An Historic Southern Inn Renovated with Cork Floors
CorkDirect cork floors proved to be the natural choice when a 160-year- old historic property in Madison, Georgia was renovated into a novel and prestigious Southern inn. The owner, a retired interior deisgner, chose cork as an exceptional "balance of the aesthetic with the efficient".
Leonard Wallace, a prominent residential interior designer in Dallas, retired to his home town of Madison, Georgia, and began a labor of love: turning an 1830s mansion into the area's foremost bed and breakfast.
"Cork floors were a natural choice," Wallace said. "They're attractive, appropriate to the structure, and they're impervious to the traffic in the public spaces. In the bedrooms they're comfortable, sound absorbent and subtly appealing."
Wallace, who received his degree from Parsons and then apprenticed under T. Gordon Little in Atlanta, says that "Renovating any historic property into a commercial venture requires a careful balance of the aesthetic with the efficient.
"While a restoration has to be accurate above all, a renovation has to revitalize the property for a new use. As an inn, Burnett Place has to retain its personality, unique elements and historical details, all the reasons people stay at inns. But to be suitable for our market, the Inn also has to be a comfortable, efficient and sophisticated accommodation."
The thermal properties of CorkDirect floating floor planks were quite important in this project. "CorkDirect planks solved both our structural and our thermal problems, and provided an additional acoustical benefit, all with a single specification.
"Houses of this age here in Georgia are completely uninsulated, and there's only a tiny crawl space, no basement. To insulate the current floors and bring them up to our requirements, we would have had to remove them board by board, install the insulation from the inside, then replace them, rebuild and refinish the wood.
"CorkDirect floating floor planks were ideal. Their built-in underlayment of soft, pliable cork provides us with both thermal and acoustical insulation. The interlocking one-foot by three-foot planks install as a floating floor, right over the existing wood. The cork surface layer has a wonderful smooth finish, but with a textured look and feel.
"They can be site finished and stained, if you choose, but we wanted the more natural visual and tactile surface of the UV-finish it comes with. It's quite impervious in our traffic areas; an unusual combination of warmth and durability."
At Leonard Wallace, A.S.I.D., in Dallas, Texas, he had used cork floors in a number of other residential applications during his 30-year career as an acclaimed interior designer.
"A client came to me with a wonderful penthouse in one of Dallas' most prominent buildings, 3525 Turtle Creek. It was quite large for just three bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths. And it had maid's quarters and very spacious living areas. I used all cork floors throughout because they are so sound absorbent, and so comfortable to walk on. And yet, they can be strikingly formal.
"Another client for whom I used cork floors exclusively has a beautiful three-story house, like a pagoda, in Woody Creek, Colorado. It's cantilevered off the side of a mountain, and you enter across a bridge. She has three children, and of course, with Aspen's snows, they're constantly coming in with wet boots. Cork goes exceptionally well with the textures of the natural materials in the Aspen area, and provides a warm surface that can withstand the snow, the boots, all the things you think of in that part of the world."
Wallace, known for using design styles appropriate to the client and the space, rather than for working in a single idiom, says, "One of the nicest things about using a CorkDirect floating floor is that you can't tell what year it was done. I don't just mean that it wears so well, I mean the material is timeless. Cork floors were quite frequently used by Modernists in the 30s, (Frank Lloyd) Wright used it, for example, in Prairie style, and it's widely used today in Post-Modernist designs in Europe."
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