Saturday, 15 August 2009

I am floored!




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.

31 comments:

Heather said...

What a fascinating post Weaver - your lino is surely based on the designs of William Morris. Our first home had depressing but good quality dark brown lino everywhere and we couldn't afford to change it. However, it did respond well to a good old polishing session. I often think ahead to the time when we might want to move to a smaller house and imagine estate agents and buyers saying how dated everything is, but when does 'dated' become 'original features'? We must choose our time carefully!!

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Isn't it amazing the history that can be gleaned from the products used to decorate or make a home. I think that is a wonderful idea to take a piece of that linoleum and frame it "as a piece of social history".

Very interesting reading Weaver.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

I'd vote to save and frame a piece of the lino.

Remodeling an old house is, often as not, a sort of archaeological dig, discovering and uncovering the art and fashion and social history literally underfoot. It makes the life and age and history of your house come alive and feel real in a way simply looking through a deed never can. You experience the former owners with sight and touch…such as your linoleum, which you can hold and feel, admiring the pattern's colors.

Think what fun you might be having (forget the possible additional expense) if your house was 150 years old…or 300! All those layers; all the little mysteries and revelations.

Golden West said...

That is a wonderful Arts & Crafts design, very Charles Rennie Mackintosh. And I love the color combination - what a wonderful discovery!

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

You do indeed have very attractive lino there and I would frame a piece too. It could provide all sorts of inspiration for future decorating: colours, motifs, styles.

I can remember the succession of lino/vinyl in our house when I was a lad!

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...

Wonderful that you take the time to really read the story your house is telling. You and the "farmer" both sound like lovely people. Have you posted a photo of the house from the outside? Since I live in America I really appreciate seeing the cottages of Europe. So much here in the Western United States is new, with no history at all.

Linda said...

When the renovations begin, it is amazing what is buried in the layers of the walls and floors of old houses. The most startling thing I ever discovered was how very thin ten layers of wallpaper becomes, and how very difficult to remove! I love the linoleum you have discovered. The print is beautiful! Is there a possibility that it may have been an older piece that came to the house from another place and was not purchased new for your house? Maybe it came from a roll of older stock. Maybe that linoleum has an even richer history then we imagine, or maybe it doesn't. There ought to be places in a house where former owners can leave information about items like that, an archive.

willow said...

Peeling down through the layers of the history of a house is so fascinating. I love that fabulous old linoleum pattern. Yes, do frame a piece! The manor was built in 1927 and has many of its original fixtures. I love the character of an old home, don't you?

steven said...

hi weaver, a fascinating post - layers yes!!! each layer has so many stories, a lot like the people who lived there. you mention "my mother . . . 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." i remember as a boy visiting one of my grandmother's houses in runcorn. it was much the same! cold, damp flags. i don't remember worms though shed' be just as likely to pick them up and take them back to her garden before i got up as she started baking and cooking early in the day. in the winter there'd even be a hint of frost on the edges near the walls. bare feet?! ha!! only once and then it was slippers from then on. a really lovely post. thanks. steven

ArtPropelled said...

Layers of history ...so intriguing. I think it's an excellent idea to frame a piece of the lino.

Reader Wil said...

Interesting to read about the way cottages were build with a floor of flagstones laid on the soil. I saw that in the sod huts too. Some of them had an earthen floor, the better ones had bricks or flags on the soil. That was already an improvement. Good post, Weaver!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Yes, yes, do please frame a piece. It's a lovely pattern! And a bit of your home's history! I am such a devotee of the Arts and Crafts period and this looks straight from their studio!

MarmaladeRose said...

Wow that is lovely, what a find! I wonder what other secrets your lovely home has hidden?

MarmaladeRose said...

Hi its me again, came to your blog first before I went to mine. The Milkchurn Cottage gift shop where I bought the fabrics is in Hawes near the post office. There is a link on my blog down the right hand side at the bottom.
Unfortunately I think we'll be away on visiting relatives then or else we'd certainly be over for a cuppa and some of your scrummy baking! mmmm!

jeannette stgermain said...

