Article by: Camila | Source: idesignarch

I must say: I'm addictive to Pinterest, and I've seen many gorgeous swimming pools in there, as well as in many architecture magazines. But I've never seen anything like this one:

The pool is built into a Berkshires limestone quarry on the grounds of a private estate Sheffield, Massachusetts, on about 50 acres owned by Joel Goldstein, the president of Mercedes Distribution Co. (no, not that Mercedes). But Goldstein didn't actually dream up and build the pool. I've learned the background story by talking to Michael Giannamore, the vice president of Aqua Pool & Patio, whose Connecticut-based family business built the pool.

Featuring a depth of 3 feet to 7 feet and a 16-foot cascading waterfall the pool measures 40 feet, part of the secluded property located deep in the woods in a manner that preserved the landscape’s natural beauty. Goldstein greatly improved and beautified the property, but the transformation of the quarry into a pool was the previous owner's project. The property is "buried in the woods," Giannamore said, and she bought it expressly because of the quarry, where she wanted a "swimming hole." She imposed no budget whatsoever, but she wanted the quarry as intact as possible. That ruled out "the most logical and predictable" solution, Giannamore said: concrete blocks lined with gunite (basically, cement sprayed from a firehose, he said), then covered with limestone to match.

That meant a degree of uncertainty probably never experienced by Aqua Pool before or since: The designers had no idea whether the pool would hold water. They had to leave the quarry's three existing walls entirely untouched, and in the floor they were allowed only to jackhammer two trenches for cleaning nozzles. "Weren't there cracks in the limestone?" you may ask. According to Giannamore, yes, there were, and they were big! For all they knew, the water would immediately leak out when they finished the job and filled the pool, but the owner was OK with the risk, so they went ahead.

The finished pool is about 15,000 gallons, measuring roughly 20 by 40 feet, and deepening from about 3 feet at its shallowest to about 7 feet. The accompanying house, which Goldstein expanded from a simple poolhouse into a weekend home, is about 3,500 square feet.

So how's the quarry pool doing at holding water in the 15 years since Aqua Pool broke ground? "Better than most swimming pools," Giannamore says. "It holds water perfectly." Evaporation isn't a big problem, either, but it is a "service struggle, because you can't cover the pool for the winter (a cover manufacturer laughed at him when he asked). So every year it fills with leaves and debris, requiring a power wash after the pool is drained; then it's filled up with chlorinated water for a new swim season.

By now we're sure you're wondering, as I was, the obvious question: what's the price tag on one of those. But unfortunately all you will get from Giannamore is: "A lot". And it's "better-looking in person than any video you'll see."

Is this the most beautiful backyard pool in America? I think it might just be. And we've seen plenty of spectacular pools in our beloved Miami. But if I'm wrong, let me know in the comments!

Article by Camila

Not enough people spend time thinking about how much (or how little) sheen they want on their countertop until after the installation is completed. I get it, it’s easy to get wrapped up in looking at color and veining that you forget about everything else!

However, this aspect has a huge effect on how the stone actually looks in your kitchen, and it also has repercussions for how it’ll need to be handled and cared for. Neither a honed or polished finish impacts the true nature, beauty, and durability of the stone slab. And some stones are naturally more resistant than others when it comes to scratch and acid resistance (granite and quartzite tend to outperform marble). However, for “softer materials” that are more prone to wear (translation: marbles), the type of finish may add an extra layer of security against stains or camouflage pesky scratches and etches. Therefore in some cases, taking the shine out of your countertop could be the best decision you make.

A matte countertop is one that has had the high-polished factory finish removed, which is typically done with various grits of sanding pads. The result is a satiny-smooth finish that is nearly matte in appearance but still retains a slight sheen so light still reflects gently off the surface.

Although high-gloss is generally the most popular countertop finish, honed and leather finishes are also beloved by homeowners for their softer, more “aged” and natural-looking appearance. It also has some major benefits when used in high-traffic areas, like in the kitchen, because it tends to hide the inevitable scratches and etches more effectively. Additionally, the matte, smooth surface is less slippery when wet which makes this finish a safer choice for bathroom flooring and staircases. A honed countertop reflects less light than a high-gloss surface, so it won’t highlight and draw attention to the indentations that a scratch causes or the noticeable dullness of etching on a shiny surface.

The downsides to a honed finish are that more of the stone’s natural pores are exposed than on a gloss surface, and because of that, it is more susceptible to damage. So, any spills that happen on a honed surface have to be cleaned up immediately, otherwise, they can sink into the stone and cause an etch or even cracks and discoloration over time. To prevent this kind of damage, honed countertops tend to need more frequent sealing. Just make sure you use a specially-designed matte sealer.

If you’re considering a honed finish on your stone countertops, it’s ideal to have this procedure done before the countertop is installed, as it can sometimes be difficult to do it once the stone is in place. However, it is definitely possible to have the finish adjusted later on, it just might come with an expensive labor cost. Thinking about DIY-ing it? You’ll be able to find instructions all over the internet, but we highly recommend you have a professional hone your stone unless you have a lot of experience using a sander and buffer. We recommend you leave this job to the experts so you can be sure you’ll end up with the finish you want, not an expensive mistake.

A honed countertop really highlights stone as a natural material. The soft matte finish feels more true-to-nature, and while you may need to seal more frequently, the fact that scratches and etches show up less regularly is a big advantage in high-traffic areas. Got a question about how you can hone your stone?

Drop us a line right here!

Post by: Camila da Paz | Source: Architectural Digest

Natural stone isn't just stone. Every slab is distinct, some more subtly grained while others are vividly expressive. No matter your preference in pattern, a recently popular trend towards book-matched slabs is the material at its most statement-making.

But what does "book-matched" really mean? Book-matching occurs when the veining and movement of an individual slab is mirrored by its "slab sister". Meaning when placed end to end, the veining and movement carries on from one slab to the other creating a continuing flow or pattern. The process of book-matching occurs during manufacturing when alternating sides of the slab are polished. It adds cost and time to the finishing process and not all natural stone is suitable for book-matching.

Natural stones with strong movement and veining are best suited for book-matching.  Many varieties of marble, quartzite and travertine have the right characteristics befitting a book-matched installation.

When considering your overall interior design, it is important to carefully consider the type of book-matching: veincut vs crosscut.  Typically, book-matched slabs manufactured crosscut offer the most dramatic and varied patterns where book-matched veincut slabs offer a more structured and striated patterning.

"Fundamentally, I am all about finding interesting and authentic ways to incorporate nature into most of my designs," says interior designer Jeremiah Brent, who sprung for book-matched marble in the bathroom he co-designed with his partner Nate Berkus for their Manhattan home. "Book-matched marble is one of the truest ways to showcase the natural beauty of the stone and can become a statement piece of art."

We know what you're thinking: Acquiring two mirror-image slabs of natural stone is probably very costly, right? Not necessarily... Compared with engineered stones and porcelain, natural stone can be the most affordable option, depending on the material you choose.

After you pick the slabs you love, with the right clarify, definition, and veining, it has to then be professionally 'sliced' from one flat slab into two even flatter slabs by your fabricator. Come installation day, you'll want to be sure the two pieces line up precisely right. It's no minor undertaking.

But, due to its high-impact look, a small piece of book-matched marble goes quite a long way: "Use it in places where it can not only be appreciated, but also transition through the years seamlessly," Brent says, like on "bathroom walls, kitchen islands, fireplace mantels, accent walls and even on the floor." And if marble is starting to sound like too dull for you, remember that it's possible to book-match other natural materials, too. It instantly makes a space feel custom and elevated."

Let me know in the comments if you like book-match slabs design!


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