Hard-working hardwood floors are by definition pedestrian. Literally underfoot, they withstand the wear of generations as we depend on them to lend our living spaces durability and ease. Yet the proper selection, installation and finish can transform a floor from ordinary to extraordinary, complementing and enhancing architectural and interior details while becoming a thing of beauty in its own right. Known for our four decades of proficiency with wood, JLF Architects was recently approached by The New York Times to share some insight on choosing the right hardwood floors for residential projects – those inspired material selections that can make magic happen.

We used reclaimed Douglas fir siding with varying widths as floorboards for this Jackson house that was included in the New York Times article on hardwood flooring.

Known for our pioneering use of reclaimed wood in new houses, we carefully curate just the right historical materials to lend enduring quality to a particular project. “You can find oak siding off a 150-year-old building that’s been weathered beautifully and use that for flooring,” explains JLF design principal Paul Bertelli to The New York Times in the article “How Hard Can It Be to Choose a Hardwood Floor?” – adding how JLF frequently does just that. “We want character in the floor, and our philosophy is that there are perfect imperfections,” he says.

Another photo shared by the New York Times was of the lighter-toned Pacific silver fir floors that complement this bedroom’s clean, contemporary feel.

JLF’s house designs often combine a variety of wood treatments, intentionally layering rustic and refined textures in different uses from burnished plank floors to hand-hewn overhead beams, while keeping the species of wood all in the family. “If you have walnut cabinetry, for instance, a walnut floor is an easy match,” says Bertelli. “If you have oak doors, oak floors are a natural choice.”

For a unique ski-in-ski-out house that we created with On Site Management, this Big Sky, Montana kitchen features reclaimed oak wood floors.

Reclaimed wood floors in this house in Upstate New York provide the one-of-a-kind character that comes from “perfect imperfections.”

With JLF’s intention of creating heirloom houses that stand the test of time, our affinity for hardwood floors is no surprise. We appreciate the unique personality of individual boards and the stories behind the timber, often choosing a different wood floor for almost every project we work on. The discussion around the type of hardwood floor to use in a house is an important part of the process we have with clients, just as the painstaking artisanal quality of their construction is with our design-build partners.

Sometimes overlooked, hardwood floors can provide a meaningful foundation for everyday living. Or as Times writer Tim McKeough puts it: “If you have floors you love, walking across them can be a daily pleasure.”

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