12/08/2011

Soapstone Colors

Every week, clients asked what color is Soapstone? Like most natural stones, each piece of Soapstone varies in colors, movements and veining - depending on where it comes from. Soapstone is a metamorphic rock composed of compressed talc, magnesite, dolomite and other minerals.


Soapstone has a more limited color palate as opposed to Granite, which actually makes selecting your countertop much easier because there are not as many choices. Soapstone varies in the Gray, Black and Dark Green hue colors. Some are darker or lighter, have more movement or veining than others. Freshly-quarried soapstone slabs come in these hue colors, but over time they will darken or deepen in shade once they are exposed to oxygen, mineral oil or dry wax. 


For more colors please visit www.doradosoapstone.com


Natural - Dark Gray with some black veins Oiled - Dark with some Black Movement 
Natural - Gray * Oiled - Dark with some green undertones
Natural - Gray * Oiled - Dark Black with White Veins
Natural - Gray * Oiled - Dark Black with some Mica
Natural - Gray with White & Copper Veins * Oiled - Dark Black with White & Copper Veins

Natural - Dark Gray with Black Veins * Oiled - Dark Black

Natural - Gray with Black Veins * Oiled - Dark Black
Natural - Kelly Green with White & Black Veins * Oiled - Dark Green with White & Black Veins
Natural - Dark Green with White Veins * Oiled - Dark Green with White Veins
Natural - Gray * Oiled - Dark Black with White Veins

Natural - Gray with Black Veins * Oiled - Dark Black

Natural - Gray with White & Green Veins * Oiled - Dark Black with White & Copper Veins

12/06/2011

Soapstone Counters - The Break Down & Tips

Holly Gagne Interior Design from Massachusetts gives a great break down & her tips on Soapstone Countertops.

SOAPSTONE COUNTERTOPS

Soapstone is a material that has been used in New England homes for hundreds of years.  From fireplace hearths, wood stoves, sinks, to countertops - soapstone can literally outlive your home.  And if you are going to invest a chunk of change in your countertop, that seems pretty important to us.

What?  Soapstone is a metamorphic rock, which means that the rock has been altered by heat and pressure over time.  It is largely composed of mineral talc, which gives it that soft to the touch texture we really love.
Soapstone mine in Virginia (photographs by Palmer Sweet)


How?   Soapstone is quarried like granite and marble.  Mining does of course require the use of non-renewable energy to get from point A (mine) to point B (your home).  We’re told mining soapstone is less impactful than granite or marble because there is no need to cut away large chunks of landscape, or dig deep into the earth.  Soapstone mines are also much smaller.  Soapstone is typically sourced from Virgina, Brazil, and Finland  – check with individual manufacturers to see where theirs is sourced.
Why?  Our favorite thing about this material is that it gets installed in your home in its natural state.  You get to enjoy the natural texture of a natural stone.  Beyond having to cut the slab to size, or alter the edging if desired, there is no need for any additional modifications.  No sealers.  No chemicals.  Just add a little mineral oil now and then to assist with an even color tone as the stone naturally darkens over time.
The Goods.  Soapstone is completely non-porous and impenetrable, so naturally stain and bacteria resistant.  It is also completely resistant to acids and heat, hence why it has been used in chemistry labs or for heat stoves.  You can move a pan from the stove to your counter without a trivet.  Since soapstone is a soft stone with no sealant, you may notice it can scratch more easily than a granite.  Good news is that you can refinish soapstone time and time again by sanding it down.
Colors range from light greys to dark blacks, and some have blue or green hues depending on where it was mined.  Veining can range from almost none, to lots.   Some slabs have very large veins that give an abstract painting sort of effect, and some veining will have color.  We have found that some clients love the veining, whereas others want a more even-tempered look.  A great opportunity to play with design intent.
Tip:  Some manufacturers only carry 1-2 types, so before you (or your GC) commit to working with a specific manufacturer, check to see what they offer.  You may need to do a little investigating.  Always see your whole slab first (or send your designer) and identify what sections should be templated for the designated counter areas.
recent soapstone installation
We used Soapstone in a recent kitchen renovation and paired it with a Carrara marble tile backsplash and stainless steel appliances.   Timeless, beautiful, and durable.











http://hollygagneinteriordesign.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/soapstone-counters/

11/11/2011

Welcome to My Kitchen - Paula Deen

Take a look into Food Network - All Star Chef - Paula Deen's Kitchen. Stunning!!! 




