Choosing the right marble for your bathroom

Traditionally the bathroom is a calming space adorned in ceramics, steel and glass; all of this porcelain can make a room feel cold and bland. Marble can add a point of interest to a room that can become ‘run of the mill’. The way the veins of colour elegantly swirl across the smooth stone can add natural decadence where ceramic tiles do not. Choosing the right marble for your bathroom depends on personal taste, the light within the space and its size.

Marble comes in many different shades and styles. Mamara Equator marble has distinctive stripes that add an opulent touch to a modern bathroom. Traditionalists may prefer Carrara marble; the lightning bolt lines can add depth and a sense of comfort when combined with quality textiles. Coloured stones, such as Emperador, can be used sparingly as a feature or can be used throughout to create a cosy, welcoming aura. Arrabescato or Calacatta marble work beautifully with natural materials; limiting the palette to one or two materials adds elegant simplicity and will not overwhelm the space.

Primarily look at your budget; use marble in lieu of tiles to create a feature wall backdrop, which can be contrasted against cool porcelain or warm wood. Marble is traditionally used as flooring or as a surface, but dressing a room top-to-toe in stone creates a timeless and practical chamber. Marble bathtubs and sinks look sleek with simple furnishings and decorative touches. Should you have a larger budget or a smaller room, use a light-coloured marble throughout, with a minimalistic grain to help a room feel uncluttered and spacious? Take advantage of the stone’s reflective properties to increase the light in the room and give the illusion of a larger room. A mix of different types of marble creates an eclectic space to be adorned with vintage brass or dressed with bold materials.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. A natural material, marble is a classic and timeless investment for your home. Speak to your bathroom specialist today for further advice or information.

Dekton Factory Visit – Spain

Andy and Paul visited Cosentino’s headquarters in Spain this month. They are the largest manufacturers of quartz surfaces in the world. Andy and Paul saw the production of the revolutionary material Dekton in its factory which is nearly 1 million square metres and has a fully automated logistics platform. Dekton has the highest resistance to heat and scratching of any surface on the market and due to its zero porosity is completely stain proof. Please find attached images of the factory and also images of the new X Gloss colours which have an ultrashine finish. The grey, black and white are available now and the rest of the colours will be available in the near future. These pictures want to be on social media.

A product range that we need adding to the website is Cosentino’s Sensa range. This needs to appear under Worktops – Granite options and then Sensa by Cosentino. You will need to create an introductory page explaining the product and then add the colour range from the files in the Dropbox. Underneath is some information you could include in the introduction to the product.

It is the only one of their materials that is manufactured outside of its Spain headquarters in Brazil. The stone is sourced from quarries in Brazil and India and is treated with their unique sealant which is allowed to soak 5mm into the stone. This allows them to be the only granite supplier to offer a 15 year certified warranty against staining with no maintenance required. Due to the granite being a natural material each slab is different but offers individual veining and markings throughout.

Choosing a fireplace when re-decorating your home

The fireplace is the focal point of a room. The eye is drawn to the empty space soon to be filled with light; whether this be the blue flickers of a gas flame, white hot coals, the amber hue of burning logs or a modern display panel. Surrounding this mesmerising display is the mantle, which can be adorned with eclectic decorations, simple touches, or topped by a mirror to create the illusion of space.

You need to decide what you want from the fireplace; is it merely aesthetics or heat-output? A gas fire is excellent for quick and convenient heat. There is a wide range of gas stoves on the market today, ranging from traditional to modern styles. If you would prefer a solid fuel fire, you can choose from a multi-fuel, log or coal fire. These fires are designed to burn smokeless fuels, where the ash will drop into a hidden ash pan whence it is done. A wood-burning fire is one of the most eco-friendly options. They create a stunning, natural focal point with flickering flames, enticing aroma and unparalleled heat. Electric fires carry a stigma due to poor performance in previous years, this is no longer the case. Electric fire technology has come on leaps and bounds! Electric fires come in a range of shapes and styles that can be deceptively traditional, or artistically modern such as hanging fireplaces.

You should consider the aesthetics of both the fireplace and the mantle. A modern place requires a more modern mantle, where a traditional style can be elevated by painted wood. Simplicity is key when installing a fireplace; the decorations on the mantle can be easily changed to update the look, but to regularly replace the stove would be difficult.

