Granites to Consider for Modern Kitchens

More homeowners are turning toward contemporary kitchens than ever before. And with these contemporary spaces comes a need for countertops that can help complete the space. Some homeowners choose to use manmade materials such as ceramic or quartz counters to complete their contemporary design, but many more still turn toward natural stones such as granite to get the look they want. There are several different granites that work particularly well in contemporary kitchens, any of which is sure to get the modern look you’re after.

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For white contemporary kitchens, one of the most sought after stones right now is Bianco Romano. This very light-colored stone includes gray, cream, and burgundy veining and accents, but keeps the kitchen very light and bright in color and in feel.

For homeowners that want more of a contrast in their kitchens, Absolute Black granite makes an impressive choice. Absolute Black looks particularly good in contemporary kitchens when honed to give it a more made and subtle appearance. With no veining or additional colors to work in, Absolute Black granites is perfect for the very stark, clean contemporary space.

Many contemporary kitchens make great use of bold color to help them stand out. And while most people associate bolder colors with manmade products, there are a few granites that can truly stand out in a modern space as well, including Hidden Treasure, a black stone that has thick gold veins and lots of movement, Stone Wood, which is an incredible stone with a cream to tan background and lots of heavy black veins, Dynamic Blue, which is a bright blue stone with waves of lighter color moving through it, Seacoast Green, which is a bold green stone with yellow undertones and lots of movement and veining.

Also popular in modern spaces as stones that have a lot going on; these stones work best on island counters where they can become the focal point of the room. Rainforest Green and any color of Mariachi work well here.

It is possible to have a contemporary kitchen and the beauty of granite together; simply work with the room to find the right look for you.

 

Maintaining Your Stone Floors

Stone flooring makes a beautiful addition to many homes. A lot of homeowners get nervous about using it, however, knowing that stone requires more maintenance than things like porcelain or vinyl do. While natural stone does require some care, maintenance does not have to be difficult or time consuming. Done correctly, you can easily maintain your stone floors, keeping them looking as beautiful as they day there were installed with very little effort.

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Scratches are one of the biggest issues with stone floors, particularly those that are polished. Help cut down on scratches by placing rugs near entry ways to help stop the tracking of sand and other abrasive elements. Removing shoes before walking in high traffic areas can also help cut down on scratches.

Sweep or damp mop the floor regularly to help pick up sand, grit, and other dirt that could leave scratches on the floor. If you vacuum, turn off the beater bar to avoid unnecessary friction against the stone.

Stains are the other biggest issue surrounding stone floors. To help prevent stains, make sure you seal your floors with a silicone-based impregnating sealer on a regular basis. A well-sealed floor will bead water up like a waxed car; if your floor stops beading water, it’s time to reseal.

Always wash stone floors with a PH neutral cleanser to avoid etching and to help preserve the sealer. Wipe up spills as soon as you notice them to help impede stains as well.

If you’re truly nervous about using stone, consider investing in a material that is more variegated in color and texture, such as slate, which can help disguise a lot of dirt and scratch marks.

If your stone loses some of its shine or appears duller in color, apply a shine or color enhancing topical sealer once yearly to help maintain its original appearance.

Natural stone is not difficult to maintain, and does not become extremely scratched or discolored easily. Get the beautiful stone floor you’ve always wanted, and rest assured that its maintenance is not nearly as difficult as you may have believed.

Add Color with Crushed Stone

Natural stone frequently gets a lot of attention when used on floors, walls, and countertops, but these aren’t the only places where it can be used. In addition, stone can be used as a loose “fill” around landscaping, bathtubs, and window boxes. Sometimes this stone may be polished and smooth “river rocks”, while in some areas crushed bluestone is popular. A newer trend sparked from areas surrounding companies that use mosaic stone is to use leftover or crushed colorful marbles, granites, and limestones as fill.

