Best of the West: 2007 Wood Floor of the Year Winners

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NWFA members voted online before the NWFA Convention in Denver in April to pick this year's winners for Wood Floor of the Year, and the winners were announced at the show. Turn the page to find out more about the winning floors.

Congratulations to 2007's NWFA Wood Floor of the Year Winners

Simply Inspired

Best Bedroom | DM Hardwood Designs (Mission Viejo, Calif.)

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When people in the industry think of Dave Marzalek of DM Hardwood Designs, his elaborate inlays with complicated wildlife motifs often come to mind. It was just such an inlay that won Marzalek his first Wood Floor of the Year award when he burst onto the scene as an unknown in 1996. Marzalek's floor that won this Wood Floor of the Year Award—his 12th , the most of any company—is a departure from that style.

"It's really simple, not overkill, not gaudy, and it fit the room," Marzalek says of the inlay. That was fitting for the client, who Marzalek describes as an easygoing person with simple tastes. He knows her well, having worked on her home four times over the last four years. This bedroom hallway area was the final wood floor he installed in the house, adding up to a total of about 10,000 square feet.

"She didn't want anything fancy in the beginning," Marzalek says. "As I got to this bedroom, looking at this layout, I said, 'We really need to do something here,'" he recalls. So Marzalek convinced her an inlay was necessary between the closet and bathroom to break up the expanse of straight-laid flooring. He completed the hand-scraped walnut floor surrounding the medallion, mimicking the design of the ceiling, but left a dummy plate in the circular space for the medallion for months while he waited for the inspiration to design and build the medallion.

Once inspiration struck, it took no time at all, says Marzalek, who likes to build his inlays while watching baseball in his garage. "She mentioned that she liked flowers, and I made her a sunflower out of scraps," he explains. Heart pine, yellowheart, purpleheart, ebony and figured maple were among the species that combined for the floral design.

While this inlay may not have pushed Marzalek's creative envelope to the edge, it was the simplicity that appealed to Wood Floor of the Year voters. "After I won, I had people come up to me and tell me they voted for it because it was simple and elegant," he says.

Marzalek's trademark style is not gone for good, however. After several years in which he says he lost his creative inspiration, his passion for the art of medallion building has returned, and he's currently working on a "spiritual wilderness" project so elaborate it involves three separate inlays including 30,000 pieces and fiberoptic lighting. The scope of that work is so vast that Marzalek doesn't plan to reveal it until the 2009 NWFA Convention in Long Beach, Calif., right in his own backyard.—K.M.W.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Builder: Richard Hobson, Mark Hobson (Hobson Construction) | Finishers: Darren Marzalek, David Marzalek, Keith Wells | Installers: Brian Cullen, Paul Cullen, Darren Marzalek, David Marzalek, Dustin Marzalek, Keith Wells | Abrasives: 3M Adhesives: Bostik Inc. | Applicators: Duratool | Distributor: Hickman Flooring, Galleher Hardwood Co. | Filler: Timbermate USA Inc. | Finish: Dura Seal | Nailers: ET&F Fastening Systems Inc., Powernail Company | Sander, Edger, Buffer: Clarke American Sanders | Saws: Hegner, Hitachi | Wood Flooring: Allegheny Hardwood | Wood for Inlay: Rare Earth Hardwoods

Photo: Chris Haston

Miraculous Medallion

Best Commercial/Showroom | Czar Floors Inc. (Newtown, Pa.)

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Typically, working with the government is a tedious process, slowed down by red tape and other bureaucratic hassles. But when Czar Floors, a manufacturing and contracting company renowned in both Europe and the U.S. for its high-end projects, collaborated on the design for a 10,000-square-foot floor in an Eastern European governmental facility, the company couldn't have experienced smoother sailing. Although the customer was highly demanding, Czar's team of designers was able to satisfy the client with a real crown jewel: a medallion measuring 1,600 square feet with a 45-foot diameter.

The client gave Czar designers a general description of the vision for the huge medallion and the floor as a whole, and the designers took the idea and ran with it. They came up with a preliminary design, which was approved by the government's architects, and collaborated to finalize the species used in the floor: maple, white oak, walnut, merbau, kempas and wenge.

