Based in London’s Fulham, Cheville is revitalising the parquet floor with a modern take on this most traditional type of flooring. The firm’s Henry Hudson talks Arkitexture through how to choose the right pattern for your space, what the most popular finishes are, and installation tips.
Why pay so much attention to the floor?
Second to the walls, the floor takes up the most space in a property, and it can be a huge feature, but is often forgotten about. It can also act as a starting point for a project: the floor can determine the wall colour, the doors, the kitchen, the furniture – everything revolves around it when you decide to make it a feature.
Does a parquet floor cost more than a plain plank?
Traditional parquet can be double the price of a plank floor, due to the sub-floor preparation, sanding and finishing on site. But we offer parquet that’s about 25% more than a plank.
It’s great to have clients come to the showroom thinking they were going for a plank, but end up going for a parquet design. People leave with something much more exciting and stylish than they first envisioned.
Are some patterns more suitable for certain places?
Chevron is very ‘in’ at the moment, although not all rooms lend themselves to the design. It’s very directional – essentially an arrow – so works in long, rectangular spaces running towards the light. Herringbone, on the other hand, is a lot more flexible, because it runs both lengthways and breadthways, so it can work in smaller spaces.
What finishes are popular at the moment?
Muted greys. Fashions in flooring aren’t like clothing fashions – they go in seven-year cycles. While strong greys are still in, people are opting more for muted tones.
The Scandinavian look is still in, with really light tones, but they can be a bit more delicate, in the same way that having a white car will show up the dirt more than a grey one. Unfortunately it always seems to be the mums with four kids and a labrador running riot who want it throughout their whole ground floor!
We have one shade, Gainsboro, which I have used throughout my showroom floor. It’s finished in a silver metallic oil, which reflects the light. You see different tones at different times of the day, depending on how the light hits it. It sells really well and it has a real wow-factor to it.
You’ve developed floors with mixed materials – stone and metals incorporated into the flooring – was that technically difficult?
Wood expands and contracts depending on the temperature and humidity of the area; metal and stone don’t do this to the same degree, so the two don’t normally work together. However, we apply stone and metal finishes over our wood blocks, meaning both materials can work together in harmony. Some people think that because it’s a veneer, that it may be a bit flimsy, but the feedback has been fantastic so far.
Are there other ways that you’re updating traditional parquet?
Our main idea at Cheville is to take something that’s complicated and try to simplify it. Usually, parquet had to be sanded and finished on site, and you need a specialist to install it. With ours, all the hard work is done in the factory. Our parquet has a bevel around all four sides, so once slotted in, it doesn’t require sanding and finishing, and you can walk on it straight away.
We play about with traditional patterns, such as parquet de Versailles [a pattern based on large squares] to make our own designs. Also, original parquet floor blocks are traditionally very small, and glossy, just like you might see in a church or university, but we offer more of a contemporary take on conventional parquet: the blocks are bigger, and our floors aren’t glossy.
Are your timber floors solid or engineered wood – and what’s the difference?
Engineered only. Solid is out. Some people have a strongly traditional understanding of wood floor and they think they are getting cheated with engineered wood. But if you’re going to go for underfloor heating, as so many people are, engineered is the only practical option. A solid wood floor needs to sit in the property for 14 days to sufficiently acclimatise before it can be fitted: from my experience of the building trade, I can’t envisage how this can be done, especially for commercial clients such as restaurants and bars, which are often working on a four-to-six-week turnaround.
What’s the best sub-floor to lay your floors over?
You can lay it over concrete, or you can lay it over plywood, which is probably the best. If you’ve got an existing floor, just install a thin layer of plywood then put the new floor on top.