Welcome to My Kitchen 
By Gwyn Duggan From Cooking with Paula Deen, November/December 2005

When Paula and Michael built their new home, one of the main priorities was the kitchen. She wanted the kitchen to reflect her Southern heritage and have the feel of an old house. Paula wanted a serious, professional kitchen that didn't feel like one. This contradiction was accomplished using a modern floor plan but incorporating historical elements. The exposed ceiling beams and brick backsplash helped achieve an older feel. Rather than using granite for her countertops, which Paula felt was too modern, the countertops were made from soapstone. Other touches were decidedly modern giving Paula her dream kitchen that could comfortably accommodate family and friends.


After spending so much time in commercial kitchens throughout her restaurant career, Paula had grown accustomed to the amenities of professional kitchens. When she had the opportunity to tailor her own kitchen, one of the first things she required was a deep fat fryer. She had become spoiled with the ease of frying in her restaurants so she had a commercial deep fryer built right into her island. Paula finds that it makes frequent frying “a pleasure, not a chore.”
Paula also loved the convection ovens used in her restaurants. Her commercial double oven is extra large and cooks using fans to move heated air over and around the food. This ensures even baking. The oven can be a little tricky to use, since convection ovens require lower temperatures and lower bake times, but Paula loves the end results.
The family tends to congregate in the kitchen, but Paula didn't want that to impede her cooking. To keep refrigerated items easily accessible, Paula had refrigerator and freezer drawers put on the outside of her island. This way, the hungry people that gather in her kitchen can get a snack and still be out of her way while she's cooking.
To achieve warmth and comfort in her new kitchen, Paula wanted a cooking fireplace. She loves that she can cook in it, but feels the fireplace is just as important because of the welcoming atmosphere it provides. Paula loves that she can have a fire crackling in the kitchen to add a glow during the winter months.

There will be a great deal of cooking and eating going on in such an inviting kitchen and that means only one thing: dirty dishes. Paula's main sink is 48-inches with two faucets to accommodate the mess she and her family make. The sink is the size of a small bathtub and is really convenient because two people can comfortably wash dishes at the same time.
Another interesting aspect of Paula's kitchen is her appliance hutch. Paula wanted her appliances to be at countertop level but also wanted to be able to close them off from view to maintain the older look of the room. This was achieved by building an “appliance hutch.” The hutch has electrical outlets that make it practical but it looks like a piece of antique furniture when closed.
To finish her kitchen, Paula displayed her hanging copper pots and pans above the cook top. She's admitted they are mostly there for their classic look. The cast iron pan, however, is well used because, as Paula says, “Every kitchen needs one or two pieces of good old cast iron!”
Paula's kitchen maintains a homey feel despite its hugeness—the island alone is a hefty 11'x4'—because of the traditional aesthetic pieces. The overall effect is one of comfort and convenience that welcomes cooks and company alike.


http://www.pauladeenmagazine.com/articles.php?id=20


Plus check out Paula Deen's Kitchen on Rachel Ray's "I Want Paula Deen's Kitchen" makeover! 


http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/show/segments/view/i-want-paula-deens-kitchen/

10/20/2011

In Pursuit of the Cutting Edge

By Wendy Cole, Special to Chicago Tribune Newspapers

Beyond the classic granite countertop, natural stone takes a trendy, dramatic turn

You can't go wrong with a granite countertop. It's durable, low-maintenance and attractive. But, with dramatic slabs of heavily veined marble and other, more exotic natural stones popping up in high-gloss designer kitchens and baths, those familiar tightly-speckled surfaces don't always bring out the oohs and aahs the way they used to. If you're seeking to set your kitchen or bathroom apart, other stone options are catching on that could one day bring America's decades-long infatuation with granite to a grinding halt.


In fact Bo Barkley, co-owner of Dorado Soapstone of Texas , is counting on it. When he and his business partner became soapstone wholesalers three years ago, it was admittedly a gamble to specialize in a single stone, particularly one whose last heyday was more than a century ago. "Soapstone was a popular material for counter and sinks in the early 1900s. It fell out of favor after a while but we believed it was going to revive itself when we got into the business." And their efforts have proved correct. In their first year in business, their Austin-Texas-based business was lucky to get four or five kitchen contracts a month. Today, even in this dodgy economy, they average 30 each month, which is even more impressive as this high-end finished product can cost up to $85 a square foot, equivalent to a high-end granite installation.

Still soapstone has something of an image problem which Barkley and his colleagues are working hard to correct though blogging, education forums with builders and other outreach efforts. It "sounds" like it wouldn't be tough. Like soap, the name suggests it could flake off or easily stain. Barkley notes that's not true. "It's non-porous and doesn't need to be sealed with a chemical agent.." As for aesthetics, it's a great alternative to the familiar high gloss look of granite and marble [which do need sealants]. It has a matte finish and is available in a range of colors from grays and black to dark green. "Its long wispy veins resemble marble more than granite," Barley said. And it is strong. "Before it became popular in kitchens, it was best known as a counter or work bench material in science labs. "Soapstone is also excellent as a trim product, where its used in window sills or for backsplash tiles.