Naturally, installing a 1,600-square-foot medallion posed some challenges, since it didn't exactly come with a template. Instead, the 20 people installing the floor placed a nail in the center of where the medallion would go and used an extension arm with a router at one end to carve out a circle. The system had to be exact. "Even a small error will lead to large gaps between the surrounding floor and the medallion, and that's just not acceptable, especially with a high-end client," says Val Platonov, president of Czar Floors.

The medallion itself was manufactured by Czar Floors with CNC routers into several small panels that were numbered and assembled on-site "like Legos," according to Platonov. Here, accuracy was again of the utmost importance. Each panel had to be sealed and had to fit exactly, or else gapping would result.

Czar also manufactured the parquet that surrounds the medallion. The pattern was slightly different from a standard parquet design, which allowed the company to further demonstrate its creativity. Corner blocks were custom made for the floor in an unconnected pattern and served as large medallions themselves. "To the naked eye, they look like separate pieces—they don't even look like corner blocks," Platonov says.

Despite the massive scale of this floor, the project was completed in less than a month and was nothing short of perfection. "[The customer] placed the order, but nobody believed it was possible. To be honest, even I was skeptical. But they're absolutely happy with the project, and it's a big breakthrough for our company," Platonov says.—M.D.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Abrasive: 3M | Adhesive: Bostik Inc. | Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Filler: Woodwise/Design Hardwood Products | Finish: BonaKemi | Flooring: Czar Floors Inc. | Sander: Lägler (Palo Duro) | Saw: DeWalt

A Golden Glow

Best Library/Office | Czar Floors Inc. (Newtown, Pa.)

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It's the ingredients that make a recipe extraordinary, and in the case of this office, the species spiced up the floor and earned it one of Czar's three Wood Floor of the Year wins this year.

Czar Floors was commissioned to install this custom office floor for an oil company headquartered in Eastern Europe. "They just said they didn't want stuff that anybody would recognize. They wanted unique, so it was an absolutely custom installation," says Czar President Val Platonov. To ensure this office—where the oil company would be negotiating deals worth millions of dollars with executives from all over the world—far surpassed traditional offices, Czar designers decided to go even further by using a rare species grown on only about 100 square miles of land in northern Russia and Finland: Karelian birch. More often used for fine jewelry than flooring, Karelian birch is one of the most expensive species in the world. "One of the challenges in this project was finding the right grade and amount of Karelian birch," Platonov says. The company opted for the highest of Karelian birch's three grades, making the project even more costly but ensuring the floor would have the clearest wood available.

With the wood secured and the design finalized, which Platonov says took a great deal of time to develop because of the demands of the customer, Czar Floors began the three-monthlong installation. Czar first manufactured the Karelian birch into small squares to minimize waste. The square shape served to emphasize the Karelian birch's seemingly iridescent color. Then, with CNC routers, the company infused the Karelian birch with inlays made of walnut, maple, merbau and white oak. "We used CNC routers because you have better precision cutting through the wood than burning through it," Platonov says, explaining that the company doesn't use lasers to manufacture its inlays unless specifically asked. A crew of 10 installed the flooring, which includes dark parquet around the exterior of the room to offset the light, golden color of the Karelian birch.

Czar's client gave the company as much time as it needed to install the flooring and this, combined with impeccable attention to detail, produced a stunning result. "It's almost golden. It almost glows from within, and it has that burly look," Platonov says of the Karelian birch accented by the inlays. Such a floor has only added to the company's already faultless reputation. "If you don't achieve what you promise to achieve, then you're pretty much ruined as far as reputation is concerned," Platonov says. "Every time it comes to projects like this, we pool all our resources just to make sure we don't make any mistakes."—M.D.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Abrasive: 3M | Adhesive: Bostik Inc. | Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Filler: Woodwise/Design Hardwood Products | Finish: BonaKemi | Flooring: Czar Floors Inc. | Sander: Lägler (Palo Duro) | Saw: DeWalt

Restored to Beauty

Best Restoration | Czar Floors Inc. (Newtown, Pa.)

