don't it make my brown wood blue?

When looking closely at Plan B, we peeking-Tommed into the front door and saw that the architects had clad the interior “privacy wall’ with naturally finished wood. Yes, we know: It’s premature to be picking out materials just yet, but it’s hard not to dream, no? And clearly the architects are thinking a wee bit ahead here, yes? And wood with some tonal variation seems like a good choice here. But what kind of wood?

We like stuff to be consistent, so we reckon that whatever wood we use on the second story floors (and probably the steps) will be used on the privacy wall. Material continuity, you understand. But what kind of wood?

As far as the standard stuff goes, there’s bamboo (Consumer Reports ranks engineered woven bamboo by EcoTimber as tops for being resistant to wear, scratches, stains, and dents [and that’s tops as in topping everything, included hardwoods]). If we go with actual (more standard) wood, we really (really) like the (oddly cubist) look of hickory. But our dream wood is Rocky Mountain pine murdered at the claws of millions of mountain pine beetles and fungi.



the blasted bark beetle:

A large number of trees have been killed by bark beetles in Colorado. We were at a family function a couple years ago (spreading the ashes of an uncle…) and got to see the damage. It’s shocking. Whole mountainsides and forests are dead from the beetle infestation. In fact, so many trees have died, the forest service is making plans for how to deal with 1,000,000 trees falling over A DAY once the trees rot and start falling! The beetles have always been there, but because of warming temperatures, they aren’t getting froze out like they used to. So they’re having thanksgiving dinner on a pine table every day.

Riding along with the beetles is bluestain fungi. Once the beetle bores into the bark to do its thing, the fungi also attacks the tree, staining the wood (you guessed it!) blue. This is all a tragedy, of course, but there’s one positive: The blue stained wood is beautiful.

Because so many trees have died, Colorado is trying to put the dead wood to use. And we would like to use it! This is all probably a pipe dream (the wood doesn’t appear to be “mass produced” at this point; therefore, it’s prolly really really expensive), but we can dream, can’t we? Not to mention that the green message in this blue wood is mixed: green because we’d be using dead wood; not green because it’s not local; and ironic because global warming (probably) caused the death of the trees in the first place.

As Crystal Gayle would sing if she worked at Home Depot: Don’t it make my brown wood blue?


  1. In our new modern home, we put in hickory on our second and third floors (and stairs) as an upgrade over bamboo. We liked the natural bamboo but when the stranding resin is added for strength, it gives the bamboo a yellowish tint, which didn't match as well with our furniture. The floor installer swore that the natural unstranded bamboo was strong enough to withstand dents and stratches, but we were skeptical. The hickory does provide much more visual variety than the bamboo.

  2. Good point about the yellowing. Unstranded bamboo seems to ding quite easily. Thanks for the comment. (I trust you love your hickory!)

  3. I've seen that blue pine up in CO, and I agree that it's really interesting and special. If it's not practical to truck some down here, could you use a faint blue stain on some other wood?