(As featured on Your Decorating Resource)http://www.yourdecoratingresource.com/features/181-honed-marble-and-other-creative-countertops
Granite countertops consistently top the “most wanted” list of homeowners, due in part to their durability and rich composition. Natural quartz is also a favorite for much the same reason. But these two are certainly not the only stones on the block. Other natural stones commonly used for kitchen counters include marble, limestone and soapstone.
“Traditionally, stonework, especially bathroom stonework on vanities and tub surrounds, has been created for aesthetics and not necessarily functionality,” says Chad Seiders, executive director of the Artisan Group, which recently was featured on This Old House. The television show in March featured a beach house remodeling project that included an Artisan Stone Collection granite tub surround in Venetian Gold as well as kitchen countertops in Saratoga Soapstone Stillwater Gray.
Aesthetics are still important, but Seiders noted that the stone industry is seeing a shift toward even more exotic materials, such as as White Carrara and Calacutta Gold Marble in the kitchen. “There also is much more of a trend toward using matte and honed finishes,” he said.
Marble throughout time has been associated with opulence, and many homeowners still see it as a symbol of sophisticated extravagance. “Owners of upper-echelon homes, especially those in excess of $1 million, really want a stone style that is unique, such as rare marble or soapstone,” says Seiders.
Today, however, marble is now a much more accessible luxury, due to improved technology and availability.
Honed marble is one of the more interesting stones currently available on the market. Marble that is honed has a matte or satin finish, rather than a high-reflective polish. This is achieved at the factory by stopping just short of the last stage of polishing. One feature of honed marble is that it does not show etching as readily, making it a better choice for countertops.
Artisan Group is among the companies that have added marbles to their collections. Within the Artisan Stone line, the company has a variety of marbles, including honed marbles. Colors include: Calacatta Gold, White Carrara, Breccia Sarda, Dark Emperador and Crema Marfil.
Soapstone is often referred to as “the original stone countertop.” Very prevalent in the Northeast as a traditional look, soapstone is now being used with a flat edge for clean, contemporary rooms.
Because homeowners now realize that soapstone can have so many looks, and at the same time is low maintenance, it is becoming more popular.
Velvety soft and smooth with minimal surface variations, limestone conveys a feeling of calm and serenity. This stone is often perceived as modern or contemporary in mood, making it perfect for a minimalist setting.
Formed by the sedimentary process underground and in riverbeds, you will often find characteristic seashells and fossils embedded in the surface. While it shares a color range similar to that of travertine, limestone is, for the most part, devoid of holes and depressions. Cream, ivory, gold, sand and smoky blue-gray are the predominant shades found within this stone’s color palette.
Using these types of softer stones in high-traffic areas creates a risk that they might be scratched, etched or otherwise damaged by sharp objects, acidic juices and other culprits. But by using sealers, it is still possible to enjoy these gorgeous stones throughout the home. Artisan Group offers protection under the Firstline Sealer label, which is both VOC-compliant and guards against stains. Be sure to ask your installer about the product that is best for your countertops.
For more information, visit http://www.artisan-counters.com.