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Returning a floor to its former glory is seldom an easy task, and it was particularly difficult with this floor in a castle in Eastern Europe, but Czar Floors rose to the challenge. When asked to do the 6,000-square-foot job, President Val Platonov had to tap into his resources, which are extensive, including more than 200 Czar employees across Europe and the United States. From this pool, Platonov was able to assemble a team of 12 designers, installers and other flooring experts.

Over the years, the beautiful parquet floor of this palatial room was dulled by more than a century's worth of wear and tear. "It was pretty damaged," Platonov says. "In some places there was water damage and in others there was some sort of mechanical damage." To start the project, the company exhaustively shot photos of the floor to ensure they could match its original design. Then, Czar designers studied the photos and decided which pieces would have to be replaced. They redrew these pieces and calculated what the waste would be.

The most difficult part of this process, Platonov says, was making sure the color of the new parquet pieces exactly matched those of the original pieces so the floor would blend naturally. Designers and installers had to painstakingly comb through Karelian birch, merbau, wenge and walnut to find the exact natural colors to match the aged floor. No dyes, stains or paints were used.

After the pieces were created, the crew took a month to carefully install each piece, gluing down the new pieces and ensuring that they were level with the old floor with a careful sanding job, followed by a commercial-grade finish.

While Platonov says he appreciated having the freedom and the time needed to complete the intricate job, he says he was humbled by the level of craftsmanship of those who created the original floor. "You can only imagine the people so long ago who worked so hard and spent time and talked about the floor and probably were very happy when they accomplished it," Platonov says. "Really, the biggest challenge was not to ruin what they had done but to make it look as beautiful as possible."

The company managed to do this and more, instilling a renewed beauty in the floor that thrilled the customer. "The homeowners were very pleased with it, and in fact, we're working on something else for them right now," Platonov says. Adding to the accolade was the Wood Floor of the Year Award—one of three trophies Czar took home this year. "I'm so happy, you wouldn't believe it," Platonov says. "It's unbelievable."—M.D.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Abrasive: 3M | Adhesive: Bostik Inc. | Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Filler: Woodwise/Design Hardwood Products | Finish: BonaKemi | Flooring: Czar Floors Inc. | Sander: Lägler (Palo Duro) | Saw: DeWalt

Here Comes the Sun

Best Entry/Foyer (tie) | Enmar Hardwood Flooring Inc. (Mesa, Ariz.)

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Phoenix is known for its sunshine, so it's only fitting that the sun served as inspiration for first-time double Wood Floor of the Year winner Enmar Hardwood Flooring. The client wanted a simple wood floor to surround a stone inlay he had purchased from Italy. "He thought we were just going to lay the floor and cut out for the stone," says co-owner Tricia Thompson. Her husband and co-owner Todd Thompson looked at the area and decided the circular entry needed something more. He was studying the entry as the sun was shining through the frosted glass of the large metal doors. "His first thought was to have something look like a sunburst or something that just popped that entry but wasn't gaudy or excessively ornate," Tricia explains.

Todd decided to lay the 6-inch reclaimed red and white oak in a radius pattern surrounding the stone inlay. Now all he needed was the math to create the design. He recalled reading an article in this magazine that described how to do the math for such a project (see that article from the April/May 2003 issue), but at the time he figured he'd never have the need for its complicated math equations. With the help of his math-major wife, he dug out the article and computed the math to make the radius work. "We drew it out on the floor and cut dummy pieces from scrap wood to make sure it worked—and it did!" Tricia says. Her husband then meticulously cut the 96 pieces of reclaimed wood, checking each along the way to make sure the radius was spot on.

Todd had a crew work on the rest of the floor, but he installed the entry himself to ensure it turned out just as he wanted. If he wasn't happy with a piece, he went to his mobile workshop in his trailer and fixed the piece until it was perfect. "It took him two and a half days to install this piece by piece," Tricia says.

To preserve its natural character, the floor was lightly screened with a fine-grit pad. The entire floor was stained with a custom-blended chestnut color. After the sealer and two finish coats were applied, the masterpiece was complete.

