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Before and AfterRenovating my House

How to Know if it’s Timeless; Our Herringbone Floors

By 02/02/2023June 3rd, 202438 Comments

Just because something is trending, doesn’t also mean that it can’t be timeless as well. But how do you know? 

After our herringbone wood floor was installed in our entry, I got to thinking that a really good test of whether you’re installing something timeless is to ask this question:

Would anyone walk into my house and immediately think, “Wow, these floors are so dated they need to come out immediately!!”

No, they wouldn’t.

But we would certainly say that about the basic taupe tile that everyone installed inside the grey trend – because it screams, “I was installed in the grey trend.” 

Yes, there are many ways to describe timeless, but I liked this one I found in the Collins Dictionary:

If you describe something as timeless, you mean that it is so good or beautiful that it cannot be affected by changes in society or fashion. 

Timeless really is about standing the test of time. Here’s another post where I defined it further. 

Herringbone Floors: Timeless or Trendy?

Herringbone floors fill the homes, hallways and streets of Europe and have for centuries. Is Herringbone trending right now? It definitely is. But it’s also a timeless pattern. It’s important to remember, just because something is trending, doesn’t mean it can’t be timeless. Timeless finishes have their moment too.

Taupe was THE MOST popular ‘grey‘ of this era because it’s basically a combination of grey and beige. This makes it look cooler than all the beiges. And while everyone wanted grey they often preferred the warmer side of the greys.

Get my newly designed (real paint) Understanding Undertones® Colour wheel here

Therefore, since my house was a custom build 12 years go, which would have been right in the middle of the grey trend, it’s no wonder I inherited a house that was filled with taupe from top to bottom.

This was the taupe 12″ x 24″ tile that was in the entry when we purchased the home. We interviewed a few hardwood flooring experts and found a company who located the existing engineered white oak flooring that we already had (and refinished it). It was ordered way back in November and just installed two weeks ago.

This was my inspiration photo:

In order to choose the pattern, we needed to decide which wall we would look at most – in other words, which area would be the focal point. This determines which direction the centre point would go:

We went with option 2 because when you walk into the entry you immediately see the staircase and the wall at the end of the hallway.

The other interesting tip is that the border going all the way around was ordered slightly wider than the existing wood floor boards I had (see the stained wood on the left in the photo below). The reason is that when the herringbone was installed this border board could be cut to size.

This eliminates small cuts when adding the herringbone boards – to accomodate for the full pattern. . . okay I’m not the expert and I’m likely describing this wrong. If you know, you know.

Here it is installed before it was stained to match the rest of my medium brown floors:

And here’s the after, so gorgeous!

Let’s see the before again, shall we:

And here’s the after:

You can watch the transformation here too:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Maria Killam (@mariakillam)

Tired of hearing about grey wood floors?

Speaking of instagram, when I reposted my ‘Grey floors should never have been invented’ reel on Instagram a couple weeks ago and it quickly amassed over a million views again. 😮

I wish I could turn this into a formula to use over and over again. I’ve talked about grey floors numerous times. What’s the magic with this video?

Unfortunately, it’s before I stopped putting black eyeliner under my eyes. After so many millennials were quick to inform me how bad it was, I changed my ways! They didn’t care for my red and yellow outfit as well, haha. 

In all seriousness, I stop reading the comments when a video goes viral because people are naturally upset that they realize they didn’t make the best decision. Sometimes you simply can’t “unsee” what I’ve pointed out. But if you are someone who found me from these videos, please know that it’s OK!

We ALL make mistakes in our decorating until we learn. And once we learn, we can do better next time.

That’s why I share some of my early design mistakes in my True Colour Expert Training. Every master was once a disaster, right?!

And, if you have grey floors, here’s how you can warm them up. Stick around, because my advice circles back to help you decorate around the things you cannot change too. Because I want you to love your home no matter what!

Since those videos on Instagram, I receive a lot of messages from followers asking me questions like, “Hey I’m considering ___________, is it trendy or timeless?”

There were also a lot of people who didn’t like my leopard runner (and that’s fine, I know it’s not for everyone) and declared it trendy. And, they’re not exactly wrong.

So here’s the thing, in my mind, carpet should NOT have an endless shelf life (ewwwww). Most people (if they can) are quick to replace inherited carpeting. It’s different than inherited stone floors or tile. 

Remember, timeless means that it’s so good or beautiful that it cannot be affected by changes in society or fashion – meaning you cannot immediately identify the trend cycle or era it was installed in.

Here’s my design philosophy. Install timeless finishes so that you can be trendy in your decorating. For example, it’s a lot easier and less expensive to replace your sofa or wallpaper, than replacing tile floors in your entry, sunroom or bathroom like I had to replace in this home. Not to mention disruptive and messy. 

The pushback that I get all the time are comments that sound like this:

“Install what you like. It’s YOUR house. YOU have to love it.”

This makes good copy in an article and it makes it easy for a salesperson to sell trendy finishes. But truly, we have all bought trendy items that quickly lost their charm as we watched them eventually or immediately look DATED.

