The Timeless Flooring Everywhere in Italy

It’s hard to take pictures for a blog on a trip because I never know what I’m going to talk about until I start gathering photos for a post. Then I start thinking “Darn, I wish I had taken more pictures of floors.” But it wasn’t until the end of the trip that I noticed how much of the same flooring I’d seen everywhere.

collesium

Underground tour in the Colosseum | Rome

herringbonefloor

Herringbone floor somewhere in the Colosseum

breakfastvilla

This was our breakfast room in Tuscany. We were in a villa on the property.  Warm wood finishes repeat the orange terra cotta floors.

saltillotile

{via pinterest}

In this kitchen the same wood stain is in the island which repeats the floor colour.

romehotel

Exterior of Hotel with the vines and the rooftop deck where we had dinner in Rome.

carrarafloor

Carrara marble staircase inside the hotel

orangeandcarrara

In another hotel in Florence. Carrara staircase.

herringbonestreet

This picture with another herringbone sidewalk was taken in San Gimignano, Italy.

palace

 Over 200 year old vine. Palace gardens in Florence.

herringbonefloors

 Herringbone Floor hall from the street in Florence into a private garden

Then I thought I’d do a search to find out how it looks when it’s not in a 200 year old building.

terracottaentry

House & Home

Here it is in a very white and current interior. When it’s an all over brown/rust colour, it can almost pass as a hardwood floor.

terracottawhite

via pinterest

Here with cream grout and walls with and white trim.

I was consulting with one of my lovely readers today and we were talking about her bathroom floor. I suggested a herringbone charcoal floor.

 greyfloorvia pinterest

Charcoal, you might be thinking?

What?

A trendy colour like that being specified here at mariakillam.com.

Yes, you heard right ; ) ; )

I have been in so many old homes from the 60’s with charcoal slate flooring in the entry that no one was in a hurry to rip out, so I think I’m safe to call it timeless here.

Since I saw this pattern SO MUCH in Italy, where it has been for centuries, I’m thinking we could embrace it back home.

charcoalfloor

{via pinterest}

I like how the wood stained island warms up the charcoal floor. And I like that it’s not a multi-patterned colour which immediately limits your decorating options to what’s in the tile. With this white kitchen, there’s still lots of room for fresh colour in accents.

So my lovelies? Are you ready to embrace herringbone? Yay or Nay. What do you think?

Related posts:

When Should you Rip out Brand New Tile?

One More Reason you should Skip Accent tiles Altogether

Warning: Rant Alert on the Tackiest Advice Ever

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact us! We would love to help you choose colours, select the right combination of hard finishes or create a plan to pull your room together. You can find our fabulous e-design consultation packages here.

1K Shares

relatedPOSTS

leave aREPLY

  1. Hello from Paris. Do any of your readers know where to get the paint/color cards for the exterior doors here?! The colors are subtle and rich at the same time. Here until Sunday. Please help.

  2. I’ve always embraced herringbone, I love it! I put it in my house and I’m trying to talk my parents into it right now as they’re redoing their floors. My dad isn’t sold yet but I think your pics may help. My dad still thinks that “classic” means tan-ish 6″x 6″ square tiles with 1/4″ sanded grout. 😉 I choose a soft black honed marble in herringbone for his entryway and powder and he just can’t accept it yet. Thank you for your post Maria, very helpful and timely for me.

  3. I think what I like about the Italian herringbone is that the brick is long and skinny. It just looks better than when it is done with the American size bricks. I wonder if it is possible to get skinny bricks here?

    • Yes, they are called Roman bricks. The dimensions are 3 5/8 x 1 5/8 x 11 5/8. A thicker version is called Norman brick. My sister has a house built in 1961 with Roman brick exterior and on her fireplace place wall.

  4. I like herringbone and I agree that the long skinny bricks look fresh. I just put a green-gray herringbone slate floor in the entry of my 50’s ranch. The color almost matches what was there originally but the herringbone pattern is my twist –I think it is more interesting than a brick pattern.