The starburst received accolades from the other contractors on the job site, Wood Floor of the Year voters and, most importantly, the customer. "The homeowner was just stunned that something as simple as that could set that whole stage," Tricia says. "When the door opens up, this is the first thing you see, and it's just this ray of sun."—C.L.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Abrasive: Viginia Abrasives | Buffer, Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Distributor: Galleher Hardwood Co. | Epoxy: 3M | Finish: Floor Style Products | Flooring: Pioneer Millworks | Nailer: Stanley-Bostitch | Sander: Hummel (Palo Duro) | Saws: DeWalt | Stain: Dura Seal

Outside the Box

Best Reclaimed | Enmar Hardwood Flooring Inc. (Mesa, Ariz.)

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Since taking over Enmar Hardwood Flooring more than six years ago, Tricia and Todd Thompson have positioned the company as a custom installation and reclaimed wood flooring specialist. Both specialties are apparent in both of the company's Wood Floor of the Year winning floors.

Part of the same project that won in the Best Entry/Foyer category, this section of the floor had the same design goals—the homeowner wanted to do something different in the area while keeping it subtle and masculine. "There's a lot of stone, a lot of wood and very bulky furniture that set the stage for this house," says co-owner Tricia Thompson, who says she knew right when she walked in that reclaimed flooring was perfect for this house. The client chose 6-inch reclaimed red and white oak, which covered about 2,900 square feet of the approximately 3,200-square-foot home. In this part of the home, something was needed to break up the large expanse of floor."There are no true doors outside of the bedrooms to break off rooms, so we had to come up with something to make each of these areas their own space but not be gaudy on top of it," Tricia explains.

A design was necessary that, similar to the entry, would lend itself to the shape of the space. In this case, it was a square that marked the crossing of hallways. Todd came up with an "X" pattern, using a barn door as his inspiration. Although the design looks simple, it was a challenge to cut the smaller pieces near the center and still maintain precise measurements. "It's like a jigsaw puzzle," Tricia says. For the final touch, Todd collaborated with the tile contractor to add a stone border to match the rest of the home.

Todd was skeptical that the company would even have the slightest chance of winning a Wood Floor of the Year Award, but Tricia thought otherwise and entered the floors. "Anyone who's ever worked with this material knows excellent craftsmanship when they see it," she says. Obviously, she was right. Two awards later, Todd, Tricia and their company have earned their place among wood flooring's best craftsmen.—C.L.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Abrasive: Viginia Abrasives | Buffer, Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Distributor: Galleher Hardwood Co. | Epoxy: 3M | Finish: Floor Style Products | Flooring: Pioneer Millworks | Nailer: Stanley-Bostitch | Sander: Hummel (Palo Duro) | Saws: DeWalt | Stain: Dura Seal

Labor of Love

Best Entry/Foyer (tie) | Mountain Impressions Hardwood Flooring (Carbondale, Colo.)

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Don't ask Joe Lott of Mountain Impressions Hardwood Flooring how to sell a Wood Floor of the Year winning floor—he gives them away for free. This first-time entrant in the competition won an award right out of the starting gate after doing this floor in his father-in-law's Carbondale, Colo., home. Not only did the floor garner Lott favor with his inlaws, but it also built the bridge between building trades, as his father-in-law has one of the largest drywalling companies on the Western Slope of Colorado.

At 200 square feet, this entryway is only the tip of the iceberg for this home. In total, Lott installed more than 3,000 square feet of 3/4 -inch solid circular-sawn, wire-brushed and textured hickory plank in 5-, 6- and 7-inch widths. Originally, Lott's father-in-law had hoped to put tile inlays in the entryway, since some tile was used in the basement, but Lott wanted to carry the hickory throughout the house. Coincidentally, Lott had hickory inlays left over from a kitchen/dining room project that he also entered in this year's Wood Floor of the Year contest. He simply incorporated those remaining inlays into the foyer.

The hardest thing about the job was squaring the inlays with all the different facets involved in the entryway, Lott says. The inlays had to be perfectly square not only to each other, but also to the doors, walls, stairs and nosing that surrounded them. Lott's perfectionism paid off: "The house really flows," he says.

