Rock Solid and Gorgeous

We did get some good news recently. The granite place has found our ‘Bora Bora’ granite. It’s time for another field trip to London to scope things out.

At this point, we have largely made our colour selections. At least, we think so. As far as the kitchen goes, a lot will depend upon the colouring of the granite. Because there is a lot of colour variation, there could yet be a change in cabinet and wall colours (particularly depending upon whether the granite has an overall ‘cool’ or ‘warm’ cast to it). Much will depend upon what we see when we get a look at the actual slabs going into our house.

The original plan was to have a look at the slabs a week ago. Sadly, that plan changed when Southern Ontario got hit with an impressive and massive snow storm. Mark was supposed to fly in the night before; his flight got cancelled, and driving anywhere that day was strongly inadvisable. As excited as we were to see the granite, the appointment needed to be rescheduled.

As a result of scheduling commitments with both Gene and ourselves, the first time that we could all get out to London was the following Friday. Fortunately, the day was bright and sunny, if still cold and suffering a hangover of the previous week’s storm.

Getting to see our slabs of granite was an awesome experience. We knew that we loved the granite overall, but there were a lot of questions of how all of the colours of the kitchen would come together. We wanted unique and exciting, and we really didn’t want drab; given that many of our preliminary colour choices were technically ‘grey’ (although a green-grey), this was definitely a risk. Given that the colours we had chosen spilled into the yellow end of the spectrum, slabs that had cooler colour tones would not have worked. We would have then been back to the drawing board.

Bora Bora, in all its glory.

The actual slabs we have secured, however, are definitely towards the warm end of things. And they are absolutely, positively gorgeous. Rather than granite, they resemble a sedimentary rock that has been built up in layers. There are tones of green, grey, brown, orange, black and blue, all depending upon where on the slab you are looking. The overall result should be absolutely stunning.

Checking out the granite for the kitchen. It should look amazing.

Last time we were out in London, we got so excited picking the kitchen granite that we completely neglected the bathroom. So apart from inspecting the ‘Bora Bora,’ we also had to select a stone for the bathroom counter. The overall design is leaning to a traditional, old-world feel, and something in similar to a marble would be ideal. Marble itself, however, is decidedly NOT ideal. It is a very porous stone, and would quickly become stained from water, toothbrushes and the like. A granite is far preferable, but ideally we want a granite that will have the feel of marble.

The granite for the bathroom. Not marble, but you can see it from here.

We looked at a number of potential slabs, but ultimately went with one that has a lot of ‘texture’ to it. While it is far more ‘grey’ than we had in mind, it should be awesome with the vanity that we’ve selected. The vanity itself will be a deep blue (the actual colour is ‘Indie-go-go.’ Really). It should also play off the tiles that we’ve chosen for the floor and wainscotting beautifully.

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Go Shopping…

And so, it’s that time. The time to pick out what we want in terms of finishings for Boo Manor. Granite, flooring, plumbing, lighting… the works. This is where major dithering and debate can happen, not to mention untold arguments, disagreements, exhibitions of righteous indignation and walking-off-in-a-huff displays of orneriness. This is where a designer earns their keep, delicately negotiating between husband and wife, while trying to ward them off of decisions bordering on, in aesthetic terms, capital offences. Unless, of course, they are working with us. Then they just need to keep up.

The first order of business was finding granite. In that there are much fewer options for granite, and infinitely more in terms of tile, paint and colouring, the theory is that we start with an anchor and work up from there. So we picked up Gene and headed off to London to find some stone.

The granite showroom. How we are used to shopping for granite.

What we found at our destination was a showroom that looked a whole lot like the showroom that we picked our last granite from. There is a wall of samples, of a reasonable size, that show the types of stone available and the finishing options that can be applied. We hung around for a while, waiting for the granite consultant, considering our options. This, though, is not how Alberto helps you to pick granite. No wimpy samples for him. We’re going back into the warehouse to look at whole slabs.

Shopping for granite, Alberto style. Samples? Bah. We’re going to look at slabs.

Granite, when quarried, starts life as a 50,000 lb. block of stone. And no, I am not making that figure up. It’s a block that is about six-by-six-by-nine feet in size. From there, it is cut into a slab that is, depending upon the quality of the stone, either 3/4″ or 1 1/4″ in thickness, but still a good six feet by nine feet in size. And not light. To check out one stone, Alberto had one of the workers turn it around. This involved a ceiling mounted crane that can literally go anywhere in the warehouse, pluck up a stone in hydraulic pincers, and carry it wherever it needs to go.

Moving a slab of granite. Making it look this easy involves some impressive machinery.

When you look at a slab, you realize just how much variation there is in stone. Two slabs mere feet apart in the original block can show completely different colouring and pattern. Given that a kitchen the size of ours will use at least two (and probably three) slabs, you need to work with consecutive panels from the same block. And you get to pick your slabs. The actual one that will go into your kitchen. Or bathroom. Or wherever.

The CNC machine makes cutting giant pieces of stone look like child’s play.

Working with Alberto was hilarious. For the most part, he doesn’t think about price. Differences between grades one and five are rounding errors, and from there we progressively move from eek to boing. In his perfect world, every kitchen would be finished with Carrera marble. In fact, he showed us slabs that came from the same marble quarry that supplied stone for sculptures by Michelangelo. Impressive as that is, marble is really not optimal for a kitchen; it is porous, shows scratches and changes colour with time. For Alberto, this is ‘developing a beautiful patina’; and in a bathroom, I might go for it. But I cook with cast iron frying pans, and I’m not about to change, so granite it will be.

Having toured the warehouse in its entirety, we quickly settled on a short list of two slabs. As I said, keep up; we move fast. One was an amazing piece of granite that featured gorgeous, warm colouring – browns, beiges and blacks in a really intriguing, vibrant pattern. Very tempting, and for a while it was my first choice (although I think it never got higher than number two on Dianne’s short list). It would have made a major statement in the kitchen, and pretty much defined the look and feel of the rest of the room. Counters as show pieces. Two years ago, I would probably have gone there, as well. Today, we’re buying for us, not for what other people think of us.

A beautiful piece of stone. Vibrant and impressive.

And that led to what quickly became a unanimous choice – a mellow, green and brown granite slab dominated by gorgeous undulations of grey, black and brown; it almost looks sedimentary, but isn’t. That also led us to revisit our choices in terms of cabinet colour (we were going with an ivory cream colour, but have since recanted – we may be decisive, but we’ll still change our minds when necessary). Called ‘sea mist’ or ‘Bora Bora’, depending upon who you ask, it is a fabulous, relaxing, awesome-looking piece of stone. The two slabs in the warehouse, however, are already spoken for. Which will simply not do. Alberto needs to find us three slabs of Bora Bora, stat.

Bora Bora. Or Sea Mist. Your call. Alberto, we need three slabs.