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DWYER MARBLE & STONE  •  DESIGN NEWSLETTER  •  Vol. 2, Issue 3  •  Back Issues click to call: 248.476.4944
News & Views
 
Granite: Taking A Closer Look

© UseNaturalStone.com

In the stone industry, "granite" often means any hard stone that is not marble. Different dealers may use the term slightly differently. That said, stones with the same functional traits can be discussed together for simplicity's sake.

This article will talk about igneous rocks that comprise most of the granite family. Gneiss is a metamorphic rock that has been heated and compressed to the point that a linear pattern develops ...   read more>>>

How Natural Stone Helps Create
Balance in Spas

© UseNaturalStone.com

When Tamara Wills, owner of Allyu Spa in Chicago, decided to open the doors of her spa almost a decade ago, her intention was to create an inviting space for guests to connect with their bodies.

First order of business: to transform the industrial space at in Chicago's River North neighborhood. Natural stone plays a big role in many spa designs, but Wills took it one step further by using it as a ...   read more>>>

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Granite: Taking A Closer Look

by Karin Kirk


What's In A Name?

In the stone industry, "granite" often means any hard stone that is not marble. Different dealers may use the term slightly differently. That said, stones with the same functional traits can be discussed together for simplicity's sake.

This article will talk about igneous rocks that comprise most of the granite family. Gneiss is a metamorphic rock that has been heated and compressed to the point that a linear pattern develops, giving the stone flowing stripes of color. Schist is another metamorphic rock that contains abundant mica, which imparts a glittery look to the stone.


Defining Granite

Let's talk about true, geologic granite for a moment.

Geologist's granite is made of four minerals: feldspars, quartz, mica, and hornblende. The feldspars can be white, light grey, and/or pink. Quartz is usually glassy grey, the mica is black or silver flakes, and hornblende looks like black rectangles. Each of these ingredients is large enough to see and point to. The stone has a light color and a chunky texture that contains all of the colors evenly distributed throughout the stone, without any particular pattern or grain.

Granite is but one of many types of igneous rocks. Like most scientists, geologists love to organize and classify things, and there are all kinds of important meanings behind the mineral contents and textures of igneous rocks. But for commercial use, the minerals and colors are mostly a matter of aesthetics. Thanks to the variations of melted rock, we can choose from igneous rocks that are pale grey, creamy tan, warm bronze, dark green, or stark black.


Granite Forms In Magma Chambers

Granite and all the other commercially useful igneous rocks form in a similar way. They all start out as molten rock that cools underground. Unlike lava that erupts from a volcano with dramatic flair, granite does not erupt. It stays underground and slowly cools down, changing from a thick liquid to a solid mass of crystals. Depending on the depth and size of the magma chamber, this process can take thousands to millions of years.

In general, the longer it takes for a stone to turn from fluid magma to solid rock, the larger the crystals. If the whole magma chamber cools down at the same rate, the rock will have an even texture where all the minerals are the same size. If it cools at different rates, you'll get minerals of varying sizes. Fine-grained stones like Absolute Black cooled relatively quickly, near the Earth's surface where it's not that hot. Coarse-grained stones like Uba Tuba cooled more slowly.

Why Granite?

There's a reason why granite is so well known and widely used. It's basically bulletproof. Walk around any city in the US, and you are likely to see granite used in building stone, monuments, landscaping, and even curbing. Step inside many kitchens and baths, and you'll see even more granite. Granite is a trouble-free and easygoing choice, with enough variations in color and pattern to compliment almost any aesthetic.

Despite its slightly confusing name, it's worth getting to know the many shades of granite. As Juliet said to Romeo, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." We know that granite, by whatever name you like to call it, is just as awesome.

© UseNaturalStone.com


How Natural Stone Helps Create
Balance in Spas

by Megy Karydes


Interior Design Spa Ideas

When Tamara Wills, owner of Allyu Spa in Chicago, decided to open the doors of her spa almost a decade ago, her intention was to create an inviting space for guests to connect with their bodies. First order of business: to transform the industrial space at in Chicago's River North neighborhood. Natural stone plays a big role in many spa designs, but Wills took it one step further by using it as a focal point and creating a transitional piece to bring the organic and industrial feel of the space into harmony.

The historic landmark building located at 600 W. Chicago Avenue was home to the former Montgomery Ward mail order headquarters. It was built specifically to handle the massive works of receiving, processing and shipping millions of catalog orders in its heyday.


Gabion wall at Allyu Spa. Photo courtesy of John Faier.

How Stone Helps Create Balance In Spas

While some would think the space too industrial to work, Wills thought it was the perfect blank slate to create the type of environment she sought for her clients. She focused on using earthy colors, textures, and substrates in the overall design. To help balance the space, she and her team created their version of a supportive gabion wall — a steel cage filled with large Wisconsin field stones.

"It has both a strong and structured industrial feel and a completely organic feel," Wills says. "There is a walkway between the front and the back treatment area bounded by these gabion walls."

To help create an even more intimate feel, they lowered the ceiling so clients feel like they're entering a cave. "Clients love the wall," she admits, noting that many clients have found it a popular area to take selfies. "Hopefully, the unconscious feel of passing through stimulates the mind and body to get ready for a transition from over-stimulated and distracted to inward-focused and reflective."

Spas have been using natural stone in a number of ways and for a number of reasons: from focal points to creating an ambiance. Suzanne Falk, interior designer and owner of Suzanne Falk Interior Design, believes using natural stone within a spa setting does a great job bringing Mother Nature indoors. Stone is elegant, durable and timeless, all attributes one appreciates in a spa.


Essere Spa at Castello di Casole.

In some cases, a spa can natural stone intended for another purpose. Essere Spa at Castello di Casole in Tuscany is housed in the estate's former wine cellar. One of the most dramatic spaces on the property, the spa took advantage of the space's barrel-vaulted ceilings and restored stone walls to create a theatrical setting accentuated by long views across an expansive valley. Today, the spa provides full treatments designed to relax and nurture the body, mind and spirit using local ingredients such as rosemary, grape and olive oil, further bringing the beauty of the outdoors inside.


Photo by Suzanne Falk Interior Design.

Creating A Spa At Home Using Natural Stone

Even if you can't make it to a spa on a regular basis, it's easy to bring that spa-like feeling at home, says Falk, who thinks everyone should have at least one element of a spa in their home bathroom.

When clients are ready to incorporate stone, she recommends a limestone or mosaic marble floor, or perhaps trying to incorporate natural stone walls and a marble countertop.

"Natural stones are luxurious and give you a feeling of serenity," Falk adds. "Who doesn't want to have a spa-like bathroom in your home where you can relax and restore?"

© UseNaturalStone.com