Another high-end stone that is turning heads used to be best known for its use in altars and houses of worship. Onyx, considered a semi-precious stone, is a strictly high end product (at least $100 per square foot). It can be used in countertops or more discrete applications such as sinks, or backsplashes. Available in a wide color range from white to green, its translucent appearance gives it an alluring appeal.

Quartz offerings which nearly always include resins or other non-stone components are gaining in popularity as the brand options increase. A quartz product called Cambria is the top choice of StoneTrends, a fabricating company in Chesterfield, Mo. About a quarter of the quartz sold in the U.S. is under the Cambria brand, said StoneTrends owner Ted Liebig. Cambria is touted as being virtually maintenance-free, with no sealing or polishing necessary. It is now available in more than 80 colors from Bala Blue to Cardigan Red with the company adding 21 new hues in the past few months alone. Quartz appeals to people who want a consistent look as opposed to the random patterns of granite or marble.

Limestone is also gaining fans, particularly in bathrooms or around fireplaces, or as tiled backsplashes. "As an accent, limestone is great. It can provide a nice rustic feel if you're interested in that look," said Lynley Serratt, a designer with Palmer Todd Kitchen Interiors in San Antonio, Texas. "Because its edges are often thick, you don't want to use it as a countertop in a small kitchen. It would dwarf the room," she said.

If you remain partial to granite, however, there's more to discover than when you first encountered it 10 or 20 years ago. No longer strictly a luxury item, it's available at every price point with much more variety in styles and textures than in the past. Damar Natural Stone Imports, a wholesaler in Northbrook, Illinois, sells a popular mid-rage granite known as Nordic Black Antique that looks and feels like suede. Though durable as ever, "it feels soft like a puppy's belly," said salesperson Carol Kegel. And the colors are far more varied with more cool tones in the taupey-gray family and warmer ones like honey. "The last five years have really exploded with options in granite," added Kegel.






Whatever stone you choose, don't overlook details like edging in the pursuit of something distinctive. From double bullnose to beveled, edging options are also expanding with more consumers opting for mitered edges up to four inches thick, though the fancier the edge the higher the price. And the edging possibilities go beyond design complexity. One of the hottest phenomenon is mixing mediums in a single room. "Some people are choosing quartz countertops with the edges made from glass," said Serratt. "Or granite can share space with quartz or wood with limestone." Any combination is possible for those who choose to leave no stone unturned.

A Stone for Every Budget

Lower end
$20-$40 sq. ft.( installed)
Slate-good for backsplashes, fire places and other accents
Granites (familiar tightly speckled, prefabricated counters)

Medium Budget
$40-$80 sq. ft. (installed)
Soapstone
Marble
Limestone (undulating surface can make it expensive to fabricate for large pieces like countertops)
Quartz products such as Cambria
More exotic granite (design has vivid movement and flow)

High-End Budget
$80-$250 sq. ft. (installed)
Onyx
Glass (Recycled such as Vetrazzo or non-recycled)
Rare granite with highly unusual veining

9/20/2011

Review: Soapstone versus Granite and Quartz

Fazzolri Custom Homes and Renovation, recently finished a kitchen remodel in Vancouver using Soapstone. Originally they were attracted to its old world style and functional qualities. After having such great success with this project and having great reviews from the home owners, the Fazzolari decided to do a cost/benefit analysis of Soapstone in comparison to Granite and Quartz.  Look at the comparisons and see what makes Soapstone such a unique product. 


