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680 Square Feet of Reclaimed Magic

3/14/2011 12:00:00 AM

Tags: environmental designer, upcycling, flooring, yoga, architecture

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailI’m watching with much interest as my friend visual artist and environmental designer Tracy Parker of Lighthouse Design Build Studio is putting her background in art, architecture, design, green building and ecology to work in her home, a 680-square foot fixer-upper in Seaside, California. Casita Verde, as the home is known, will get a full, deep green facelift, and there’s no one I trust more than Tracy to get it right.

This month, Tracy installed reclaimed World War II-era Douglas fir planks as flooring. “Given the small footprint, we wanted a flooring material that oozed comfort and durability,” Tracy says. She wanted reclaimed flooring that had been disassembled within 500 miles of her home—and she was in luck. Tracy and her partner found 800 square feet of old factory subfloor material that had been salvaged from an old mill—“rich with history and ready for assembly”—in nearby Petaluma. They set aside 680 square feet for the main house and the remaining material for the detached soon-to-be-built shed in the back yard for extended living space. She installed it herself and finished it with environmentally sensitive Bona sealer.

“Given the flooring's age, thickness and type, the installation was a labor of love, to say the least,” Tracy says. “The installation took about four times longer than a typical engineered flooring.” But after living with the flooring for a month, she concludes: “I wouldn’t have done it any other way. The home feels cozy and inviting with the floor’s rich variation of texture and color. It’s light enough to illuminate and reflect daylight throughout the house and rich enough to ground the white-washed walls.”

Tracy says the flooring expands the sense of space in her small home and ties in with the Douglas fir window trim, interior doors and beams, “emphasizing simplicity and minimalism.”

“The flooring has been soft as butta on the feet, easy to clean with warm water, and has been perfect for yoga sessions in the living room,” Tracy reports. “I love the slight imperfections and variation of the wood under my feet. I can literally sense the subtle layers of embedded history as I walk. … Who would have thought that this material that caught my eye would become a constant grounding mechanism for me every day? The power of architecture and material, alive and real.”

tracy floor 

 Tracy's reclaimed flooring brings character and warmth to her home. 

tracy floor delivered 

The planks, rescued from an old mill in nearby Petaluma, are delivered. 

tracy floor installation 

Tracy installed the flooring herself and finished it with nontoxic sealer. 

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