Friday, October 16, 2009


There are several more slab choices from the Carrara region and the following two are readily available. The first is Bianco Gioia, a white background with the veining of a Carrara. This is a great choice for bathrooms, it's a softer look than the more dramatic Calacatta and in a honed finish can be stunning when blended with glass and touches of metal. The metals you choose as liners or deco pieces should match the fixtures and hardware throughout the bathroom or kitchens. One of my favorite places to shop for metal is Landmark Metal Tile, their website is moving and will be back up soon at The metal is an overlay on light weight material so it will not rust and can be used in the shower. They have about 20 colors to choose from in several different finishes. Their tiles range in size from 1" to large decos for back splashes and lots of trims to choose from.

If your bathroom renovation is on the second floor you should hire a structural engineer to find out how much weight you can add before you slab an entire shower. A cubic foot of marble weights 144 lbs, two shower walls could add 1000 lbs, add in the floor materials, counter top and tub surround, that's a ton of material, literally.

Another slab choice is Statuary White or Statuario, this is the quarry that gave birth to so many beautiful white statues of the past. When they find a block with very little veining it is put aside for the sculptors.

This slab guarantees that your island will be a focal point and complements any stainless appliances. The surrounding counter tops can be Statuario, Lagos Azul, Basaltina, Soapstone, Black Granite, Benjamin Gray or Brazilian Gray Slate. What I love about all the choices is that you can piece together something special and unique just for your kitchen. To all my old retail clients I always recommended that they choose the slab first, all the other colors and materials will flow from your slabs. You can always paint cabinets or change out the floor or back splash, but you'll probably move before you change your counter tops due to the expense and difficulty. So please, love, love, love your slabs because you'll be living with it for years to come!

Have a great weekend and I'll be back on Monday with other choices for surrounding counter tops, floors and back splashes.

Most of the slab photos come from Sevak at Modul Marble in Los Angeles.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


One of the most dramatic looks from the Carrara region. The veins are all grey in the Calacatta. When the gold is part of the stone it is called Calacatta Oro. Oro means gold in Italian. The background color of the marble is white which adds to the contrast. This is why I recommend choosing your slab material first, to blend in trims, mosaics and tiles you need to find materials with a white background.

These are book matched slabs and they can be used with either of the long sides matched for shower stalls or this match for long kitchen counter tops. These slabs are close to 60" high so that you can get two counter widths and back splashes or laminate pieces. Book matched slabs are generally more expensive than regular slabs, but there are ways to mitigate the expense. Chinese marble has the same white background and the materials made in China are less expensive. If you blend in mouldings and mosaics made from those materials your overall expense might be similar to non-book matched slabs.

The gold in Calacatta Oro lets you use light gold in the floor and wall materials. Jerusalem Gold also known a Halila complements the marble. Jerusalem Gold is a limestone that is available in polished, honed, brushed and tumbled. From the same Jerusalem quarries is another strata that is called Benjamin Gray and is a great blend with the Calacatta.

Another great choice is Lagos Blue or Azul and Lagos Gold from Spain. This limestone has more movement in the stone than the Jerusalem limestone.

The finishes available on the Calacatta slabs are polished or honed. Personally I recommend marble tiles on the floor be honed or brushed to make them less slippery. Mosaics come in all different sizes and textures. For floors, walls and shower floors there are Calacatta penny rounds, hexagons, bricks and squares available. To change up the classic look you can use glass or metal trim, mosaics or tiles. There are silver glass ovals or rounds from Sicis that can transform the classic to the extraordinary.

A source of some of beautiful kitchens and bathrooms using Calacatta and Calacatta Oro can be found at Velvet and Linen, please visit and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Carrara marble in general has a very light grey background color with small veins. It is a softer look than Callacatta which is far more dramatic. I prefer a honed finish on Carrara for several reasons. First of all is promotes the softer feel. Secondly, it disguises the etch marks that show up from wine, vinegar and lemon juice. Last but not least is that if you need to have the stone surface restored, it's easier and less expensive to bring it back to honed rather than polished.

Carrara Bianco is sometimes called Venetino. There are trim pieces also available and are necessary if you are transitioning from slab which is 2cm or 3cm to tiles or mosaics which are 3/8 of an inch. You can use a bull nose pencil or a chair rail for horizontal definition or a pencil to finish off the edges. A great source for edges in a variety of stones is LM Natural Stone The have so many choices and finishes that your project will be amazing.

When matching up tiles and mosaics there are many choices. Personal favorites are 3 x 6 bricks in the Venezia Antiqua Rex line at Tile Shop they also have a couple of matching trim pieces. Also in the Venezia line is Lagos Azul that compliments the Carrara for use on floors or walls. Mosaics are available in several shops, just be aware that the Chinese marble mosaics that are called Carrara are actually a white background color, not grey and do not blend in as well as the Italian.

One company that is creating very interesting mixes of stone and glass trim for a more modern look is Voguebay The range in glass tile sizes is amazing. They also carry a range of gray basalt tiles that blend beautifully with Carrara. It is a solid gray with very little movement in the stone.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


When I was eleven, I stood in front of David for the first time, it was a memorable moment. I would love to visit Michelangelo's David more often, but in the meantime I content myself working with Carrara marble. The beautiful gray and/or gold veined marble has been quarried since the time of the Romans. The sculptors who shopped in the Carrara quarries in their day included Michelangelo, Giotto, Donatello and Bernini. When you visit Trevi Fountain or Piazza Navona the marble fountains you see are from the quarries of Carrara.

There are several different grades of Carrara and then other types that are quarried from nearby hills. Calacatta and Calacatta Oro are very popular to use for kitchen and bathroom counters and slabs to put in shower stalls. Because there are so many different shades of Carrara marble I want to encourage you as designers and/or consumers to pick out your slab first and then get the tiles to match. Over the next few days I'll show pictures of the different kinds of Carrara marble and give leads for matching tiles and trims. It's sometimes like a jigsaw puzzle putting all the pieces together for a final unique look but for me that's where the challenge is and the fun.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Over the last month I have learned why you should have thirty entries banked before you start your blog. I had lots of good intentions and then life happens. My 87 year old Father had a stroke and is now thankfully doing much better. Then there are doctors appointments for my Mother and older sister that I need to be the driver. Life goes on and now I'll do my best to return to the blog that allows me to talk about my favorite subject, tile and stone.

The tile below is one of my favorites and the bio is taken from Barbara's web-site. I have great admiration for women who look at their lives and decide to follow their bliss. It inspires me to do my best to showcase their work. Please check out

B.A. Schmidt Arts & Enterprises, Inc. is a family business. It was founded by Barbara Schmidt in 2000. Until that time, Barbara had worked first as a social worker and then for over 20 years as an attorney with the Federal government for both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Although during the day she investigated and litigated securities and commodities fraud, she actively developed her artistic skills in her spare time. She studied painting and drawing at night at Northwestern University and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She filled sketch book after sketch book of portraits of commuters that she drew daily on the train ride into the city. She also took classes at The Art Center of Highland Park in Highland Park, Illinois and the Evanston Art Center in Evanston, Illinois. Barbara has a B.A. from the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana), an MSW from the Jane Addams School of Social Work at the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) and a JD from De Paul University College of Law. (Chicago)