Say It In Stone

By Annette M. Callari, Allied ASID; CMG

IMPERIAL_-_HONEDTRAV_250Beautiful stone floors are one of the highlights of the Surfaces’ Trade Show exhibits in Las Vegas.  We expect to see amazing stone floors on display.  But this year, magnificent natural stone adorned not only floors, but counters and wall surfaces as well.

Daltile presented their newest collections at the very front of the exhibit hall.  A glittery terrazzo sculpture greeted guests, inviting individual imagination to decide its application.  Marble and granite slabs earned artistic points for stunning color and veining.  Amid the beautiful tile introductions, natural stones punctuated their space with color.  Creative combinations of tile and natural stones for floors and walls brought a sophisticated mix of textures.  Mixing rough (matte) and smooth (gloss) materials always creates strong visual interest, and Daltile mastered that beautifully.

IMPERIAL_TRAV_TUB_250Imperial Wholesale, Inc. (an Arizona based company) kept me intrigued for quite some time.  Travertine, alabaster, marble and limestone were major players in their booth.  But floors were not the only focus.  Pure stone sinks, carved travertine tubs, and polished marble fireplaces stole the show.  Really?  All from one company?  They say “yes” to that and more—add fountains and columns to their product list and you can relate to the theme they ascribe to:  “If you can dream it…we can make it!”  Stone is their forte and the world is their source—Egypt, Turkey, China and Greece all contribute natural stones to their product collections.

Imperial featured two magnificent carved tubs as the focal point of their exhibit space.  Both were carved from solid travertine in graceful rounded forms.  I inquired about approximate pricing.  Size and material determines cost, but they ranged from $5,000 to $15,000.  (Masterpieces don’t come cheap.)

TILE_WITH_STONE_250Several exhibitors featured onyx for countertop applications.  Let’s talk about onyx for a minute.  Its name would suggest a stable, solid material.  But that just isn’t the case.  Onyx is a calcareous stone (contains calcium carbonate), formed by dissolving limestone which is then re-deposited as a new type of stone. In caves, dripping water forms onyx as stalactites and stalagmites. The reality of this stunning stone is that it is inherently soft and brittle and should be carefully evaluated for its intended use.  Not necessarily a good choice for kitchen countertops, onyx can scratch and etch quite easily.  But consider it for bar countertops (still—treat with care), vanities, credenza tops or even wall panels.  Here’s the dramatic visual surprise that only onyx can offer – because it is a translucent stone, it can be backlit for a soft, glowing aesthetic!

Without a doubt, natural stone continues to be a top choice for interior finishes.  No wonder we are seeing so many creative applications being brought to market.  Look forward to that trend continuing in 2012 as more amazing products, sculpted from nature’s earth-born treasures, are created for home interior use.