Like many homeowners, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Mark Whatley began finding things to update in his home. Being a wood floor pro—the production manager for Amber Flooring in Emeryville, Calif.—he decided his home needed new flooring, but of course something typical wouldn't do. He envisioned a new floor with small inlays representing his family. Although he says he isn't an artist, "artistry runs in the family; that's how we express ourselves," he says. Whatley bought a scroll saw and exotic woods and began creating. Hummingbirds represent his youngest son, who has a heart condition. "When my wife was pregnant, his heartbeat was at like 200-plus beats per minute, so she called him the little hummingbird," Whatley explains. Bodhi trees, the trees of wisdom, were a natural fit for their son Bodhi, and koi fish, considered majestic in Japanese culture, represent their middle son. A school of five koi represent all members of the family. With the inlays created, Whatley marked their outlines on the rift-only white oak floor, then free-hand-routed the space for each. Whatley epoxied them in place and sanded. First he coated the inlays individually to ensure the exotic species wouldn't bleed, then coated the entire floor with waterborne finish. The project consumed Whatley's spare hours after work and during weekends, but it was worth it. "My family thinks I'm crazy, but when it's all said and done they love it," Whatley says. "My wife sends me text messages saying, 'I can't believe this is our house.'"—K.M.W.

SUPPLIERS: Abrasives, Epoxy: 3M | Finish: Bona | Inlay wood: Artistry Millworks | Sanding equipment: American Sanders, Bona, Lägler | Shellac: Zinsser | Wood flooring: Amber Flooring


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Kim Wahlgren

Kim M. Wahlgren is the longtime editor of Wood Floor Business. Based in Madison, Wis., she manages the day-to-day operations of the WFB print magazine, website, E-News and social media. She holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin in journalism and Spanish. Away from the office, she’s busy enjoying her family, including two beautiful children, a sassy ex-racehorse, an extraordinarily silly black Labrador mutt and her husband, Brent, whom she met at … yes, wood flooring school.