The first time the owner of this mid-century apartment walked into our showroom, she announced, “Before we begin, I think I had better tell you that I’m difficult.” As it turned out, she wasn’t difficult at all; she simply knew what she wanted. A client with a clear vision is not a difficulty, but to be honest, a delight.
It wasn’t long before we discovered that she was also an old Solid Floor client, having purchased a floor from us for her Notting Hill residence decades before. She had, however, just purchased this new property, a high-rise flat in central London and was refurbishing it from top to bottom, including a new timber floor. “I want to go with something completely different than what I had in the Notting Hill place,” she said.
Our client's brief read that the timber had to be light in colour, something clean and restrained, something that would feel at home in the modernist architecture but without feeling retro. On the technical side, the floor had a tall order to fulfil. Not only must it be laid onto an appropriate acoustic underlay, but it also needed to be compatible with the estate’s vintage, underfloor heating system.
Oak Landmark Saltram
With the client’s clear brief in mind, we proposed our oak Landmark Saltram. Somewhat the colour of wheat, Saltram has a lot of admirers. It manages to be light, without being too pale; warm without being too yellow; calm without being arid. The Saltram in wide planks – 245mm wide to be exact – has the broadness to enable the characteristic grain of the oak to be properly presented. The look was further tweaked by going for a select grade of timber. With less colour variation and fewer knots, the select grade, a clever choice here, is somehow redolent of mid-century modern furniture and interiors.
As the floor could not be glued down to the subfloor but had to float on top of the acoustic underlay, while at the same time incorporating the heat from the underfloor heating, a very stable plank was absolutely necessary. In the format of our engineered board, the Saltram fit the bill. The high-grade birch plywood base, with its oak top layer, could float confidently on the underlay and yet resist excessive expansion and contraction brought about by the heating.
The result is a floor that is comfortably and effortlessly integrated into its setting, both technically and aesthetically.
Something about the floor running seamlessly from the generously sized living area into the long corridor and the bedrooms running off it...
The floor runs through the living areas, through the corridors, and to the bedrooms without a break, without interruption. The sense of flow gained – no unsightly, bumpy thresholds to break up the space, is palpable.
Does it look like it was always there, installed in the seventies? No, it doesn’t look like a vintage floor at all, just as was intended.Our Landmark Saltram was not available to the designers of our client’s home fifty years ago, but one can’t help but wonder: had it been, they certainly would have chosen it.
Photography: Byron Chambers