Congratulations to 2003's Floor of the Year winners!

Judges from the American Society of Interior Designers select the winners for all except Members' Choice awards, which are voted on by NWFA members. The Master Division is reserved for those who previously have won Floor of the Year awards; those who have not previously won awards are eligible for the Expert Division. Turn the page for descriptions of all the winners.

 


Formula For Success

Winner | Floor of the Year (Master Division); Best Manufacturer-Finished Design | integraf (Moscow, Russia)

 

 

Winner | Members' Choice (Master Division)

In last year's Floor of the Year awards, relatively unknown Integraf made an impressive debut, winning awards for Best Job-Site Finished Craftsmanship and Design and Best Use of Wood Technology. This year, the Moscow-based company topped that. In fact, it dominated the awards as no company has done before, garnering an unprecedented six trophies for five floors, including the prized Floor of the Year award in the Master Division.

Amazingly, Integraf's Alexei Davydov calls the winning floors "pretty standard for us." Although Integraf is little known in the United States, in Moscow, "Integraf is known as a company that can solve any problem that might occur while in the process of creating a particular floor," Davydov says. "If an architect or a designer is approached by a potential customer with a dilemma, they do not have to think twice about where to go: Integraf is the only company capable of doing this kind of job."

Integraf's capabilities run deep—the company is composed of four divisions that together employ 162 people. The first division handles mass production of unfinished oak parquet flooring, while the second division produces wide planks up to 3 meters long, 120 mm wide and 22 mm thick in oak, amaranth, saligna, Rhodesian woods and other various species. Most of the plank flooring is destined for applications with a "country" style, Davydov says. Meanwhile, Integraf's third division makes medallions, borders and mosaic floors from the company's catalog or from custom designs, using more than 30 wood species. The products from all three divisions are sold through Integraf's distributors in Moscow and the surrounding area. Davydov says that the demand and the price for such floors are higher in the Moscow area than elsewhere in the country.

Winner | Best Use of Wood Technology

The fourth division is the company's pride: production, design, installation, sanding and finishing of custom, highend floors. The design and installation process for each one of the floors created by this division is exactly the same, Davydov says. First, the architects offer some basic requirements: the floor must be a unique design that has never been used before, the floor must fit the architectural requirements of the building, and it also must be suitable for the newly created interior design concept.

From there, Integraf's exclusive designers' group, led by Valeriy Blinov and including artists Oleg Selin and Roman Rozchdestvenskyi, discuss with the architects the particulars of the building; which rooms are to have wood floors; where they would like borders, medallions and other special designs; and extensive information about the furniture, lamps, wall colors and any other design details that may help the artist. There is no limit to the details that may be included: For one project, the design team had to use the color and wing length of an owner's cherished parakeet in the floor design.

From there, the artists create a one-of-a-kind design, using watercolors to create a rendering of the floor. During the beginning stages, artists are not allowed to use a computer, to know the species that will be used or to use any wood-related terminology. Rather, the artists' discussions with the architects are limited to the colors that will be used. "The artists should not be concerned with how the floors will be made at the factory, because that could affect their vision of the future design," Davydov says, "and the design is priority No. 1."

Honorable Mention | Job-Site Finished Craftsmanship and Design

The client is then presented with several versions of possible designs. Once one is chosen, Blinov matches wood species to the manual drawing, scans the drawing for use in AutoCAD and turns it into a Photoshop file. From there, Blinov turns to the company's extensive library of wood species' textures and colors. The product of years of work, this library includes photo scans of thousands of different types of wood. Blinov substitutes real wood colors for the watercolors, creating a photo of the future floors, and prints out the result on a color printer so the client has an actual photographic representation of what the floors will look like when installed. Integraf guarantees that the finished floor will be exactly as it looks in the photograph, the architects guarantee that it is exactly what they want, and a time frame is agreed upon. "No suprises are permitted from either side," Davydov says.

With the contract signed, the floors are measured, the drawing is corrected, and the floor goes into production at the factory. It is delivered to the job site in pieces measuring anywhere from 200 mm square to 1,500 mm square. The process for each installation is exactly the same, starting with a clean, dry concrete subfloor. A moisture barrier is glued down, followed by a layer of plywood that is glued and nailed down. After 72 hours, the plywood is sanded, and installers create a drawing on top of the plywood. Next, the parquet is glued and nailed down, and the glue is allowed to dry for one week, after which the floor is sanded. All finish coats are sprayed on: one layer of stain (usually natural), two layers of waterborne sealer, and 5 layers of topcoat waterborne finish are applied. The second sealer layer and the second and fourth topcoat layers are sanded between coats.