Lott maintains he would not have been able to accomplish anything in his business without the help of his brother Sam Lott, his brother-in-law Josh Bacon and installer Tyler Emery. As a team, they have made Mountain Impressions successful to the point that Lott has to turn people away because he doesn't have the capacity to do all the work he's asked to— something likely to continue now that the company's craftsmanship was honored with the prestigious award.

And as far as hitting a home run at his first at-bat, Lott is pleased with the company he's in. "I was looking at some of the other floors that won and I was like, 'Wow, those are really cool.' I certainly don't mind being in the company of those guys," Lott says, adding that he has several projects lined up that he hopes have potential for the 2008 Wood Floor of the Year awards. His father-in-law has even offered another opportunity—laying the floors of his Daytona Beach, Fla., house, also for free—in an effort to keep up the good luck. "I will have to see about that, though," Lott says.—M.D.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Abrasive: Norton Abrasives | Adhesive: Sika | Filler: Timbermate USA Inc. | Finish: BonaKemi USA | Flooring: Birch Creek Millwork Inc. | Nailer: Stanley-Bostitch | Sander, Buffer, Edger: BonaKemi USA | Saws: DeWalt

Highlighting History

Best Factory-Finished | Universal Floors (Washington, D.C.)

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Georgetown in Washington, D.C., is an area famous for its university as well as its historic atmosphere. Nestled against the Potomoc River, it still has cobblestone streets and buildings well over a century old. Just one block off the river is M Street, noted for its high-end shops—among them, this year's Wood Floor of the Year winner in the FactoryFinished category.

A building from the 1820s is the setting for this Levi's store and its winning floor. The design of the new store plays off the setting's historic atmosphere and the company's rustic heritage. The acrylic-impregnated flooring is a 3/8 -inch-thick engineered oak in an ebonized color. In keeping with Levi's green directive, it is also FSC-certified.

Universal Floors was called in to install the flooring. While the company may be better known for its work on high-profile government buildings—including a 2005 Wood Floor of the Year Award for a restoration in the building that houses the U.S. Department of State, as well as work on the White House and the Naval Observatory—its expertise really spans anything found in the immediate D.C. area, explains company President Sprigg Lynn. "We've done nearly every retail store down there on M Street," he says, noting that the job was only about four miles from the Universal office. "We stay within 10 miles of our shop. People don't like to work in D.C., but we've got it down to a science."

Most of this particular D.C. job was straightforward. There was about 1,400 square feet of the floor laid over a concrete slab. To fit the rustic atmosphere, the designers did not want the subfloor as flat as would normally be called for, Lynn says. Once the floor was in, the designers had the afterthought to add the inlay "Original since 1873"—a reference to the year of the company's first blue jean patent—and worked with Winneconne, Wis.-based Oshkosh Designs to create it. The inlay's text is in copper, like the rivets on the famous Levi's jeans, and the heavy metal letters arrived in pieces, just like a puzzle, Lynn says.

Since this store was a prototype for the new Levi's store concept, the Levi Strauss & Co. CEO was flying in to see the store. Lynn and Universal's Guy Hunter managed to drop in the inlay and epoxy down the letters just as the CEO arrived. "He walked in literally as we were wiping the floor," Lynn says. The floor and its inlay found favor with the CEO. "He liked it so much that all their installations are going to have some version of this, so you'll start seeing it in the new stores," Lynn says.

As for Universal Floors, the company's energy is now turning to the type of project it's known for— resanding and finishing 17,000 square feet in the U.S. Supreme Court.—K.M.W.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Adhesive: Bostik Inc. | Epoxy: 3M | Filler: Timbermate USA Inc. | Flooring: Gammapar | Inlay: Oshkosh Designs | Saws: Festool

Posed to Win

Best Kitchen/Dining Room | Johnson Yarema Hardwood Floors (Troy, Mich.)

