Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Beauty of Breccia Marbles

Most people associate marbles with classic veining patterns, often in light, cool colors. Some people may also associate marbles with some of the more wild and varied stones that have become popular of late, such as Verde Luna or Sahara Gold. One type of stone that is often overlooked, however, is the breccia. Often called a marble, this sedimentary stone has a unique beauty all its own that fits in well with many of today’s styles and designs.

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A breccia is any type of sedimentary stone made up of large chunks or pieces of other stones. The pieces are usually angular, creating a unique matrix of fractured lines and pieces cemented together. The result is a polished stone with a fractal beauty very different from traditional marbles or other sedimentary stones like limestone.

There are several different breccias to choose from for the home in either tile or slab form. The most common and popular of these is Breccia Oniciata, which is a pale pink stone with tones of white and beige, and a mixture of large and small fractals.

Other stones include Breccia Sarda, which is composed of many pieces running in long, thin lines. A floor laid in Breccia Sarda may almost resemble wood, with a grain that runs cleanly across the space. Breccia Diana is made up of smaller pieces that form larger layers within the stone. It’s often cut so that these layers are apparent, giving a lot of interest and dimension to the stone.

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Breccia Aurora is similar in color and pattern to Breccia Oniciata, with many shades of pink, peach, and beige mixed together in large blocks of color. Occasionally, the stone also features a white, marshmallow vein running through the pieces as well.

Breccias are a unique stone that’s different from both classic marbles and limestones. They add depth and interest to any area they are installed in, and come in a wide range of light colors. Consider installing a breccia in your home to capture the beauty for yourself.

 

Italian Marble

 

Marble is one material for the home that never goes out of fashion. Whether it’s polished, honed, or tumbled, marble has a beauty and character that is unmatched by anything else. And for homeowners that want additional history, interest, and beauty for their homes, there’s nothing quite like Italian marble.

Master Bathroom - Shower traditional-bathroom

Italy has long been famous for its marble quarries. Carrara marble is one of the most easily recognizable types of stone around the world. With its soft gray background and deeper gray veins, most people can tell Carrara marble at a glance.

Other Italian marbles are just as beautiful and just as easily recognizable as well. From Calacatta to Bianco Venatino, Italian marble is some of the oldest and most well-known materials for use in and around the home.

Italian marble is often considered vastly superior to other stones quarried from around the world. This is due in part to the purity of the marble. Italian marbles often have fewer fissures and pits, truer colors with less impurities to dull or darken the stone, and many Italian marbles that have been used in sculpture and architecture for centuries are still just as beautiful today as they were on the day they were created.

Italy was one of the first countries to streamline and perfect the process of quarrying marble. They’re standards for quality are also amongst the highest in the world, so when you buy Italian marble, you know that you’re getting a truly superior product with none of the weakness or issues that can be found in other stones. While marbles from other countries may come backed with fiberglass mesh to help strengthen and support them, Italian marble is able to stand on its own.

In fact, true Italian marble is so popular and rare, that’s often duplicated and substituted for by stones manufactured in China or Brazil. Always ask for the country of origin for the marble you buy for your home, to make sure that you’re getting the best quality material you can purchase.

 

 

Contemporary Stone Hearths

Fireplaces add a lot of value to a home. They’re the place everyone likes to gather, and can be the focal point of a room’s design. And for many people, there’s nothing like having a natural stone surround, mantel, or hearth for your fireplace to really make this area come to life. Over time, however, fireplace designs have become more contemporary, especially as things like inserts and gas stoves have become more popular. To this end, some people may wonder if they can still have the beauty of natural stone, but in a way that complements their more modern sensibilities. There are several ways that you can use stone to get a contemporary look for your fireplace, and one of them is through the stone you use on the hearth.

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The hearth is the area that sits just in front of the firebox, extending out past the surround on either side. This area must be fireproof to help prevent escaping embers from causing a danger to the rest of the floor and home. So, it makes sense that a material like stone will be used on this area.

There are many ways that you can get a contemporary looking hearth that are perfect for drawing attention to the area.

One way is to use a slab of an exotic stone as the hearth. A slab hearth is slightly raised from the rest of the floor, giving the fireplace a more substantial look. And a slab hearth made of a stone like onyx will not only draw the eye during the day, but will glow when the fire is lit at night.

Another type of contemporary slab may be to use something a little more rustic and roughly hewn for the hearth. Think a large slab of slate or bluestone that has more natural edges and contours, rather than a polished edge. This brings a more organic look to the hearth that can both complement and contrast more contemporary settings.

Finally, consider using polished stone mosaics on the hearth. Not only are mosaics beautiful and versatile, each one will catch the light from the fire separately, making your hearth sparkle when the fireplace is in use. Try a blend of different stones or use a decorative pattern of mosaics to draw the eye even more.