Honorable mention | Best Limited-Species Design

After the finish is dry, the floors are covered to protect them from other trades. Once those trades finish their work, the floor is buffed with products designed for use in the auto industry, and the final masterpiece is complete.

In the winning formula, which Davydov calls a "perfection procedure," the only things that vary are the design, the stain color and the size of the project, he says. In fact, Davydov says that some of the company's best floors aren't in the Floor of the Year contest—due to privacy agreements in the contracts, the floors can't be entered.

If the past two years are any indication, it looks like Integraf will continue to succeed in the contest with or without those floors. The winning Integraf formula appears to be a force to contend with in the Floor of the Year contest for years to come.—K.M.W.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Flooring: Integraf | Finish, Filler: BonaKemi | Nailer: Hilti, Senco | Adhesive: Franklin International | Abrasive: 3M | Sanders: Clarke American Sanders, Galaxy Floor Sanding Machines | Buffer, Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Saws: Leitz, Mafel

 


Impressive Accents

Floor of the Year (Expert Division) | R&R Floors Inc. (Boise, Idaho)

Luxury penthouse apartments are everyday jobs for some wood flooring companies in New York or Miami, but not for R&R Floors in Boise, Idaho. While the company is no stranger to working on multi-million dollar homes, the jobs are more likely to be rustic retreats in the mountains of Sun Valley than high-rise apartments. Nonetheless, it was this lavish Boise penthouse project that caught the eyes of the Floor of the Year judges and earned R&R its first Floor of the Year award—the coveted Floor of the Year trophy in the Expert Division.

This winning design developed as R&R's Vice President Frank Kroupa worked with the interior designer to tie the project's various floors together. The penthouse owners chose no-sap, select black walnut for its rich, dark color, decided on a Camelot parquet pattern for the library and chose 3 1/4 -inch plank for the remaining floors. Initially, the concept was to accent the plank flooring by installing one or two of the parquet squares as inlays. It then evolved into using 14 of them in a row down the hallway that connects the different rooms. "The Camelot parquet and the field were all in walnut, so we decided to accent those with wenge," Kroupa says. "They didn't want maple or something that would jump at you; they wanted a more subtle approach."

That subtle approach won the favor of the judges and made for an exciting surprise at R&R. When the company was notified that it had won an award this year, "We thought we won in the Limited Species category," Kroupa says. "We had no idea it would be a Floor of the Year award." The staff was so pleased, they made sure Field Supervisor Dan Cotten and Apprentice Raymond Lopez were on hand in St. Louis to accept the trophy in person.—K.M.W.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Distributor: R&R Hardwood Inc. | Flooring: Seneca Hardwood Kentucky Wood Floors | Finish: Glitsa American | Filler: Wood Kote | Nailer: Powernail Company | Abrasive: 3M | Sanders: Hummel (Palo Duro), Clarke American | Sanders Buffer, Edger: Clarke American Sanders


Understated Elegance

Best Job-Site Finished Craftsmanship and Design | Parquet by dian (Gardena, Calif.)

Homeby Hills features some of the most exclusive homes in Los Angeles. Grand and varied facades line the streets, and the interiors of these large estates are no less impressive. So, when Parquet by Dian set out to design the flooring for the residence of a developer of Ritz Carlton hotels, it was with the owner's personal preferences in mind, which included distressed walnut coupled with patterns traditionally used in France 300 years ago.

Originally, the plans for the home included 3,000 square feet of wood flooring, with the owner planning to use stone (a primary feature in Ritz Carlton hotels) throughout the rest of his 30,000-square-foot home, says Dima Efros of Parquet by Dian. "As soon as we started installing the flooring, he was blown away. He kept adding more and more wood floors around the house," Efros says. "It ended up with us installing about 18,000 square feet of flooring in that house … It was just something that he fell in love with."

One of final rooms in the home to feature wood flooring was this wine cellar. The 250-square foot room includes the same walnut used in the rest of the home, but instead of following the classic French patterns, the wine cellar features a simple design to complement the coffered wood ceiling and custom cabinetry, Efros says. The floor features 7/16 -inch-thick distressed American walnut parquet, dotted with simple 3/8 -inch triangular French limestone accent pieces. To help give the floor its varying shades of color, the walnut was hand-selected, just like the wood for every floor the company does. Then, the floor was hand-scraped at the job site to impart an aged look and to help bring out the shading in the handpicked pieces of wood, adding depth to the design.