Thank you for the "follow", Weaver! I know what you're going through - in my (now old) house, hubby put out the ceilings, added on a shed, and made a new kitchen, so I lived with pots and pans on the floor for 2 years! We never got to the floor! So, when this is over, it's going to be sooo nice! Happy for you.

jinksy said...

I love the idea of framing a bit of floor history.

Crafty Green Poet said...

oh its so nice to find the history of your home revealing itself like that

gleaner said...

Many years ago I renovated my 1927 house and found a similar style lino which was fascinating - but unfortunately I didn't take a sample - so, I urge you, take a sample, it will be treasured and holds a great little story of the past.

Lisa Sarsfield said...

I love the old stories old houses have to tell! People used to be born and raised in the same house and everything was so lovlingly cared for. You're no doubt discovering little tidbits of history every day!

Kim said...

What a wonderful wee find you have there. Like you, I think the old lino is gorgeous, but couldn't live in a room filled with it every day. I think the idea of cutting a piece and framing it is fabulous, then you have the best of both worlds.I bet you can't wait till the reno's are over. The novelty of disorder in the home wears thin very quickly I find, LOL!

Pondside said...

I'm sure you'll be very happy to have things back to normal again.
Very interesting, how the room has changed over the generations. I've never lived in a house old enough to be that interesting!

Amy said...

I'm so glad you are renovating and restoring your house, it always warms my heart when people are going against the modern grain and ripping out all the original features.

Mairi said...

The lino is a great pattern. I remember going to choose new linoleum for my grandmother's parlour/dining room in her house in Lochmaben when I was a child. The shop was a forest of patterned rolls standing on end in various traditional patterns, Hers covered the centre of the floor, presumably to protect the hardwood under the table. We chose a floral - probably exactly the sort of thing your pattern was a reaction against, but still the done thing in Scotland in the early sixties. I'm glad you're leaving yours.

Penny said...

What a wonderful pattern I think you should keep a piece before it goes under again. I seem to remember a lot of green in lino here in Oz and of course when we were married in the late 1950's we put down very trendy black and white lino tiles on our kitchen floor.The rest of the house as we added to it, had polished wood floors and rugs but the kitchen was and still is a hodge podge of wood and cement with something now laid over the top and proper tiles laid, but now it is all moving so we may have to do it but so long as I dont fall over the bits where it has risen, I dont mind as I cant bear the thought of re doing it.

Bob said...

Hi Weaver, I remember when I was little (I have a good memory) we had flagstones on the floor of the kitchen like you would find out in the yard. I don't remember what was between the cracks, I do remember that the stones made good sized fields for hay making with my toy tractors! Bob.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Again this has been a post that has generated such a lot of interest and so many memories. Today is the last day the lino will be visible. In the morning the carpet layers will be here and the line will be covered with underlay and carpet once again. I thoroughly recommend you to read all the comments - there is a wealth of information there and a lot of food for thought. Thanks for them all.

n2theblue said...

oh, i do hope you've saved a bit of the lovely old lino!

~enjoyed your railway stories!

patteran said...

Do frame it, Pat. These fragments of architectural/cultural history are invaluable artefacts in a time of such rapid change.

We've just been renting a flag-floored house in Shropshire and that slight miasma of damp was evident, although more as ambient atmosphere than anything problematical!

Teresa said...

How interesting! There used to be a TV show here in the US called "If These Walls Could Talk" and they would focus on things like your lino.... bits and pieces of the home as it had been through transitions and the time period those finds reflected.

I once did a college report on William Morris.... thoroughly enjoyed the research.

Arija said...

I would definitely take a piece of that lio, preferably a big piece, and frame it. After all it is part of the history of the farm and beautiful in its own right as well.

BT said...

Aha, I found it. That lino is beautiful and I'm so glad you have saved a piece. Our old fireplace in the 'snug' is from the same era. It has wonderful flowers going up the sides. Sadly the grate is broken. We can't decide whether to keep it or block it up. The surround is wooden and huge, much too big for the room. You will love it all when it's finished. I keep saying that here!