A Floorcloth for the Grafton Inn

The Grafton Inn in the lovely 600-person village of Grafton, Vermont, has been operating since 1801. 

The Grafton Inn

Visitors from around the globe can enjoy a slice of quintessential New England at both the inn and its environs.  Grafton Village is known for its classic beauty, stunning scenery, and rural culture. A white steeple church. Signs for the local blacksmith shop. A covered bridge over a babbling brook. When it comes to places that belong on the back of a postcard, Grafton Village takes the cake. The Grafton Inn is the cornerstone of the village.

The Grafton Inn has 42 guest rooms and four event spaces accommodating corporate retreats, weddings and private parties.  One of those spaces is the Homestead Room, which accommodates up to 50 people.  In 2024 a number of improvements were made to the Homestead room including lighting, Audio/Video equipment and many room appointments to include a new floorcovering.

Ariel Grace Design was approaching in mid-2023 about producing a floorcloth for the Homestead Room.  A number of designs and colorways were considered, first by looking through our website inventory and then narrowing in on three patterns and a number of different colorways.  In the end, twelve samples were produced to get to just the right combination of pattern and color.  Here are a few of the samples:

Graves Sample

Greek Windmills Sample

Humphries Sample

This allowed us to determine that Humphries was the right pattern and that the blues, reds and golds of the Graves sample were the right direction for the colorway.  We did multiple experiments with variations on that palette to arrive at the final sample:

The Humphries pattern is an Early American design from the Esther Brazer Stevens Collection at the Museum of American Folk Art.  Brazer Stevens recorded authentic stencil patterns, including this one from the Humphries House in Dorchester, MA, c.1800.

The optimal size for the floorcloth was determined to be about 16’ x 28’ and the pattern worked well for this size at 15’ 10” x 28’ .5”.  We use cotton duck #4 as our canvas substrate – this canvas weighs 24.5 ounces per square yard and is extremely robust, performing far better over decades than lighter weight substrates.  The maximum width of this canvas is 10’, so floorcloths that are wider than this require some form of a seam.  We have a method of creating a single sheet of floorcloth material at wider widths that involves two layers of canvas being laminated together to produce a virtually seamless floorcloth base.


The canvas is then painted with four coats of Benjamin Moore paint and the stenciling begins after the laborious process of laying out the pattern and marking all placements around the exterior.  In this case, there are three stencil passes required for the central pattern using blue, gold and red and this photo shows the start of the blue pass. They are hard to see in this photo but lasers are used in both directions to ensure the proper placement the first pass of the stencil which is placed over 100 times for a floorcloth of this size. 

Production image, stencil pass #1 - Humphries Floorcloth #2.

Here are two photos of the red pass:

Production image two, stencil pass #3, Humphries Floorcloth #2.


 Once the center is completed, work begins on the border which generally takes at least as long as the center to complete (and a whole lot of blue tape.) 


Six coats of polyurethane were applied once the design was complete, and the edges were trimmed and turned under for a hem.   A final finish coat of wax was applied.    

The planning for this floorcloth took about four months and the production of it took about two fully dedicated months of effort. 

Full image of Humphries Floorcloth #2, sized at 15' 10" x 28'.

Here is a photo of the seam (required for floorcloths wider than 10’):

As this floorcloth is over 9.5' in width, special construction is required which results in a nearly invisible seam - Humphries Floorcloth #2.


The next challenge was to safely package the floorcloth.  It was carefully turned over with the help of a few good men and then carefully rolled up on a specially made concrete forming tube measuring 14” x 16’ 2”. 

Carefully rolling up Humphries Floorcloth #2.

It was then inserted in a second, larger concrete forming tube and ready for shipment, except for the end caps.  The package weighed about 400 lbs.:

Packaging complete except for the end caps - Humphries Floorcloth #2.

Here are a few photos of the floorcloth installed in the Homestead Room at the Grafton Inn:

A second in-situ photo of Humphires Floorcloth #2 in the Homestead Room of the Grafton Inn.  Photo courtesy of Mountain Hearts Photography.
In-situ photo of Humphires Floorcloth #2 in the Homestead Room of the Grafton Inn.  Photo courtesy of Mountain Hearts Photography.

(Installation photos courtesy of Mountain Heart Photography.)