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Mosaics are pieces of tile that measure 2-inches or smaller in size. They are frequently cut and pieced together to form pictures and patterns, and often small pieces are leftover when the work is done that can’t be reused. Those small pieces mixed together can form a unique and colorful fill for driveways, landscaping, or loose bathroom or hot tub room floors.

The popularity of these types of “crushed” stone has led more homeowners to begin using leftover stone pieces in similar ways. This may include taking leftover pieces of tile or slab, and breaking, cracking, or tumbling the stone until small chips or pieces result which can be used in this way.

It’s now becoming more common for people to use polished stone mosaics or leftover pieces to bring additional color or interest to their homes and landscaping. Because the loose stones can be pushed, moved, turned, and otherwise interacted with, it brings a new level of interest to the areas as a whole.

Using the small broken pieces of more “luxury” stone doesn’t have to be done on its own, either. It is possible to mix in pieces of polished marble or granite with more common crushed bluestone. Used this way, the more polished, colorful pieces will stand out more against the gray background, giving the fill a more subtle look that is still filled with interest.

If you’re looking for a way to add a little more depth to your crushed stone landscaping, consider adding some unique stone pieces to the mix.

Types of Soapstone

Soapstone has an ultra-smooth surface and an appealing depth of color that makes it one of the more popular choices in kitchens around the world. Made of metamorphosed talc, soapstone doesn’t stain or etch the way that other stones do, and it can be oiled to bring out a lot of additional depth and color. There are also several different variations of soapstone available, which means there’s likely a type for everyone to enjoy.

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Vermont Soapstone is a dark gray stone with minimal veins that becomes a very deep green when oiled. Despite its name, this stone originates in Brazil, and is most often what people think of when they consider soapstone for their kitchens.

New Iceflower is also from Brazil. This is another dark gray stone that has minimal white veining. What makes it unique is the fact that it frequently has white crystalline spots across its surface that make it appear as though it has freshly fallen snow on the surface.

Green Soapstone is from Finland. It’s a very rich green in color that is reminiscent of some very dark green marbles. It’s a lot denser and more substantial than soapstones found in Brazil, so it can sometimes be cut into extremely large slabs.

Barocca is another soapstone from Brazil. This is a very light gray stone that has minimal to no white veining, and a much more consistent appearance than some other stones.

Silver soapstone is another very light gray stone from Brazil. What makes it different from Barocca is the presence of lots of white veining, which in some cases can appear as though swirls of marshmallow were moving through the stone. This soapstone has a lot more movement and energy to it, while still remaining very light and neutral in color.

Emerald soapstone is an extraordinarily wild green stone from Brazil. Dark green in color, this stone has a lot of movement, color, variation, and veining. It’s a fairly rare stone, so on the pricey side, but when oiled it has the appearance of a rich, emerald green that makes it extremely appealing.

Gray soapstone is the final stone emerging from Brazil. It has a dark gray color, but lots of rich white veining and a lot of movement.

Soapstone’s popularity isn’t going away anytime soon. If you want a unique, low maintenance stone for your kitchen, consider one of these beautiful options.

The Hottest Bathroom Counters

Bathroom vanities are incredibly useful, stylish, and versatile. While it used to be that many people focused more on the sink, now people are beginning to see the appeal of using a vanity and sink top to add color, interest, and utility at once. With an upsurge in vanities also comes an upsurge in interest in the vanity countertop. With so many different choices for material, however, there is one that is getting nearly all the attention – granite. Granite bathroom vanity tops are hands down the most popular material for the space, followed by quartz and marble. Learn which granite tops are getting the most attention to help get the look in your bathroom.

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Just like in kitchens, white granite is currently in the lead for the most popular stone for the space. White stones like Alaskan White, Andromeda, White Princess, Thunder White, and Bethel White all hold up incredibly well in the bathroom. Their light color works well with white bathroom fixtures and tile, while their veining and the occasional color introduction such as burgundy helps make it easy to pull accent colors.

