How our story started
Our story started, as many good stories do, in Amsterdam. The year was 1994 and photography student, Eelke Jan Bles, was looking to earn some extra money for his studies. “I decided to open a shop in the city centre with my friend, supplying timber floors,” he says. Despite lacking any experience with floors – what Eelke did have was a keen design eye and craftmanship in his blood.
What started as a side hustle, soon became a budding success. Within months, they were hiring staff, and within a few years, Eelke brought the business over to the UK, where he was studying at UCL's prestigious Bartlett School of Architecture. And so it was that, in 1997, Solid Floor – a new concept and enterprise in hardwood flooring – was officially born, finding its home in Clerkenwell’s St John's Street.
“Looking back, we arrived just at the right moment,” Eelke says. “Clerkenwell was on its way to becoming one of London’s trendiest areas, and hardwood floors were just starting to make their way across the continent and onto the radar – not to mention beneath the feet – of interior designers, architects, developers and design-savvy Londoners.”
Quite quickly, Solid Floor grew beyond Clerkenwell to Notting Hill, Fulham, Chiswick, Richmond, and Marylebone. Even Manchester, Glasgow, and Edinburgh could claim showrooms over the years. As the company saw its first decade of trading pass, however, it eventually coalesced around two primary locations: initially Notting Hill and Marylebone, and then after vacating Notting Hill in 2017 and acquiring the Ezra Street showroom in 2019, our present arrangement, Paddington Street, Marylebone and Ezra Street, Shoreditch.
Timber floors for London’s design professionals
A real turning point came for Solid Floor in 2002, when current managing director and co-owner Rob Weems came on board. This was a period of change for the company, which included a shift in direction (and customer base). "We moved from mainly selling floors to retail customers, to working more with design professionals, with whom we’ve been able to build more long-term relationships." Today, relationships remain at the heart of Solid Floor’s business.
Our commitment to eco-friendly timbers
As for the sustainability conversation, this has understandably moved to the forefront of our client’s minds when they are deciding what floor they would like. Luckily for Solid Floor, our commitment to eco-friendly timbers has been baked into our DNA since the beginning. You only have to read our initial opening leaflet to see where our priorities were, even then: with all materials coming from ‘properly managed and replanted resources’ that followed ‘strict conservation guidelines’ (and still do to this day).
Growing upwards and out
Over the past two and a half decades, the world, and our local patches, Marylebone and Shoreditch, have changed beyond recognition. In many ways, Solid Floor has, too, changed. We’ve grown upwards and out; we’ve changed locations and expanded our product range. We’ve worked on many exciting projects, with brilliant clients, both private and commercial – from celebrities such as Madonna to interior designers such as Kelly Hoppen, as well as food heroes like Ottolenghi.
And yet, so much has stayed the same for us. Today, you can still come into one of our showrooms and browse through samples in a relaxed environment, whilst also being able to tap into our depth and breadth of experience as you wish. Our team, both in our showrooms and on-site, remain at the very top of their game – and make Solid Floor what it is today: a company still guided by its founding principles. As Rob puts it: “Craftsmanship, good design, sustainability and a true eye for detail remain at the heart of all we do here – and it’s this that I hope will see us through another 25 years and beyond.”
Thank you to the Solid Floor Team, and all who have supported collaborated and bought with us over the years. We wouldn’t be where we are without you, and we look forward to many more years of providing the very best floors, for the very best clients.