Spruce Up Your Kitchen This Summer with Quartz Worktops

The warm sunshine and long days that come along with summer make it everyone’s favourite time of year, and it also represents the perfect time to take care of some renovation work.

You’ll be able to have tradesmen come and go without tramping rainwater into your home, and there will be no unpleasant breezes coming in as the transformation takes place. Best of all, you’ll be all sorted by the time winter rolls around.

Kitchens are usually the focus of such renovations, and worktops often represent the bulk of the work. When you choose new worktops, one of the first things you’re going to have to decide upon is what kind of material you’d like to use. There are plenty available, from bamboo to granite, but quartz is one of the best.

Here are just a few reasons why quartz has become the go-to material for kitchen worktops all over the country.

Reduced Cost

Keeping to your budget is always going to be important, and quartz can help make that happen. Of course, stone will usually be pricier than other options, but you’ll find the costs associated with quartz far more manageable than those associated with granite and marble.

Styling

One of the most appealing things about quartz is that it isn’t actually a natural product; rather, it is manmade in factories. This means that you can control the colour, texture, and pattern that you’re after, and you don’t have to worry about flaws.

Durability

Quartz counters are made of at least 90% natural quartz mixed with resin binder and colourant. The result is an extremely tough stone that is stronger than either marble or granite. Durable and scratch-resistant, it can take dropped dishes and slipped knives without enduring a dent or a scratch.

Non-Porous

Not all stones are non-porous – many contain small capillary channels between minerals, and this can cause problems. To start with, spilled substances sink into these channels and stain the stone. Furthermore, bacteria can invade and start to make your stone countertop less hygienic. To help prevent this, other stone countertops require regular sealing; quartz countertops do not.

Heat Resistant

You shouldn’t go leaving hot pots and pans directly on the surface of a quartz countertop, but this material does boast an impressive resistance to heat. If you place those pots and pans on a wooden or plastic surface, you’d probably be faced with either a large black scorch mark or a ring of melted plastic.

Get to Know Your Stone

Stone is perfect for floors, counter-tops, and other such applications due to its intense durability and ability to last for decades without ever needing to be replaced.

Of course, stone is not indestructible and will need to be properly maintained if it is to stay looking its best. For homeowners, that means knowing what type of stone you’ve used and how best to care for it.
Luckily, natural stone can be broadly categorized into basic geological classifications: either calcareous or siliceous.

Calcareous stone is composed mainly of calcium, and tends to be paler than other stones. Examples of calcareous stones include marble, limestone, and travertine. Calcium carbonate is sensitive to acidic cleaning solutions, so you’ll need to be on the lookout for milder cleaners. Anything containing lemon or vinegar should be avoided.

Examples of siliceous stones include sandstone, slate, granite, and quartzite. As the name implies, siliceous stone is primarily made up of silicates, such as quartz, mica, and feldspar. These compounds are able to resist most of the acids that cause issues with calcareous stone, but they may still contain trace levels of such substances, so acidic cleaners are still best avoided. You should also refrain from using rust removers; they contain trace levels of hydrofluoric acid, which attacks silicates.

No matter the type of stone in your house, you can keep everything clean and in good order by following the quick and easy tips provided below:

  • All you need to clean stone surfaces is a neutral cleaner, some special stone soap, or a mild liquid dishwashing detergent. Mix with warm water and then clean away.
  • Though no damage can occur when you use the products listed above, you will still find that a high concentration of cleaning agent or soap leaves a film and causes streaks, so remember to use plenty of water.
  • If you’re cleaning stone floors, a clean rag mop is best. For other surfaces, just use a soft cloth. Scouring pads may damage your stone over time.
  • Once you’re finished, make sure you rinse the surface and then dry it with another soft cloth. Change your rinsing water frequently if you need to clean a large area.
  • In outdoor areas, flush with clean water and then use a mild bleach solution to eradicate algae or moss.

Stone might be a tough material, but you still need to be careful. If you have any doubts, just contact your supplier for some detailed cleaning advice.

 

Are Stone Floors Worth the Maintenance?

If you’re thinking about what type of flooring to lay down, it’s likely that stone will have cropped up as a possible option.

After all, natural stone floors have been the top choice for centuries, and their popularity shows no signs of flagging.

That said, some homeowners worry about the maintenance work required. So, are stone floors worth it?

To help you decide, here’s a quick list of pros and cons.

The Advantages of Stone Floors

Style

First and foremost, natural stone flooring is absolutely beautiful. No other flooring material can really measure up in terms of character, and stone will provide a sense of sophistication and warmth no matter the room you use it in. Marble is particularly appealing, delivering a luxurious finish set off by unique colour variations.

