March 2015

Distintive Granite & Marble

Author: Andrea Antunes McGilton

It’s spring. The air is fragrant, the flowers are beautiful and it’s time to move outdoors. Here in the Lowcountry, we are blessed with a climate that allows us to live outdoors practically all year long. Many residents have already discovered how to use stone in creative ways to design outdoor living spaces that are practical, comfortable, elegant and virtually maintenance-free.

Natural stone is used in abundance on patios, pool surrounds, fireplaces, cabana baths and most every other alfresco application.

Outdoor kitchens and entertainment areas have become increasingly popular. In fact, the outdoor kitchen has moved from luxury concept to mainstream reality. One important reason for this focus on outdoor furnishings is the easy accessibility and affordability of natural stone.

Natural stone is durable and virtually indestructible. It’s the perfect material for outdoor applications, because it can withstand almost anything. In addition to requiring virtually no maintenance, stone actually mellows with time and use, providing a rich patina that endures for generations. Visit the ancient cities of Europe and the Mediterranean to quickly see why they first chose this material to build structures.

Practically speaking, natural stone actually camouflages dirt, dust, dander and the variety of small particles that drift around your home. Because no two stone tiles are exactly alike, the eye appreciates the overall composition as an ebb and flow of subtle hues, shade variations and muted color tones.

Granite, the granddaddy of natural stone, comes is so many colors and patterns, and has so many varieties from subtle texture to dramatic color movement, that it has become the focal point of outdoor design. The same quality and timeless look that is created inside the home can be created outdoors as well. The options are virtually limitless.

The leather finish available for granite has become one of the most popular options for outdoor surfaces. With a rustic look and a finish that hides pollen and causes water to bead, maintaining and cleaning leather-finished granite on counters, cooking islands and serving bars couldn’t be easier.

Travertine is an excellent choice for patios and pool decks, often preferred by architects and interior designers. With a surface that is brushed, the stone feels soft; it is not hot or cold on your feet, and it’s not slippery.
Travertine is also a good choice for floors in an outdoor cabana bath. Combined with granite that could be finished in different ways for different uses, a stone bath and shower is perfectly suited for outdoor living.

Colorful mosaics have existed outside for thousands of years and have a firm place in this ideal outdoor locale. While it might not be possible to clad the entire pool in a beautiful mosaic design, you can create borders, focal points and virtual art installations throughout your outdoor living areas.

Using granite, limestone and marble in your outdoor living spaces is also a wise investment. Realtors agree that the use of stone increases the value of your home. It also reduces maintenance costs and offers long-term durability in addition to aesthetic appeal.

Once considered, the applications for stone in outdoor living are indeed exciting. Granite tabletops and benches can be custom made, as can seating in and around a pool. Stone wet bars, serving bars, grill islands and cooking islands can add color and practicality. One island homeowner creatively installed a large slab of dramatic swirling granite as the artistic backdrop for the alfresco shower.

This spring, think stone, and let your imagination blossom! 

Andrea Antunes McGilton is project manager at Distinctive Granite and Marble, the 32-year-old company founded by her father, John Antunes. Distinctive has showrooms in River Walk, Lady’s Island, Pooler (Ga.) and on Hilton Head Island.

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