When renovating her own kitchen, Karen Press, homeowner and owner of Panache Design Consultants located in Boca Raton, FL, wanted to replace her existing dark and outdated granite with something new and different. On top of that, her home also serves as a client showroom so she wanted the space to be a true reflection of her work, while designing with colors and materials that her own family would not grow tired from in just a few short years. “It was a design that was really important to me because I wanted the kitchen and family room, where everyone congregates, to be something really special,” said Press. “I moved everything around, we took the work down to the studs and I widened the entire area by 5 feet from what it was originally.”

While Press had her heart set on Carrara marble in a polished finish, the material wasn’t fitting for her high-traffic area that would not only be for her family, but clients also. She was eventually introduced to Neolith, a high-performance, sintered, compact surface. “When I learned about how incredible the product is, I fell in love,” said Press. “I found out how it’s heat-resistant, stain-resistant and how durable it is. I was simply blown away. It had everything I was looking for.”

The 650-square-foot kitchen features a 14-foot-long center island, and for her statement piece, Press created a backsplash from Estatuario book-matched pieces. The kitchen design used seven slabs from Neolith’s Classtone collection in the Estatuario design with a polished finish.

“I was able to book-match it and I believe that it makes a great statement,” said Press. “I think I now do more Neolith projects because I sell it from my home.” Neolith surfacing is made to resemble the authentic beauty of marble and other natural stones, but also to be a more resilient material. The surfacing is made from 100% natural raw materials, manufactured by a process that simulates the development of natural marble in just a few short hours. Press used the product for everything in her kitchen, the countertops, the island and the backsplash.

According to Press, Neolith is a special product that takes a lot of TLC and you have to be patient with the product and can’t rush through working with it. The same qualities have to be found in a fabricator who is willing to cut it. “The polish is delicate on the Neolith during fabrication,” said Press. “The challenge is making sure you have the right fabricator who is trained to use it. It has to be someone who knows what they are doing. The polish on the Neolith is what makes it difficult.

“For this project, making sure this is what I wanted was the first part of it,” Press went on to say. “The second part was when the slabs came in and working with the fabricator to find out where the book-matching would happen. Especially because it really is a technique to make sure the veins look like a perfect puzzle piece fitting together and making the seams minimal. It’s an artwork.”

The one-year project was finished in December of 2015 and has been a statement piece in her home. “Clients will walk into the kitchen, see the Neolith and their jaws will drop and simply say, ‘Wow,’” said Press. “It’s the reaction I usually get. A lot of them will ask what kind of product is it, often confusing it with marble. Then I get to explain to them what Neolith is.

“In my opinion, I am definitely not afraid to be using any of the Neolith products,” Press continued. “As long as it fits the design for the client’s kitchen, then that is how I would look at what product I am selecting for the project. What works for the client and their needs. That’s how I determine the colors I am working with. In the realm of Neolith, everything but the polish is indestructible. Just with the polish, you can’t drop a massive chandelier on it; if you don’t do that, you should be fine.”