It is advised that you seek professional advice on which type of fire is appropriate for your home dependant on the flume, heat output, fuel sources and fitting. If your home has a chimney breast, you will likely be able to install a wood-burning fire or traditional gas fire. If you have a more modern home without a chimney breast; you should consider an electric fire or one where a two-pipe system can be installed to allow for a gas-flame. In some urban areas there is a restriction on ‘smoke control’ due to the Clean Air Act. Many fireplaces nowadays come equipped with technology to make this act null and void, even if you want a solid fuel fire, simply ask your advisor for details!

Redecorating your kitchen

When thinking about redecorating a kitchen, there is more to it than changing the wallpaper or a lick of paint. Cupboards, worktops and appliances are not simple to replace regularly. By opting for a design that is elegant and of good quality, your kitchen will stand the test of time. Maximise space with clever storage, hidden appliances and corner cupboards.

A blend of natural colours and textures seamlessly compliment each other. Marble and granite are naturally engrained with a broad colour palette; wooden cupboards in their natural state, or painted, are enhanced by a multi-tonal worktop. A splashback adds elegance to the overall look, and draws attention to the focal point of the kitchen, the cooker. A marble or granite border ties it all together, leaving the wall space above for areas of colour or lighting features. Natural materials stand the test of time both for practicality and effortless style.

The quality of the design will speak for itself; complete the space with small, quirky details that add vibrancy. Detailed faucets, splashes of stainless steel or chrome, or a vintage ceramic kitchen sink set an individualistic tone. Lighting can be a useful tool for drawing attention to these finer details. Lighting under floating cupboards or on skirting boards can give the illusion of extra space by eliminating dark areas. For a bold feature, statement walls harmonise with a neutral palette, and can be easily updated with a mixture of textures or styles. Accessories and textiles can be regularly updated to add a modern touch to a classic kitchen; a luxe fabric adds a designer feel to a simple space.

Do not let the function of a kitchen mark the fact that it is the heart of the home. Whether you want a cosy heaven, a calming space or somewhere to accommodate a busy lifestyle, your kitchen should ultimately reflect who you are. Simplicity, elegance and quality will ensure that no matter how you modernise your space with accessories or textiles, your kitchen will remain a reflection of you.

Guide to marble countertops

When it comes to selecting kitchen countertops, classic white marble remains the top choice for many home owners. It’s no surprise—the surface has been attracting fans for millennia. “It’s a natural material with great variety, depending on which species you select and how it’s cut,” says AD100 architect S. Russell Groves. “It creates a really lovely natural pattern, which you don’t get with a lot of artificial materials.”
“You won’t find anything as white in nature as white marble,” adds Evan Nussbaum, a vice president at Stone Source in New York. “You just don’t get that color and kind of figuring in any other type of natural stone.”

But it’s not a perfect product. While good-quality marbles, such as the world-famous products from Carrara, Italy, are dense and relatively nonporous—which makes them durable and stain-resistant—they also have weaknesses. A nonfoliated metamorphic rock, marble is generally composed of calcium carbonate (the same ingredient used in antacids such as Tums) or magnesium carbonate, which react to acids. An acidic kitchen liquid like lemon juice or vinegar will etch marble, leaving a dull, whitish mark where it has slightly eaten away the surface, even after the marble has been sealed. But as long as you choose carefully, know what to expect, and care for marble countertops, they can be a beautiful, functional choice that lasts a lifetime.

Although many people automatically think of creamy, white stone when they think of marble, “there are hundreds of varieties,” says Jason Cherrington, founder and managing director of the U.K.-based stone company Lapicida, including types that are taupe, green, gold, red, and black. For kitchen countertops, however, Nussbaum generally recommends sticking with white. Because acid etching leaves a whitish mark, it is much more noticeable on colored marble than on white marble. “We put a thousand caveats on any dark marble or nonwhite marble being used for kitchen countertops,” he says, “but it’s a personal choice.”
While classic Italian white marbles like Calacatta and Statuario are generally excellent quality, Nussbaum points out that equally high-quality marbles are available closer to home, including Vermont Danby and Colorado Yule.
Selecting slabs
Every stone slab is slightly different, so it’s ideal to select the exact pieces of stone that will be used for your countertops. “There’s an art to marble—selecting the slabs and understanding where the veining is going to be located on the countertop,” says Groves. “You want to artfully place the markings so that it’s almost like a painting.”
At the same time, it’s important to consider how different pieces come together. “The longer the piece you can get without any seams, the better,” says Groves. “If you do have seams, it’s always nice to book-match the marble,” so adjacent pieces have a mirrored appearance.

