Oh my ears and whiskers!


Most of my posts these days seem to start a little white rabbitishly.  And today is no exception because I’m late, late, late with a new post!  Not late-as-a-plate late, but late nonethewhatsits.  I can’t even claim house matters as mitigation this time, though certain aspects have been a little, shall we say, head crushing recently.


But let’s skip past all such nonsenses on fleet feet.  Mere bagatelles anyway.  And besides, having blown the chute clear of chaff and other detritus in the last post, I now feel ready to take on some truly weighty matters.  To roll up my sleeves and get down and dirty with the issues of gravitas.  Such as floors.  Yes, floors!  Because I have been contemplating the Regency Wreck’s floors of late.  With some perplexity I might add.


This is a random example of what we have.  The builder thinks it’s hemlock and in the absence of any other compelling hypotheses, we are happy to trot along with him on this one.  They are a golden yellow colour and swoon-inducingly wide (by which I mean 9 inches). They probs came from a ship docked at the time in Sydney Harbour, since it was easier to procure from ships (I’m told) than it was to source things locally. Mr Bunnings, where were you when needed? And as with everything in the house, the Insatiable Termites from Hell have given all of it a right royal going over, so that the floors are now studded with pieces of metal everywhere under which are holes made by people in the past plunging into the rooms below, up to their knees in plaster dust and surprise.  That sort of thing anyway.  So the idea is to patch some floors from the remains of others, and those which are entirely denuded will get something new.  I’m liking blackbutt myself, because for one thing it’s robust enough to withstand the rigours of the Herberts trit trotting over it on their four pairs of stilettos, and for another it’s palely interesting.  Any flooring in a more robust hue (orange! red!) has me supine on a chaise longue with my bottle of sal volatile to hand. Call me sensitive if you wish.



So what is really floating my boat at the  moment is bare wood.  Nood, as they’d say here.  In the nuddy as they’d say en Angleterre.


ImageThe problem is that both builder and architect are unanimous in the view that Boards in the Buff are Immoral, Impractical and just plain Intolerable.  Tung oil is the solution, says one.  China Wood Oil, says the other.  Two pack, say both (two pac? or is that the rapper?).


ImageBut the trouble with all these oils and rappers is that they insinuate themselves into the wood and they change its character.  They make it look smooth and polished and groomed, and that’s not what we want.  What we want is…well… something a little deshabille. A little time worn, a little feet-of-ages-ish.


ImageSo I put it to you, ladies and gents of the jury – boards in the buff: achievable fact or impractical fiction? Are the owners of all these spaces really fashion tragics who, like the Flanders and Swann song, actually live in 7a, the house next door?


Surely, there must be a product which slips in invisibly, the way that some stone sealants do? It must be so! I need it to be so.  If anyone can give me the answer  I shall be forever indebted to them.  I will shower you with big fat kisses (alas not transferable or redeemable for cash) or come to sing under your windows at night. Or if you prefer, I won’t come to sing under your windows at night.



17 Responses to “Oh my ears and whiskers!”

  1. Rachel McElhinney Says:

    I think the gray floors (along with all the gray furnishings) featured in magazines are a fad. Furthermore, the gray will give you your house a French vibe that is at odds with its English Regency bones. . I think wood floors with “character marks” and uneven planing will go with the stone and other materials you are using. I’m not a fan of tung oil. I love the soft look of hand rubbed paste/beeswax. Unlike oil, it is very forgiving about scratches. Just plop down a gob of wax and use a commercial floor polisher once a year. That’s it.

    • Hello Rachel and welcome. You’ve got me thinking now about wax. My mother used to issue dire warnings about socked feet and slipping on wax and various other assorted things, and I’ve always thought it was a weekly buff that was needed. But a gob and once a year? Even team Pimp might manage that (at a pinch) Thank you.

  2. Termites love wood as they feed on it to survive. They are the lord Shiva of our world , maintaining balance in nature: no creation without destruction. – But my, some of those floors are so beautiful, they speak to you saying ” I have history treat me well.”

  3. What about Swedish scrubbed-with-lye floors? Don’t know how frequent the scrubbing has to be.

    • Hello Tricia Rose. Not at all sure what lye is, but I’ll investigate. Also we’re a little averse to housework around here, so the scrubbing would need to be infrequent. But I do love Swedish scrubbed floors. Maybe I could fit the Herberts with scrubbing pads on their feet and set them to skittering around?

  4. Here is what I like! (no one will agree with me, I wager) but on I go!
    They used to sweep sand on the floors . It kind of scratched them a little; some would go down in between the cracks. I wouldn’t put oil (yuck!); and I like them unpolished and unwaxed!

    There you go!

    • Aha Penelope! I like the idea of them being un-any-thinged too. And I like the idea of a bit of scratching on the new floors. But do you know what happens with stains on unprotected wood? Is it as bad as the dire warnings I’ve been receiving (not here)?

  5. Clear, hard paste wax does not change the color of the wood. I use it on furniture all the time to get this unfinished look.

    • Hi Kris and welcome. You’re with Rachel (below) on the wax front. Actually, I did experiment with a little on a spare piece of existing wood and though it gave it a more golden glow, you’re right; it didn’t change the colour. If I can’t go ‘bare’, wax has become a strong contender.

  6. I have no advice to give, but it seems that Kris and Rachel have it all wrapped up in that respect. Wax! Those un-treated floors are very beautiful, at least the floors in houses in the pictures are. Builders are not always open to impractical, if not fabulous, ideas and even if they are right can be ignored on these matters I do believe. Not sure I quite get the hemlock thing, I wondered if I was not viewing it properly, like a close-up photo of something and you have to guess what it is. I have gained no points for that one? What is it?

    • I had a look at the hemlock picture and you’re right – it’s pretty terrible! In keeping with my claim to be the World’s Worst Photographer. I have my image to maintain. Actually it’s a picture of part of a floorboard lying on bricks and I can quite understand why you couldn’t make it out.

      And yes, I do think it’s quite possible to ignore builders and architects on occasion, even if they might see such a thing as heresy! The trick is to figure out when they’re completely right.

  7. My floors are waxed. If any water gets on them, they turn into a skating rink. Let us know when you find out.

    • Oh blimey. That sounds less than optimal! Back to the drawing board. Actually a bloke who’s milling some old beams for us tellsmethebest is a good quality matte sealant.

    • Liz, in case you see this – I tried to click on the ‘read more’ at the bottom of your last post on my RSS feed, and couldn’t get there. I was told the blog had been removed. Tried several times and got the same result – not sure if it’s at your end or mine, but thought I’d mention it in case it’s at yours. P.

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