If You Can Dream It, It Can Be Done

Rod Lorenz

Wood Floor Business, the leading trade publication for the hardwood floor industry, announced the winners of its 2020 Design Awards earlier this year. Last week, I was looking over the winning projects with one of our sales associates, Cortney Lindquist, and we were more than impressed.  As hardwood floor professionals, we know firsthand how much work, thought, and creativity went into the award winners.

One floor in particular made us shake our heads in wonderment. The technical design was brilliant, and more than that, we were astounded at how long it took to install and how much patience the installers had. 

This floor, which won the “Reader’s Choice” category, was installed in a home in Lisbon, Portugal, by a husband-and-wife team who developed the design, which creates a sense of movement when looked at. The couple, João and Suzy Dias, planned on three weeks to finish the job. They were wrong!

The project—which covered 2,067 square feet—required the use of a mind-blowing 85,000 wood strips from six different tree species (Australian acacia, wenge, iroko, afzelia, jatoba and sucupira). It ended up taking eight weeks and two days to finish, even with the couple putting in 16-hour days as the sole installers.

 João told Wood Floor Business about how psychologically difficult it was to be working so hard yet seeming to be so far from completion throughout most of the job. I can certainly relate to that. I well remember how, as a young installer, I grew super-frustrated while installing 1.5” rows of maple strips for a gymnasium floor. Working from the center, I would lay down strips for hours and hours, but it would seem like I was no closer to reaching the walls and the end of the job.

My hats off to João and Suzy for having the fortitude to stick with it and come up with a floor that’s like nothing Cortney and I have ever seen.

Another project that jumped off the screen at us was a floor designed to replicate the appearance of growth rings in a tree. The project, which was installed in an office of a landscape architecture firm in the Netherlands, won in two categories: “Best Commercial Project” and “Best Stairs.”

I don’t see how anyone can look at this completed work and not be amazed. But, again, it’s not only the technical craftsmanship that stands out to me. Sure, it’s very technically advanced, but it’s not a project that we couldn’t do at Ralph’s. It’s the dedication toward fulfilling the customer’s vision that made this so special.

 As Cortney put it, “This is something the customer really wanted. They had a vision, and the installation team took it to the next level and helped them achieve that vision. That’s exactly what we do.”

When I see floors like these, I’m storing away ideas. For example, the winner for “Best Gym” and also “Next Generation” (for companies owned by someone 35 or younger) features a creative, strategic use of different shades of blue, which is a technique we could apply in someone’s home if that’s what they wanted.

An honorable mention in the “Best Stairs” category is an example of a project that is striking but really not that different from commercial projects we’ve done.  “We do that all the time,” Cortney remarked, and she’s right.

We may not have installed this exact look, but if a customer wanted something similar, it would be no problem to create it for them.

That’s what it ultimately comes down to: making our customer’s visions come true. I can’t say that I’m expecting a customer to come to us asking us for a floor as unusual as the Portugal or Netherlands floors, but it’s possible to be highly creative, unique, and aesthetically stunning without going over-the-top.

The winner in the “Best Residential” category is a great example of this. I can easily see someone requesting a floor like this, and we’d be glad and able to deliver it.

With our decades of experience and today’s hardwood floor technologies, it’s never been truer that “if you can dream it, we can do it.” And we’re always excited to help you throughout—from design conception to budgeting to installation. 

I want to thank Wood Floor Business (which happens to be based in Madison) for allowing us to share these idea-provoking pictures with you. I don’t think you need to be a hardcore hardwood flooring enthusiast like Cortney and me to appreciate how cool all these floors are!

To discuss any ideas you have for unique “statement” floors in your home or business, give us a call at 920-984-3383 or 800-354-9902. We’re happy to freely consult with you about making your dream come true.


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