That’s when we have “renovation regret” and wish we would have done something different. I bet each and every one of us has made this mistake before.

But that’s why boring now equals timeless later. When you install boring subway tile (for example) you can watch the trends come and go without getting upset that your renovation hadn’t started a little later because you’re already out of love with the trendy backsplash you installed.

If you’d like to learn how to decorate in a timeless way, become a True Colour Expert this Spring here.

Are you working on a renovation or new build this year? Work with me via eDesign here.

Related posts:

My New Leopard Print Runner

My New Living Room (Center Fireplace) Furniture Layout

What our New House Really Looks Like

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  • Fran W. says:

    Just WOW! I love it all!!!

  • Kellie says:

    Gorgeous! I will never get tired of a beautifully done wood herringbone floor. I’m so glad you found a professional who could pull it off for you.

  • Holly says:

    I’d love to see an after photo from the same angle you displayed next to the inspiration photo, showing the staircase straight ahead, dining on right (looking at photo)and new flooring on left. I love the flooring and wallpaper.

  • Cindi says:

    I do think herringbone is beautiful as long as it’s not too busy for its location. I think where people are sometimes going astray is adding it as bathroom tile accents.

    I was surprised by parquet. When I bought a house in Hawaii with 2004 I always assumed the parquet tiles were dated and I should replace them. I did grow up in the 70’s after all. Then I learned they were teak (and extremely expensive), and a few people said they were classic, and I started to look at them differently. 6 years ago when I re-did my kitchen I had them sanded and refinished, and what originally looked like individual 12×12 tiles each with 4 4×4 parquet squares, suddenly because a gorgeous homogenous 4×4 parquet look. It’s actually perfect for a tropical home.

  • Kristin says:

    Gorgeous! What a beautiful upgrade.

  • Robin Coleman says:

    Beautiful! Love it!

  • Stacy says:

    I have done fun carpet on stairs in my home because stairs are rather boring. So have fun with them! Carpet, even fantastic carpet, doesn’t last forever. If you put a really good quality, patterned carpet on your stairs, you won’t be frustrated with foot print marks and flattened out plush material down the middle.

    I definitely agree with “make your house what you love,” but I also agree that it’s best to use that motto for the easy-to-replace things. I prefer gray to beige and I always have, but I don’t have gray carpet. However, the tile in my bathrooms is light gray, which I inherited, and I do like. They aren’t really the dominant focus of the room, so they aren’t worth changing.

  • Sarah says:

    Where is the front door? Is it that wall of French doors?

    • DPam says:

      I wondered too, so I got nosey and zoomed in. The doors are on the top of the photo, i.e. entering the house you would be using the set of “window” on your far right. They are the only ones without an A/C vent and they have a doorknob (which I somehow did not see before zooming in! lol).

  • tm says:

    I would love to see how you handled the 2-storey wall opposite the landing of the stairs. (with the thermostat etc). Possibly just paint?

  • Jaclyn says:

    What can I say other than you are a transformational genius!

  • Anne says:

    Yes, your new herringbone floor is lovely, but at what expense? And frankly, I kind of think that tile in the entry is far more practical. You live in the country- will those new floors stand up to mud and grit? If a number of people enter at the same time will they be teetering on a wee mat as they remove or wipe their footware? Could you not have successfully decorated around that taupe tile?

    • Lorri says:

      I think the taupe tile looked cold and lifeless, whereas the new herringbone floor warms up the entry.

  • Joanna says:

    I love herringbone flooring in the right place. I love it in the inspiration photo. I’m just not sure your new flooring doesn’t look like an add on. It seems a different colour than the existing hardwood so that may be throwing the look off. Is it just the lighting?

  • Nancy says:

    It’s pretty
    But my question is why you didn’t just have them continue with the wood that you had ?
    I see taking out the tiles .
    But if that was a new build all the wood Would would be continuous.
    Wondering why you decided to break it up ?

  • Ellen says:

    Wow!! You nailed it Maria!! I love how you used the same wood but instead of laying it the same as adjoining room, the pattern in hallway really adds some architectural interest to separate the areas and make it stand out. It’s perfection.

  • Anita Stapleton says:

    So pretty! Would you kindly share the source of your gorgeous mural ? Schumacher? It looks fabulous!

  • Gena says:

    What brand and color of stain did you use on the floors?

  • Jennifer says:

    The herringbone is lovely! But the wood in the herringbone patterns doesn’t look like it took the stain as well as the border or the existing floor. Was it a deliberate choice to get the variability like your inspiration photo (the one without the stairs) or do the hardwood people expect it to darken over time?

  • First of all I love that quick video showing before and after when you are walking – super cute!
    I’ve never had a client install herringbone, but I have one now, I’ll be excited to show her your blog and the process!

  • Janine says:

    The mural in the hallway just makes that space! Lovely transition and view from the entrance.

  • Robin says:

    Timeless and gorgeous! Can’t ever go wrong with a beautiful wood floor.
    Are you keeping that foyer light?

