Is quartz still rising in popularity? Are miters still a favorite? Is natural stone being used anywhere else but countertops? Over the years, trends seemed to be somewhat stagnate. But as the price tag on quartzite drops and homeowners are opting to do more in their houses than ever before, some new design trends are becoming apparent. Stone World had the opportunity to speak with two fabricators from different parts of the country to learn more about current trends in residential design, and what’s on the horizon for the coming year.
“A couple of years ago, the quartz market took over because, I believe, of their aggressive marketing,” said Buddy Ontra, owner of Ontra Stone Concepts in Bridgeport, CT. “I am now seeing more natural stone on my end and the reason I specify ‘on my end’ is because I have been doing a lot of multi-family units — like affordable condos and apartments — and I am seeing some of the old classic granites becoming popular again. You can also get more out of a granite slab than a quartz slab. When it comes to regular homeowners, it seems that they are still choosing quartz more often because they believe it is more durable.
“We are seeing a rise in quartzites getting cut though,” Ontra went onto say. “[Also], Carrara marble is still a classic. We’re still cutting a lot of that. I see the classic ‘salt-and-pepper’ granites being specked for larger projects. I can give bulk pricing on those classic granites because of the price I purchase them.”
In the west, Dave Scott, owner of Slabworks of Montana in Bozeman, MT, has also noticed an increase in the use of quartzites. “I am seeing a continuing trend and interest in quartzite and also items being brought in under quartzite names,” he said. “We have been working with Karen Kirk (a geologist based in Bozeman, MT). We cut some material and send it her way so she can tell us the properties of the stone and let us know if it’s a quartzite or a dolomitic marble being sold as a quartzite. As quartz prices have gone up recently, we have definitely seen a demand in quartzites.”
When it comes to countertop edges, Ontra Stone Concepts has been receiving many simple edge requests. “It’s been a lot of eased edges — simple stuff,” said Ontra. “We do very little ogees or double ogees anymore. We do a lot of miters and we have slowly been seeing thicker miter perimeters asked for by our customers.”
Scott has also been seeing a lot of mitered edges. “Mitering and waterfall ends are extremely popular here,” said Scott. “To the same end, a lot of designers have been trying to have the waterfall miter be the structure that supports the overhangs. I will give them a little bit of a break. I tell them, ‘You can do it a little, but it doesn’t replace the need for adequate support for overhangs.’ If you’re going to be doing more overhangs or waterfall miters, I highly recommend educating yourself and joining a group like the Stone Fabricators Alliance (SFA) so that you don’t need to know all the answers. You can go somewhere and easily get the answer.”
Mitering and waterfall edges on countertops isn’t the only thing that Scott has been observing more of in residential designs. “We are seeing more full-height backsplashes,” he said. “We are seeing full-height for mitered returns in window sills. There seems to be more and more going on with mitering, and it’s finding its way into other parts of the job.”
Another opportunity for natural stone
Recently, natural stone has been used even more on fireplaces compared to years past. “Fireplace wraps in natural stone have always been popular,” said Scott. “But now what we are seeing is even more floor-to-ceiling fireplace stonework. We have a project that is 22 feet tall and 13 feet wide across the base. But we are definitely seeing more floor-to-ceiling fireplaces and it’s a great upsell. It’s not a lot of square feet usually — most of the houses can use it if they are putting in a firebox of some sort. Definitely something for fabricators to keep an eye on.”
Ontra is also seeing more floor-to-ceiling stone fireplaces on some of his projects as well. “Some of the bigger fireplace projects that I am doing are about 16 feet tall and made out of natural stone,” said Ontra. “That’s probably our most extravagant, but others are 8 feet tall. It is something that is being done on our higher-end homes, but these homeowners are wanting it more and more to make a focal point in the home.”