Although the floors in the rest of the house became focal points, this floor was a success because of its unassuming design. "I think the simplicity of it is what works," Efros says. "It fits with the room; that was the goal."—N.S.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Designer: Anatoli Efros | Flooring: Parquet by Dian | Finish: BonaKemi USA | Filler: Woodwise/Design Hardwood Products | Adhesive: Chemrex | Abrasive: 3M | Sander, Buffer, Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Saws: Festool


Circular Statement

Best Residential Application Design | Parquet by Dian (Gardena, Calif.)

Parquet by Dian literally ran around in circles to win this year's Best Residential Application Design Floor of the Year award—taking on the task of installing an elaborate bedroom floor in a Beverly Hills, Calif., residence made up of circular rooms. The homeowner challenged the company to come up with a design that would separate his house from any other, and he wanted it done fast—in two weeks.

To meet the homeowner's expectations, the design had to be special—something that would work well with this bedroom's circular shape and that would speak for itself in a room void of any ornate architectural or interior design details, says Dima Efros of Gardena, Calif.-based Parquet by Dian. One of the first designs the company gave to its client—featuring a star design surrounded by thin double borders floating in a field of maple—passed muster with flying colors.

The customer also wanted to bring a red hue into the room to help offset the pale yellow walls. Parquet by Dian suggested bloodwood, which was incorporated into the design as the primary border. The homeowner then decided the maple designated for the original field of the floor was too white. Instead, he wanted a wood with a warmer color to give the room a regal feel. He immediately was sold on the suggestion of satinwood after seeing the wood's luster and rich, gold tones. The maple was saved to create a secondary border around the bloodwood.

With the right pattern—titled by the company as "Heritage"— and specific species chosen, the crew set about creating the flooring tiles, which weren't conventional squares. Instead, they were irregularly shaped so it is impossible to see how the floor was installed, Efros says. Even so, installation of the tiles was simple, with the crew starting in the doorway of the bedroom and working its way to the perimeter of the circular room, cutting the tiles as necessary along the wall.

The flooring was a success—so much so that the homeowner's wife decided the pattern should be extended to a transition area leading into the bedroom and even into the closets. This added another 300 square feet of flooring to the original 650 square feet. "The floor made the room," Efros says. "The owner wanted to make a statement, and he got it."—N.S.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Designer: Anatoli Efros | Flooring: Parquet by Dian | Finish: PoloPlaz | Filler: Woodwise/Design Hardwood Products | Adhesive: Chemrex | Abrasive: 3M | Sander, Buffer, Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Saws: Festool


Creative Freedom

Members' Choice (Expert Division) | Majestic Wood Floors Inc. (Frederick, Md.)

Majestic Wood Floors is a relatively young company at seven years of age, but its focus—providing precise, one-of-a-kind floors to its high-end clientele—is a mature one. Owner Bob Humphreys always had a passion for installing high-end custom floors and dreamed of taking that passion to the next level by manufacturing original parquets, borders and medallions.

In December 2001, Humphreys was able to open his own manufacturing shop, and a year and a half later, he and his four employees balance their time in the shop and in the field, creating made-to-order floors. This floor was designed as a breakout project to showcase some of the patterns Majestic can produce. Long-time friend and business associate Marc Lefkowitz of Washington, D.C.-based Classic Floor Designs opted to be Majestic's first dealer, giving Humphreys a 450square-foot blank canvas in his showroom with which to exercise creative freedom.

Humphreys started by creating a plan for the floor in AutoCAD. Then, he personally hand-cut each piece for the floor.

Fifteen species of wood from five continents are implemented into the design, which features six parquet patterns. Simple borders divide the patterns and a "raised panel" border around the perimeter of the room and around the medallion make the room pop. "I wanted to separate the patterns individually, but I also wanted to make the floor stand out from the wall and make the medallion stand out from the floor. That's where the 'raised panel' borders came in," Humphreys says. "They really worked out well. The borders are flat, but they give a three-dimensional effect."

