We have been working with Arabella magazine on a photo spread and story about Parkwood and our amazing decorative art collection.

With the photo shoot occurring yesterday, Monday and Tuesday were dedicated to primping the estate for the opportunity to showcase Parkwood in all of its finery. On Tuesday afternoon, we were struck by the vast difference of how bringing items out of hiding alters the way the estate looks.  The subtle changes have led the house, which is magnificent every other day of the year, to take on a more “homey” feel and has caused quite a stir among senior staff, who have been debating how we can keep the estate looking the way it is, when the items currently out, are scurried away to storage the other 51 weeks a year as a preservation method.

I think the most compelling change is the return of the carpets to the front hall. These three Sarouk rugs are stunning as individual pieces, but having them adorn the flooring adds an entire layer to the design of the home and quite the sumptuous pieces to trod upon, and there you have it, we are walking on them. These lovely rugs, which were designed for floors ( in some cases 200 years ago), were never designed for thousands of feet to walk over, nor were they designed to survive road grit, winter salt applications, wedding receptions and cocktail parties with greasy phyllo pastry and red wine spills ( I am not going to even mention chocolate fountains!) and there you have why they are hidden away. To be honest, in my 12 years at Parkwood, I have only ever seen them down once before, for a day.

Over the years we have looked at methods of trying to keep the carpets down, perhaps a new carpet runner programme or removing shoes while touring or booties over shoes while touring. Each one has its pros and cons, some cons being a huge financial investment (new runners) others being that we are told North Americans are not prepared to remove their shoes, (where would I store them if we did) or wear plastic booties, like our European cousins do. Others raise environmental concerns, like the disposal of thousands of plastic booties per year.

What are your thoughts on our carpet dilemma and preservation questions? Do you think that Parkwood National Historic Site could lead the way among Canadian sites and have people wear booties while on tour? Do you think a company would be willing to sponsor a shoe bootie programme at Parkwood?