Stone as a status symbol

August 17, 2001
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The construction of the Willard Estate in High Point, NC, began with a simple visit to a stone showroom and progressed to include more than 5,000 square feet of stone. "The homeowners came in and showed me the layout of the house," said Len Malavef Granite & Marble by Malaven Greensboro, NC. "All they were going to do in stone was the kitchen, and they came in for a kitchen countertop." Yet before they left, the homeowners decided to include marble and granite flooring and slab showers in addition to their plans for the kitchen, and the use of stone was continued through every room of the house and to the exterior as well.

The additional stone was chosen because it went well with the grandiose design goal of the home. "The entranceway was supposed to be grand," said Malave. There is a dome ceiling in the lobby accented by fiber optic lighting of the constellations. We were shooting for spectacular, and any material other than stone wouldn't do it justice."

A limestone lion head fountain in the entranceway and the marble inlays were selected for the same reason. The flow of marble and patterns of stone had to be continued throughout the home for the proper effect. "The majority of stone was selected for its durability," Malave said. "The color and composition - whether marble or granite - was also taken into consideration."

The inlay in the entranceway consists of Tazmanian Gold limestone and Black Absolute granite within a field of Crema Marfil marble, and it was made onsite. According to Malave the three-dimensional effect of the design was a slight variation of an inlay created for another project, which the Willards had admired. A subcontractor carved the lion head from limestone, and also created the balustrades and fireplace in the master suite sitting room from the same material.

The use of Crema Marfil was continued through the foyer and down the hall, creating an open space in a classic color scheme, said Malave"Diamond accents in Black Absolute were added to the stair treads to differentiate them from the rest of the Crema Marfil marble flooring," he said.

Continuing the theme

Additionally, Crema Marfil was employed in other areas of the home, including the master suite. "The homeowners were aiming to make the house open and airy, so they stuck with a lot of neutral colors," Malave said, adding that his clients favored the light tones of the material. The Crema Marfil floor in the master suite's sitting room was laid out in 18- x 18-inch tiles in a simple grid pattern.

The powder room features Crema Marfil as well. Rooms such as this are what made this project diversified, according to Malave, since they used both tiles and slabs. This diversification continues throughout the house, since the installations included slab showers and Jacuzzis as well as tile flooring throughout, all of which were mud set.

The most important detail of these installations is the bookmatching. "We always bookmatch the slabs, as can be seen in these showers," Malave said. "We cut the slabs so the veining runs together when it is installed. You can barely see the seams."

The bookmatching is also visible in the columns surrounding the Jacuzzi tub in the "hers" master bath. This room also features Karna stone from Greece, which was used for the countertop, flooring, tub surround, stairs and columns. Even the decorative urns are carved from this stone. The Absolute Black tile inlay on the floor was added to complement the frame of the black mirror.

The black mirror was also an important fixture in the "his" master bath. The inlaid floor has a black border and black accents to match the black in the mirror's frame and the wallpaper, similar to that of the "hers" master bath.

Adding a bit of spice to the decor and the continuous neutral colors, Rojo Alicante marble was selected for the countertop in the spare bath-room. The red tones are highlighted with light-colored veining, which complements the use of Crema Marfil on the floor.

Crema Marfil was again utilized on the floor in the combination kitchen and den area, allowing for a unifying theme throughout the entire house, according to Malave. The pattern of diamond accents in the flooring is also continued. Black Absolute diamonds break up the monotony of a single-color tile floor, Malave said. In addition to the Crema Marfil, Luna Pearl granite was added to the decor of this area, as it was used for the kitchen countertops as well as the bar top. According to Malave, these surfaces were finished with half bullnose edging.

"The highlight of the kitchen is not the countertop," Malave said. A sandblasted artistic piece of granite hangs on the back wall of the kitchen above the stove. The words, "Give us this day" are sandblasted into the surface, as well as a picture of a loaf a bread, alluding to the verse of the Lord's Prayer.

A musical element

Perhaps the most unique room in the house is the piano room. Used only to hold the piano, this room showcases a fitting musical theme. A border of piano keys made of Black Absolute granite and Thassos White marble runs around the perimeter of the room. The piano keys of this border are regulation sized and raised off of the floor to simulate actual piano keys. "Those who don't know ahead of time might even mistake them for the real thing," Malave said.

With this piano room and the many other significantly unique stylistic elements of this home, the Willards achieved their desired look of luxury on a grand scale with the help of a good deal of stone. "I really enjoy jobs like this, and customers like these are a pleasure to work with because they gave me the freedom and opportunity to be creative," Malave said.

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