Also popular in the bathroom right now are cool-toned colors that help bring to mind soothing, spa experiences. Blue Celeste and Ming Green as well as more exotic stones like Alba Chiaro are desired for these very light colors and crystalline appearance.

As bathrooms start becoming larger and people begin taking more risks with their designs, more exotic and wild looking stones are also beginning to make their appearance. Things like onyx, which can backlit, as well as gemstones like agates are quickly catching on for more contemporary-style bathrooms.

Finally, for bathrooms that have a more rustic appearance, very quiet, honed stones with “unfinished” edges are also getting a lot of use. These stones are meant to complement things like rough-hewn basins and stacked wall stones to give the bathroom the look of a rustic cabin interior.

As more people begin to put their focus on the bathroom, both granite and marble continue to be the most popular materials for use everywhere in the space. Invest in a stone countertop for your vanity to help complete your look, no matter what it is.

The Hottest Thing in Marble – Danby

White marble has been one of the most popular choices amongst homeowners for countertops, floors, ledges, and walls for the last several years. And while most people have looked to Italian marbles to get the look they want, there has recently been a large upsurge in the popularity of a different type of Marble – Vermont Danby.

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Danby is not a new material or a recently discovered quarry. In fact, the famous Danby quarries have been operating for more than 100 years, and are considered to be the largest underground marble quarries in the world.

There are several different types of Danby, categorized by the color of the stone and its veining. Danby can range from a very white stone with lots of gold veining (Imperial Danby), which resembles Calacatta, to a softer, light gray stone with subtle veining (Appalachian Gray). It’s the location that the marble is mined from that helps give it its characteristic looks, and there are eight different locations and types of Danby marble available.

Eureka, Imperial, and Royal Danby are the whitest and most striking of the stones. They are also the rarest, found in long, twisting veins which means that these stones tend to be priced a little higher than those that are easier to access and more abundant.

Like all white marbles, Danby can have great variation even within one type. It is also prone to etching, stunning, and staining like other white marbles, and will develop a patina over time when used in locations like kitchen countertops.

Because Danby is quarried within the US, however, it often costs less than Italian stones which come with heavy shipping price tags attached. For those that want to support a more local market and economy, Danby is a beautiful choice that rivals several well-known Italian marbles.

If you’re looking for a beautiful stone with a history and character to match, consider any of the Danby marbles to do the job.

Adding Texture with Natural Stone

Rustic modern décor and a movement toward more natural-looking décor have both seen a sharp rise in popularity of late. More and more homeowners are beginning to incorporate more natural materials into their homes, as well as a blend of contemporary and rustic or country styles. To this end, many materials, such as natural stone, that have already been getting a lot of use and attention, are beginning to be used in new and innovative ways as well. One of these is in the addition of texture.

Texture has the ability to add depth and interest to an area that might otherwise have been seen as flat or unnoticeable. Rough wood, live edges, and unfinished metal are all beginning to get used in homes as people begin to search for a way to add more texture and interest to a design. Natural stone also fits in very well in these areas, offering not only the ability to add that texture, but all of the natural beauty and variation that stone is well known for as well.

Split-face stone is one way to add some texture to a wall. These naturally-cleft surfaces of slate, sandstone, and limestone can add a visually tactile element to backsplashes, fireplaces, and bathrooms.

V-tiles, or stone tiles cut like wedges that are installed to have areas sticking out further from the wall is another way to add texture with a cleaner, more geometric look. V-tiles can be installed in several different directions, giving you the appearance of waves moving across the wall.

Both of these types of stone are often installed tightly together without grout, giving the whole installation a more organic look, one that is more of a work of art than it is a traditional tile installation.

When you’re looking for ways to embrace these trends and add some texture to your home, be sure to consider the many different ways that natural stone could be used to help achieve this look.

What’s Hot in Countertops Right Now

It seems like trends are constantly changing when it comes to home décor, and in particular kitchen design. One thing has held true for the last several years now; granite is one of the most popular materials for installing on your kitchen counters. Colors, patterns, and other trends are constantly changing, however, with a few things beginning to emerge as the most sought after for countertop design.

