In our series What’s Cookin’ in Your Kitchen? we have been impressed and inspired by the chefs and farmers interviewed this past year. Expanding upon this trend, for the new year, we have included kitchen industry experts and looked to Kayte Becker, A&D-Rep for Levantina’s Chicago Stone Center, to provide her insight and experience for our series.
Levantina The Natural Stone Company is known worldwide as a fine purveyor of all types of natural stone. In this interview I would like to turn the focus to granite more specifically. It used to be that granite was the ONLY surface that one would consider when redoing their kitchen or bath. Now there are other natural and man-made options out there competing with granite. Kayte, with your background in the industry, you’re a perfect person to get us up to speed on the current status of granite and how it’s changed. Let’s dig in, shall we?:
“Natural stone has beauty and depth, is beautifully imperfect and can never be duplicated. Every single slab of stone has its own characteristics, veins, spots and patterns that can never be repeated. … “
PB Kitchen Design – Levantina is known world-wide, and has several branches in the US. Tell us about the selection a customer can expect to find in your Chicago Stone Center.
Kayte Becker – Levantina Chicago is a boutique stone yard with the largest selections of granite, quartzite, and marble in the Midwest. Our showroom is organized by stone type and full slabs are displayed for easy viewing. All of our stocked colors are displayed on the showroom floor and we keep additional quantities in the back racks. Levantina also has a real time online inventory website, which is very helpful for our clients to preview before the first visit. We encourage all of our clients to bring cabinet samples, flooring, backsplash, etc., to make the selection process easier.
PBK – What’s changed with Granite? Is anything new or are Uba Tuba and Dakota Mahogany still very popular?
KB – I think it’s a common misconception that all granite is Uba Tuba and Dakota Mahogany-those colors are so old!! Many homeowners do not realize that there is just about every color available in granite and the color choices have kept up with current design trends. Granite patterns have also changed over the years-we see more and more granite with veining and movement. There is so much beyond speckled gold granite with red spots.
PBK – We’ve seen Quartz (i.e., Cambria, Caesarstone, etc.) rise in popularity in recent years. What does Granite have that those options don’t?
KB – Natural stone has beauty and depth, is beautifully imperfect and can never be duplicated. Every single slab of stone has its own characteristics, veins, spots, and patterns that can never be repeated. Quartz does not have any of that. When you touch natural stone, it’s real and has this feeling of permanence and history-while quartz feels like nothing. Quartz products are what they are and do have some good applications but will never have the richness of something crated by the Earth. Natural stone looks the same today as it did a thousand years ago and will be just as beautiful in a thousand years from now. Colors and styles will always change but there is something about having a real product that will never go out of style.
PBK – How do you compare Granite to other counter materials from a durability and maintenance standpoint?
KB – Granite is the easiest stone to maintain in any kitchen, especially busy kitchens with large families. Granite is stain and scratch resistant and will not etch. Contrary to popular belief, granite only needs to be sealed every 10+ years with a high quality sealer. Many of the quartz manufacturers’ selling points is that quartz does not need to be sealed-honestly, it’s only an hour or two of time every decade (not a big deal!).
PBK – What’s the main difference between Quartzite and Granite?
KB – From my perspective, as a stone supplier, quartzite and granite are different because of the geological process that formed the stone but are similar because they are both formed of silicate minerals. Granite is an Igneous rock, which means “fire”, and formed through cooling of magma or lava, below or above the Earth’s surface. Quartzite was once sandstone, and through the metamorphic process (heat & pressure), it was recrystallized into a new stone, called quartzite. Both quartzite and granite come in large variety of colors but quartzite tends to have more veining and pattern.
From a homeowner or consumer’s perspective, the main different between quartzite and granite is cost per square foot and the overall look. Many people like quartzite because the veining is similar to Marble but the price point is usually much higher than a granite. Granite is usually a more affordable option for most homeowners.
PBK – People love the light and grey counters. Does Granite have anything to offer here?
KB – Levantina has a large selection of white and grey granite slabs because the market and trends are demanding it. My favorite granite colors right now are Salinas White, Andino White, and Levantina’s very own Lennon. One big advantage of granite, is that the slabs typically come in large or jumbo sizes, perfect for islands.
PBK – Customers often ask about caring for their counters, are there specific products and practices you recommend?
KB – I always give my clients very simple instructions-most importantly make sure your counter tops are sealed with a high quality sealer at installation, secondly, use a natural stone cleaner for cleanups and daily cleaning (those can be found online or big box stores) and lastly, wipe up any spills as soon as possible.
PBK – Since this blog is titled “What’s Cookin’ in Your Kitchen?” what does Kayte Becker cook up like no one else?
KB- I cook almost every night so it’s hard to narrow it down to one thing. My favorite Sunday dinner is marinated strip steak with homemade chimichurri sauce.
PBK – If you were designing your own dream kitchen, and had to decide on one counter surface forever, what would that be?
KB – I fall in love with a different stone every day so this is almost an impossible question. If I had to choose one, I would select a granite with large quartz crystals in it, like our Lennon (pictured above) or Titanium Granite. They both have so much interest and depth that I would never be bored seeing it every day.