Durable and Long-Lasting                 

Stone is incredibly strong, making it hard to chip or crack. If a young couple were to lay down stone flooring in their home today, it’s likely that their grandchildren would be walking on it in 50 years’ time. Despite concerns over maintenance, you’ll need to do very little over the life of your stone flooring. In contrast, wood floors need to be regularly treated, and they can easily develop dents and scratches.

Banishes Allergens

People with allergies need to be extra careful when selecting their flooring. Some choices, such as carpeting, prove disadvantageous since particles will be trapped within the fibres. Stone floors, on the other hand, make it tough for allergens to gain a foothold.

The Disadvantage of Stone Floors

Expensive

Stone flooring is undeniably expensive, and it also requires professional installation due to its weight. However, homeowners often save in the long run since their flooring won’t need to be replaced in a few years’ time.

Hard

Stone flooring isn’t recommended for seniors since it is quite hard. A fall on stone flooring is much tougher on old bones than a fall on carpeting, and stone tends to be more slippery.

 

Ultimately, the benefits of stone floors easily make the maintenance work worthwhile. In fact, most people overestimate the amount of work that will be needed. Cleaning is easy when you use the correct materials, and significant damage is hard to create. Instead of having to refinish your wood floors or tear up your carpet in a few years, you’ll have something built to last that will never go out of style.

5 Tricks to Mastering the Marble Trend

Marble has been celebrated for its beauty and style since the days of Socrates and Aristotle, and it’s becoming more and more popular with modern homeowners.

If you like the look and want to jump aboard the marble trend, try experimenting with these tips.

Blend with Rougher Materials

When people think of marble, they often picture wide open floors and unbroken countertops. That’s certainly one way to go, but modern designers often combine this favourite of classical antiquity with modern industrial materials, and the dining table is a great place to merge the two.

Try finding tables that use marble for the top surface but then stand on bases made from timber or metal. This creates a dramatic appearance, and it also prevents the marble from overpowering your kitchen.

Use It to Accent

Again, marble isn’t a material that necessarily needs to be used widely. Take a look at your coolest local homeware store and you’re bound to find gadgets and cookware that makes use of the material.

Chopping boards are a good example since they can strike a regal tone while still appearing subtle. You can also try marble servingware to achieve a similar end.

Add it to Your Bathroom

The timeless appeal of marble is something that blends well with modern bathrooms. We tend to use monochromatic colours in these rooms, so white or dark marbling is perfect.

Of course, you might not have the budget for a marble bathtub, but you can take the accenting advice here again. Take a look online and you’ll find plenty of bathroom accessories that have been handmade from marble, including soap dispensers and dishes.

Try Marble in the Living Room

Pointing two sofas vaguely in the direction of a television set is something done only by the unadventurous. If you don’t want to stand among them, try using marble in these spaces.

As with the kitchen, one of the best things to do is use marble on table tops. However, you can also add a sense of grandeur to the room with a marble wall clock or introduce several accenting items, such as marble candleholders and tea trays.

Marble the Green Revolution

Just a few years ago, you’d tend to see more houseplants adorning the living rooms in seventies era sitcoms than you would in the real world, but interior greenery is now enjoying something of a renaissance.

If you’d like to take part in the growing marble trend, why not combine these two fashions by using marble planters, pots, and urns?

 

Unique Uses for Marble

Marble has been the favoured material of artists since the dawn of Western civilisation, and it continues to inspire fresh works of art right through to the 21st century. Here are some of our
favourite ways that the world’s creatives have used marble in fresh and unique ways.

Apple-Watch-chargers_NATIVE-UNION_Marble-Collection_dezeen_936_5Apple Watch Charging Dock

Uniting the cutting-edge with the classical, Native Union has just released a charging dock for the Apple Watch. The dock combines a solid block of marble with a rotating metal arm. This gives it e
nough weight to keep the stand from toppling over when users are tapping the touchscreen, and, when combined with the Apple Watch’s night mode, it forms an enviable alarm clock.

Hand-polished marble is used for each product, which was released in 2014 in Milan during April’s design week. If you want to combine state of the art technology with the grandeur of antiquity, this unique use of marble is for you.

Marble vs Bronze Table

While Native Union used marble to give a touch of timelessness to the new, a Chilean studio called GT2P collaborated with New York’s Friedman Benda gallery and used it to reinvent our most ubiquitous piece of furniture by combining the material with one of the oldest-used metals. They call it the Marble Vs Bronze table.

To create each table, they used digital mapping technology to chart veins and decide exactly where each piece of marble needs to be cut. They then remove large sections that are subsequently filled with bronze. The inner tabletop therefore features small irregular bronze accents, with the alloy then coming together at the legs to provide structural support. Because of this craftsmanship, each table is completely unique in and of itself.

