An Inspired Approach

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Photos Courtesy of Matthew Szyszka /
Floor Master Co.

Wood Stock_Floor Master Co_2The ability to adapt quickly to a customer’s desires and allow his creativity to be inspired by his eclectic surroundings led to the creation of a beautiful foyer floor inside a home in Northbrook, Illinois.

“We were supposed to install 2,500 square feet of 3¼” white oak unfinished and then sand and finish onsite, but at the last minute, the client asked if I could install something unique in the foyer area,” explains Matthew Szyszka of Floor Master Co. in Des Plaines, Illinois. “I went home with the idea of designing a chevron, but I then decided to make it even more special to match the style of the house.”

The homeowner had an eclectic, modern taste in art and furnishings, which Szyszka says inspired him to think outside the norm. The final idea that Szyszka settled on was a 5” white oak chevron separated by 1” walnut strips.

“I liked the idea of a chevron pattern, but I then decided to add a strip of 1” American walnut between 5” white oak planks,” says Szyszka. “I showed my design to the client, and thankfully, it blew his mind.”

With the homeowner’s approval, Szyszka began procuring the wood for the project, only to run into a supply issue.

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“I called my supplier to order the material, and unfortunately, it was six weeks out. We didn’t have time to spare,” explains Szyszka. “Rather than wait, I decided to get whatever 5” white oak plank that was available along with 2¼” walnut and mill everything myself.”

Szyszka set up his equipment onsite at the home and began the careful milling process, which included resizing the walnut into 1” strips. Due to the precise nature of the pattern, Szyszka was meticulous about getting everything right as he set up his equipment.

Wood Stock_Floor Master Co_4“I knew everything needed to be perfect as I set up to make sure every piece was the same size. I also had to measure the foyer area very carefully. I find that a chevron pattern is a bit trickier than herringbone. You have to take proper measurements, watch your lines, and make sure everything is straight,” says Szyszka. “I set up a table saw, a miter saw, a router, and I started milling. It took me two days to cut everything before I could begin installing.”

Just before Szyszka started laying down the floor, the client saw a sample he was doing for another client with a black and white cerused border. Enamored with the look, the client asked Szyszka to incorporate something similar on his floor. Szyszka agreed and created the border out of 3¼” white oak, bent at the corners.

“Thankfully, I had left myself time to do the floor, and at no point did I feel the need to rush, as I knew everything needed to be done right the first time,” says Szyszka. “By going slowly, I accomplished what I wanted to with the chevron pattern and the border while ensuring everything fit nice and tight.”

“With installation complete, we applied pre-color on the border and then finished everything with a hard wax oil,” says Szyszka. “The process included blue taping the border once the floor was sanded, water popped the chevron, applied black pre-color on the border and stairs, and a light white/grayish hard-wax oil from Rubio Monocoat on everything. I think the smoke gray of the main pattern matches well with the black and the gray of the cerused border.”

Szyszka says both he and the client were thrilled with the final results, and he is thankful for the chance to spread his creative wings on a project like this.

“My goal is to be able to create something special and unique so that when we go for an estimate, we can show samples of our custom work. I had a great time doing that with this installation,” says Szyszka. “I love playing with wood and coming up with new ideas, and I love it when clients are open to doing something fun and potentially unique.”

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