Posts Tagged ‘stone’

A friend introduced me to a wonderful website that is the best online resource for wood. I love wood in all forms, and the various types boggle my mind. They come in different types and cuts. For floors, common cuts are plain, quartersawn, rift, and rift & quartersawn. Each cut has its own character, and you need to cut it the same way vertically to get a specific visual. While choosing floors and cabinet wood for my renovation, I got so engrossed in the wood types and found beauty in the grains, cuts, and character surrounding them. A part of me feels guilty though that trees have to be cut because customers (like me) create demand for wood.

I got rift & quartersawn red oak floor strips done in my apartment, and they look wonderful. Just the right amount of light and dark without being too grainy like the usual oak floors. I wanted light wood to keep dark areas of the apartment brighter. Also, dark floors show more dirt. Reminds me of something my mom always said — dark or light, the dirt is there, so it doesn’t matter whether you see it or you don’t – the dirt is still there.

Anyway, I looked at various wood types on the site. My architect showed me a gorgeous sample of African Mahogany veneer, and I fell in love with it! I decided to do my kitchen cabinets with the wood with pale green tiles and countertop. I took a risk with green, but I loved the countertop and the sample looked perfect with green.

African Mahogany, also called Khaya, is lower priced than other mahogany types. The veneer, when finished, has a nice shine and looks like a mild version of Tigerwood. Tigerwood has very dark prominent lines/stripes, kind of like a tiger’s stripes hence the name. It is a beautiful wood type, and reminds me of burnt wood in a fireplace due to its dark lines. If you have Tigewood in your place, nothing else will stand out as much.

I love the way my kitchen has been done, and the wood looks stunning. With pale green floors it looks amazing – I did not expect the green floors to look so good. Green is a tough color, and I used a color enhancer to bring out the green. But since the tile is pale green and not bright green, it has a calming influence. I feel like walking on them without shoes and feel the warm-cold floor on my feet! Warm because of the warmth the look adds, cold because well slate is cold! I did all bathroom cabinets in the same wood to keep uniformity between woodwork in the entire apartment. It looks perfect with every tile and countertop.

I am so happy with my choice, and have discovered so many many beautiful things during the course of my renovation. There is really so much beauty in the world! But nature’s beauty is the best. I looked at so many many porcelain tiles but none, not even ones that call themselves “faux stone”, could mirror the beauty and warmth of stone. I forced myself to use porcelain in one bathroom to be practical and it looks nice and modern, but the beauty of stone is just outstanding.

Marble, limestone, slate, quartz, quartzite, sandstone, and granite are some stone types. A common characteristic among stones is that you cannot choose the color they come in – every single stone tile is different. You cannot pick one and think that the entire place will look the same color – there are a ton of variations in all stone tiles. Many people don’t like that, but I love it. It adds so much character, and makes the place interesting. I saw a sample of Travertine and chose it for a bathroom; the actual tiles had many variations and the bathroom ended up being quite different from what I envisioned, but I love it.

Marble looks grand in bathrooms and kitchens and makes a statement, but they etch very easily. So many historical sites in India are made from marble, and the etching adds to the beauty and history of the buildings. People use marble as kitchen counters and it is easy to knead dough on it. It looks gorgeous (no other stone compares), but is impractical. A ton of kitchens have it as backsplash. I love marble Calacatta, which is commonly used along with carrara.

Limestone is very popular in bathrooms and has a very calming influence. It etches very easily from lime, etc. Many historical buildings in Italy and Jerusalem are made from limestone. I think that age and usage add character to the stone. Travertine and Jerusalem Gold are commonly used in bathrooms.

Slate is commonly used in bathrooms as well, and is a tad cold and hard. It is commonly found in India. I like slate on display, but I hate it in bathrooms. All bathroom pics I have seen look so ugly and “heavy” in terms of visuals. The variations are huge. The only slate I like is Burlington which is what I used on my kitchen floor.

Quartz is a type of slate with shine.

Sandstone is not as common, is soft, and can stain. Sandstone has swirls – the yellow one has sand-like swirls and black has water-like swirls.

Soapstone is very durable for kitchen countertops and can be continuous as a sink as well. It looks quite nice too, but is very common. Looks awesome with white cabinets.