3D Rippling Pool

Mathieu Lehanneur, a noted French designer, decided to use marble as his canvas to create a stunning rippling pool sculpture for his Petite Loire installation. Sculpted from a single section of hand-polished green marble, the undulating waves of the 7.5-meter piece are meant to evoke the Loire itself, and extensive 3D mapping software was needed to create an appearance of being “gently ruffled” by the wind.

This is just the latest work from Lehanneur’s Liquid Marble series. The series made its debut in Milan as a static pool that features rippling waves carved from black marble. Housed in a room

constructed from white marble, it created an awe-inspiring contrast.

Outdoor Designs Using Marble

Marble isn’t always a material that homeowners would think of as one that should be used outside, but it makes a fantastic choice in the right conditions. Though unwise to use in cold, wet climates, marble is perfect for warmer areas, and you can use it to bring a touch of glamour and styling to your outside area when you know the right way to employ it.

One of the best ways to use marble in your outdoor designs is to bridge the divide between inside and outside space. If, for example, your kitchen features marble countertops, try extending that design theme outwards by using the same style of marble around a barbeque or to create an outside bench. The superior durability of marble and its ability to evoke strength and solidity make it a good match for such projects.

Outside bars can also work well with marble since they naturally summon up images of first-class living. Using the same material to create one large bar area will help make your outside space look cool and professional, not like has been designed to be packed up and dragged away at the first sign of rain.

You can also use marble instead of a traditional patio, something that works especially well if you enjoy an elevated area above the rest of your outside space. One of the most important advantages of marble is its ability to stay cool even when being struck by the sun’s warmest rays; this is just one of the reasons why the Greeks of antiquity valued it for building their temples.

Though you’re probably not erecting a temple, you can enjoy the same benefits by using marble to tile your outside space. Even during the height of summer, you’ll be able to step out onto a surface that feels cool and refreshing. Think it sounds a little odd? Just take a look at the New York City Public Plaza; it’s one of the most popular areas of the city for New Yorkers to come together, and its floored in stunning grey marble.

Of course, if you are using marble outside then you’ll need to take a number of precautions. Just remember to maintain flooring properly in order to keep it slip-resistant. You’ll also need to seal regularly and avoid spilling anything since marble can be stained. You’ll be rewarded with a stunning exterior that stands effortlessly out from the crowd.

Modern Kitchen Trends 2016

In most homes, the kitchen remains the central social space. It’s also one of the most expensive areas of a property to renovate, so styling trends have to be taken with a grain of salt. Here’s what we’re seeing in 2016, and how you should react to it.

Worktops: Old Stone/New Materials

Worktops continue to set the tone for any kitchen, and, given the fact that they are expensive to replace, you need to give plenty of thought to what will work best. Many people have been requesting natural materials such as granite or even marble; this marries with the trend seen in 2016 towards minimalist kitchen design and monochromatic colours.

However, you might want to hold your horses before you opt for traditional stone, even if it is buffed to a modern shine. Newer technologies, such as Dekton, allow homeowners the chance to receive the styling advantages of those materials while enjoying an increase in durability and longevity, so it isn’t surprising to see that these newer options have grown in popularity.

Accenting: Mixed Metals/Unbroken

One of the biggest changes we’ve seen during 2016 is a renewed focus on accenting materials. Two separate camps have emerged this year: metals and glass. The blending of warm metals, such as brushed steel or copper, has become popular for doorknobs, extractor fans, and lighting fixtures. People like seeing these older touches being given new life, and the use of these materials tends to bring a little added warmth. Glass accents are also appearing. In particular, glass-fronted cabinets, glass shelves, and glass doors are becoming popular.

Glass might bring a touch of elegance, but mixed metals are likely to pull ahead as the more practical choice. Both materials might be perfect for adding a dash of styling, but the extensive use of glass throughout a kitchen quickly means waging an unending battle against smudges and watermarks.

Lighting: LED Wins Out

The move towards LED lighting, particularly in the kitchen, isn’t so much a trend of 2016 as it is a general move towards efficiency. With their clean, white illumination and ability to last decades without burning out, LED bulbs are ideal.

Remember, without the right lighting you are going to struggle to appreciate your kitchen. In fact, you’ll struggle to use it at all. Make sure you follow the trend towards strip lighting along the ceiling and task lighting above well-used areas to get the best out of your space. Large central fixtures should be avoided.

How to Use Marble Paper to Provide Unique Styling

Marble is enjoying something of renaissance in the world of design, but not everyone is in a position to invest in a material that tends to demand a higher price than other options. Be that as it may, you still have plenty of options left if you would like to evoke the timeless beauty of marble without having to spend much money in the process.

That’s because the renewed interest in marble has sparking the introduction of a range of marble-patterned contact papers. These cover a wide range of styles and colours, so you’re bound to find an option that works well, and all you need for your next contact paper DIY project is a pair of scissors, a ruler, a pen or pencil, a plastic card (such as a credit card), and an older piece of décor or furniture that matches your chosen marble paper.

