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.

Quaker Bluff Residence rustic-living-room

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.

Marble and Granite Table Runners

A trend has been developing at weddings and events to use large slabs or wood or stone as the runner on a table, rather than a traditional cloth. The slab allows you to create height and interest on the table by elevating things placed on it, while also adding color and depth to the table at the same time. The trend is becoming so popular, in fact, that many people are beginning to use these runners in other places as well, such as at holiday tables. A marble or granite runner can make a beautiful centerpiece for your table, while protecting the wood or cloth beneath from hot dishes at the same time.

Applegate Tran Interiors

A slab runner is essentially a piece of material about 3cm thick cut to approximately 12-inches in width and 4 to 5 feet in length. The runner may have finished or raw edges depending on the style you’re looking for, and can also be irregular in shape. Anyone who is purchasing a granite counter for their kitchen may request to have the leftover material cut into runners to use on nearby dining room tables to create a cohesive look.

Even if you are not having a granite or marble counter or table made, you can still use a stone runner for your table. Many stone yards have small remnants or leftover pieces of stone that you can purchase for this use. You may have to pay a cutting or polishing fee if you want the edges finished, but raw edges can also work as well.

When looking for a stone for your runner, consider one that has a polished finish, as well as a lot of movement or color. You want the runner to be an eye-catching centerpiece for the table, so look for stones that have colorful veins or streaks you can use to coordinate your place settings with.

Use your runner to display candles or flowers, or set serving dishes on it that are too hot to be placed directly on the table. However you use it, a stone runner is sure to be a unique and interesting focal point for your meal.

Granites to Pair with Taupe

As 2016 comes to a close, Sherwin-Williams has announced their new choice for the 2017 Color of the Year. This year’s choice – Poised Taupe – gives a nod to the popularity of colors such as gray and greige over the last five years. Warmer than a true gray, however, Poised Taupe is a perfect blend of cool grays and warm browns, making it a natural choice as a neutral for homeowners that want a versatile color for any room of their homes.

Kitchen traditional-kitchen

Because Poised Taupe could work with either cool or warm colors in the home, the choice of accents is nearly endless. If you’re looking for a granite to pair with Poised Taupe for your kitchen or bath, consider one of these options:

Gold and Silver granite is the perfect choice for homeowners that want neutrals, but with a little dramatic flair at the same time. Combining both deep golden brown and gray in one stone, this granite will up your neutrals to the next level.

Golden Beach is a more subtle granite that will still bring in a lot of rich brown tones as well as a gray background. This granite will pair perfectly with Poised Taupe, while allowing you to bring in numerous other tones as accents.

If you’re looking for a granite that will match the color of the year nearly perfectly, consider Kayrus. While the veining of this stone is wild and variable, the color is on point for this year’s trend.

For those that want to introduce some color to the room through their granite, while still working well with taupe, consider Fusion. This deep green granite has a lot of gold and brown running through it, allowing it to pair beautifully with this neutral paint color.

For those that would like a more subtle amount of color, consider Persia Green, which is a gray stone with a faint green cast to it.

With a warmer neutral the new color of the year, the possibilities are endless. Match it with any of these granites to make a statement in your home.

The Best Stone Floors for Bathrooms

Stone flooring is one of the most popular materials for use throughout the home, including in the bathroom. Many people worry, however, about using natural stone in a damp environment like the bath. And while it is true that in some cases stone may etch or stain if used or cared for inappropriately, there are many other instances when natural stone can be the perfect flooring for the bathroom.

Hyde Park Victorian

The key in using natural stone in a damp area, is understanding when and where problems may arise. For example, using a polished marble on the floor of a bathroom used by young, potty training children may result in etch marks on the floor due to the acids in urine. For homeowners in cases like these, a honed stone may be the better fit. Likewise in the shower area; people who like to dye their hair dark or funky colors may find that a light colored marble or limestone floor will absorb the color over time, while a dark granite floor holds up better.

With these few examples aside, however, natural stone can make a great flooring for the bathroom area. Stone is naturally slip resistant due to the many pores on its surface. Impregnating sealers used to help keep the stone from staining also increase slip resistance, making stone a great choice for slippery areas.

Stone is also extremely versatile, working well in a number of bathroom styles, such as:

  • White Thassos quartzite on the flooring of an all-white bath
  • Blue Celeste quartzite for a water-themed room
  • Black and white octagon and dot marble mosaics for a retro bathroom
  • Silver travertine for an exotic or spa themed bath
  • River stones for spa and Zen-style bathrooms
  • Verde Luna for a wild, contemporary bathroom done in natural colors

In addition, all white marbles work particularly well in small bathrooms, keeping the area light and visually open.

If you’re looking for a beautiful, versatile flooring for your bathroom, consider natural stone to do the job.

Gray Granites for Your Kitchen

Gray is the hottest color in interior design at the moment. Together with its partner color, greige, gray is turning up everywhere from floors to walls to cabinets, and now even countertops. The appeal of gray for interiors is the fact that it’s neutral, yet pairs so well with a number of other shades and tones. Gray can be warm or cool depending on its undertone, and works well with blue, green, brown, white, and black, giving you lots of options for the rest of your décor. If you’re thinking of going gray in your new kitchen design, consider one of these gray granites for the counter.

University Park Remodel

A lot of people don’t associate granite with the color gray, thinking instead of either marble or soapstone. And those that do think of granite often also think that they need to use a honed Absolute Black to get the color. This is not true, however; there are several beautiful gray and greige granites that can add a lot of character to your design.

Antique Ice is a light gray granite with a lot of visible quartz and some white veining. It has a large granular pattern, which adds some interest, and a cool undertone to help it work with white cabinets or a cool-toned wall color.