Veining

Every quarry is different, but it’s possible to cut certain types of marble blocks two different ways to achieve unique veining patterns. Cross cut, or fleuri cut, results in stone slabs with “an open flowered pattern,” says Nussbaum, which looks fairly random and is ideal for book-matching. Vein cut, or striato, slices the block the other way to achieve a linear, striped appearance.

“Designers have used both cuts to create some fantastic looks,” says Cherrington. “They may use vein cut on the wall and cross cut on the floor.”

 

Finish

“The whole stone industry has been going through a massive wave of technology, and it’s transforming the product,” says Cherrington, noting that there are now more ways than ever to finish stone, including different brushing and polishing techniques. An orange-peel-like texture is possible, he notes, which “might be called a leather, brushed, or river-wash finish.”

But the most popular choices remain polished, which looks glossy, or honed, which appears matte. For homeowners concerned about acid etching, Nussbaum recommends a honed finish. “On a polished finish, etching is going to turn it dull and be more visible,” he says. “With honed, you’re dulling an already dull finish, so it disguises it.”

 

Details

Besides its natural beauty, there’s a reason marble has historically been so popular for sculpture: It’s easy to work with tools. Add modern computer numerical control (CNC) milling machines to the equation and almost anything’s possible.

There are countless edge profiles to choose from, but Groves prefers a simple eased edge, which takes the sharpness off a straight 90-degree corner. Cherrington points out that a bull’s nose, which has the profile of a half circle, is also a timeless favorite and functional winner. “Hard stones like marble are brittle, so if you hit a 90-degree corner with something hard, it will chip,” he says. “With a curve, it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to chip.”

To give thin ¾-inch stone the look of a thicker slab, Groves says it’s possible to use a miter joint at the edge of the countertop to add a thicker face with an almost seamless appearance. “You can build up a really nice thick-looking piece without having to use a thick slab,” he says.

It’s even possible to engrave the edge of a marble countertop with a pattern of your choosing, says Cherrington, noting that Lapicida has developed marble tables featuring a carved brogue pattern on the edge in collaboration with designer Bethan Gray.

 

Maintenance

Finishing marble countertops with a penetrating sealer is essential for long-term performance, says Nussbaum, “but not a magic bullet.” Acids will still etch the surface. Fortunately, if the countertop has a honed finish, an etched mark can usually be removed by scrubbing with a Comet paste using a Scotch-Brite pad, he says. If it’s a polished surface, it will require different abrasives and technical skill, which might best be left to a professional. If the marble does get a stain, it can often be removed with an alkaline poultice that gradually pulls the offending material out of the stone as it dries. But any of these interventions will also strip the sealer, he notes, so it needs to be reapplied after the repair.

“The good thing about marble is that you can always sand it down or polish it again,” says Groves. “With a lot of other materials, once you damage it, you can’t do that.”

However, the best way to live with marble countertops may simply be to accept that they will patina over time. “If you’ve been to an old bakery or pizza shop and seen how white marble patinas, and like it,” says Nussbaum, “then it could be the perfect material for you.”

Caring for a stone worktop

If you have invested in a natural stone worktop then you owe it to yourself to take care of it. A stone worktop is a serious investment and you want it to look as good in years to come as it does right now. For that to happen, you need to treat it well, so here is a simple guide to taking care of your worktop.

Caring for quartz

Quartz is the easiest stone to take care of, thanks to its low-absorbent surface material, but like any form of stone it has its own requirements. First of all, don’t put hot pans on it for any length of time and you should really use a heat resistant pad or a trivet to keep pans off the surface. That’s because the resin can melt and pans can easily leave an impression on the surface.

Quartz can also be damaged by strong solvents such as chlorides, triclorethane, paint, permanent inks, nail polish removers and even bleach can damage a quartz worktop. So don’t get too aggressive with the cleaning products.

In fact to clean quartz, a damp cloth will usually do the job and for serious sticky spots you can use a general cleaning solvent. Washing up liquid is normally sufficient, but for extremely stubborn spots you can opt for a non-metallic scouring pad or a steam cleaner.

You can use a blade or putty knife to remove dried on stains, but it’s better to simply deal with problems as they arise and prevent them from leaving serious marks.

Try to avoid serious impacts on the surface, too, as quartz is essentially a powder held together by resin and it can chip or fracture.