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Most wood flooring master craftsmen are obsessed with finding the next inspiration for their works of art. Johnson Yarema, president of Johnson Yarema Hardwood Floors, is no exception. Just ask his wife—there's hardly a place they can go without him saying, "Hey, that would make a good floor design." Last year, Yarema created one of his winning floors from a retro shirt fabric. Yarema's latest Wood Floor of the Year winner was again inspired by a fabric design. Yarema was taking a yoga class to relieve back pain caused by hours of crouching over wood floors. The instructor brought him a pillow to put under his knees, but instead, the pillow ended up on the copy machine so Yarema could start planning how the Art Deco design would become a fabulous wood floor.

With the design in his head, Yarema had to find the right house and the right customer to make the pattern come to life. "This customer wanted something different and something to work with the darker cabinets," Yarema explains. The rest of the room was very linear with simple colors, so the intricate floor wouldn't have to fight with other design elements. Once the client agreed to the design, Yarema went back to the shop to start building the pieces.

Yarema took the basic sketch of the pattern, scanned it into digital format, then brought it into AutoCAD. He created a repeating pattern of 2-foot-by-18-inch, pinwheel-shaped squares framed by a 4-inch walnut border. Once he was satisfied with the layout, the pieces were laser-cut and sorted. It took about a week to cut the 1,000 pieces of the design, which consisted of wenge, walnut and white oak. While many of Yarema's earlier floors featured many colors and exotic species, his recent work has consisted of fewer color and species. "Just because you can use all the fancy colors doesn't mean you should," Yarema says.

With all the pieces on the job site, the tedious installation process began. "Our biggest challenge is putting the pieces down, because if you start getting off in your pattern, it's nearly impossible to bring it back," Yarema says. The floor was broken up into four quadrants, and the pieces were individually assembled. A roller was used to further secure the glued-down pieces in place.

The customer loved the floor and was glad he took a chance with Yarema's custom design. Yarema's obsession with creating new designs has paid off as more people take notice. "When customers start to see what is possible, it just changes everything," Yarema says. "There's really nothing that can't be done."—C.L.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Abrasive: 3M | Adhesive: Stauf USA | Buffer, Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Distributor: Professional Hardwood Distributors, Shaffer Flooring Co. |Filler: Woodwise/Design Hardwood Products | Finish: Glitsa American | Nailer: Stanley-Bostitch | Sander: Hummel (Palo Duro) | Saws: DeWalt

Radiating Elegance

Best Limited Species | Birger Juell Ltd. (Chicago)

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The Birger Juell Ltd. staff spend a fair amount of time criss-crossing the country—"We have a broad connection with the A & D community," company President Chuck Crispin says—but this Wood Floor of the Year winner is right in the company's backyard. Located on the 14th floor of a stately midrise on Chicago's north lakeshore, the condo is the personal home of one of the company's builders.

The builder's work is very high-end, and so is his new home. "He wanted something very elegant, something that made a statement, so the Versailles parquet was kind of a natural fit," Crispin says. Meanwhile, the owner's wife wanted a special design for the space. "We played with an exploded star pattern first, but then we decided that was too over the top," Crispin says. The final design features Versailles parquet in the living room and the study, while the adjoining foyer has a pattern of interlocking figured black walnut triangles that essentially form an inlaid wood rug. The spaces are tied together by a series of radial design elements.

"You get this tease of these parts and pieces that lead you down the hall, and then you turn to the left and are introduced to the parquet elements," Crispin explains. The geometry of the spaces made for a layout challenge: No two walls are parallel in the living room, and the foyer has a key-like shape. "We had to center the parquet so we were able to break on halves and wholes on the main point of address architecturally," Crispin explains. Additionally, the entire floor is bordered by a simple walnut plank with a wenge feature strip.

Birger Juell is legendary for his secret color techniques that he applies to his floors, and this floor is a classic example. "It's one of Birger Juell's special proprietary colors," Crispin says. "It enhances the rich, golden brown undertones of the walnut." As with many Birger Juell floors, each piece was hand-scraped.

