There can't be anyone out there who doesn't know by now that we have the builders in in a big way - everywhere is upside down. But there is light at the end of the tunnel as the Dining Room is almost finished. The builder has completed the work, the farmer has painted the woodwork, I am waxing the mantelshelf (thank you for all your advice, I am following it) and on Monday morning the carpet layer is coming. We are lucky to live in the kind of house where once the room is organised and polished I can close the door and keep it that way until the rest of the house is finished. But it is the floor I find fascinating. There is social history there.
The chimney breast shows evidence of four or five different types of firegrate - some very high up on the wall and some lower down. There has been so much hacking out of grates and refitting new ones that we have had to have the wall replastered.
Various hearths have been put down and one, small green ceramic tiles, still has remnants in place. And on the floor is linoleum - tacked down - and I would guess it has been there since the house was built in 1925. (it was covered with underlay which we are discarding and replacing).
My mother (born in around 1896) used to talk about her grandparents' cottage in the village where she lived. She used to say that the floor was old flags laid on to soil and that when it was damp weather the flags would be damp and sometimes worms would wriggle through into the kitchen. Her grandmother used to save all the old clothes in order to make rag rugs to cover the floor. Nothing was ever wasted in those days (quilts from old shirts to cover the bed , too).
When I was a small girl all heavily- used rooms had linoleum. The "best" room would have lino too with a square of carpet in the middle. The housewife would polish the lino round the edge.
Then manufacturers hit on the idea of making strip lino which looked like woodblocks, so that it looked as though the carpet square was laid on a wood floor. Eventually fitted carpets came into fashion and everyone wanted one. Now, of course, laminated floor is in vogue (not for the farmer it isn't!). How fashions change (and how much better off we all are than our forbears).
What I find interesting is that the lino in our Dining Room is tacked down to the wood floor, so it will stay there as a reminder of that social history. The design shows the era in which it was put down. It is pure Arts and Crafts/Art Nouveau - that time when designers rebelled against all things Victorian and looked to Nature to provide the inspiration. I love it. But do I love it enough to have it as the focus of the room? No thanks - I like my feet warm in the Winter. But I am tempted to take a piece up and put it in a frame before Monday morning when it will be covered up again for the foreseeable future.