Caring for Granite and Marble

Granite and marble are, naturally, exceptionally hard and resilient surfaces that will withstand a good deal of mistreatment. Considering the investment you have made in your worktop, though, it is better not to mistreat it at all.

To clean general marks you can simply use a sponge and washing up liquid, but the trick to maintaining the shine is to dry it properly and to treat it like glass. That does not mean you should clean it with vinegar, though, as the acid can attack the surface and dull your surface. The same goes for lemon juice, wine and even the likes of nail polish remover. Keep them away from your surfaces.

Do not use abrasive cleaners, either. That goes for the cleaning fluids themselves and the pads you might use to clean a worktop. These can leave a permanent impression on the sealant that is used on most granite worktops and kill the shine altogether.

If you encounter a strong dried on stain then you can use fine, 000-grade steel wool, but there are better options. Soapy water and a little elbow grease will break down most dried on strains and a steam mop is another option that will remove almost any stain without opting for the abrasive extensions.

While a granite and marble worktop is resilient to hot pans, it’s still not a good idea to repetitively put hot pans on the same spot. This is the way it works in a kitchen, though, so you would be well-advised to use a heat resistant plate or trivet in any case.

Do not chop food on the granite worktop, too. Technically it works, but the granite can scratch and you will blunt your knives. Even china can scratch the granite if you drag plates across the surface, so be careful.

Choosing a high end worktop. Decisions, Decisions…

If you’ve opted for a high end kitchen then you can find yourself agonising over the little things, because this kitchen could be with you for many years and it is important to get it right. The worktop, too, is not a little thing. So what do you go for? Granite? Marble? Quartz? They are all stunning in their own right and they are all very different, so if you’re unsure then read on.

Granite

This natural stone has become the default choice for high end kitchens in recent years, thanks to its organic look, ease of maintenance and the fact that it is so durable. When you opt for granite you know that you’re choosing a substance that resulted from a volcanic explosion, sometimes hundreds of thousands of years ago. It will probably survive if you drop a plate on it.

There are all sorts of granite and all manner of different colourations that can give your kitchen an organic and natural character to go with all the clean, white surfaces. You can find granite with great swirls of colour or glitter-like specks of metal running through it that elegantly reflect your downlighters. There are often imperfections in a granite worktop, but they form part of the charm.

Granite is perfectly resistant to hot and cold, so it’s a great option for a worktop, but it can stain. It’s a porous rock, so light granite especially should be treated and there is still a chance that it can absorb the colours of the kitchen’s daily life. Some people like this, others rigorously clean their surfaces to keep them looking pristine.

With darker granite, you shouldn’t have to do anything more taxing than wiping them down with a cloth.

Quartz

Some people prefer the man-made alternative to granite. Quartz contains 93% natural minerals as a rule, bound with resin and colorants to create a more uniform structure that is free from all imperfections, unless they’re engineered in.

Unlike granite, quartz offers a near infinite choice of colours that allows you to totally personalise your kitchen and you can even get it in pure white, while there is no absolutely pure white natural stone.

This man-made alternative is also kinder to the environment, as the carbon footprint associated with a granite worktop is substantially higher in terms of mining the granite, transporting it and cutting it to shape.

As far as daily use goes, there are very few differences. Quartz is exceptionally strong and advances in technology mean it is durable. It is not 100% heat resistant, though, and there is a risk of cracking, however slight, and it can mark if you leave a searing hot pan on it for any length of time thanks to the resin melting. On the plus side it is non-porous and so is more hygienic than granite.

Maintain it and keep hot pans away from it, though, and quartz will maintain its perfect look for decades.

Marble

The other natural stone in this selection, marble is well loved and has been used in kitchens and bathrooms for hundreds of years. Ask any baker and they’ll tell you that marble is the only surface they’ll work on, but it comes with caveats.

Natural marble is a wondrous thing to look at, thanks to its deep veins and vibrant colours that range from pink to green. MichaelAngelo used marble to sculpt with for a reason, it is just that elegant.

It is also soft, though, as rock goes, and much more porous than granite. That means a marble worktop will show signs of abuse much more readily. If your kitchen earns its keep, then you might want to think about granite instead as marble does scratch and will stain, even when you spill red wine, fruit juice or oil on it.

Marble must be lovingly maintained and cared for, to the extent that you use coasters and protective mats when preparing food. For some it’s a price worth paying, others choose to opt for a more forgiving surface.

So that’s an introduction to the high end worktops you can choose from and some helpful pointers that might swing your decision.