Monday, August 21, 2017

Slab and Template: Together Forever

I am currently working on a whole-house remodel for a client and we are in the kitchen phase. After we picked out our color scheme for the cabinets, counter, and backsplash, we set about choosing materials. I found a gorgeous backsplash made out of crosshatch pieces of light cream marble punctuated with decorative squares of variegated Dream Stone.

Since the feeling of this house is light, open, and calm, I wanted a counter material that would have very minimal movement in terms of a pattern so as not to compete with the texture of the backsplash. My clients prefer natural stone and one of the prettiest out there is Crema Marfil. This stone is a marble, and while I generally try to steer clients away from using marble in a kitchen setting as it can etch from acidic foods like vinegar and lemons, Crema Marfil is a little heartier. If properly sealed, and if you are the type of cook who cleans up as you go, then this marble could be for you. The cream color has beautiful clouds of tan and warm grey, making it a soft visual statement.

But choosing the type of material is only half the story. When buying slabs for a kitchen, I always like to bring clients to the marble and stone slab showroom so we can choose the exact slabs we want. Stone is a natural material and variation in color and pattern is an inevitability. So it is wise to have the slab warehouse open up what is called the "packet" (the bundle of stone slabs in their order of how they were mined from the quarry) for your inspection. After all, the sample you saw might be from a packet or bundle that was quarried years ago and the material being quarried now might not look the same in terms of color or veining.

My client and I went to the slab warehouse where they used a special mechanized crane to lift and lay out seven slabs for us to review. Only three are needed for the kitchen so we had a nice selection to choose from. Below you can see the rows and rows of slabs under the movable crane that travels up and down the aisles.

It's a delicate and dangerous operation as these slabs can weight upwards of 800 or 900 pounds each.

And here are the slabs, in sequence of how they appear in the packet, laid out for us to inspect.

After we chose three slabs, they were shipped to the fabricator for a template review. Larger marble and stone warehouses often only sell the material and do not act as fabricators (the ones who will cut the slabs up into counter shapes with properly sized holes for sinks and faucets, etc.). In this case, the fabricator is nearby so transport was relatively simple. If you choose your slabs from the fabricator, this step will obviously be eliminated.

Here are photos of the templates on our chosen slabs. A template is a pattern that is made by the fabricator of the exact dimensions and shapes of the counter top. Sink and faucet holes are cut on site to guarantee precision.

These are just a few of the many thousands of steps and decisions involved in a kitchen remodel. If you're thinking of a new kitchen but feel overwhelmed with the prospect, give me a call. I'm happy to guide you through it all to the kitchen of your dreams.

Happy designing!

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