Hardwood flooring with tile insert questions

I orginally posted this in the rec.woodworking group but someone suggested I give this group a try. This post is reworded slightly.
I would like to put in a new floor into my house that is a combination of hardwood and with tile inserts. Each tile is framed by 3-4 inch strips of flooring. I saw this in a couple of show homes and really liked it.
Unfortunately, I can't find any information on doing this. I've laid hardwood and tile separately but never done anything like this.
Can anyone give me some advice on how to start? I'm not sure if I need to use regular flooring (i.e. tounge and groove) or go with straight planks? When should the finish to the wood be applied?
I realize there are potential problems but I'm more interested in hearing solutions AND problems from someone who has experience doing this.
Thanks, Dave.
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