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(Musings of a Stone Designer)

Monday, September 28 2009

Here is a kitchen that is getting an extreme makeover.

On the other side of this wall is a large, open family room and a big, beautiful window framing a spectacular view. The decision to remove the wall was an easy one to make.

The other decisions have not been so easy.

(The kitchen in its present state.)

Here are the givens:

  • The homeowners plan to reuse the "like-new" oak cabinets even though it will take some very creative configuring.
  • The ceramic tile floor with the stained grout will be replaced with something else--anything other than tile--maybe cork, or bamboo.
  • The layout will change a bit, but the room dimensions will remain the same.

This photo of the kitchen was taken from the opposite direction. The table will be replaced with a stone-topped eating spot.

Currently, the house has a casual rustic feel, which the homeowners hope to preserve.

Selecting the right stone for the countertops is huge. It could make the difference between a kitchen that looks too "restaurant-y" (the husband's word), too formal, too busy, too boring... or just perfect.

This sample of Peacock Verde granite caught the couple's attention immediately.
The stone is mostly black, but not entirely so. It seemed to be just the stone that would give their new kitchen the simple, clean, and casual look they're after.

Our next step is a trip to the slab yard to take a look at a full-size slab.


(A bit of advice: Don't ever make your stone selection based on a sample!)

Here is a photo of Amazon granite.

It has rusty, copper-colored flecks that match the wood, but just like the Peacock Verde, it's still mostly black.

There are so many different options at the slab yard, maybe one shouldn't be too hasty. These golden-hued stones really bring out the wood tones!

Here's one possibility... Antique Gold

Here's another called Santa Barbara.

...and a third.  Yellow River, I think.

When selecting a stone, it is helpful to "know yourself." After giving each of these slabs some serious consideration, our client comes to the conclusion that these golden slabs would look great--in someone else's kitchen!

Back to the blacks. This Volga Blue is beautiful. But it is so shiny. Will it look too fussy?

The homeowners love the honed finish of soapstone. And the surface feels so smooth, soft, and welcoming. Soapstone would help to create a friendlier, more inviting kitchen. The question is, will the kids be too hard on a softer stone?

The colors in this Juperana Carajas granite are spectacular! Yet because they are subdued, it would be an easy stone to live small doses.

Here is an inspiration board using each of the different materials toward which the homeowners have gravitated. I must admit, this combination of colors and textures is pretty inspiring!

There are decisions to be made.

(Watch for upcoming posts to see how this project turns out)

Posted by: Marlene Wukusick AT 03:38 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, September 19 2009

We're getting more and more requests for "mix-and-match" stone countertop surfaces.
Here's a kitchen we recently completed that combines Juperana Giavota granite on the island and black Ubatuba elsewhere. With the black stained island cabinet, it makes an attractive combination.

Midwesterners aren't usually quick to pick up on avant-garde design trends. They tend to be practical, traditional, and down-to-earth. This is a trend, however, which is all those things.

Having different surfaces for different purposes is very practical. It makes sense to use marble for rolling bread dough on, soapstone for setting piping-hot pans on, and beautiful exotic granite for adding style and personality to a functional space.

White Carrara marble and soapstone make a gorgeous combination! (House Beautiful magazine)

A mix of materials is a sure way to create the warmth and character of a home that has evolved over time.

In this traditional kitchen, the island top is made from Marinachi granite and the area next to the stone is topped with Black Ubatuba. (Better Homes and Gardens Beautiful Kitchens magazine)

Like all lasting design trends, combining materials is a trend that follows lifestyle--what could be more "down-to-earth" than that?

The blend of stones featured in the room pictured above contributes greatly to it's old-world ambiance. Although the darker stone next to the range has a good bit of "movement," it is understated because of it's earthy color. The lighter stone used on the island adds just the right amount of contrast. The feeling that this room conveys would not have been achieved had the designer used the same natural stone throughout the entire kitchen. This room looks like it could have been around forever. (Veranda Magazine)

What homeowners and designers are quickly finding out is that there are ways to mix natural stone surfaces that work (like the examples above) and ways that just don't!

For those of you looking for guidance--here are the rules:

     Rule #1.  The patterns should vary in size and movement.

     Rule #2.  The colors should not be too similar, yet, they look best when they are in the same "color family" (warm browns/ beige/rusts or cool blues/greens/grays)

Mixing Tazmin Gold granite with Purple Dunas granite above makes a bad combination! (It breaks rule #1 and rule #2) A kitchen with this pairing would look busy and boring at the same time.

Giallo Vicenza paired with Santa Cecilia may leave people wondering if you ran out of your original granite and were unsuccessful at finding a match. Remember, just like with fabrics, two small prints don't look good together. 

