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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.

Marble Carving Robots

Marble has been seen as the gold standard of sculpture for millennia. From Ancient Greek statues to contemporary works of architecture, this is the material that demands nothing less than the eyes, hands, and heart of a dedicated craftsman. But all that might just be about to change. Just ask yourself, what if the works of Michelangelo could be rendered by a new breed of artisan robots?

This might have seemed like a situation best left to the realms of science fiction just a few short years ago, but it could soon become a reality. That was proven by Daniel Nguyen, a student the Yale School of Architecture. Collaborating with Yale, Autodesk, The Digital Stone Project, and Garfagnana Innovazione, he managed to fabricate a breathtakingly intricate facade out of marble using a state of the art robotic CNC milling machine.

The solid slab of marble was simply part of Nguyen’s course, but it was quickly chosen to be made in full scale in Italy. The final product is a part of a much larger façade, with each piece of marble milled in the same fashion.

The beauty achieved by robotics is just as impressive as its ability to sculpt marble in the first place. Nguyen’s design was incredibly intricate, a piece of work that would have demanded hour upon hour of attention from a craftsman, and therein lies the advantage for future designers.

While marble carving expertise have traditionally been seen as belonging to a select few, the ability of robots to carve marble suggests that we will see such carvings become cheaper and easier to find. After all, a robot can simply be loaded with a certain design and then left to work. The marble itself may still demand a premium price, but the cost of labour will be dramatically reduced.

At the same time, a sense of uniformity can now be achieved that would have been impossible under the hands of man. Should a designer want to create a piece made out of marble to appeal to a wide-range of people, their designs could be sent to robots across the world and then finished much faster than before. If you’re the sort of person who always found marble attractive but was held back by the cost, your reservations could soon prove groundless.

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 Uses for Marble in Contemporary Architecture

When people think of marble buildings, images come to mind of the ancient world. However, the material is still being used today to create jaw-dropping works of contemporary architecture, and this is happening from Oklahoma to India. Here are some of the best ways that marble has been used to breathe new life into the modern world.

Oslo Opera House

Out of a design competition that yields 350 entries, judges chose the marble design of Snøhetta for the Oslo Opera House. Extensive use of white Italian carrara marble – the same type used to make Michelangelo’s David – combines modern design with the traditional art of opera. A sloping roof allows visitors to walk to the top of the structure and survey the city around them. Overall, the soft white marble rising up out of the ground in strong, angular shapes evokes an iceberg rising above the waves.

Devon Energy Center

At 259-meters, this 50-storey skyscraper currently stands as the tallest building in the state of Oklahoma. Developed by the Devon Energy Corporation, its use of marble might seem a little odd within such a quintessentially modern structure, but its adoption of this material provides a grandiose feel to the building. Perhaps more importantly, it evokes sustainability and solidity while providing a more natural style that has been fittingly accented by wood and stone.

Venus Marble HQ

The Venus Marble Headquarters in Koropi, Greece is a building that you might naturally have expected to be made from marble. However, it’s the design that really stands out. Though strongly inspired by the square, solid pillars of classical architecture, jutting edges and angular shapes give the building a modern edge, as do the strips of glass embedded in deep slits within the beige marble exterior. The material also serves a practical purpose by keeping the building’s interior cool in spite of the hot Greek sun.

Prem Mandir

Located in the northern Indian town of Vrindavan, this stunning spiritual complex dedicated to Shri Krishna represents one of the most extensive and ambitious uses of marble in the modern world. Costing over $23 million to build, it’s carved out of the same carrara marble used by the Oslo Opera House – 30,000 tons of it was imported from Italy. However, what really makes this building unique are its hundreds of intricate carvings. Once more representing a fusion of old and new, these are carved using a combination of experienced artisans and advanced robots.

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.

5 Items You Wouldn’t Expect to be Made from Marble

From laptop skins to Chinese boats, here’s our top five things you wouldn’t expect to be made out of marble.

Here at Paramount Marble, we’re fortunate enough to be able to dedicate ourselves to finely crafted marble during every day of work, so we’re always intrigued by innovative modern uses of the material. Though traditionally used for kitchen worktops and fireplaces, the subtle and evocative beauty of marble means that it has been applied across numerous interesting projects.

Here are just 5 of our favourite.

  1. A Wi-Fi Router Cover

Few items sitting on display in your home will have become quite as ubiquitous as the Wi-Fi router. It would only be a decade or so ago that these new pieces of technology would rarely be seen, but now you’d be hard-pressed to find a home without one. If you want to apply classical styling to advanced technology, try the APOLLO marble router case by Claudio Larcher.

  1. A Phone Cover

Phone covers have formed into one of the many ways in which modern consumers broadcast their personalities to the world. Marble remains a symbol of first-class taste and high-end luxury, so it should come as no surprise to learn that there are a range of marble smartphone cases on offer.

  1. A Chinese Boat

Head to the Beijing Summer Palace and you’ll find a whole boat made from marble. It is inlaid with coloured glass windows and wheels, paved with coloured bricks, and fits huge mirrors across each deck to ensure that you can enjoy the exquisite lake scene while sipping tea. The whole structure is 36 meters long and two stories, eight meters high.

  1. Modern Art

The marble statues of antiquity are the most enduring and strikingly beautiful examples of the type of art that can be sculpted out of marble, but artists like Alex Seton are bringing the material back to the artistic cutting-edge. Seton leverages his unparalleled craftsmanship to refine marble into unexpected forms, including hoodies, national flags, and blankets. They look indistinguishable from the real thing, until you try to lift them up, and provide literal weight to pressing present-day issues.

  1. Laptop Skins

Laptops have become one of the central hubs of our lives. We work on them; we play on them; we communicate on them. As with phone covers, you can complement your laptop with a marble-like skin, which will have been laser cut to ensure a perfect fit.

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.

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.