Aside from a few mathematical challenges with the circles and radii used in the pattern, the job site presented a betterthan-average workplace. "I basically took this thing from subfloor on up myself," Humphreys explains. "We were able to draw the entire floor out on the subfloor so that everything was exactly how I designed it." From start to finish, the project took approximately 20 hours of design, 200 to 250 hours of manufacturing work and a week (working short shifts) of installation time. With the new shop already up and running and a new showroom planned for the first of the year, more custom work should be on the horizon for Majestic Wood Floors.—N.S.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Sanding and Finishing: Classic Floor Designs | Finish: Berger-Seidle | Adhesive: Bostik Findley | Abrasive: 3M | Sander: Hummel (Palo Duro) | Buffer, Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Saws: Festool, Fein (Abrasive Enterprises)


A Capital Showroom

Best Showroom Design | Nash Floor Co. Carpet One Inc. (Rockville, Md.)

Nash Floor Co. had its beginnings in the heart of Washington D.C. in 1919. In the late '60s, the company relocated to the nearby suburb of Rockville, Md., but last year the company returned to its roots in the district—with this award-winning showroom.

Located in the Washington Design Center, only a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol, the 2,700-square-foot showroom attracts a spectrum of visitors—interior designers and architects from around the country during the week and local homeowners on the weekends. Once inside, visitors find the Nash showroom is four interconnected showrooms named after Washington-area icons: Embassy Row, Capitol Hill, Georgetown and National Gallery. Inside Embassy Row are exotics from around the world, including Australian and African hardwoods. Capitol Hill features domestic hardwoods, and Georgetown includes rustic-grade, hand-distressed and antique floors. Inside the National Gallery are various parquets and colored floors, from reds to purples.

Each of the four sections showcases roughly 50 types of floors.

"There's just zillions of manufacturers and species and looks and colors of wood floors. To put it all together took months," says Nash Vice President Christian Nash, who gathered input from everyone in the company before making the final design decisions. Transforming the space from an empty shell to having walls, electrical, HVAC and paint took approximately six months, and sporadically installing the floors between jobs required about two months. With some artwork and furniture on loan from neighbors in the design center as the final touches, the showroom came to life.

Nash credits his installers for the final result. "Sitting and planning it on paper is one thing, but actually doing it is what makes it happen," Nash says. Their guidance on design changes while on the actual job site was important: "They had a lot of input as to how it laid out," he adds. The hard work was worth it, as the "customers like that the floor is actually installed; to them it's more meaningful," Nash says. With about 200 examples of installed floors, they'll be sure to find what they're looking for in this impressive showroom.— K.M.W.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Distributors: Derr Flooring Company Hoboken Floors | Flooring: Plumly Flooring Company, Superior Floor Company, French-Brown Wood Floors, BR-111, Junckers Hardwood, Greenwood Products Co., Oshkosh Floor Designs, Harris-Tarkett, Mirage/Boa-Franc | Finish, Abrasive, Sander, Buffer, Edger: BonaKemi USA | Adhesive: Bostik Findley | Photography: Lydia Cutter Photography


A Trophy Floor

Best Commercial Application Design | Johnson Hardwood Floors (Ray, Mich.)

Hunters often display the fruits of their efforts and their prized possessions on the wall. John Yarema, owner of Johnson Hardwood Floors in Ray Mich., displays his on the floor. More than 2,000 hours of planning, design and sweat went into the creation of this intricate floor, part of a 15,000-square-foot addition in The Huntsman Hunt Club located in Dryden, Mich.

This rustic-looking flooring in the club's private dining room was made from cherry planks harvested from the wooded 1,000-acre property—one tree was from the exact site of the addition. "We didn't want to select or grade it out," says Yarema of the rustic floor distinguished by sapwood and character marks.

Yarema completed the dining room floor and moved to other rooms in the addition. He teamed up with artist and former client Gabrielle Meany to create a custom inlay of two pointing dogs adapted from an old gun engraving (see "Rest of the Best" on page 73 for a photo of the inlay). Owners Jim and Mary Beth Tebben were impressed with the inlay, so they commissioned Johnson to create a design for this dining room.

In keeping with the nature theme and preserving the traditional style of the original building, constructed in the 1800s, Meany created a design depicting five Audubon-inspired wildlife scenes linked by a free-form border. The intricate design is formed by 13,000 pieces of wood—each of the 15 birds on the floor averages 500 pieces—and 48 species of wood.

