History of Bathhouse: Ancient floor and Oak

How the oak tree adjusted people’s plans, what complexities can create your own personalized sea, why perfect isn’t always best and what’s valuable about knots and squiggles.

When we first drew the plan of the house with a stick on the ground, we saw that an oak tree was growing in front of the house, right in the middle of the proposed terrace. Viсtoria hugged him and made it clear that even if we had to give up the space in front of the house, the oak would remain in place.

And around the oak, construction began – formwork, concrete, logs. Children, as always, actively created the appearance of participation in the process, for which they received respect and sweets.

Boards were laid on top, sawing out a hole for the Oak, and we had a terrace under the canopy of a mighty tree. We threw a prefabricated pool nearby, took in water – and we had a small sea!

And life began to boil – parties, friends, jumping into the pool and fun!

But everything turned out to be not as great as we planned – the pool was constantly blooming and turning into a green swamp, and the board, which we installed without treatment, began to rot. So several years passed, until we decided to abandon the problematic pool and replace the rotten boards, expanding the terrace and installing tubs with hot and cold water.

There were much fewer problems – the water did not turn into a swamp – it could simply be drained and filled with new water. And in order not to suffer with heating the barrel with firewood, we adapted a gas boiler.

A year later, the boards finally rotted away and we completely re-covered the terrace with a cool, heat-treated, profiled board.

Everything would be fine if I did not begin to feel discomfort from walking on the terrace. It seems that the boards are even, perfectly fitted to each other, no splinters, no rot, no knots, no hitches – go and rejoice.

But then I already went barefoot with might and main and enjoyed just the opposite. I wanted to get a new impression at every step – I wanted unpredictability, novelty, and not standard parallel stripes. In addition, my eyes agreed with my feet and demanded the authenticity of the boards with the house – I wanted antiquity, naturalness and history.

I thought it would pass. But after a year, I still couldn’t get used to the perfect surface. And then I realized that it was time to get worried.

I sat down to study how to age a tree and at one moment came across a description of a terrace from a barn board – a board that I make from old beams taken from centennial barns, houses, sheds.

So I found Andrey from Nikolaev, who dismantles 150–200 year old houses and makes a unique board from beams that can stand for another hundred years, delighting with the unique texture and history of each knot.

At that time, Andrey was dismantling the century-old house of Dr. Alexei Vasilyevich Namestnikov, who lived at Nikolaev, Navarinskaya Street No. 8/2.

The street was named in memory of the Battle of Navarino (1827), whose participants (M. P. LazarevV. A. Kornilov, A. P. AvinovP. S. Nakhimov, S. P. Khrushchev and others) lived on this street. Such amazing neighbors were at our dock.

Probably not worth saying that the price of such boards is not at all a joke – after all, the beams need to be carefully assembled, sawn into boards, processed, received documents and sent to another country.

After a month of correspondence, sorting, customs issues, and a hard road, boards are here, in Chisinau. Yay! They are beautiful – all different, cut down with an ax (there were no other options then), alive. Mmm treasure..

Now it remains to explain the meaning of the work to carpenters who take off a “good and expensive” board and instead lay old trees. They looked at me wryly, openly doubting my adequacy.

And now, a week later – our terrace has acquired a finished look, shining with the old century-old tree, and my feet have finally received the well-deserved calm – this surface has become one of my favorites. If you don’t believe me, try taking off your shoes and walking barefoot through history. And feel such a connection with reality which not a single super expensive and new board can convey.

PS: And on a special order, Andrey gave me extraordinary 200-year-old boards from which I built the door to the steam room.

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