process gradually evolved from crude rough planks to more delicate patterned ones as craftsmanship improved and fashions changed. The result is what we now know as parquet flooring, shaped pieces of wood in a geometric pattern.
The development of indoor wooden parquet flooring accelerated in the 16th Century with craftsmen in France creating intricate patterns with small blocks of wood. Designed as a demonstration of wealth the motifs were popular in Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles and spread throughout Europe.
As the fashion for patterned wood declined with the rise of modernism and fitted carpeting after WWII, the art of parquet flooring was largely forgotten. However, as the cost of manufacturing and installation came down, manufacturers were able to bring it back. Using engineered hardwood tiles with pieces of wood veneer arranged in geometric patterns the floors were reintroduced to homeowners who once again appreciated their elegance and sophistication.
Wooden parquet floors can still work wonders in a home today, particularly in rooms with high ceilings. The pattern of the chevron or herringbone parquet floor can help to open up a space while the geometric shape makes it feel more elegant. A good quality hardwood floor can also be a talking point of any room and is a great way to make a statement about your design style.
It is important to remember that a wooden parquet floor can be quite noisy underfoot especially if you wear shoes in the house. Adding some insulation under the wooden parquet floor can dramatically reduce this noise and also help to make the flooring more comfortable underfoot. However, expertly installed parquet floors with a sound damping underlay will be very quiet to walk on.
In addition to the thump of feet on the hardwood, you should be aware that parquet is very prone to scratching, which can happen when heavy furniture is moved or when dust is vacuumed. Regular cleaning and maintenance will be necessary to keep your wooden parquet floor looking its best.
The aristocracy of France fell during the early 1700s but as many of their grand palaces were intact there was an ample supply of templates to inspire new patterns for Parisian apartments. Then the Haussmann remodelling of Paris in the early 1920s saw parquet once again resurface and almost no elegant Parisian apartment was complete without acres of gleaming herringbone or chevron parquet. The interwar US also embraced herringbone parquet and it could be seen in everything from Jazz Age dance floors to achingly chic Manhattan flats.