When designing or renovating a home today, selecting natural stone for surfaces comes with abundant choice. With today’s exquisite options, the design possibilities are endless when you factor in the varieties, colors, and textures of natural stone.
The most frequently selected stone is granite, with its timeless beauty and elegance. It is both prestigious and practical. No two slabs of granite are exactly the same, which means yours will be completely unique. In addition, granite is one of the hardest materials on earth, so it is not likely to scratch. Granite is also porous, so it should be sealed with a good quality sealer. Sealing will give you time to clean up spills before they are absorbed into the stone to create a stain. On occasion, you may want to spruce up the shine and add a little extra protection from fingerprints on your granite countertops by using a stone polish.
Another popular choice is marble. It is commercially defined as any limestone that will take a polish. Marble in its purest state is white; colored marbles are the result of other minerals being mixed with the calcite or dolomite. Marble, no matter what the color, will usually have some type of veining running through it; the veins are usually different in color than the main color of the stone. Marble is relatively soft when compared to other stones, such as granite, so care should be taken because it can scratch easily and is sensitive to acidic chemicals.
Onyx is a type of marble, which is characteristically translucent, with many beautiful veins running concentrically to one another. Many onyx colors can be backlit with a wonderful effect and look completely different when illuminated.
Travertine is a type of limestone that differs from other forms in that it is created in hot springs called a karst. The water movement in the karst erodes the travertine, creating holes in the stone. Polished travertine will usually have its holes filled in with colored-matched cement. Unfilled travertine, which does display these holes, is widely used on walls, floors, and commercial exteriors. Travertine is commonly tan or beige in color, but can also be found in gorgeous silver, gold, reds and browns.
For over a decade, the most exciting place to find every surface you could possibly need for a design project is United Materials Design Center (UMI) in Naples. Recently expanded into a chic new space, UMI is the premier importer and wholesaler in Florida and quite possibly in the entire country. The spectacular new design showroom is nothing short of an elegant New York City art gallery. The accompanying slab warehouse, perfectly ventilated and meticulously organized, features one of the finest collections of natural stone you are ever likely to tour.
UMI is family owned and operated. Donato (Donnie) Di Norcia, President and co-owner is a self-proclaimed ‘stone junkie’, and his role is chief stone buyer for UMI. His natural curiosity and unbridled passion for unearthing new stone has earned him a well-deserved reputation within the industry; he is known to have the most discerning eye for unique and rare stone products. Suppliers seek him out when they locate the unusual, knowing that Donnie intuitively can determine a winning natural stone product. He shares, “UMI is definitively ‘The Source’ (hence our trademark slogan) for natural stone projects in Southwest Florida. Our years of experience paired with a legacy of success have elevated our status. We are known as one of the finest stone sources in the natural stone supply industry.”
Touring a natural stone showroom like UMI is an impressive first look at actual raw stone and the wonderful first step when designing a home. Clients are quite often amazed by the breathtaking beauty, textures, and colors on display, never before imagining the extensive natural beauty of stone. The myriad of color combinations and other unique texture variations naturally provide “movement” within the individual slabs offering a dramatic range. The variety in stone selection is absolutely astounding with selections including the highest quality granite, quartzite, marble, travertine, onyx, limestone, agate, and shell stone.
The color and natural design selection are just as abundant and absolutely unique as the very stone itself. From Taj Mahal quartzite to beautiful Blue Agate Precioustone, to the fabulously veined Tiger Onyx and dramatic Onyx Fire, choices range from the more basic, muted hues to the dramatic and eye catching. New exciting granite slabs like Crema Bordeaux, Fusion, Sequoia Brown, and Feldspar White are also on display.
A response to our contemporary world embracing more ‘green’ options, there is an edgy, American-made recycled glass selection that provides a sparkling new look for surfaces. Vetrazzo is made of 85% recycled glass from repurposed bottles. “Since UMI is a specialized supplier for Vetrazzo, there are more than twenty stunning colors available here,” adds Di Norcia.
The exclusive Precioustone collection from world-renowned supplier Antolini is worth seeking out if your taste is on the more extravagant side. In addition, Antolini’s Signature Stone Collection offers many colors in polished and leather-textured surfaces. UMI also offers its own line of 45 colors of quartz surfacing called Pompeii Quartz. And new innovative technology brings the Crystaline Series of bold, color-treated marbles and onyxes, another exclusive to UMI, which broadens the range of design options.
“Whether it is a surfacing project for a kitchen island countertop with a coordinating backsplash, or simply a breathtaking, backlit, bathroom vanity surface, UMI is the place to go,” concludes
Di Norcia. Homeowners, architects, designers and builders alike know that UMI is the one and only source they need for their design project.
Written by Maria Elena Coccari
United Materials & Design Center
1615 Trade Center Way
Naples, Florida 34109