  • Lorri says:

    I love it and it makes the staircase more proportional now. You were so lucky to get the same wood!

  • Beth says:

    The herringbone is classy and beautiful! I am and will always be a little wary to say ANY single thing is timeless however. I remember in the early 90s when I bought my Queen Anne living room, dining room, and (cheeks reddening) bedroom, I was so certain it was all so timeless because after all…hadn’t it originated in the 1700’s in England then become synonymous with American Colonial furnishings? Isnt it in Independence Hall in Philadelphia and a mainstay in Colonial Williamsburg? When I was ready to be done with it NO ONE wanted it. Was it truly timeless or was it just so overdone in the 90’s that it became UN-timeless? Will my children ever say “Gosh I wish I had taken that Queen Anne dining room set mom and dad had back in the 90’s!” Maybe!
    Time (or should I say timeless) will tell!

    • Susan says:

      To above comments on Queen Anne furniture. When we bought our first “good furniture”, it was a dining room suite, Queen Anne 1982. We never had bedroom furniture, pieces from family, always placed it last of our needs. Fast forward to downsize and fresh start as empty nesters. We bought a beautiful Queen Anne bedroom set. Poster bed etc. I love it. Decorated with big hydrangea light blue and coral curtains, light blue walls. The dining set we still have. Modernized the furniture in our new space with a contemporary area rug, contemporary art work, and covered the seats with blue check tweed. Yes old school, and no resale value, but solid cherry. And classic. Try updating the surrounding rug, art etc.

      • Beth says:

        Susan, I think it’s great how you updated your funriture! ( I always did like our four poster bed!) We were transitioning our lifestyle, preparing to downsize etc and were ready for a less formal approach to our home decor. But for sure, the furniture was very solid and no doubt would have lasted a lifetime. Thank you for your thoughts!

    • Ann says:

      That style of furniture is timeless, but our tastes change and we become influenced (brainwashed) by decorators, tv shows pictures etc. I live in a historic town where the houses built in the 1700 -1900s have been photographed by influencial magazines and some museum quality. These home are timeless but don’t necessarily reflect the way we life today. They have narrow staircases, smaller rooms and kitchens that many of us would not enjoy working in, but they are beautiful nonetheless due to the lines and woodwork that modern homes mostly lack. If you like the beauty of the wood and grace of the lines, you will enjoy living with this style. My Queen Anne style furniture is as beautiful to me today as it was 35 years ago. It is possible to “update” the look as several of my friends have (they live in homes over 100 years old) and still enjoy the classical look. I have a comfy family room where we relax, but there is something to be said about the elegance of sitting in a beautiful room full of warm classic furniture. I am bothered by all the talk of “trends” and how we should rid our lives of anything that someone else deems to be “trendy” or out of style. Your home is a reflection of what appeals to you and what you are able to afford. Don’t let others determine what makes you happy.

  • Marie Smith says:

    Maria ***. Absolute perfection – Love the way it all ties together.

  • It looks beautiful and as you say, timeless is fullproof. However I noticed on the before and after pics that you put animal print carpet on the stairs?
    This is not something I wouldn’t consider timeless. It is a pattern that you used before in your previous home. I can understand why, as it is works really well with bright colours which you love. Can you mix timeless elegance with exotic patterns? yes you can but in my view very , very carefully!!!!

  • Sandra B says:

    One of your best photos yet ! The gorgeous herringbone floor – the mural paper and lantern light – and the gorgeous leopard carpet on the stairs.
    Love it! Best of luck in your new home…

  • Lorena says:

    Definitely go timeless classic on the big items like floors and then go trendy if you must on the easily replaceable.

  • Liz in Oregon says:

    The herringbone is beautiful, Maria. It’s a huge improvement on the taupe tiles and it really enhances the mural at the end of the hall. I’m so glad you went with wood rather than the marble tiles you were considering back when you were told you couldn’t get the original wood. The wood is less slippery and a softer place to land if anyone falls. I’m sure the finish is quite durable and will withstand any dirt tracked in, a concern another reader had.

    Your new home is coming together beautifully.

    P,S. Please leave the charming barn painted the timeless red. 🙂 It doesn’t matter that you don’t have any red inside your house, although I understand why you want the barn to coordinate with it. But it’s a separate entity that stands on its own and has its own character. I don’t think it needs to needs to coordinate with your interior furnishings. It’s delightful as is.

  • KG says:

    I love the herringbone floor. But I’m a little confused, weren’t you contemplating marble tile awhile back?

    • Liz in Oregon says:

      I think that was when her “floor guy” told her she wouldn’t be able to match the rest of her wood. But apparently someone tracked it down.

  • Mari Jensen says:

    Everything looks absolutely beautiful. The herringbone floors are incredible. I have to ask, what wall color did you decide on? It looks so warm and inviting in the sunlight.

  • Sandie says:

    Please tell us what color the paint is in your ‘new’ entry way. Some lovely shade of yellow…very welcoming.

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