Parquet flooring for a ranch house? Yes — an “authentic” top-of-the-line choice

Lynn recently bought a 1960 ranch house and asked me whether I thought her wood parquet floors (small photo to the right) were original. Almost without a doubt I answer: Yes. The lead photo above is my dining room floor. This floor is original to my 1951 colonial-modern ranch. The parquets are each 12″ wide. They are made from fullsize pieces of wood flooring — this is not a thin veneer. In fact, somewhere in my travels I have heard that parquet flooring like mine was more expensive to purchase and install than the more common long runs of oak tongue-in-groove flooring. Wood parquet was more complicated, more fussy, and therefore, more expensive. The adjacent, step-down living room, by the way, got wall-to-wall carpet.

How about another example of hardwood parquet? The photo above is from the ravishing Tennessee time capsule house (see the amazing kitchens and bathrooms). This floor was installed in 1956.

Here is the foyer of the same house. We have explored recently what color stain is most appropriate for your midcentury hardwood floors — the mass, we believe, were done in “natural”, like mine. But it’s also great to see this darker stain. It is so rich and beautiful. Note, when I talked to the owner of this house who did the 1956 restoration, Mrs. Starling Davis, she explained that in 1956 “everyone was putting carpet” into the principal living spaces of their homes. This dovetails exactly with what we learned from Emily Morrow of Shaw Floors, when we learned about the history of wall-to-wall carpeting. This 1956 time capsule house was decorated top-of-the-line back 55 years ago. Parquet was used in key, “show off” places — the dining room and foyer — that functionally, could not be carpeted. Hence, I deduce: Wood parquet flooring was not only original and appropriate to midcentury homes, it was a top-of-the-line flooring choice.

Be-Safe-graphic2.3

Get our retrolicious free newsletter.

Newsletter-sign-up-2NMAS

Get our retrolicious free newsletter.

Comments

  1. says

    We had parquet just like this in our house. 1/2 inch thick. Then a dishwasher was installed incorrectly, ruining the floor all over the house. Boo. It had to be removed and we were heart broken. Whenever we touch anything water related, we check and double check now.

  2. Clare says

    Here’s my funny parquet story:

    We have original 1957 parquet all the way through the main floor of our mid mod ranch. The kind where each square is made up of 1-inch-wide strips. It’s in rough shape with some water damage in spots and many loose pieces…

    …One time I was on the phone in the kitchen and my then five-year-old daughter came into the kitchen holding a few of the floor pieces. I told her, no, no, you can’t pull up the floor, but then stupidly kept on talking on the phone. When I was finished and went into the living room, I found large swaths of the floor had been pulled up. My living room looked like one giant almost finished puzzle.

    Sigh. It didn’t take me long to put most of the pieces back, but of course, the last few didn’t fit and needed to be sanded down.

    You gotta love kids!

  3. Jessica says

    My ’57 Fickett has 4″ parquet throughout the house, I have always questioned whether this was the correct flooring for the house. Have you seen any vintage photos of mid-century houses with parquet when the house was new? I haven’t been able to locate any and therefore question whether the parquet is original. I would love to see any vintage pics if anyone has them.

  4. Shelly says

    We recently purchased a home with beautiful parquet floors in the dining room and living room. It was a surprise when we tore out the carpet. The kitchen has faux hardwood flooring that must go, but I am not sure what to replace it with. The parquet floor in the adjoining dining room is so busy that anything in the kitchen with much pattern to it will be too much. Any suggestions?

    • pam kueber says

      I have Azrock Cortina Autumn Haze right up next to the parquet, love it. See all my flooring posts… in Kitchens/Flooring…

  5. Bridgette French says

    We have an entire kitchen .dining and well lot’s of Parquet flooring concentrated in one area. We certainly think that the flooring is in keeping with our glorious new home BUT they are in ruff ruff shape.

    What do all you hipsters out there think of refinishing them and darkening them from their original goldish, oakyish state? Darkish?

  6. Julie Selden says

    I live in a 1968 home with parquet flooring. It is in pretty good shape. But I am always wondering how to take care of it from weekly and if I am suppose to be finishing it. It has never been refinished and looks good.

  7. genjen says

    I have original 9×9 red oak parquet throughout my entire 1950s California ranch house. I am DESPERATE to find a good quality of replacement pieces. Water damaged ruined a sizable section of one room’s flooring and I’m heartsick about it. None of the modern parquet tiles on the market will work. Any guidance is very much appreciated.

  8. Jennifer Logan says

    Yes, you do have to have it custom made.

    We just had a burst pipe flood and ruined our 1957 original oak parquet that was in the entire house except the baths and kitchen. Our three bedrooms were spared. Sad, sad, sad. I asked a local master hardwood expert / floor restorer about it and he said that the only way to get these 3/4 inch red oak parquet tiles is to have them custom made or salvage them. (They only make a lower quality 5/16 thin, premade parquet these days). They actually have to custom make them from pre-cut strip flooring boards because no one manufactures them anymore. Bummer. And it is super duper expensive (possibly 3 to 4 times the cost of a strip floor)
    As for us, we are looking for a new engineered floor (per his recommendation) because we live in hot, humid, wet Florida and hardwood buckles even with the humidity sometimes here. We are trying to find something (strip flooring, most likely) that will look good with the red oak parquet in the bedrooms that was spared the water damage. We have to replace the hallway wood that opens to the bedrooms.

    What have others done to keep the floors looking period appropriate when they couldn’t get lovely old parquet?

    • pam kueber says

      See all our flooring research — it’s in Kitchens/Flooring.

      For main living areas — how about cork? Or if you can find someone to do it — in Florida, the go-to most desirable floor would have been terrazzo. Could be even more spendy today than the real-deal parquet.

      • Jennifer Logan says

        Thanks for the investigating and the terrazzo idea. $10/sq ft is pretty expensive because we have about 1000 square feet to cover and it is unfinished and doesn’t include a new subfloor or installation costs. I’ll look into the terrazzo, which would be cool underfoot in the summer heat.

        • pam kueber says

          You could also do VCT — if you like the casual look throughout the entire house… see our stories on Azrock VCT tile — TexTile and Azrock Cortina Autumn Haze — they have the old skool “jaspe” look. Even less expensive, probly: Armstrong Imperial Excelon VCT. Key to installing these floors successfullly is, I believe, getting the subfloor absolutely positively smooth; consult a pro.

  9. Sarah says

    We have the same floors, pictured in the lead photo, in our kitchen. I love how the braided rug looks with it. Do you know where this rug can be purchased? Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *