Goodbye, formal and fussy. hello, classy casual.
So says Atlantic Stone’s Joe Sykes, who is in the habit of spotting trends in natural stone as he works with interior designers and homeowners. He sees a new focus on warmth and easy living in kitchen design and calls the style “classy casual.” At the heart of the trend is homeowners’ need for a simpler life: an intimate, laid-back style that is maintenance-free. White and gray tones are still trending but homeowners also are gravitating toward warmer shades of tan and taupe and antique bronze finishes.
“In the past, kitchens had a formal design with heavy moldings, black countertops and dark cherry cabinets,” says Sykes. “Today, kitchens are decidedly less stuffy and although still classic, they are trending toward warmer tones. This makes sense considering the kitchen is the main gathering point in the home.”
Atlantic Stone’s showroom features hundreds of samples, including marble, granite, quartzite, onyx, travertine, quartz and glass. Homeowners frequently choose quartz and quartzite for custom countertops because of their beauty and sturdiness. While some prefer an engineered stone like quartz for its durability during the wear and tear of everyday family life, others turn to a natural stone like quartzite for its hardness and ability to mimic the look of marble. Both materials feature slabs with the creamy undertones and tan veining that warm up a kitchen and are reminiscent of Calacatta marble.
Continuing in the spirit of low maintenance, designers and homeowners are requesting solid stone slabs as backsplashes in the kitchen. “A full height backsplash of natural stone continues up from the countertop,” Sykes says, “and eliminates grout lines that are so hard to keep clean behind the sink and stovetop.”
Ease of maintenance is just as important in the bathroom, where homeowners crave a simpler cleaning routine. First up: eliminate tedious grout cleaning. Sykes has invested in new cutting technology that enables his team to install full porcelain slabs as shower walls, removing the hassle of cleaning the grout lines associated with smaller tiles. These porcelain slabs are just as elegant as they are low maintenance. “Porcelain has a very realistic marble look and can be bookmatched to align the veining in each slab and increase its appeal,” he says.
For customers looking to coordinate stone with tile, the company also carries a wide range of ceramic, porcelain, glass and slate tiles that are installed by professional tile setters.
Simplified, maintenance-free living has become so important to homeowners that Atlantic Stone’s sister company, Atlantic Stone & Tile Care, is growing. The company provides stone repair, restoration and maintenance services for homeowners who want to remove this to-do from their lists and put it in the hands of professionals they know and trust.
Sykes says: “Our service team repairs chips in stone countertops, cleans and seals showers, polishes natural stone, repairs misaligned seams due to house settling, and can refresh a worn polished finish by transforming it into a modern honed finish for an entirely new look.”
Sykes is committed to flexibility in meeting the design needs of his customers. There is one thing he isn’t flexible about—providing the best-quality stone fabrication and installation in
the greater Charleston area. This level of quality puts Atlantic Stone on the map as the best at tackling creative challenges head-on.
Sykes enjoys taking Mother Nature’s stone slabs and adding a bit of his creativity. He is particularly proud that his team does not shy away from challenging projects, and he enjoys the creative challenges associated with initiatives such as creating a matching stone sink to blend seamlessly with a homeowner’s countertops.
The focus on creativity is really all about the customer. “They have a vision, and I help transform this visual concept into reality,” he says.
Dana W. Todd is a professional writer specializing in interior design, real estate, luxury homebuilding, landscape design and architecture.