The surprising flexibility of stone

The folks at StoneWorks show off a few eye-catching designs and one seriously cool technological breakthrough.

Story by Barry Kaufman

Stone is a material known for its rigidity, both in the literal and figurative sense. When something is set in stone, it is forever immutable. When you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, there’s no wiggle room. And there’s a reason the undeniable truth beneath the foundation for a whole philosophy is referred to as a cornerstone.

Yet despite its legendary stability, in the right hands stone can be extraordinarily flexible. Take the following examples from StoneWorks. Whether it’s a dramatic fireplace surround, an eye-catching bar amid modern art extravagance or a brand new product that is changing the way you look at kitchens, you’re not going to find any moss on the exciting stone projects they are rolling out.

Madre Pearl Masterpiece in Leamington

If you go to the StoneWorks showroom, you’ll notice monitors on the walls displaying a highlight reel of the company’s most dazzling projects. As soon as they were finished, there was no question that this Leamington home had made the highlight reel.

Kelly Young of StoneWorks with interior designer Gretchen Goss.

“It was just transforming,” said Kelly Young. This talented designer from StoneWorks worked hand-in-hand with interior designer Gretchen Goss, helping to reimagine the home as a modern masterpiece. At the center of this design scheme was the lush quartzite madre pearl that runs throughout.

With its lush bands of darks and whites, the quartzite is an organic counterpoint to the crispy whites and metallics that inform the home’s modern design scheme. That juxtaposition proved the key to the whole design.

“There isn’t any stone in this house that’s manmade. It’s all from the earth,” said Young. “It’s a very contemporary home, so it has that kind of palette. And the stone works well anywhere – it’s not fussy or busy. And they just loved it.”

But perhaps the most eye-catching application of the quartzite was in the fireplace, which carries the lines and patterns of the stone to soaring heights. “The fireplace was a challenge,” said Young. “Quartzite is heavy… when they first came in, they wanted to do that in one piece.”

An inspired design allowed the slab of quartzite to be separated into layers, spaced perfectly with the design of the fireplace to seem like that was the plan all along.

And it was all worth it, to see the natural beauty of stone presented with such dramatic fashion, its natural veins and streaks adding texture and flair to a contemporary design. “It’s hard to duplicate something like that with manmade stone.”

The Fabulous Frankie Bones

While the cuisine is what made Frankie Bones famous, it’s the ambiance that truly sealed the deal. Wrapped in the midcentury majesty of the Rat Pack era, Frankie Bones has a motif that could be described in a single word: Cool.

So when it came time to recreate that Frankie Bones cool in the new location, designer Kelly Caron had her work cut out for her. Having worked on several projects with SERG Group, including Dockside, a refresh at Marley’s as well as One Hot Mama’s Tap Room and the new Bluffton location, Caron was a perfect fit for the new Frankie Bones.

Shannon Baltzegar of StoneWorks.

Working alongside one of her designers, Brianna Owens, they envisioned an update that would take the restaurant into new yet familiar territory.

“We felt like we could bring an old soul, Rat Pack, vibe, but with a little bit more of a modern Hollywood look for Bluffton,” said Caron. That meant strong contrasts of black, white and silver, with patterns and textures from pinstripe to herringbone and light fixtures that evoked timeless cool.

The question of what to do with the bar, so prominently placed that it demanded to be a showpiece, was answered during a trip afield for Caron and Owens, with the stark black and white veining of black absolute granite. SERG Group specifically asked Caron to go with StoneWorks for the product and fabrication.

“We took a trip to the Cambria factory, and we got to see that granite in these huge slabs,” said Caron. “I said, ‘This is it. You can’t have another stone.’”

Kelly Young was called in to facilitate installation of Frankie Bones’ dazzling bar.

“We put a drip miter edge on it, so it’s built up thick. It’s a really great look,” said Young. “It’s very different – more contemporary and sleek. The collaboration of StoneWorks, SERG Group and Kelly Caron Design went great with a stunning impact.”

Porcelain Brilliance in Sea Pines

You might look at this marvelous Sea Pines kitchen renovation and think you’re seeing marble, or perhaps a thickly grained granite. Appearances, however, can be deceiving.

While these counters might appear every bit as beautiful as natural stone, they actually represent a quantum leap for counter surfaces – porcelain slabs.

One easy way to tell if it’s porcelain slab is to try and stain it, scratch it or set it on fire. If it comes out unscathed, it’s porcelain slab.

“It’s actually manufactured in slab sheets,” said Brian Baltzegar. “You get a much more consistent look because they’re using a print that looks like a very accurate version of a calacatta gold marble, for example. It’s very difficult for even an experienced fabricator to tell the difference.”

One easy way to tell if it’s porcelain slab is to try and stain it. Or scratch it. Or, heck, set it on fire. If it comes out unscathed, it’s porcelain slab. The non-porous material is so durable, it can even be used in outdoor applications and never weather.

With this particular project, the homeowner didn’t even know porcelain slabs were an option until she paid a visit to Rhonda Schwarz at StoneWorks. “We have a beautiful porcelain slab table in our showroom we’d just fabricated. It’s a statement piece,” said Schwarz. “She was looking at quartz surfaces at first, but when she came upon this table, her reaction was ‘Wow, what is this?’”

With the same fabrication process as quartz, it was a simple process of creating cutouts for the sink and cooktop, then installing it with a honeycombed backer for stability. And while this client chose white, Schwarz points out that another fascinating aspect of porcelain slabs is its infinite variation. “They have some that look like concrete, some that look like wood, marbled, solid colors… It has a lot of uses,” she said. “We’re looking at doing full-slab showers or bathtub surrounds with porcelain slabs.”

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