Although there are only two species, the floor makes a bold, yet elegant, statement that meshes with the philosophy of Birger Juell himself, who believes that the floor shouldn't draw attention to itself but rather enhance the design of the room. "It's a really fun floor; everybody gasps when they walk in the door," Crispin says. At the same time, "All the architectural elements in the home were so beautifully designed ... and so the floor was very much in keeping with the attention to detail that was paid everywhere else."—K.M.W.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Builder: Adel Tarakdjian (Tara Designer Homes) | AutoCAD Design: Candace Mountain, Sakhon Nhek | Finish Superintendent: Hally Juell | Finishers: Immanuel Orta, Cal Macmillan, Lyman Gaines | Installers: David Guido (supervisor), Eric Rout, Kevin Zobott, Kevin Smith | Adhesive: Bostik Inc. | Filler: Timbermate USA Inc. | Finish: Dura Seal | Nailer: Powernail Company | Saw: Festool

Photo: Meagan Lloyd

Room With a View

Best Living Room/Family Room | Birger Juell Ltd. (Chicago)

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While nothing about this 15,000-square-foot custom log cabin nestled along a lake in the mountains of Lake Placid, N.Y., is ordinary, when it came to this room, the designer wanted something extraordinary. That's when Birger Juell Ltd. became involved.

"She wanted something completely unique tailored to her customer's home," says Chuck Crispin, president. Another company had already installed reclaimed white oak randomwidth plank in the rest of the home, but for this room, which the client refers to as "the perch," and the foyer, the designer was looking for a floor that utilized the design on a credenza in the hallway. Sounds simple enough, but developing the design took a laborious six months, with the designer comparing the process to birthing a baby.

Once the layout was settled, Crispin traveled to the job site to do a site template, checking the accuracy of the measurements they had been given, and meet with the designer to choose species. Crispin had envisioned something more subdued, but the designer chose a "surprisingly vivid color palette," he says, including amarillo, heavily figured bird's-eye maple, wenge, walnut and a red-toned wood called rengas.

With the template in hand and species chosen, creation of the floor could begin. The final design was carefully detailed in an AutoCAD program, but each piece of the floor was painstakingly hand-cut, hand-scraped, colored and oiled in signature Birger Juell style at the company's shop in Chicago.

As often happens, the project came down to the last minute. The entire floor was overnighted to the job site, where it took the installers about five days to put it together.

"Everybody was thrilled with the final product; the owner was very pleased," says Crispin, who can't reveal the owner's identity due to a confidentiality agreement.

The floor also pleased the company's namesake, who at age 90 was present to collect the floor's trophy at the awards dinner at the NWFA Convention in Denver. Juell is still involved in the day-to-day operations of the company: "He is still creating designs for floors; he's still an active member of the sales team," Crispin says, adding that Juell is hoping to see everyone again next year at the convention in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Given the company's track record, Juell will likely not only see everyone, but also collect more Wood Floor of the Year trophies.—K.M.W.

Suppliers listed in boldface are advertisers in this issue.

Designer: Ann S. Oleary (Evergreen House) | AutoCAD Design: Hedy Dietzen, Candace Mountain | Shop Personnel: Quentin Grays (supervisor), Phil Bennett, Francisco Valencia, Gonzalo Vidana, Javier DeJesus, Telefloro Gonzales, Luis A. Abarca, Luis M. Abarca, Hugo A. Carranza, Samuel Garcia, Bejamin Matrinez, Fredi Reyes, Mario Reyes, Jerry Lee Shirley, Allejandro Valle, Leopoldo Villar | Installers: Chuck Norris, Kevin Smith | Adhesive: Bostik Inc.

Photo: Todd Bissonette, RTB Enterprises, Lake Placid, N.Y.

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

Baltimore's Best: 2006 Floor of the Year Winners

Waikiki Winners: 2005 Floor of the Year Awards

Show Stoppers: 2004 NWFA Wood Floor of the Year Winners

In the Spotlight: 2003 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

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Resource Book
Looking for a specific product or a company? Wood Floor Business has the only comprehensive database of the industry.
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Resource Book
All Things Wood Floor, created by Wood Floor Business magazine, talks to interesting wood flooring pros to share knowledge, stories and tips on everything to do with wood flooring, from installation, sanding and finishing to business management.
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