The Cross House
When the Cross House was built in 1894 it had wall-to-wall carpeting on the first- and second-floors, 22-inch-wide strips hand-sewn together. The very acme of luxury.
However, I will forever curse this decision.
For, under the carpet was just cheap random-width pine.
In 1929, I surmise, plain oak floors were laid on the second floor, and the same in 1950 on the first floor. And this is what I inherited.
This meant that a significant design element, patterned carpeting, had become an insignificant design element. And the floor plane, meant to be a visual anchor for the riot of stained-glass and carved mantels and elaborate trim on the walls, was now just a visual void. And the riot of stuff looked like it was just floating, untethered to anything.
Oh, the horror.
For three years I have pondered many solutions to this issue:
- Install period-correct wall-to-wall carpeting. I only gave this a minute of thought as I intensely dislike wall-to-wall carpeting. When one has animals this is a very poor decision.
- Install hip wall-to-wall carpeting. See above.
- Tear out all the oak and install period-correct parquet with inlay borders. This is what the house would likely have had if not for the poor decision to install wall-to-wall carpeting. I actually costed this out…and after recovering from the resulting heart-attack never gave this further consideration.
- Stencil inlay borders. This would be cheap, but would do something I am always loath to do: fudge the historical narrative. This would make the boring oak floors sorta kinda vaguely OK, and people would think they were original.
- Stencil an overall pattern across the floors. See above.
- Do something unexpected. Hummm.
So…with all the above floating around in my mind like a stew, I am pleased to present the not-quite-finished results.
Are you sitting down? Is your seatbelt fastened?
Do you have smelling salts nearby?
If so, scroll way down…
I wish to stress:
My floors are not original! The first floor oak is circa-1950.
While I am highly respectful of original features of the house, and am willing to undergo some financial hardship and suffering to restore/replicate 1894 features, I feel no such curatorial approach to non-original features.
So, while being dedicated to restoring the house itself to its 1894 appearance, I have no desire for a period-correct decor. None. Zero. Rather, I look forward with enormous anticipation to having a decor reflect the last 122-years.
I cannot recall ever seeing this done. It seems there are but two camps:
- Meticulously restore a old house, and create a period-correct decor.
- “Update” an old house by knocking out walls, painting everything white, punching in a thousand can lights in the ceilings, and installing a hipster decor.
I have no interest in either camp.
When the rooms are fully furnished, with lush draperies upon the windows, area rugs on the floors, and beautiful patterns papered/painted on the walls and ceilings, the striped floors will become a background element. They will not disappear, but will recede.
Wide stripes on the floors is very modern. And the counter-play of 2016 and 1894 thrills me. To me, this will make the house feel alive and fresh.
I have long had a hope. When the house is finished, some young somethings will enter the house, look around, their eyes wide wth wonder, and exclaim: Awesome! I love this!
If, in the end, young somethings find the house appealing rather than off-putting, I will be very pleased, indeed.