Blog: From the Bedrock

Striking A Balance Between Old And New With American Black Granite

Posted by Steven Schrenk

Polycor - Leanne Ford - Wilmot Project - American Black granite 3

 

AMERICAN BLACK® granite is tied to the culture of Pennsylvania, as well as its history, in fact, it’s tied to the history of the United States itself. From Valley Forge, to the nations’ first capital, Philadelphia, and historic Gettysburg, you’ll find American Black® granite. Monuments, mosaics, walls and floors, fountains and historic cemeteries are all made of this versatile and elegant material.

And it’s tied to families who’ve lived in Pennsylvania and worked there for generations: Polycor pulls blocks of American Black® granite from its local quarry in Elverson, Pennsylvania. This black granite is an exceptional natural stone: deep and dark with linear white veining. It’s as refined looking as marble, but with none of the associated maintenance. It is hard wearing as you expect of the best granite. This durability helps it meet one of the challenges of large scale architectural projects using natural materials: consistency of material over large lot sizes, and over long build times.

 

American-black-Honed-polycor
American Black® granite with pronounced white veining has a marble-like quality in its subtle white vein pattern, with the durability of a granite.

 

Those are the hard facts of why many choose American Black® granite. The more sentimental arguments are the attachment to using a stone quarried from near a place where a family has lived for years—or even generations.

It was that combination of both structural integrity and heart-tugging sentimentality that led noted interior designer Leanne Ford to use American Black® granite for her Wilmot family home project in Pittsburgh. The spectacular renovation was featured on the HGTV show “Restored by the Fords”. The show stars Ford and her brother, contractor Steve Ford, and shows how they renovate older homes around the Pittsburgh area, adding relaxed sophistication while maintaining the home’s original character and features. Her magazine-worthy approach is achieved by adding polish while embracing the home’s existing architectural charm and historic significance.

 

Polycor - Leanne Ford - Wilmot Project - American Black granite 4Locally quarried American Black® granite was a sure choice for interior designer Leanne Ford's Wilmot family home project in Pittsburgh.

Ford’s design philosophy is based on the idea of modern lines and a lived-in feel, or as she likes to call it, “warm minimalism.” The Wilmot project is a terrific example of this aesthetic. This dated 1980s Pittsburgh home had remained untouched since it was built. The homeowner grew up in the house and is now raising her family in it and was looking to update it to a warm and inviting place to come home to.

Ford was inspired by the hectic lifestyle of her clients— both doctors—to bring a sophisticated zen feel to the home. That organic and relaxing modern vibe is especially evident in the heart of the home, the kitchen. Starting from scratch with every part of the room, the kitchen is now very much a space that stimulates the eye but soothes the body and soul: white walls serve as a backdrop to sophisticated design features such as vintage gold sconces and oversized dome pendant lights from modernist Tom Dixon. A cowhide rug from Weisshouse lies under a walnut dining table-meets-island and hand-painted white Tolix chairs. The custom kitchen cabinets are an appealing black walnut that Ford commissioned from a local carpentry shop. She juxtaposed this custom wood cabinetry with concrete walls and honed American Black® granite countertops for a modern mix of materials that feels simple and understated, but is rich in texture.

 

Polycor - Leanne Ford - Wilmot Project - American Black granite 1Honed American Black® granite countertops add to the modern mix of materials that feels simple and understated, but is rich in texture.

American Black® granite was a perfect choice for this kitchen for practical reasons: The tight interlocking mineral structure of the granite gives it superior density, uniform background color and surface quality while the linear white veining visually softens the stone for a distinctive marble-like effect. It’s simply an ideal choice for stained, natural wood kitchen cabinets and suited for a variety of other finish and color combinations.

It was also a perfect choice for personal reasons: the closeness of the quarry and the history of the material made it a natural fit.

 

Polycor - Leanne Ford - Wilmot Project - American Black granite 8The closeness of the Elverson, PA quarry and the history of the material made it a natural fit for Ford's project.

 

“I have a thing for history,” she said in an interview with GQ magazine. “These old homes have such a story and such character to them, and that can't be replaced or remade.” In industrial areas such as Pittsburgh, where converted factories and warehouses become new loft spaces, this architectural vernacular has become a coveted feature in local real estate. And choosing relevant materials and decor that accentuate that historical aspect illicit a sense of pride in the finished design.

Ford layered elements like white walls, plenty of natural light and vintage and iconic modern furniture pieces throughout the rest of the renovated first floor. In the family room, decorative elements include a glossy black vintage Panton Chair, an inviting and sophisticated sand colored linen sofa from RH Modern, and a coffee table and leather chairs from Weisshouse.

 

Polycor - Leanne Ford - Wilmot Project - American Black granite 6The tight interlocking mineral structure of the granite gives it superior density, uniform background color and surface quality while the linear white veining visually softens the stone for a distinctive marble-like effect.

Vintage Oriental and Moroccan rugs dot rich wood floors throughout the renovated space. The ceilings, too, are made from dark wood planks. This decision wasn’t just to make a statement: the planks unify the entire downstairs despite having a variety of heights in each room.

Unifying the space was the biggest challenge of the Wilmot project: striking a balance between the original home and the new design, as well as picking the right ways to bring these two disparate elements together. The result is eclectic but harmonious. Thanks to this appealing layering of materials and textures in subtle earthy palettes, including Pennsylvania’s very own American Black® granite, Leanne Ford created a home of elegance, depth and richness that is also imminently live-able.

Thinking about sourcing locally quarried granite for your next project? Make the right choice with the right sample in your hands.

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Topics: American natural stone, American black granite, Sustainable Design, buy local

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