Before I had even taken two steps into my current apartment, I knew I needed to have it. No, it wasn’t because of the quality of appliances (they’re early-aughts models on their last legs), the closet space (minimal), or the amenities (nonexistent); it was the floors that got me. The parquet floors, to be exact. Hallmarks of pre-war buildings in the U.S., parquet floors are a decorative element beloved by the historically and aesthetically-minded alike. Here’s what you should know about them.
What exactly *is* parquet?
Parquet is the term for floors made of inlaid wood, arranged in a geometric pattern. The most common patterns are various riffs on square motifs, though more unconventional takes, like sunbursts or medallions, also count. The word “parquet” comes from the old French parchet, meaning a small compartment or enclosure.
It has royal origins, too: Parquet flooring was first used in the 1600s at Versailles, where it replaced marble floors that required more upkeep. After catching on in France, parquet gained popularity throughout Europe. Since its installation required technical skill and lots of time, the material became a sign of opulence in grand houses.
What makes it special?
Besides having its origins in France’s most famous château, Parquet is a decorative element that adds instant interest and texture to the floor. In addition to a main pattern, most parquet floors have a different decorative border, which makes the floorboards essentially serve as a built-in rug.