Natural stone can complement any style of home no matter where you use it. Consider a contemporary stone hearth to make the most of your fireplace.

Decorative Thresholds

It’s common for many people to use different materials for flooring throughout the home. The bathroom and mudroom may be tiled, for example, while a hardwood or carpet is used elsewhere. When this type of transition from one flooring material to another occurs, a transition strip or threshold of some kind is needed to bridge the gap. For many people, marble makes the ideal threshold; it’s beautiful, durable, and works well with most types of tile and hardwood. The most common marbles for use on threshold tend to be Bianco Carrara, and occasionally Botticino or Crema Luna. These are not the only marbles that can be used as a threshold, however; consider creating a decorative transition between rooms with a unique stone.

Modern Bathroom Detail modern-bathroom

A threshold is a marble or granite slab that is cut down to approximately 4- to 6-inches wide, made to fit into doorways between two materials. They can help hide a gap in height between the two floorings, and make an easier transition.

So, while it’s easy to find precut thresholds in Carrara or another common stone, it’s also easy to have a stone cut for you to add a little extra color and interest to a room.

For example, if you’re creating a blue and white, beach-themed bathroom, a threshold made of Blue Celeste would make a lovely complement to the rest of the room. Or, if you are using a variety of shades of green in the room, a threshold made of Verde Luna could make a stunning accent as it transitions into the room.

To find the ideal threshold for your use, pay a visit to your local stone yard, and ask to see any remnants, or small pieces left over from other jobs. Because you may need to purchase more stone than you actually need to do the job, it helps to select a smaller section. Anything left over can be used as a cutting board, cheese tray, or window ledge.

Having a decorative threshold can add a little pop of color or interest where you least expect it. Consider using a more decorative marble in this area to make the whole room come alive.

Non-Water Based Setting Materials and Natural Stone

As natural stone grows in popularity and more homeowners choose to use it in their homes, more so-called issues are beginning to come up surrounding the installation. Some of these issues are happening due to the concurrent rise of DIY homeowner installation, while others come from installers switching from man-made tiles to stone for the first time. Many of these same issues can be fixed by switching to non-water based setting materials.

Some of the most common problems that occur with a natural stone installation are adhesive show-through, and picture framing where a darker band appears around the outside edge of the tile after it’s been installed or grouted. Both issues may be temporary, but both are also entirely avoidable.

In both cases, the problem is due to the porous nature of the stone. Natural stone absorb water on contact, particularly when it comes in contact with this moisture for an extended amount of time. So, when a very porous material, such as limestone, is installed using a back-buttering method with a water-based setting material, some of that water may be absorbed into the stone itself. This will result in the stone darkening in the areas where the setting material came in contact. Sometimes this issue resolves after the stone has dried. If the stone was sealed during installation, however, it may trap the moisture within the stone, leaving the darkened areas intact.

Picture framing occurs when a water-based grout is used around the perimeter of the stone; the stone absorbs the moisture around the perimeter, causing it to darken. Sealing the top of the stone is not sufficient to stop this problem, as the grout may enter from the edges or even the back of the stone.

The best way to correct these issues is to prevent them from happening. In this case, the use of non-water based setting and grouting material. Epoxy thinset and grout or silicone based materials may be the best choice, as they will not be absorbed by the stone.

While these materials may be more difficult to work with at first, using them will help ensure that the stone maintains its beauty. Consider using a non-water based setting material for all installation of natural stone to avoid these common issues in the future.

The Growing Popularity of Neutral Granite

Granite countertops in kitchens is a lasting trend that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Granite is beloved of builders and homeowners alike for its beauty and durability in the kitchen. Granite color trends do come and go, however, with wild granites being more popular over the last few years. Times are changing, however, and today’s more popular granites tend to be those in the neutral category.

It seems as though many people profess to have strong feelings about neutrals. Some people claim to love them, while others want anything but. And this may be why neutral-colored granites are gaining in popularity across the country; even the most neutral-toned granite is still filled color and interest.

With a shade of taupe being picked as 2017’s Color of the Year, it makes sense that homeowners are going to shift toward other neutral colors as well. Neutrals on areas such as walls and counters give you a lot of options for introducing color in other areas of the room. And with neutral granites, you get not only the look of a neutral, you also get a built-in color palette to work with for those other colors.

Many “beige” or “tan” colored granites contain a wealth of other colors within them. For example, Santa Cecilia, which is one of the more popular neutral granites around, contains numerous other shades of cream, brown, gold, and even cranberry in its surface. At a glance, it appears perfectly bland, but get closer and you can find a full range of other colors you can use to accent the room with, creating a beautiful, cohesive interior design that is anything by boring.

This two-in-one color scheme allows neutral granites to have a nearly universal appeal; prospective home buyers who like color or who shy away will find something to love in these counters, making neutral granites a popular option from a resale perspective.

Take a look at neutral granites for your kitchen to get in touch with this growing trend.