The owner for over 20 years was a major importer of ceramic
tile and marble to the mass merchant home center trade. He founded a company called
Tilepak, which for years was the exclusive national supplier to such retailers
as HomeBase, Lowes, and Builders Square. As he wandered the world looking for
products for the American and Canadian markets, he encountered exotic deposits
of stone, only available to the "Rich and Famous", which were being
quarried by boutique manufacturers.
The principal stone at Luginsland welcomes you as you enter
the front doors. From a very small quarry in Ipoh, Malaysia, came large cuts (24"
X 24") of Rosso Malaga, a burgundy colored limestone with intriguing deposits
of quartz crystal. At the time in the '80's, the quarry was "yielding"
approximately one block per month of production. This stone was being cut and
polished for a noted Southeast Asian Sultan for his summer palace. The owner was
able to "negotiate" approximately 1500 square feet of the stone for
In 1988, Ipoh, Malaysia was referred to as "a remote
location". No airport, no real highway to speak of, the only way to go to
the quarries was by government van, 6 hours drive along one of the most dangerous
mountain roads on the Planet. Picture washouts, trucks billowing diesel fumes,
and hairpin turns. A trip worth the danger when one sees these magnificent floors.
Another beautiful and intriguing stone, this time used
in the Sun Room at Luginsland, is Serpentine. A hydrostatic product in creation,
this product is formed by the leeching of water through a mountain. Many refer
to this as green marble, but there are contradictions to this description. The
three most famous sources of Serpentine are Greece (called Tynos), Costa Rica,
and the island of Formosa, now known as Taiwan. The stone for Luginsland, both
on the Sun Room floor and in a lighter shade in an upstairs bathroom is from quarries
in the mountainous Hualien region of Taiwan.
|In the 80's and 90's, the owner
was a regular guest at the Hilton Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. The main lobby of
the hotel was clad in a beautiful deep red hardwood. Knowing the principles of high
traffic areas, the owner discussed maintenance and availability of this product
with the hotel's General Manager. Few hardwoods could withstand "700 footprints
a minute" and yet this floor looked virtually unused. It was identified as
Thai Redwood and the GM told the owner that it was a restricted species ad could
not be exported. Research back through the supply chain found that the product was
actually Padauk, a somewhat rare and exceptional species, only still available in
certain forests in Africa and in northern Burma, which was totally blocked from
trade with the United States. Months of searching and negotiations with export officials
in Thailand, and today, virtually the entire upstairs of Luginsland is clad in Thai
Months later as flooring started to arrive in California,
top-loaded on tile containers, it was apparent that the moisture content of the
wood was significantly higher than allowable in Central California's dry climate.
As the owner sat on the Board of Directors of one of America's largest timber
companies, he requested they run moisture meters on the product, and when found
to be 24% (8-12% is standard for California) he inquired about renting kiln time
to prepare the product for installation. He was informed that soft wood kilns
would "explode" if subjected to this exotic Asian hardwood, and was
then informed by the Forestry School at the University of Wisconsin that the nearest
kilns were in Evansville, Indiana.
Cost prohibitive to ship the product cross country, the
owner researched and found a specialty dry kiln operator in Linden, California,
whose business is the drying of exotic woods and typically works on cuts for museum
quality furniture, musical instruments such as ballalankas, and other small projects.
The specialized kiln was occupied for many months.
The wood was so hard that it was difficult to find a local
craftsman to do the installation. Eventually the owner found the "Three Brothers
Caromatsov", like something out a Saturday Night skit... three Romanian brothers
who swam the Danube River to escape Ceausescu's Communist regime and were now
working in northern California installing floors. They were truly Old World craftsmen.