As Fazzolari Custom Homes and Renovation,  the granite countertop trend continues to slowly ebb in high-end homes, other alternatives are starting to pick up in popularity. The National Kitchen & Bath Association recently conducted its 2010 survey of designers and found that although granite was still the number one choice for new countertops, quartz was closing the gap.
soapstone countertopWhile granite and quartz are the overwhelming choice for most homeowners, we just completed a kitchen remodel in Vancouver, WA where we installed soapstone countertops in the kitchen. The homeowners, Jim and Liz Luce, loved the understated look of the material in contrast to the flashier polished granite and quartz. We thought we’d take our recent experience and compare soapstone with the other two familiar products:
Granite
Granite has been popular for many years because of the wide variety of styles that can be found and because it has depth and when polished has a lot of sparkle from crystals embedded in the stone. Although these “inclusions” are the bane of good diamonds, they give polished granite depth, interest, and a randomness that can be hard to replicate in man-made materials. But these inclusions also give granite it’s main weakness: it’s porous, which means it needs to be maintained regularly and can harbor bacteria. I have it in my home and do not maintain it according to the “recommended rules”. I don’t seal it, I use Windex to clean it (which is a no-no), and I don’t worry about it. I have a family with kids, so I’m not going to lose sleep over maintaining my granite countertops!
Quartz
In the meantime, quartz countertops are engineered from natural quartz crystals that are joined using a resin and then formed into slabs by the manufacturers. This means that unlike granite, quartz is not porous. But it also means it can’t take the same heat as granite, so you will need to keep the hottest pots and pans on trivets. The engineering process also means that quartz can be chosen in specific colors, giving designers more control over the finished look. This is a material that can withstand neglect.
Soapstone
Soapstone is coming back into popularity. It was used as an old-world building material and often found in older American homes. It features a matte finish and is really only available in dark grey. It’s very durable, not particularly absorbent and stains stay on the surface of the stone and can be scrubbed off. In fact, it can be completely refinished to look new, even after 100 years of use. Another option is to oil the soapstone. This will provide a darker look, but will require a little work at least in the early years of your counter. Owners also tend to love it or hate it after living with it for a few years because it gets darker and develops a patina after a lot of use.
Here are some things to consider:

GraniteQuartzSoapstone
General Cost (not including installation)$70-$100 per sq. ft.$70-$100 per sq ft.$70-$100 per sq ft.
ChoicesMany natural and random colors and styles.Many colors, fewer random patters than granite.Most often found in dark grey, with light gray veins.
InstallationCan be expensive to install in slab form, brittle, and can break during installation.Pre-determined slab sizes can lead to more seams in installation. Easier to install than granite.About the same installation difficulty as granite.
CareMild soap and water only, NO abrasives, reseal every 6 months to a year.No sealing, soap and water or glass cleanerNo sealing. Can use mineral oil regularly to darken. A patina develop over time. Can be cleaned with household cleaners.
Durability/useSince it’s porous, granite can harbor bacteria. Extremely hard. It can chip and stain, but it is scratch resistant. Hot pots and pans can be placed directly on the surface.Very hard and durable, not prone to staining or scratching. Not as heat resistant as granite. VERY difficult to repair.Feels soft to the touch but is very durable. Scratches easily but also easy to repair. Resistant to acids and alkalies. Absorbs heat – hot pans can be placed on it. Gets darker in color as it ages and oxidizes.
Longevity*Personally, I like granite but think it suffers from overuse. Some styles, if maintained, will stand the test of time while others, such as some solids and granite tiles, will date many high-end homes built during this era. But it is my favorite for easy care and daily use.Since it is an engineered product, I think quartz will have its moment in the kitchen then go the way of the Dodo. But if you have your heart set on a particular color – it may be your best bet.Because of its limited colors, won’t see very wide use and therefore is a good choice for a timeless look. Its use in early American history also helps. I love the oiled soapstone, but don’t know that I would like the labor involved. Many people love it or hate it when it develops a patina. Finally, it’s rough finish can, over the years, scratch your glasses, dishes and pans.
* Remember, this is just my opinion.
Which to choose
Each of these materials costs about the same per square foot and have similar installation costs. Each brings something different to the countertop party. If you like the randomness and variety of natural stone and don’t mind occasional maintenance, granite is a great option. If you want a low-maintenance countertop that has consistent coloration and can be chosen quite precisely to match other colors in your design, choose quartz. If you want something old-world yet unique in modern construction, like the color, and don’t mind its maintenance or tendency to change in shade over time, then soapstone will be a great option.
Review: Soapstone versus Granite and Quartz

8/19/2011

Beautiful Soapstone Kitchens: Soapstone Colors!

More ideas & pictures of finished Soapstone Kitchens! Plus a Re-Run of a interview with a homeowner who has had Soapstone in her kitchen for over a year now! The Granite Gurus: Beautiful Soapstone Kitchens: .










Kitchen and Residential Design: Revisiting the rocks in my head

Ever wondered how rocks & stones were formed millions of years ago and what makes them so different? Kitchen and Residential Design: Revisiting the rocks in my head is a MUST READ! Plus you will impress your friends by knowing the difference between sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks!


8/01/2011

Soapstone on "San Diego Living"

Host Greg Phillips from San Diego’s Morning show, San Diego Living learns the in’s and out’s of Soapstone.  Wendy Bergmann from Soapstone Werks explains the benefits of Soapstone in this short video.  The sink she brought on the show is a great example of how creative someone can get with soapstone.  The sink has a number of custom features to including a drain board, inlaid stone and a soap bar shelf.  Depending on your budget you can essentially can create any sink you can think of.   This is a great example of why Soapstone is becoming as popular as it is, there is no other stone product that allows you to think so creatively.