It wasn’t a trip to the park or the prospect of a new toy that excited Brooke Wagner as a little girl.
For Wagner, it was the sound of drills, the image of hard hats and cranes — it was the times she tagged along with her dad on the job, where she got to witness a home being built start to finish.
“I loved construction sites,” Wagner said. “I loved the smell of them, I loved seeing the evolution of the project and seeing the different details come together throughout the process.”
Wagner’s love transformed into a business — she created her own firm Brooke Wagner Design, where she creates stunning custom homes for her clients.
She recently designed the Miller house, located right along the water in Newport, California. “They wanted a sophisticated modern beach home,” Wagner said. “It was a second home for them, the kids were out of the house so they wanted something tranquil and warm, but still contemporary.”
The home features warm wood tones contrasted with cooler stone. Wagner incorporated Polycor’s White Cherokee American marble throughout, placing it in the kitchen, the bar, and the living area.
One of the highlights includes the dramatic fireplace surrounded by Polycor’s ultra-thin 1 cm marble slabs that runs all the way up to the 10 foot high ceiling.
“We place marble on fireplaces a lot, but we don’t typically do a full height marble like the one on this house,” Wagner said. “It’s definitely more of a statement piece. It’s a little sleeker.”
Fred Paulk, of American Marble, worked as the fabricator on this project. He said not many lightweight materials, like the 1 cm marble are available in the marketplace. Slabs typically are cut at 2 cm or 3 cm. White Cherokee, and it’s darker veined cousin Pearl Grey, are both Georgia marbles, quarried by Polycor in Tate, Georgia. These dense and stain resistant thin stone slabs are available in a variety of vein patterns from subdued to highly figured. This stone was sourced through Stoneville.
“That was a treat to have something lighter in weight. It’s easier to work with — picking it up and moving it’s a lot better too,” Paulk said, “and Polycor puts that really nice mesh on the back. It was very strong. We appreciate the strength of it and the weight of it, and boy when it’s in, it looks just like the 3 cm. You can’t even tell the difference.”
Wagner utilized the same 1 cm slabs in her own home behind the range in the kitchen — she said the thin material makes the job easier and safer for the fabricator when it comes to adhering it to vertical surfaces.
She added that she loves the tones and veining of the material — the charcoal grey contrasted with the clean white hue. “When (the Millers) pulled the paper off the fireplace and could see (the finished product), everybody loved it. It is a beautiful feature,” Wagner said. “That White Cherokee marble works really well in this style home. It works well in soft contemporary as well as in more traditional homes.”
“We love it, and it fits so nicely. The hues of grey and white are perfect with everything that Brooke has done,” Paulk added. “The house is right on the water, there’s a beautiful beach with dock access in the back. (The marble) has that feel of a typical cloudy day — you see that in the grayness of the hues on a typical overcast day contrasted with the whites of the clouds.”
That Wagner spec’d a natural material that reflects the environment and the laid back California lifestyle is no surprise. In her own home, and in many of her client projects, this designer leans away from manufactured stone and chooses marble for its texture and organic movement.
"Nothing can compete with a piece of natural stone - marble, limestone or soapstone. Even though quartz has gotten really good over the years I can always tell the difference. I had white marble in a past home. Aesthetically, you can’t beat it." Wagner said.
See more designs with ultra-thin American marble slabs. Download the Thin Stone Lookbook.