A Floor With Memory

This floor remembers. Sometimes it is necessary to remove walls and reconfigure spaces to accommodate modern life in a historic house, preferably in secondary spaces without significant architectural features. If the original flooring is in a condition to remain in place, patching the locations of former walls with matching wood turned 90 degrees to the original flooring is an effective way to retain a “memory” of the original plan while having consistent flooring throughout.

It is not uncommon for a large house to have a rabbit warren of small rooms in the rear that once accommodated servants who have been gone for decades and are never coming back. Such houses also frequently have small kitchens that were intended to be used and seen by servants and never functioned as a family living space as kitchens often do today. It is not realistic to think the modern families who own these homes today will not open up some of these spaces to suit how people now live. Empty rooms for non-existent servants are great in museum houses. Many homeowners will not see them as worthy of preservation. In these cases, this is a wonderful way to preserve a memory of those lost spaces.

In space shown above, two walls were removed to create a larger kitchen/dining area. The locations of the former walls and the door openings in one of them are preserved in the flooring and help to tell the home’s story.

Designing necessary changes in a way that minimizes the removal of historic character-defining features is covered in depth in Chapter 3 of Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners and flooring is covered in Chapter 14.

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