  5. I love herringbone and really like slate tile for a kitchen. I love the look of brick flooring, but it’s not that comfortable for standing, so not a great idea in a kitchen.

  6. I agree, timeless tile done in Herringbone is gorgeous. I don’t love it with the large sized tiles, as in the last picture.

  7. LOVE the herringbone pattern in flooring, however IMHO it works best in either a large or uncluttered airy space. That said, I am currently in the midst of upgrading my home and the only two floorings I am keeping which I consider are timeless, is one in a mid gray 3″x 12″ low sheen porcelain tile laid out in herringbone pattern located in a kitchen pantry and the other is a gray grouted, off-white circular mosaic that is in a 8′ x 12′ powder room. -Brenda-

    • P.S.: The mosaic tile is textured which gives an old world feeling yet new at the same time and I am assuming it is a ceramic as its very easy to maintain. -Brenda-

  8. I love herringbone but also note tile is hard to stand on for long periods of time, tends to become uneven when used outside, and is often a tripping hazard for the elderly. In your 4th photo, for example, note how the island is balanced on uneven tiles. Here in Virginia, I embrace tile in my house if the surface can be level, relatively smooth, not slippery when wet, and easy to clean. I’ll always prefer wooden floors in the kitchen, though, for all the above reasons.

  9. I grew up in a Southern house with herringbone brick kitchen and sunroom floors, and they were always so elegant and uplifting to come home to. Contrary to above, they were not a problem for long-term standing as far as my mom was concerned (people often asked). With today’s radiant heat possibilities they could be even more spectacular. Years later in a new house where the local bricks were an ugly color, my mom recreated a similar look with individual brick-sized vinyl tiles which are not hard to find and it looked surprisingly good. So yes, embrace. Classic.

    • My feet and legs used to hurt when I stood for a long time on the linoleum in my old kitchen. Now, with a hardwood floor, I no longer have that problem. I would have considered a ceramic tile floor had I not been concerned about standing on it. Don’t know how your mother managed.

  10. We lived in England for two years and our house had hardwood in a herringbone pattern. I loved it! Herringbone is everywhere in Europe! When we moved home I had our front brick walk way done in that pattern.

  11. I’m thinking for my new build, if I can’t find reasonable costs for the hardwood in the house because all i can afford are short lengths, i want to use them placed in herringbone style instead of looking all chopped up linearly, just go for it! Do you think that an adjacent sun room flooring could have herringbone brick? would that be too much pattern?

  12. Love the herringbone pattern and will be installing one in a front entrance for a reno project. It’s funny, my clients didn’t know what a herringbone pattern was and once I showed them, they were all for it!

  13. Redesigned my master bath last year and ripped out the old pinky beige square tile installed on my floor. I replaced it with a herringbone tiled floor, made with faux marble tile, with radiant heat underneath. It looks magnificent and feels even better! Everyone comments on the floor when they enter, it makes the space look larger and now, I realize, timeless. I found out yesterday that my bathroom will be featured in a magazine article on bathroom remodels, in their December issue.

    By the way, I could not find tile that matched my wall tile so I took the larger wall tile in a matte version, and had the tile maker cut it down into three long pieces, which then could be used in a herringbone pattern!

  14. Great post but I have a bit of practical experience with interior brick floors. My house has brick floors in the mudroom, screened porch, and breakfast room, installed in 1992 addition to the 1927 original.. It’s pretty but it has some practical limitations. Very hard to thoroughly clean the brick inside the house, for instance food from the breakfast room floor because it is pourous and a bit rough – Simply chews up mops! probably glazed brick would be better if you can get the look you want. (Or brick smoothed by hundreds of years 😉 And the breakfast room is echo-y due to such a hard floor, and lots of windows. Nice conservatory feeling but a couple downsides. I have beautiful herringbone wood floors in other rooms btw.

  15. I was just researching herringbone wood floors! In these new, character-less houses that are being built with open floor plans… I was thinking small planks in a herringbone pattern for the large, open spaces and double french doors for the entryways. Maybe decorative, french molding making panels on the walls to carve out the space.