Now that you have all of these items to hand, make sure you pick out a clean, flat surface to work on. You’ll also want to give the surface that you’ll be covering a good hard clean before you cover it with contact paper since even the tiniest bits of dirt and debris will become trapped underneath and cause unsightly bumps.

Start by taking the item you’d like to cover and lying it down on your contact paper. Next, draw around the shape using your pencil. Most contact paper has gridlines on the flipside, so make sure you line these up to make the project easier. Careful measuring is essential, so use a ruler to ensure that the measurements of the surface you’ve chosen will match up with the piece of contact paper that you have cut out. You can now slowly stick the contact paper down, then finish up by running your plastic card over the surface to guarantee a smooth and seamless finish.

It’s best to start with smaller items; makeup boxes and bottles make a particularly good choice. Once you’re done using marble contact paper to provide such items with a unique finish, you can always move on to larger and more ambitious projects. For example, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t add a classical touch to a table by carefully measuring out a long sheet of paper to stick across its top.

Fireplace Trends of 2016

Anyone looking to chart the design changes we’ve seen in 2016 would be remiss to miss out on the fireplace. Evolution is the keyword here – the fireplace has reinvented itself. Here’s how we’ve seen it changing.

Less is More

Fireplaces are still statement pieces for 2016, but that statement is whispered more than it is shouted. The modern fireplace has embraced a minimalist aesthetic, so these are no longer the ornate repositories of a myriad of photo frames and knick-knacks. Detailed carvings and dramatic designed choices have been slowly supplanted by monochromatic styling, usually in black, white, or a soft grey, to achieve a sophisticated appearance.

Divide and Conquer

The most eye-catching fireplaces of 2016 might be those that embrace minimalism, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t becoming focal points for each room. We’ve seen many designers bring the fireplace to the centre of a room, usually by removing the walls to either side. The fireplace becomes a central divide between two living spaces – everything else revolves around it.

Added Height or Length

It isn’t just the style of your fireplace that needs to change for 2016. In fact, we’re seeing a marked change in the very built of them. No longer restricted to the traditional designs, fireplaces are growing either longer or taller. Homeowners are opting for either a floor-to-ceiling design that adds height to the room and draws the eye upwards, or a longer, narrower fireplace to make a room seem larger.

New Materials

The evolution of the fireplace isn’t just a matter of style; we’re also seeing new materials coming forward to offer homeowners something out of the ordinary. Uncommon stone, for example, is becoming popular, while cutting-edge materials such as Dekton are also making inroads as the style-conscious turn away from the conventional.

Practical Touches

What with the favouring of new materials and less-is-more styling, the fireplace certainly seems to be losing its rustic edge and traditional appearance. Perhaps that’s why we’re seeing more and more people carving out a space to place an attractive pile of firewood, even when they don’t use a wood-burning fireplace. This acts as a nice counter to the modern styling, and the rich, earthy colours contrast with and bring out the simpler, cleaner colours used for the fireplace itself.

Best Material for Countertops

The countertop you select for your kitchen will set the tone for the whole room, so choosing the right material is crucial. Not only will the style of your kitchen be affected, you’ll need to take into account the unique properties of every option that you have before you.

Marble remains one of the most popular options thanks to its elegant beauty. It can also be worked much more easily than materials such as granite, so there are more design options to choose from. If you’d like fancy edges or intricate designs, marble will be your go-to kitchen countertop material. It’s also naturally cool, heat resistant, and easy to find in a variety of styles and colours.

However, though quite durable for a softer stone, marble is also quite porous. This means that scratches and stains will be easier to make. Marble reacts particularly poorly to acidic foods; sealing can make a difference, but it won’t stop staining completely. Furthermore, you’ll need to seal on a regular basis, and repairs can be difficult if any cracks occur. Perhaps most importantly, especially considering these drawbacks, marble tends to be one of the more expensive options when you’re considering the best material for kitchen countertops.

Ultimately, marble is best used by people who are prepared to make the added effort needed for maintenance in order to enjoy the material to its fullest. For people who don’t quite think it’s worth the hassle, granite and quartz are available as effective alternatives.

Granite is extremely durable as well as elegant, and it works well with modern, minimalist designs. Not only heat-resistant, it is also remarkably stain-resistant; if you install a granite countertop today, it should look just as good in ten years’ time. Quartz is another great alternative since it doesn’t need to be sealed in order to attain that level of durability. This is widely considered to be the most durable of countertop materials that are currently available, so it should last a lifetime if you deign to treat it properly. Quartz is even a little safer than other options since it takes a long time for bacteria to take hold and thrive upon its service.

Marble, quartz, and granite are all excellent materials to use for kitchen countertops, and adopting them is likely to improve both the style of your kitchen and the value of your home. It only remains up to you to decide which option best fits your needs.