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The first is the idea of “bling” or having something a little extra sparkling or shiny scattered throughout your counter. A good example of this is Black Galaxy, which features a solid black countertop speckled with shining copper flecks. Another is Blue in the Night, which is a very dark counter studded with flashes of bold, bright blue. Natural stones like these that can mimic that sparkly effect of quartz are in particular demand in many areas.
Natural, or neutral colors are also beginning to emerge again. Soft, yellow, gold, and beige tones have never really gone out of style, but they’ve definitely begun to pick up steam again, with stones like Santa Cecilia and Giallo Ornamentale leading the way.
However, it’s white stones of any kind that are at the absolute height of popularity right now. Any white granite, quartzite, or marble is getting a lot of attention, particularly as people try to lighten and brighten their overall kitchen designs. This means that stones such as Bianco Avorio and Andino White are getting a lot of attention right now.
Finally, stones that have a lot of movement to them, such as Avalanche, are also catching a lot of eyes. People want stones that can show off just what Mother Nature can do, filled with color, movement, and a lot of style.
No matter which stone you choose to go with, however, one thing is bound to be for certain; natural stone will remain one of the best choices you can make for your kitchen countertop and for your kitchen design in general.

Stone Counters for a Rustic Kitchen

Rustic and rustic modern designs are two of the hottest kitchen styles around right now. Which means that homeowners looking for these two styles will also be looking for countertops that match. Because both designs rely heavily on natural materials, things like laminate, ceramic slab, or even quartz aren’t going to cut it. For designs like these, natural stone makes one of the best materials to use in the space. Certain stones tend to work better in these design styles than others, however, so it’s important to be sure about what you’re getting.

All types of soapstone are incredibly popular for rustic kitchens. The soft, matte finish and delicate veining combine to make a surface that is practical, durable, and beautiful, as well as complementary to numerous kitchen designs.

For those that still like the look of a polished countertop, granites that have a lot of veining and movement tend to be more popular in these types of kitchens than stones that have a tighter grain pattern. A few stones to consider would be:

  • San Luiz
  • Typhoon Bordeaux
  • Atlantis
  • Costa Esmerelda
  • Juparana Gold
  • Juparana Fantastico

Another choice, is to choose a more sedate granite such as Absolute Black, and leave the edges “raw” or “unfinished”. This means that instead of having a cut and polished edge, the counters have a more natural or rustic appearance to them. This is also a popular look when using a built edge, or having an edge that gives the countertop the appearance of being thicker than it actually is, such as a full 2-inches, rather than the standard 3cm.

Marble is another popular choice for rustic kitchens, particularly that which has been honed, or given a matte finish. It’s important to note that marble does etch over time, which can be an asset to rustic kitchens, as it helps give a feeling of authenticity to the design, although some people may not like the look.

Rustic kitchen designs are poised to be around for many years to come. If you’re considering this type of kitchen, be sure to also consider the many different types of natural stone that can complement it.

Stone Bathroom Sinks

There is nothing quite like natural stone for the combination of beauty and durability. Many people enjoy the look of stone, and want to take this enjoyment a step further by using it in an unusual way or as a focal point as part of their design. One way to do this in the bathroom is by using a stone sink as the central focus of the room.

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There are numerous ways that stone sinks can be used in the bathroom. Stone vessels are probably the most commonly known, including polished stone sinks, matte stone sinks, and rustic stone sinks such as those carved out of boulders with the exterior left unfinished. More recently, stone vessels have begun to come in a variety of different shapes as well, including square vessels and irregular shapes that make it look as though the sink grew organically from the space.

