A Rugged Feel In Slate

June 1, 2005
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Designer Angela Beach of Beachwood Designs recently implemented two varieties of slate into her 3,900-square-foot beach house in Sherman Oaks, a suburb of Los Angeles, CA, reflecting on the ideals for stone selection that she shares with her clients.

“I actually use a lot of slate in many homes I do,” said Beach. “I love the versatility -- all of the different variations and the cost-versus-look aspect of slate. It is a very rich look, but for a much smaller investment than any other stone.”

Chinese Multi-colored slate was employed for several elements of the beach house, including the kitchen, entryways, bathrooms and the outdoor patio area. In addition, Beach installed a 1-foot border of stone between the carpet and the wall of the living room area. The material was supplied by Western National Marble and Stone of North Hollywood, CA.

According to Beach, slate was selected for two reasons. “One was for the feel of it -- I loved the warmth and colors it brought to the house,” she said. “Two was for the cost. [Given] the square footage I needed, it was within my budget.

“I wanted that rugged feel, and I adore the blend of colors,” the designer continued. “We covered two large outdoor patios with the same slate so that we could have a seamless indoor-to-outdoor feel. We have since converted one of the patios into a bedroom, though.”

In the front of the house, Brazilian Black slate was selected for the walkway because it is “smooth and chic,” according to Beach. “I had it set on a semi-slant to add flow to the walkway, but it is such a smooth slate that you can hardly see the seams.”

Beach installed the 3,500 square feet of slate herself, and all pieces were 12 x 12 inches in size. “Sadly, I was seven months pregnant at the time, and it ended up putting me on a very restricted bed rest afterward,” she said. “But, it is still here, still looks great, and my son doles out a beating to it everyday, which it withstands beautifully.”

According to the designer, the biggest challenge with the stone was the gauging. “Even when [the slate] is gauged, it still is very rough and uneven,” she said. “This makes it hard to lay, and at times, hard to walk or roll things on. But that is one of the reasons I loved it so much -- I love the rustic look of it.”

Beach used a basic installation method with thinset mortar, and in most places, the slate was laid on a square edge-to-edge grid. However, in the living room area, the stone was laid on a diamond grid, with a 1-foot square border for variation. The process took Beach a total of 10 days, and she hired one laborer for help during the last five days. “The hardest part of the entire project was that I was enormous. Lugging the boxes when I was that pregnant was not a 'healthy workout,' “ the designer explained. “The baby hated the sound of the tile saw. Every time I had to turn it on he jumped in my belly. Then, he would put out a big kick in protest, so I had to have the laborer do all the cuts after awhile.”

Beach also found it challenging to keep the heavy stone pieces for the shower straight and vertical, and made the mortar a bit wetter than usual. “I had never done that before, and it was quite a feat,” she said. “That is when the day worker was great to have. He helped me keep the tiles in place until the mortar set. We had to constantly check them to make sure they weren't sliding out of place and setting crooked.”

Overall construction of the home took approximately six months. “I have a lot of love and praise for the slate,” said Beach, who added that people seem to love the rich colors of the material.

End box

Private Residence
Sherman Oaks, CA

Designer/Stone Installer: Beachwood Designs, Sherman Oaks, CA
Stone Supplier: Western National Marble and Stone, North Hollywood, CA

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