So the first thing we did when we moved into this modern-ish house in the middle of Kentucky was to take down all the freaking mini-blinds, because there are a lot of lovey windows in this house and a lot of lovely views and I really hate plastic mini blinds. The house is in a subdivision, but is isolated enough that you really don’t have privacy issues except for two of the master bedroom windows and the downstairs bathroom. So me and my trusty Phillips screwdriver went to own and spent an entire evening taking down plastic mini blinds.
Then the carpets came up. This was fairly easy, because there was only carpeting in the bedrooms, and it was old and awful white stained with I-hope-it’s-only-dog-pee. We had a new, medium gray colored recycled polyester carpet installed in the downstairs bedrooms, and decided to do something interesting with the master bedroom and study until we figured out what we wanted permanently.
We decided to take 2’x2′ squares of birch plywood and screw it down directly to the sub-floor. When we had difficulties finding enough pieces at our local monster hardware store that weren’t chewed up or stained with who knows what or just ugly, we expanded our search to include 2’x4′ squares as well. We spent an entire day and visited four different Lowe’s stores in our area before we could come up with approximately 300 square foot of semi-decent looking birch.
(Note to Lowes: Birch plywood is normally used for nice projects where you want to let the actual birch veneer be seen by people after you’ve finished the project and want to show it off. You really need to get a better supplier for your birch plywood if the one you have is providing you with quality suitable for subflooring only, because nobody pays extra for birch subflooring when they can use standard plywood. If you’re going to carry the product, know why you’re carrying the product. The original mid-century modern houses used birch plywood all over the walls and ceilings and the quality from back then is still evident in some of those houses that have been preserved. What you’re selling is like the cheap drug store off brand chocolate instead of Godiva. If I’m looking for birch plywood, I’m probably looking for Godiva.)
When we got the wood home, stacked all over the back seat and floor board and trunk of a beat-up Corolla, we discovered that the mills who make birch plywood don’t seem to have a lot of quality control because not all the 2×2 squares were the same size, nor were the 2×4 square, and two 2×2 squares did not usually equal one 2×4, so there was an extraordinary amount of digging through the piles of wood to find a suitable piece to screw the next panel down. We were laying this down like stone tile, with the edges touching and the stainless steel screws making an interesting patter of their own. That project took an entire weekend.
Once the panels were down, we (he, actually, The Boyfriend) laid on 7 coats of high-gloss varnish, which made the graining in each and every piece suddenly jump to life and glow. The layers of varnish give it depth as well, so it’s like walking on a very high-tech wooden cloud. And, it’s virtually maintenance free – just hit it with the Dyson once every few weeks and it’s good to go. No allergens, no dust, no staining, no muss no fuss.
After four years, it still looks great.