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I want herringbone wood floors – what design elements should I consider?

The question

I'd like to install herringbone-patterned wood floors in my house. What do I need to consider?

The answer

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First, make sure you know the difference between chevron and herringbone.

With a chevron pattern the wood blocks meet point to point to create a continuous zigzag versus a herringbone where the end points finish perpendicular to each other to create a broken zigzag. I personally prefer chevrons because they add detail while feeling up-to-date and unfussy.

These days, I am using a matte oil finish and staying away from glossy floors, which I find a bit too 1980s and a little slick for today's more casual lifestyle.

Your big decisions are which way to run the pattern and whether to install a border. The rule of thumb is to run the pattern down the length of the room as you would with regular floor boards so the space feels larger and so you can see more length of the pattern. If you're installing them yourself, be sure to use a snap line and ruler so the pattern is straight; if you don't, the zigzag will be wonky. One last piece of advice: It's best to place herringbone floors in a defined space rather than throughout an open floor plan because the edges never seem quite right.

Dee Dee Taylor Eustace is an architect and interior designer. Follow her on Twitter: @ddtaylordd. Have a design dilemma? E-mail

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