Quartzite is one of the toughest stones, and is used in kitchens. It is a good stone, but very bland and light on the grains. I like quartzite because it is not as grainy as granite, but the ones I saw seemed to harsh or dull.

Granite is very grainy, busy, and heavy. I hate granite – I really do – till I saw exotic ones. When I first saw granite and my contractor recommended I use it as tiles, I almost gagged – I was horrified at the ugliness, heavy grains, and busyness. I looked and looked and could not find a “lighter” granite. I thought that I may have to use quartzite or engineered stone in the kitchen. Then I walked into Woodmode on Lex ave and came across the most gorgeous countertop I have ever seen in my life, with heavy variations and shiny speckles. It was so stunning that I moved all the books on the counter and was awe-struck at the beauty. I had to have it. The store people did not share the name with me. So I turned to the Internet and after days of browsing found it. My architect saw it at Walker Zanger, and I was in love! I did not find something as gorgeous, but close. WZ had one of the most gorgeous granite and quartzite I had ever seen. I loved their Chianti leather finish, and wanted to use it somewhere but it was too expensive. It was absolutely breathtaking and would have looked outstanding in my kitchen, but I decided to use my first choice. It made me see granite differently. Granite has layers, fissures, and veins, and some of them have a 3D effect where the veins are a layer below the top of the counter. I started seeing the beauty of granite and its variations. The different types seemed so fascinating, and I found myself drawn to ones with sparkle, and it seemed as if all granite stones had a sparkle somewhere.

My granite countertop is being installed tomorrow – I hope it looks good – I spent a hell of a lot of time, effort, and money on it.

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Nature’s gifts

I have been searching long and hard for the perfect granite and marble for my apartment. I found a way to get stuff really cheap and balance out expensive stuff. Marble is popular as a countertop in the bathroom, and is much desired in kitchens. But it is high maintenance and reacts strongly to acid and other food stuff. So its not a practical material for kitchens. Granite is commonly used in kitchens (along with laminate depending on budget). Granite is made from rock with a lot of texture. I have not come across a single granite that has less texture or is easy on the eyes. It is a sturdy substance, can withstand heat and pressure very well, and does not stain if sealed properly. Quartzite is in between granite and marble – it is for people who do not like the texture of granite but don’t want high maintenance marble. Marble is made of rock as well but from the metamorphosis of limestone. Limestone is another popular material for bathrooms (jerusalem gold, travertine), and it looks gorgeous in kitchens like marble but is very high maintenance.

Every stone is different, every slab of granite, marble, and limestone is different. That is the beauty and challenge with nature’s materials. The same goes for slate – no two slate tiles are the same color. So I am making several trips to many places to find the perfect one!

Here is how it works. Fabricators cut, prepare, and install the stone in homes. They buy the stone that a customer likes as slabs from wholesalers, and sell it to the customer as a cost per square foot. Some fabricators are retailers as well – they buy from wholesalers in bulk, fabricate, and install. Non-retailer fabricators always have some common pieces lying around and are willing to sell it cheap or give it away for free if they are paid for installation. I am getting marble for the bathrooms from fabricators – the prices are way way lower than what I would get from a wholesaler. The fabricator will not even charge me for the actual stone if I get them to install for the kitchen and pay them to install in bathrooms. Marble is more uniform in texture than granite so its easy to find pieces that work.

Granite is the challenge. The granite I love is labradorite, which is a stone from which jewels are made. The slab has gorgeous blue and purple shimmer which is extracted to make jewels. Its expensive and uncommon, so I am working hard to find the perfect stone, and cutting down the budget in other places to accommodate this one. Its worth it. Below is an extracted labradorite.

Jewelry from labradorite

Labradorite is supposed to have a calming influence and is very pleasing to the eyes. In the past people thought that labradorite had extra-terrestrial tendencies due to its color. It is the ONLY granite I really liked after visiting several places. When I started the process, I did not like granite due to the heavy texture. But after looking at several kitchens, I have fallen in love with the stone. Texture is what makes it special. Every piece is a discovery – you never know what to expect. Labradorite is a discovery – each time you change direction you discover something new beneath the stone. Something that is black may seem blue from another angle. For me this entire process of discovering stones has been of immense pleasure. You see rocks from a different perspective, and realize the beauty that lays in these materials from years of struggle and strength. I am excited to see how everything comes together and cannot wait!

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