An even newer and more innovative way of creating a focal point out of a stone sink is to utilize a stone pedestal, or a pedestal sink made entirely out of stone. There are several ways this can be done:

  • The stone can be carved or cast in traditional pedestal sink shapes and designs for traditional rooms
  • Large stones can be cut and polished into freestanding columns or vessels with a drain in the center and the sink in the top portion. Many of these can also be carved in ways that can incorporate LED light strips for backlighting the stone – a plus when using a translucent material like onyx.
  • Stone pedestals can also be created in a “waterfall” style, where the sink is made integrally with a small vanity top, which extends down the front of the sink in a waterfall style. The sink must be braced from behind to help hold it in place, but the effect is as if the sink is floating in midair.

Using a stone sink like these allows you to really show off the beauty, movement, and depth of real stone. Most sinks come in a variety of different stone colors styles, so you can customize the look you want to the room, potentially matching other stone accents or tiles in the room.

Consider using a stone sink in your bathroom to create the bathroom of your dreams.

Understanding the Difference between Quartz and Quartzite

There are a lot of options out there for those looking for a new countertop for their kitchens. And many of these items have lists of Pros and Cons that you’ll want to consider. Where it gets confusing for some homeowners, is when materials with similar sounding names and similar sounding attributes are occasionally recommended for a space. Which one is the right fit, and how do you tell them apart? Quartz and quartzite are two such materials that are sometimes confused by homeowners just starting to learn about what stone counters may be available. But while these two products do sound similar, they are very different in a lot of ways. Learning the differences can help you make the right choice for your home.

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Quartz is a man-made product. These counters are created from about 90% real stone, mixed with resins and pigments to hold them together and give them their look and style. Quartz counters are generally low maintenance, and don’t scratch or stain easily. They don’t need to be sealed, and they make nice work surfaces in busy kitchens. A quartz counter will be fairly homogenous in terms of color and appearance, however, because the product is manmade.

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Hayes Interiors

Quartzite is a natural stone. This metamorphic material is made when quartz – an igneous rock – undergoes transformation through heat and pressure. The result is a very durable natural stone product that holds up very well in kitchens. Quartzite is often as durable as granite – if not more so in some cases – but has a lot of the veins and colors more often associated with marble. Quartzite can be wild, sparkling, and filled with a rainbow of different hues all within one stone. It can also be pure white or a very light gray with veins reminiscent of Carrara marble. Because quartzite is a natural stone, no two slabs are every exactly the same. The material should be sealed and washed with PH neutral cleansers to help it stay looking its best.

Both quartz and quartzite make excellent countertops, but with very different results. Be sure to take a look at both as you make your decision to help find the right counter for you.

The Difference between Marble and Limestone

Not all natural stones are created equally. Unfortunately for some homeowners, this fact is often overlooked by those purchasing stone tiles or slabs for their homes. Most people are aware of the differences between marble and granite, both in terms of what the two stones generally look like, and in terms of where they should be used. Things get more complicated, however, when trying to decide between other stones, such as marble and limestone. Technically, marble is simply metamorphosed limestone, changed under enormous amounts of heat and pressure from one stone to another. This change that the material underwent deep in the ground means that while the two stones are related, they are in actuality quite different.

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Limestone is a calcite based stone that is made up of layers and layers of densely compacted material. This sedimentary stone is most often formed in shell reefs, so it’s not uncommon to find small shells and other fossils embedded in the stone. Some limestones are hard enough to hold a high polish, while other limestones are so soft that constant exposure to water will actually cause them to dissolve.

All limestones are every soft and porous, and more easily stained and scratched than marble. Therefore, limestone should be used with care in wet and high traffic areas.

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Johns Wood 1 - Carrera Marble (a bitch to clean?)

Marble is also a calcite based stone, being made up of limestone. This metamorphic rock is much harder and denser than limestone. It can universally take a high polish, for example, and holds up much better in wet and higher traffic areas than limestone will. Because of the way that the stone formed, instead of small fossils, you’re more likely to find veins in the marble, which are technically impurities running through the stone and giving it its color.

Both marble and limestone in their purest states are white, and both will make a beautiful statement anywhere in your home. Take care to choose wisely, however, so that whichever stone you choose will keep its good looks for years to come.