  16. I had terra cotta tiles in my cottage and a week of standing on them convinced me to lay a wood floating floor on top of them. I did put Chicago brick all around my home outside. I opted for 90 degree herringbone instead of 45 because there is less waste of material. It is beautiful and timeless.

  17. Absolutely to herringbone! I think it’s incredibly classic, especially in a brick pattern or medium toned woods. Even though the look is similar to chevron, I far prefer herringbone. I’ve actually been thinking of how to incorporate herringbone floors into my own home recently!

  18. Yay, on the herringbone. But I don’t think it would look as nice in our tiny home as it does in the classy photos.

  19. Love this topic! I’ve been trying to distill out what makes hard surfaces/fixed elements (especially floors) classic instead of trendy. It seems natural materials (or perhaps high quality products that very closely resemble natural materials) tend to have a good shot at standing the test of time. Also, even if you can’t live someplace fabulous like Italy, maybe it’s a good move to pick flooring that is, in a very subtle way, reminiscent of a PLACE instead of a TIME (the year that the flooring was installed). One problem that I have run into is that I love Saltillo Tile floors (they are my preference and I think they are timeless), but the style does not seem congruent with tract, “cookie cutter” houses in the burbs (not right for all places) and might hurt future resale value (not popular). I would love it if you would explore this topic further; I would love to know all the rules and options for choosing flooring that will stand the test of time, both stylistically and for resale purposes.

  20. The herringbone floor make the rooms much larger visually and it is timeless in any color you choose as you have mentioned Maria

  21. What a timely article! In fact just today I received the brick tile I will be using to re-floor my sunroom, and yes, I am planning on a herringbone pattern! And the tile itself was made in Italy. I feel the look fits well with my 1920’s era southern home.

  22. Isn’t pretty much everything in Italy timeless? They seem to have a genetic sense of style there in clothing design, product design, etc.

  23. Its so beautiful because its “real” authentic and I think
    the texture really adds to the beauty!! Love It!!!

  24. I have been pondering a travertine herringbone tile for my entrance way for sometime now. However due to other factors in Italy, culture, age etc. I am wondering if the herringbone may not look the same in Ontario, Canada. This article makes me wonder even more: should I?

  25. Much to the disappointment to our tiler i’m giving it a try on toilet walls in white. He really doesn’t want to fiddle around with all of the off cuts etc. But hubby is behind me on this one!

  26. We are building a new home and l love herringbone wood floors but can’t find anyone who will install it. It is much more labor intensive and no one we have talked to has any experience with it so if anyone know someone in the Seattle are please let me know.

  27. I grew up amidst the sea of herringbone parquet..so easy to embrace))
    Here it’s crazily expensive though.
    Maybe I’ll try to do herringbone tile, on the patio. I love the pattern.
    What’s strange to me is that I very, very much dislike chevron..))

  28. Uh oh, Maria’s been enjoying too much of the local wines! I agree on the herringbone floors and if you google for it you will find it in many French and English homes too. So it does seem to be timeless and not tied to only one style of home.

  29. I like your Italian floors post but my memory of Italian flooring is the Travertine marble seen everywhere much of it from prvious centuries.
    That is a timeless, beautiful classic, but maybe unfashionable in parts of N. America. Maybe its the current (passing) no-biege bias. Still very popular/timeless in desert communities.

  30. So enjoyed your traveling tips. Great read.
    Herringbone–Yay for this girl. Very pretty. In all forms. Growing on me it is. And I really think the charcoal floor is so pretty. They all are!

  31. Great post Maria! I have always loved herringbone tile, and by the looks of things it continues to stand the test of time! You can be both current and classic at the same time, so it is the safe choice that can be applied to any design element in a person’s home.

  32. I recognize the hotel of your photo of the Carrara marble staircase. It’s Antica Torre on Via Tornabuoni. It was the fabulous light fixtures that gave it away. Such a gorgeous hotel.