Bianco Antico is a granite that falls closer to the greige end of the gray spectrum. A mix of gray and gold tones, this granite will help you stay neutral, while adding warmth to the design. Pair it with natural cherry cabinets for a beautiful contrast.

Gold and Silver granite makes a nice choice for homeowners that want something a little bolder in their kitchen design. Predominately a light silver-gray in color, it has a dark, rich golden brown vein running through it. This granite will work well with natural wood cabinets, white cabinets, or a mix for a more modern design.

If you want a truly neutral granite, consider Silver Gray. This cool-toned gray stone is threaded with white veins, perfect for an otherwise white kitchen that needs a little depth.

Think of these granites for your kitchen if you’re embracing the new gray trend and get a beautiful stone to complement your design.

The Best Stone Flooring for Mudrooms

More and more homeowners are turning to mudrooms as a way to contain outdoor belonging and make the transition to the indoors easier for everyone. With cubbies, benches, and lots of storage the mudroom is the hottest room to have in the house right now. With all the coming and going, however, as well as the type of use the room is sure to get, you need a flooring that will hold up to the abuse that’s sure to come. For that reason, many people look to natural stone as the durable, attractive choice for the room.


Not all stones are created equally, and not all stones will be appropriate for use in a mudroom. Some softer stones such as limestone or marble may etch, stun, or scratch over time, which can detract from the look of the room. There are many other stones, however, that are perfect for use in the mudroom, hiding dirt and wear beautifully, while blending right in with your style.

Slate tile is one of the best materials out there for the mudroom, particularly multi-color slates from India, China, or Brazil. These naturally cleft, ungauged tiles have a multitude of colors in their surfaces, so they hide scratches, dirt, and other wear. Any minor marks that do show up are easy to remove with a little mineral oil, and the number of different sizes and colors available means that you can easily create a unique flooring that matches your décor.

Flamed granite is another good choice for mudroom floors. Flaming removes the weaker particles from the stone’s surface, so what remains is incredibly hard and durable. The light texture of a flamed stone means that the floor will be non-slip, ideal for those who live in wet or icy climates. Any granite can be flamed, but the most common stone to find in this finish is Absolute Black, which has a deep, uniform gray color when flamed, perfect for contemporary homes.

For those that want a more worn or country look for their mudrooms, consider tumbled travertine. While technically a limestone, travertine’s naturally porous and hole-filled surface means that it hides wear and dirt better than other stones. Choose a dark-colored stone like Travertine Noce in any size or shape to create a mudroom floor with a lot of character.

Stone flooring is beautiful and can last for years when properly maintained. Complete your mudroom with a stone floor to get the style and the durability you need.

Using White Marble in a Neutral Design

Increasingly, more homeowners are beginning to turn to white for their kitchens, looking for a clean, neutral backdrop for their kitchen design. And with a white kitchen, comes the desire to use a white countertop as well to help achieve the look. While there are many white granites available, however, nothing quite matches the beauty of a neutral white kitchen the way that marble does.

Miami Glamour

White marble has a softer look than granite, both because it is a softer stone by nature, and because of the way that the veins move in marble versus the more crystalline look of granite. Whether you choose a classic Bianco Carrara with soft gray veins, or you want something a little warmer like an Imperial Danby, white marble matches the look so many homeowners are looking for when they choose to install a white kitchen.

The key to truly utilizing marble in this space, however, and getting the soft, neutral look that you’re after is to contrast it with a few dark tones in the space. This is because the combination of white cabinets and a white counter can often lead to a sterile look if not balanced in the right way.

One method of balancing the white marble may be to use a dark-colored hardwood on the floors. This will make the marble seem to float in contrast to the darker plane below it.

Another method may be using a darker-colored counter on an island in the center of the room while the white marble is used on the perimeter. A walnut wood counter, for example would add the contrast, making the marble look crisper and cleaner by association. Or, if you want a more subtle look, using a gray marble such as Bardiglio can offer some balance without a stone contrast.

More and more people are turning toward white kitchens as way to create a neutral design. Complement your white kitchen with a white marble countertop to complete the look.

Mixing and Matching Stones

There are a lot of different types of stone available for flooring, counters, and walls. And choosing one does not need to mean forgoing the others. Many people like to mix two colors of the same stone, such as two colors of granite on kitchen counters or two colors of marble for a bathroom floor, but it’s equally fine to also mix types of stones as well. Mixing and matching the stones you choose for your home can add a lot of versatility and interest to a space.

Historic St. Paul Kitchen and Mudroom Addition/Renovation

The kitchen is a great place to mix stones, particularly if you’re a baker. For the perimeter countertops that see a lot of use, opt for more durable granite. Then for the island counter, consider a softer marble that’s perfect for rolling out pie crust dough.

The key to mixing the two stones is to make sure that the colors stay complementary to one another. For example, if you love the classic look of Bianco Carrara marble, opt for a gray or black granite for the perimeter such as Pietro or Absolute Black. Or, if you enjoy color, consider Costa Esmerelda granite with a softer Ming Green marble. Just be sure that you coordinate the actual slabs, as natural stones do have a tendency to vary in color, tone, and saturation.

It’s also possible to mix varying stone tiles as well. In this case, why not have some fun with finish as well as with the stone? For example, a naturally cleft slate pairs beautifully with a polished marble, as the light will hit the two stones differently, letting the marble shine. Consider adding a border of marble mosaics to a slate entryway to dress up an otherwise rustic floor.

Or, if you’re opting for a style with more variation, consider mixing a wide range of different stones in all the same size and finish. For example, a fun bathroom floor might include octagons of Absolute Black, Bardiglio, Blue Celeste, and Ming Green for a mix of granite, marble, and quartzite that has depth, interest, and a lot of color.

Consider mixing and matching your natural stones to add even more depth, beauty, and versatility to your home.