Stone is taking on a sinking feeling in today's high-style bathrooms. Learn how designers are using this age-old material in dramatic new ways.
By Jenny NashMore in Bathroom
Humans have been using stone since the beginning of time — today, we're motivated as much by beauty as by function. Modern bathrooms have stone floors, walls and counters, and now stone has earned itself a new place in the bathroom: the sink.
Stone sinks run the gamut from rustic (carved from whole pieces of stone with rough outside edges) to sleekly modern (an inclined slab of marble for gravity to guide water down the drain). To decide whether a stone sink is for you and your bathroom needs, here's what you need to know:
Most, if not all, stone bathroom sinks are carved from a single piece of rock. The type of stone varies: granite, marble, travertine, limestone and onyx, to name a few. The new, rock-hard fixtures run the color spectrum from white to black, with a rainbow in between.
Onyx, a new entry in the stone sink arena, has the most color variation, including vivid reds and bright greens. Marble, limestone and travertine offerings tend toward muted earth tones, though travertine can also be a rich, deep rust color or softer golds and greens. Granite is often black, but also comes in paler colors.
The composition of some of these materials makes them particularly compatible for bathroom applications. Granite, an igneous stone, is well known for its strength — it's why we use it for kitchen countertops. Limestone is a sedimentary rock, which makes it a little more porous than the others, and often has fossils visible in its surface. Travertine, often used in flooring and building, is created from limestone near hot and cold springs.
Styles of Substance
Vessel sinks are bathroom design's darlings these days, and stone is a perfect foil for this form. John Lang, a kitchen and bath designer with Lang's Traditions of Bucks County, in Newtown, Penn., installed a red travertine vessel sink in a small powder room. The client wanted to keep the existing terra cotta floor, so Lang worked off that style and added river-stone wainscoting and a black granite vanity top. On top of that sits a red travertine vessel sink from De La Frontera, which sells handcrafted sinks from Mexico. Lang first used stone for a client five years ago, installing a crema marfil marble vessel sink on top of a vanity made of the same stone. He also used a black granite slab sink in an outdoor kitchen project.
A stone sink would also fit in a more formal bathroom. Bates and Bates' La Concha, a carved marble shell-shaped basin on a matching pedestal, would fit in any traditional bath.
If you have a yen for Zen style, choose a square stone sink for an Asian tone, such as Stone Forest's Verona sink in honey onyx.
And natural stone is foolproof if you're trying to bring the outdoors inside with your design. To go completely au naturale, buy a boulder with a sink carved out of it, such as Stone Forest's natural vessel sinks, which leave the boulder as is on the outside and carve a shiny sink inside.
Stone sinks are also moving into a different plane. At one time, a bowl was necessary to mix hot and cold water from two separate taps. Since the advent of the mixer faucet a bowl isn't really necessary — how often do you fill up your sink with water? Designers have taken note, and — voila — the flat sink, such as Omvivo's Geo washplane in marble, is a new trend.
A flat sink that would fit in with more rustic styling is Lacava's stone vessel sink of Amarillo Triana marble, a warm gold with brown veins that would be the focal point of any bathroom.
The sky's the limit with this deep-earth material, which also lends itself to artisans' designs. Allante International does custom stone work. If you'd like a long shallow trough sink with two wall faucets instead of the tired old double-sink set-up, pick your stone and your dimensions and have the sink of your dreams made.
Keeping Up Appearances
Whatever stone sink fits your style, all stone surfaces used in the home should be sealed to protect them from stains and make cleaning easier. Depending on the stone, seal as directed with sealers such as wax or silicone. More porous stones require more frequent sealing. Granite and marble are the densest, or least porous, of the stones used to make sinks, so you can seal them less often.
Keep up routine maintenance, and your stone sink will last — maybe even as long as it took nature to make it.