Granite or marble is what usually comes to mind when people think about luxury stone materials for the kitchen or bathroom. While they are still very popular, there are many other exciting alternatives that are out in the market today. To name a few, there’s quartz, soapstone, resin, semi-precious stones, and even recycled glass.
One of the most eye-catching, if not the most spectacular, is the surface material made of semi-precious stones. Yes, semi-precious stones, the same materials used for jewelry. Majestic Gemstone from Israel presents agates, jaspers, amethysts, sodalite, and carnelian in their collection. Shown in the above photo is their blue agate stone slab. Majestic Gemstone handpicks their stones from around the world and sends it to their manufacturing plant to have it cut into 2-3 cm thick slabs and joined together with epoxy glues.
The wonderful feature about these semi-precious stones is their translucent quality. You can insert a light under the slab and backlight the stones, allowing the stones to glow even more.
Zodiaq, a surface material from DuPont, is made of quartz crystals and acrylic resin, and like the starry heavens it refers to, the material shimmers luminously. Available in a variety of colors, Zodiaq is shown in the above photo in Indus Red. Zodiaq is tough and resistant to heat and scratches, making it ideal for kitchen countertops.
Another material, soapstone, has been around for centuries. Soapstone, also known as steatite, is metamorphic rock. It is made up mostly of talc, a soft mineral, and hence can be carved into a myriad of forms. Native Americans used it for their carvings, the Vikings for their cooking pots, and even the early Minoans used it to build a banquet table. Designers and manufacturers have been rediscovering soapstone and are now specifying it for use for kitchen countertops, bathroom sinks, and vanity counters. The main advantage of soapstone is that it is non-porous and hence resistant to staining from liquids, unlike granite or marble, making it a perfect choice for kitchen countertops. The only disadvantage to soapstone is its limited color palette, only ranging from blacks to grays, and soft muted blues and greens. But soapstone is a very elegant material that complements all kinds of décor.
One of the most flexible and exciting surface material is synthetic resin. Resin first starts out as a liquid polymer. A fabricator then casts it into a mold for shaping and then the resin solidifies into a very hard substance. Its biggest attraction is that resin can be pigmented in any color and a designer can add various additional materials such as other stones, shells, photos, feathers – you name it – to amp up its uniqueness. In the photo above we have a cast resin bar top from the Martini Bar. Since you can mold its shape into just about anything – you can also create a variety of objects, like this lamp from Atta, Inc. Resin is also translucent and so light can shine through the material making it great for accent lighting.
Make some exciting choices when looking for surface materials for your kitchen or bathroom. There are so many unique materials available now that you don’t need to be limited to the old standbys of granite, marble or even porcelain tile anymore.
Interested in learning more about materials and design? Take a look at Sheffield School's Complete Course in Interior Design. At Sheffield, you'll learn how to transform a space, create color schemes, and select furniture, lighting, and accessories.
File under wacky ideas we love: the Boskke Sky Planter, designed by Patrick Morris, which comes to us from green land of New Zealand. If you live in an apartment where space is at a premium, or if you have pesky cats who think of potted plants as salad, or if you just want a refreshing way to add some green life to your home, look no further.
In fact, just look up. Don’t worry - a locking disc holds the plant and soil in the pot, and an internal irrigation system waters the roots directly, so you can add a bit of greenery to your home's design without being limited to the lower reaches.
Forbes & Lomax, London, has now introduced its product range to North America, and it's a welcome addition to the range of fittings we can use in higher-end design projects. Switchplates and outlets can oftentimes be eyesores, but F&L were inspired by the glass and brass switchplates from the Thirties and brought them back into production. Their "invisible" product range allows the beauty of paint and wallcoverings to shine through while keeping switches and outlets unobtrusive and elegant. Their other fixtures add elegant metal solutions like stainless steel, nickel silver, and antique bronze. Click on the photos for more information.
"Soft goods" will add a touch of humanity to any interior. There's nothing more warm and tactile than a beautiful blanket on the foot of a bed or a throw draped over the back of a chair or sofa. We recently spotted the weavings of Massachusetts artisan Mary Kasper at the Westchester Craft Show. There's a strong South African connection with her work.
Kasper is a fiberartist who specializes in handwoven, hand-dyed blankets that she beads and decorates with vintage mother of pearl buttons. "My inspiration comes from Xhosa beadwork, specifically from their beaded blankets, which I discovered while visiting South Africa."
For more information, contact Mary Kasper at firstname.lastname@example.org.