     Rule #3.  The colors of each stone should pick up another color in the room (In other words, there should not be a surface color that "comes out of nowhere")

      Rule #4.  Different textures help make the mix work. Honed next to polished makes a beautiful contrast.

Warm and earthy soapstone paired with shiny granite is one of my favorite combinations:

Polished Delicatus granite and soapstone


Soapstone and Four Seasons granite--another winning combination.

     Rule #5.  Don't over do it!

Angola Black (shown below left) could go with most any other stone. The pattern is so minimal, it is considered a solid. See how great it looks next to Portoro (right)
If you substituted a stone with a stronger pattern for the Angola black, the combination could easily be overwhelming.

Finally, the rule that is included in all design rules:
     Rule #6.  THERE ARE NO RULES!

Posted by: Marlene Wukusick AT 08:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, September 12 2009

Riding on the wings of the inspiration gained from my first ever Stone Fabricator's Alliance Workshop, I decided to finally start a blog.

The workshop was held at the Morris Granite Company showroom and shop in Illinois during Labor Day weekend.

Morris Granite shop, where we got to see all the machines. (photo courtesy of SFA member, "Kowboy")

Around 60 stone fabricators (all male), 10 venders of stone equipment and supplies, two fabricators' wives, and I were in attendance. The "macho-fest" included a plethora of bonding activities. Rifle shooting at the hunt club, a round of golf, a poker game, a pig roast, a machine shop tour, cutting and polishing demonstrations, and plenty of "guy food" and beer ensued.

Pete has been to many SFA sessions demonstrating stone equipment and fabrication techniques, but the topics covered at this workshop had a refreshing twist. Instead of presentations about saw blades, "top-polishing" and "seaming" granite, the discussions centered around show-rooms, customer service, and web sites. It was also interesting to see these tough guys show their creative sides.

Dan Riccolo, owner of Morris Granite, had lots of treasures in his shop. Here's a piece of granite with a farm scene hand-etched onto the surface.

...and a one-of-a-kind carved, granite sink. (

I had my doubts at first, but in the end I'm so glad that Pete suggested I go along. I gathered a ton of "information nuggets" I can't wait to incorporate into our company, The Stone Studio.

Meeting Antonio, a fellow fabricator from Canada, was one of the highlights of the SFA event. Antonio turned out to be my "soul-mate" when it comes to stone. His design/company's philosophy seemed to embody our slogan, "Stone is nature's art"--own an original!"

A stone sculpture from Antonio's showroom. (photo courtesy of Anna Almonte, Antonio's wife)

Antonio, who takes great pride in the beauty of his stone work, shared with me a favorite quote of his own:
     "Those who work with their hands are tradesmen,
      Those who work with their hands and minds are craftsmen,
      But those who work with their hands, minds, and hearts are artisans."

Someday I'd love to visit Antonio's showroom, which he described as resembling an art gallery. It is complete with stone sculptures, spotlights, and "artist's name and title cards." His displays include vessel sinks fashioned into a form suggesting potted flowers, and a huge glass window framing his boardroom like a giant canvas. He even opens his showroom to local artists to be used as a venue to show their own work. 
Here are 2 photos of Antonio's showroom during construction. That's Antonio standing in the second photo.

His company's web site is but he is currently working on a new site.
(photos courtesy of Anna Almonte)

Antonio's muse is Antolini Luigi, a spectacular natural stone showroom in Italy. Take a look at these pictures and you'll see why this place inspires him so much!

     They don't have any granite showrooms like this in Indiana!

                    Unbelievable inlaid stone art!

Like any artist will tell you, "It's all in the presentation."
Photos courtesy of )

Posted by: Marlene Wukusick AT 07:42 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email


Located in Batesville Indiana/
Serving parts of Indiana, Ohio, & Kentucky

*Please Note: We reserve Saturdays, by appointment, for slab viewing and tours.

To receive an estimate,
or to schedule an appointment,
call us today.
We work directly with you,
the homeowner,
to ensure outstanding service.


Pete & Marlene Wukusick in Batesville, IN on Houzz

Remodeling and Home Design

Pete & Marlene Wukusick in Batesville, IN on Houzz
Pete & Marlene Wukusick in Batesville, IN on Houzz

Pete & Marlene Wukusick in Batesville, IN on Houzz

Pete & Marlene Wukusick in Batesville, IN on Houzz

Pete & Marlene Wukusick in Batesville, IN on Houzz
Pete & Marlene Wukusick in Batesville, IN on Houzz
Pete & Marlene Wukusick in Batesville, IN on Houzz

Sebastian and Angie Moster, Owners

Natural Stone & the Green Movement  Countertop selection is often the first place people look to when opting to go green. Natural stone (especially Soapstone) is a top choice for the environmentally-friendly. 

The Stone Studio
20157 Five Point Road, Batesville, IN 47006
Phone: (812) 933-0200