Interior Design Tips for the Cottage 3 (short comment about flooring)

There are just a few more things I would like to mention about flooring before we go on to the next interior feature, along with some other interesting historical facts as well.

Historically, softwoods were common and given a “dry-scrubbed look”. This look was created by scattering damp sand which when swept up would pick up the dust and other fine debris. Then, “sweet smelling herbs and petals were broadcast over the floor and brushed in hard.” Finally, one last good sweeping was performed to clean any of the last remains. This technique would somewhat embed the oils from the herbs and petals into the softwood which would in turn release the wonderful natural fragrances over time.

Wood floors are what I recommend the most for many parts of the cottage, but in order to really compliment the cottage style, the wood species and finish should be fitting. Hardwoods are generally the most typical wood flooring materials used, like oak, walnut, maple, etc. Softwoods, like pine, are used less frequently, but they also have their place and can be beautiful. Just as an interesting side note, because pine is and was generally less expensive, sometimes the center of a room floor was laid in pine and covered with a rug, while the outer area and more visible part of the floor was laid in the more expensive hardwoods. This was a more common practice that can be found more in America than in Europe however.

To create an old worn look to a new cottage floor, many companies “distress” the wood itself. In other words, they scrape it or dent it or ding and scratch it purposefully to give it the appearance that it is old and has been used and walked upon. Most wood flooring companies have really mastered this technique and the results are outstanding (granted you like the “used” look). I think this finish works very well within the cottage. Some wood flooring companies also put square nails or false peg plugs at the end of each linear piece of wood so as to create the old-fashioned look that the wood pieces were top nailed directly onto the joists or substrate below, rather than blind nailed (which is the most common technique today, where the wood is nailed into the side of the piece at an angle and is not seen from the top).

Tile flooring is another great material. I lean towards the natural stones and slates, but there are some very beautiful man-made ceramic tiles as well. Tile floors are popular in entry ways and laundry areas, along with bathrooms. Some of our associates put radiant floor heating in bathrooms which are tiled so that the tiles are not so cold to the touch.

Linoleum-type floor coverings have a real interesting history and can be used if other floor coverings are just too costly, but most of these modern types of linoleum-like floor coverings are considered the cheapest and least desirable types of floor coverings and should therefore be avoided in most instances, but the choice is still yours.

Another popular flooring today (and somewhat traditional) is concrete floors. Concrete floors can be stained, etched, stamped, shaped, etc., and finished or polished in several ways. The only caution here is to choose the proper colors and textures to compliment your cottage. Cracking may also be the only real problem with this type of flooring, so hire an experienced concrete flooring contractor who really knows what they are doing to help prevent this. Concrete floors were sometimes used in the early 19th century cottages with pleasant results.

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