Once the the design was finalized, Yarema had the difficult task of painstakingly cutting the pattern into the floor with the router. "There was probably a mile to cut with the router once you figure every little direction that the pattern goes," Yarema recalls. Because the floor was not installed with the intention of adding the design, he hit many nails along the way, chewing up 50 router bits. The time of year also added to the challenge. The floor was installed in the winter, but the design was added in the summer, causing slight expansion in the floor. The small hairline gap became even smaller when he tried to fit the pieces in the floor. Added to that, Yarema had only four days to cut the design into the floor in order to meet the club's opening schedule. "We had three guys for four days, and two days were 17 hours," he says. "The days with the router were really quite tense."

His labor did not go unappreciated, however. The Tebbens were so pleased with the end result, that they made Yarema a lifetime member of the club.—C.L.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Designer: Gabrielle Meaney | Distributor: Erikson's Flooring & Supply | Finish: Synteko | Nailer: Powernail Company | Adhesive: Bostik Findley | Abrasive: 3M | Sander: Hummel (Palo Duro) | Buffer: Kunzle & Tasin | Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Saws: DeWalt


Luxurious Simplicity

Best Limited-Species Design | Rode Bros. Floors (Los Angeles, Calif.)

At Rode Bros. Floors, high-dollar projects are the norm. The company has handled wood floors from the Oval Office in the White House to the queen's palace in Taiwan. This winning floor was a little closer to home—right in Orange County—but still fits the bill as a posh, exclusive project. This home of a successful developer includes 6,000 square feet of wood floors that carried a price tag of more than $200,000.

The floor that caught the judges' attention is a bedroom totaling only about 250 square feet of the total project, and ironically, it is one of the simplest floors in the home. While the $12 million mansion was built as a showcase home for amber, which was imported from Russia and inlaid in complicated designs throughout the floors, ceilings and wainscoting, this winning floor features a simple, classic design of solely 3-inch ipé plank and hand-cut white oak borders. "Most of the other rooms had amber with oak accents, radius borders, and things like that, but this room was pretty simple for us," says Rode Vice President David Lorsung (see pages 55, 63 and 75 in the "Rest of the Best" for the company's Floor of the Year entries featuring amber accents). The company's Orange County crew completed the installation, sanding and finishing of the room in about four days, while the total project took about four months to complete.

The home and its floors were so impressive that upon completion, an Orange County arts organization used the house to host a dinner party for hundreds of guests. Although the developer owner initially put the showcase house up for sale, he liked it so much, he now calls it home.—K.M.W.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Designer: Karen Butera Inc. | Distributors: Galleher Hardwood Co., Greenbaum | Flooring: Parquet by Dian | Finish, Buffer: BonaKemi USA | Filler: Woodwise/Design Hardwood Products | Nailer: Powernail Company | Adhesive: Chemrex | Abrasive: 3M | Sander, Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Saws: Hitachi


Simply Divine

Honorable Mention Best Residential Application Design | Endurance Floor Co. (Miami, Fla.)

Leonard Hall's client was so pleased with her floor that won a 1997 Floor of the Year award, she gave Hall carte blanche to design a similar nature-inspired inlay for her new townhouse. "She gave me total artistic freedom to do whatever I wanted," says Hall, owner of Endurance Floor Co.

Hall used that freedom to create a mixed-media inlay with intricate detailing of flowers, leaves and insects radiating from a poplar vine that flows over 220 square feet of 5-inch American cherry plank flooring. Woods such as oak, ash, pine, beech, maple, wenge and purpleheart create colorful leaves and flowers, and padauk is formed into a brilliant red ladybug.

Onyx forms two butterflies fluttering along the vine, 3-inchworm caterpillars eat away at the leaves, and a bright blue Lapis lazuli dragonfly with shiny poured metal wings takes flight. Though the design only covers a small portion of the floor, it required 360 hours of work over three-and-a-half weeks. "I had two guys on the job site doing scroll-saw work just making leaves and flowers for two weeks straight, while we had three guys cutting the vine out. One 1 1/2 -inch-long caterpillar alone took 45 minutes to cut."

This effort again earned the praises of both the homeowner and the Floor of the Year judges. We'll see what happens next time the owner moves.— C.L.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Flooring: Allegheny Mountain Hardwood Flooring | Finish: Dura Seal | Nailer: Powernail Company | Abrasive: 3M | Sander, Buffer, Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Saws: Dewalt, Hegner, Ryobi

Take a look at past Wood Floor of the Year winners:

Best in Show: Floor of the Year Awards 2002

Sweet Victory: 2001 Floor of the Year Winners

That Winning Feeling: 2000 Floor of the Year Winners

Master Craftsmen: 1999 Floor of the Year Winners