Set In Stone
With your benchtops being a major focal point in your kitchen, the material you choose is of utmost importance to the overall design. Natural stone has been a top choice in kitchen design for centuries, and it’s no secret why. It is a beautiful material, with nothing else quite comparing to its aesthetic appeal – but its beauty is not all it has to offer. Here, Melbourne Kitchen + Bathroom Design’s Jacqueline Foy sits down with Leonora Tregambe, director at Melbourne natural stone supplier Surface Spectrum, to discuss the glorious beauty of natural stone and the many ways it can enhance your space.
Photography courtesy of Daniela Fulford
Natural stone is incredibly beautiful, enduring and versatile, with an exquisitely personal feel – there is an emotional connection involved when selecting natural stone that is very different to picking out something man made. “I have clients describing the stone as ‘having soul’,” Tregambe says in testament to the material’s irresistible character. With its durability, stability, and grandeur, it is impossible to replicate each stone slab’s unique traits, so any slab of natural stone you choose will always be one of a kind. Read on as we explore the stunning attributes of this beautiful and sustainable material.
Well known as the heart of the home, a modern kitchen is often a busy family hub, necessitating a hardwearing surface to resist the wear and tear of daily life. “Nothing is bullet proof,” Tregambe says, however, natural stone cannot be compared to any other building material in terms of its durability and sturdiness. “Natural stone will age beautifully and gracefully, providing years of use and enjoyment,” she says. It can last a lifetime – with statues and key buildings of Travertine that are still standing today after many hundreds of years a testament to its superior durability.
Natural stone’s incredible durability makes it a perfect sustainable choice, alongside many other attributes that help it shine as an eco-friendly option. “Stone is a natural product of the Earth and is therefore considered the original green building material,” Tregambe says. It does not require other materials or resources to create it, there are no harmful chemicals or toxins present within the material, so it provides a healthy environment where it is used.
Natural stone is also highly recyclable, lengthening its lifespan and preserving resources otherwise used to replace it. As Tregambe explains, stone can be salvaged, refinished and reinstalled into a new build. Large slabs can be recut into smaller pieces and used
for splashbacks or vanity tops, and when those retire, they can be further cut into smaller home accessories, such as serving trays or even marble coasters. Even at the very end of its time, marble can live on by being ground up and used in concrete. “The life cycle of stone is truly infinite,” Tregambe says.
With seemingly limitless design potential, selecting stone can sometimes feel like an overwhelming process. The choice in colour and style is endless, with a huge array of colours and patterns of veining, from your commonly used whites and greys to the most stunning greens, pinks and blues, there is a look and colour for every design intent.
“When a client is renovating or building, I strongly suggest they select their stone first,” Tregambe says. It is generally much easier to select complementary joinery, walls and floors to suit the stone, than the other way around. The stone you choose becomes a feature and is often at the very heart of your kitchen, so picking something you love and working around that allows you to hone in on your overall design style. “There is truly a natural stone that will suit every style and design of home. It is an element that brings value and class to a home as well as an unmatched beauty,” Tregambe says.
Retailers like Surface Spectrum are there to guide you through the process each step of the way. “We love what we do and want to make sure our clients feel comfortable and excited in what they select,” Tregambe says. Their hands-on, one-on-one design consults guide clients on style, budget and lifestyle to help you see the full picture as all of your finishes come together with the stone.
VERSATILE IN SELECTION
There has been a perception that natural stone is a very expensive, exclusive material, however, Tregambe says there is a stone to suit all budgets and tastes. “I love that more people can actually enjoy this beautiful product in their homes or project,” she says. “Find a supplier that spends time with you, answers your questions and shows you the slabs in full,” Tregambe advises. “This is a natural material at the end of the day so each slab will have its own unique elements,” she adds, encouraging all of her clients to spend the time and select each of their slabs in person.
After selecting your slab, the final step is the installation of your gorgeous stone –researching and selecting a stonemason that is experienced in working with natural stone is important in obtaining the desired final result as each material has its own unique characteristics in both appearance and performance. Natural stone is an irreplicable building material that sets you apart – it can’t be copied, mass-produced, or faked. The value in natural stone is more than just monetary; the investment in natural stone involves longevity, permanence and stability that far exceed the initial expense. Finally, Tregambe advises you have fun with the process. Your projects should reflect the passion, taste, and the personality of the designer to ultimately result in a space you love.