5th May 2015
Our floors arrived today: two pallets of reclaimed parquet blocks from the helpful, and appropriately named, Parquet Parquet. It took me most of the day to get them inside. Initially, I stacked them carefully, intending to save space. But I soon realised that this would keep me going all night. So despite the rather attractive William Burroughs badminton courts that I found myself creating on every layer, I ended up piling them high in an epic mountain range of African hardwood.
The plan is to use a different wood, with a different pattern, in each room: Panga panga in herringbone, Lebombo in diamond-cubic, Jara in brickwork, and Partridge wood in something else again. But we will see – I suspect our minds may be changed when we start playing around in situ. Fortunately it is all in pretty good shape, so we won’t have to spend days cleaning the grooves and tidying up the tongues. All the blocks have a layer of tar on the bottom but they can all be buzzed with a sander before being smothered in glue and put in place for another 150 years or so.
It’s going to be a hell of a job, not least the final sanding once the floors are laid, but I have no doubt it will be worth it. At the moment, the beauty of the wood lurks beneath layers of varnish, dirt and perspiration. The joy of working with reclaimed materials is the process of stripping away the years to recover not only the material but also the delight that the original owners enjoyed when the floor was first laid. We may not, however, buff them up in quite the way that I imagine was required of a Victorian school floor in Lincolnshire (where they came from). As I am sure any Arts and Crafts architect circa 1890 would tell you, it’s the colour, pattern and variety of the wood that matter, not the brilliance of the shine.