What’s the Difference Between Herringbone, Flamestitch, and Chevron?

Decoration and Design
Interior Design
By Dikran Seferian November 25, 2021

Three patterns that are all the rage in the modern interior design industry are herringbone, flamestitch, and chevron. To many, they are collectively known as zigzag. But designers and aficionados tend to differentiate between these designs. However, it shouldn’t take an expert to notice the slight yet noticeable differences. While several variations of each type do exist, the fundamental properties can still be discerned. In certain instances, however, a variation of one zigzag pattern may be somewhat identical to that of another. Even then, it is cases like these that add to the richness of interior design. Each of these patterns is nevertheless basking in their popularity among many homeowners and designers alike. Understanding the individual types can be helpful in determining how to incorporate herringbone, flamestitch, and chevron into your living space.

Herringbone Pattern 

Herringbone is a repetitive pattern aptly named after the herring fish skeleton it resembles. This intricate pattern originates from Ancient Egypt and Rome, where it was used in jewelry, fabrics, and paving. Nowadays, it is commonly used in many interiors — and exterior — design elements. 

What Does the Herringbone Pattern Look Like?

A herringbone pattern basically involves straight rectangles arranged in a zigzag pattern. There is one main characteristic that distinguishes herringbone from the other zigzag patterns. Basically, the rectangles are shaped in a way that the end of one tile meets the side of the next one. This creates a “broken” zigzag look that adds style to a living space.

Pattern Ideas for Your Area Rugs

Pattern Ideas for Your Area Rugs

Where Can You Apply the Herringbone Pattern?

The herringbone pattern is most common in flooring, in which case the palette is usually made up of only one color with slight shading. The ancient Romans used this pattern to lay their pave ways which lasted for centuries. While ancient Egyptian elites had jewelry crafted in herringbone, Italians used it to design fabrics. Today, you can still see it in paver walkways in parks, sidewalks, as well as backyards. A rather unexpected place you can have a herringbone pattern is the front doorway to make a first impression, right? In bathrooms and kitchens, herringbone can be found in tiled walls, backsplashes, and ceramic flooring. A play on tile colors can create a beautifully dazing effect. In living rooms, hallways, and bedrooms, hardwood floors are an especially common application for this ancient yet still popular pattern.

Common Hardwood Flooring Patterns You Should Consider

Common Hardwood Flooring Patterns You Should Consider

Another popular application of herringbone is on modern-style rugs. This design choice can even pertain to the art deco and modernist styles which are big on geometric shapes. However, a more preferable application could be runner rugs. This is because herringbone’s effect is highlighted on extended surfaces; otherwise, it could make the room appear smaller than it is. You can consider this pattern to style up an otherwise subtle headboard for your bed. Other items that may feature herringbone include throw pillows, blankets, and tablecloths. A very creative way to display this geometric design is through a one-of-a-kind piece of wall art. Consider using several different shades or hues in this brilliant — and very DIY-able — decor idea. 

Flamestitch Pattern

The flamestitch pattern first appeared in Italy in the 17th century. It was widely used as a motif in Bargello needlepoint embroidery. The pattern, also known as Florentine and Bargello, gets its name from its almost flame-like shape. Flamestitch is now popular as ever; and has flamboyantly made its way in many living spaces.

Unique Ways to Incorporate Flamestitch in your Upholstery

Unique Ways to Incorporate Flamestitch in your Upholstery

What Does the Flamestitch Pattern Look Like?

Flamestitch is a zigzag pattern that usually appears in a more varied and organic manner rather than structured lines. A more symmetrical variation of this pattern involves slightly curled cabriole-esque lines that meet together to form a sharp peak — almost like vertical braces. Unlike the chevron and herringbone patterns, which are limited in color, flamestitch normally features an array of hues.

Bathing in Style With Popular Bathroom Curtain Designs

Bathing in Style With Popular Bathroom Curtain Designs

Where Can You Apply the Flamestitch Pattern?

Flamestitch was especially popular in the 1960s and 1970s when it was used in elements of interior design to create the psychedelic aesthetic of that era. You would see endless rows of multicolored zig-zags on rugs, drapery, as well as upholstery. Nowadays, the pattern is available in a wide range of variations and textures. The diverse variations can include asymmetrical and wave-like zigzags. Moreover, a single flamestitch piece can feature the entire colors of the rainbow and beyond.

In living rooms, you can see flamestitch on pillows that add a sense of movement to the color scheme, while area rugs donning this pattern often serve as a centerpiece item. Curtains featuring the flamestitch design can add dimension to the pattern due to their folds. Bathroom curtains can ideally feature this pattern to spruce up an otherwise cold design. A bolder choice is to have it on living room drapes.

Another unique application of flamestitch can be in dining chair upholstery, especially if the chairs themselves are rather antique; the pattern would bring them to the 21st century. A monochromatic palette such as a few shades of blue can give the dining room a European look. In the bedroom, you can incorporate this pattern into your bedsheets to bring back that psychedelic aesthetic. A brilliant idea is to use a flamestitch patterned textile to upcycle an old piece of furniture such as a deck chair. 

Chevron Pattern

Chevron goes all the way back to 1800 BCE when pottery designs in that pattern were found in a Cretian palace in modern-day Greece. Moreover, it was a commonly used design in Native American handicrafts. The pattern gets its name from the chevron insignia, which refers to a badge used to indicate military ranks. Chevron is a favorite among those who favor modern and contemporary design styles.

Modernist Patterns to Accentuate Your Furniture

Modernist Patterns to Accentuate Your Furniture

What Does the Chevron Pattern Look Like?

Picture a repetitive row of the letter V. As opposed to the herringbone pattern, however, the V’s do not overlap. The ends are cut at an angle in order for them to meet head-to-head. Moreover, chevron patterns — unlike flamestitch — feature sharp lines and are perfectly symmetrical. In many cases, this pattern features only two highly contrasting colors. 

Where Can You Apply the Chevron Pattern?

The chevron pattern was particularly a go-to choice in modernist interior design — and has recently made a comeback along with that design style itself. In entryways, a chevron wall can greet guests as well as residents. In this case, the colors can be slightly toned-down in contrast in order to create a calming and welcoming effect as opposed to a bolder look — as long as they underline the furniture and other items in the area.

Add a Touch of Movement to Your Accents With Chevron

Add a Touch of Movement to Your Accents With Chevron

Moving on to the living room, you may see more of the pattern. Many foreground elements will feature chevron such as a fancy curtain to spruce up an understated wall. Pillows boasting this pattern can add style to plain upholstery. When it comes to wallpaper, the lightly toned chevron perfectly accentuates bold elements such as wall art, sconces, and corner houseplants. Nevertheless, you can’t go wrong with a sharp black and white chevron for a feature wall. In the bedroom, this pattern could feature a grayscale palette for a more soothing look — a bolder contrast doesn't really exude a sense of coziness where it is needed the most. In other rooms such as a kitchen or a dining area, however, a highly contrasting chevron can make a statement. Another perfect application for the zigzagging design is an area rug. When placed facing a doorway, a chevron rug would cleverly hint towards the next room. In hardwood flooring, you may see the chevron pattern used as an alternative to herringbone.

Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian