Going Green with Granite
Picking the right color for natural stone countertops can be a vexing challenge for even the brightest design teams. Sometimes the answer is all about finding just the right green. Cindy McClure is the owner of Grossmueller’s Design Consultants based in Washington DC. McClure’s clients were interested in a modest addition that would give them enough room to accommodate a kosher kitchen. Keeping kosher means separating meat and dairy items, which requires two sinks, two ovens, two dishwashers, and lots of cabinets for separating pots, pans, and utensils.
The clients were looking for a black granite, but then fell in love with a green granite called Verde San Francisco, says McClure. Verde San Francisco, also known as Verde Maritaca, is quarried in Brazil.
The ample amount of base cabinetry would end up being topped with Verde San Francisco slabs from Granite Source, based in Chantilly, Virginia. Nicholas Draper, president of Granite Source, says: “The Verdes are in general very popular. Around 2010, there was a switch to whites, but now we seem to be switching back to greens with movement in the stone.”
Movement is reflected by the patterns and swirls in the stone. Larger grained patterns read as more dynamic while tighter and muted grains appear to be more static. The patterns are actually created by the pressure that forms the stone. “When there is less pressure, the stone isn’t as dense and you’re going to see whites, greens and blues within the stone, but then when you step back and look, one color takes over,” says Draper.
Using a slab with a dynamic pattern can be a bit more challenging than static stones. Many kitchens, including this one, have an entire island covered by one solid slab. If you are turning corners around cabinets or trying to get the most usable stone out of the slab, figuring out where the seams will go has to be taken into account. According to McClure: “The seams have to make sense. You have to be careful with getting it to line up right.”
The overall look of the kitchen sprang from the decision to use green granite. McClure’s clients picked the countertops they wanted and keyed all the rest of the design decisions around them. The backsplash is glass tile, the walls are taupe, and the Shaker-style cabinet are painted in an off-white finish.
McClure had another client leaning towards the dark side for a kitchen renovation. In this case, the client was encased in a 1920s-era center hall Colonial with the kitchen tucked into the back of the house. “They liked some of the darker greens. They wanted a more up-to-date kitchen with an island and a peninsula, which meant putting an addition off the back,” says McClure.
Things lightened from the darker stones when the clients visited Fernando’s Marble Shop in Rockville, Maryland. “They have a lot of green stones at Fernando’s,” says McClure, “and they ended up selecting Verde Laura because it had more movement and visual interest.”
Going green opens up several options the design pallet. Mario Cantarilho, VP at Fernando’s, commented: “Greens go well with just about everything: with black, with stainless steel appliances, and it works great with maple or cherry cabinets.” McClure adds: “A lot of times we use green as a neutral. It can also be used as a base or a highlight.”
In addition to color and movement, green granite also provides design options via how the stone is finished. According to Draper, the current trend is a move to honed surfaces that read as a matte finish. “Nowadays people are looking for something different, and different is not shiny,” he says.
Obviously there is more to the world of natural stone than meets the eye. Color, movement and finish customize a look that will always be popular. “Green is a color that the human eye can appreciate,” says Draper. “It will still look good in ten years and people feel like they have a piece of nature in their kitchen – which they do.”