Thursday, August 2, 2012

On move-in eve

It seems unreal. The last week's flurry of night-time, last-minute painting-and-finishing by torchlight is finally over and we're sitting here for the last night in Vickie's lovely warm house drinking wine and thinking "wow: Tomorrow we're in". Sure, tomorrow will be a 'soft' move-in. Mostly just our bed into the freshly-painted loft, a chest of drawers to store our basic essentials and, if we get to it, maybe a couch. There is still a bit to do - painting and finishing-off, mostly, and a whole lot of tidying up and arranging.

Freshly Porter's-painted recycled corrugated iron, hardwood fence-palings and beautifully oiled wide boards.
Last night, I sealed the floor with our Bermagui oil - a combination of beeswax, citrus-based solvent and linseed oil. It's the same oil we used on our upstairs loft floorboards, and while they turned out quite beautifully, our debacle of an earth floor still leaves a lot to be desired. Yes, it cracked. Quite a lot. At first, we filled the cracks with cement, but then the cement cracked. We spent a heartbreaking few days trying to reconcile ourselves with ripping the whole thing up and concreting it. This was quite devastating for us, and more than a few tears were shed as we faced this reality. The compromise was about much more than the question of the embodied energy of concrete. It was about the work that had been put into that floor by so many people. It was about our vision of what a beautiful earthen floor could be. It was about using natural, mother-earth-made materials from our very own neck of the woods. It was about softness underfoot. It was about saving money. And it was about pride. More than a few people had told us we'd be better off with concrete, so digging up our earth floor and replacing it, before we'd even moved in was going to involve a big bit of word-eating.

But after some sage counsel from our beloved hostess Vickie, a few words from Leonard Cohen courtesy of beautiful Nessie, we realised that the floor is functional, and it is there, and, while it is significantly less beautiful than we first envisaged, we've decided to rug it up and live with it. 

Thank goodness for the recent rug-making workshop!

The cracks have now been sturdily filled with a mixture of bondcrete and river sand. Some of the cracks were pretty hefty, so they got a pre-fill with swept-in sand, then bondcrete was poured in on top, then the whole lot was dusted with sand. There are still a few gaps (the worst cracks were more than an inch wide and probably 3 inches deep - right down to the gravel substrate) but it's good enough to work with.
Yep, it's hideous. But it feels nice under foot and it'll store heat when the sun hits it so it's gonna stay.
On this building journey, I have learned that when you are a home builder who doesn't really know what you're doing, products like bondcrete, liquid nails, expanding foam and caulked-in gap fillers are, while decidedly unnatural, pretty much your best friends. I'm cool with that. The bondcrete has worked wonders as a floor-crack filler, and it's allowed us to make a pretty buggered-up floor into a functional floor and, while it's still a little painful for us to look at now, we know that in a few months' time when it's covered in hand-made rugs and furniture and toys and books, and our spring garden is flourishing and our little cottage is filled with all our beautiful pictures and treasures, we're probably not going to be thinking too much about it.
Old-school brand-stamping. We just couldn't paint over it.

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering
There's a crack in every thing

That is how the light gets in.


  1. Shelley Knoll-MillerAugust 2, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    ooohhhh lovely words. so so true.
    I wish you happy happy moving.

  2. A very, very BEAUTIFUL home. And my favourite Leonard Cohen song. May your move be as smooth and light-filled as possible. xxx

  3. Let the light and love pour in to your new little home...I am so proud of you my darling girl, what a beautiful nest you and Pearl have created for your family xxmm

  4. Love Leonard Cohen. Perfect words for your floor, huh? I'm so sure you'll forget the floor once you fill that lovely space up with your treasures. And those oiled floorboards make up for any imperfection in the downstairs floor. Theey are gorgeous and I'm sitting here feeling VERY envious!!! I love floorboards, particularly ones like your that look so lovely and natural. Hey, what colour did you go for on the corri? It's hard to tell in the photos. You mentioned green before - is it a pale green? Or a grey tone? Looks gorgeous whatever it is. You're going to be so cosy in that little nest, that's for sure. Happy moving in guys xxxx