Feb 9, 2012 at 9:57 am | Print View
By Monica Hesse/The Washington Post
In the alpha God created the blast and the Earth, including a anatomy of ablaze bedrock alleged granite, a accumulation composed mostly of silica and aluminum that makes up a ample allotment of the continental crust, and comes in all the colors of the bubble and signifies majesty and serenity. On the kajillionth day, or thereabouts, we mined that granite and we fabricated countertops.
We laid those countertops in kitchens all beyond the land, in condos and co-ops, in Pittsburgh and Portland. Now that the absolute United States has been acceptable and covered, from slab to animated slab, we can booty a footfall aback and assay the age of the granite countertop. Think about what it’s all meant.
It’s meant that we capital article accessible to clean.
What abroad does it mean?
The Kellys, Paul and Joyce, bought the abode 30 years ago, from the ex-wife of the guy who congenital it. He’d advised it in the spirit of a California rambler, again run off to absolute California, abrogation his ex to alive in his dream. The abode was a adversity aback then — oh, you should accept credible it powder-blue carpet, white admirable piano. And the kitchen? Walls, blocking the dining room, blocking the appearance bottomward to the river. Formica abounded, or maybe it was addition affectionate of laminate. Paul redid those countertops in the 1990s. He acclimated tile, which was accepted then. The Kellys lived with the asphalt for 20 years, but it was the affectionate of countertop that you could abrade and abrade and never get to sparkle.
“It was starting to rot, and the adhesive was all yicky,” explains Joyce.
Some women in her book club were accepting new kitchens. Several of them on this Silver Spring, Md., block bip bip bip, all in a row, new countertops. It became a affair as they all absitively they capital to age in place, but not if their places had abominable kitchens. Joyce looked at her friends’ aggressive kitchen plans, and absitively it was time. In October, the Kellys went to a granite dealer. They ordered granite countertops.
“This was the best big-ticket granite they had,” says Joyce, answer that they splurged on abstracts and adored by accomplishing the accession themselves. “It has absolutely aces flow.”
“Joyce absolved in and anon affirmed with the granite,” says Paul, a retired mathematician.
“It’s actual hip. It has blooming and rust,” Joyce says, which brings out the blooming in the cabinets. It has a name: Crema Bordeaux. Anywhere in the world, granite of this blush is alleged Crema Bordeaux, aloof like anywhere in the world, an Ikea Poang armchair is an Ikea Poang chair. “Just attending at it.”
It looks it looks like granite. It looks like admirable granite, but granite is in the eye of the beholder, and the different characteristics of one’s own granite are not anon credible to a newcomer. One’s own granite sings a appropriate siren song. All about the country, couples leave parties and get in their cars and say to anniversary other, “I’m so animated we went with the Santa Cecilia instead of the Kashmir Gold.”
Joyce pauses. She looks concerned.
“I would be added comfortable,” she says, “if we were talking about article that was important.” Article that mattered. She is not a barmy person. She knows the aberration amid what affairs and what doesn’t.
The granite countertop is easier to maintain. It makes the kitchen added pleasant. It makes the Kellys appetite to absorb time there. It is akin [–] she’ll go so far as to say this inspirational. She’ll say all of this, but she wants to accomplish abiding one affair is clear.
It’s just, she says, a countertop.
Laminate was a countertop. Wood was a countertop. Granite is . . . what? A pursuit. An ambition. A glossy, cogitating apparent that allows us to boring at ourselves and apperceive breadth we angle (we angle in advanced of the computer watching videos on eHow.com about how to apple-pie countertops).
Granite is . . .
“What’s absorbing is how granite has bound become the one and alone material, beyond the country and beyond all amount points,” says Ron Cathell, a absolute acreage abettor in Northern Virginia. It acclimated to be a high-end thing, aback in the 1990s aback these countertops began authoritative appearances. It was aspirational. “Then, 12 years ago, the aboriginal array of moderately priced homes started application it. Now, every home has to accept granite if you appetite to advertise it. Not aloof advertise it, but hire it. It’s become such a thing. It’s about ” he searches for the appropriate metaphor. “It’s about like aggravating to advertise a abode after a toilet.”
As the amount has gone down, the acceptance has gone up; aloof attending at the blueprint provided by StoneUpdate.com, a Web armpit committed to the accustomed bean industry. In 2000, 895,000 metric bags of granite slabs were alien to the United States. In 2011, that cardinal was 1.43 actor [–] and that’s bottomward from a aerial of 2.64 actor a few years ago. The recession slowed granite sales akin bargain granite, which can be bought for as low as about $30 a aboveboard foot. Less bargain can go for $80, or about abundant you’re accommodating to spend, really. The backsplash is the limit.
“Let’s get deep, let’s get psychological,” says Anthony Carino. Carino is the co-host of “Kitchen Cousins,” a advance appearance on HGTV, the arrangement that accomplished the apple about recessed lighting and beaming heating, that democratized the stainless animate apparatus so it could be enjoyed by New Yorkers and North Dakotans alike. HGTV is the acreage that admirers appointment aback they are aggravating to breed a claimed architecture artful by spying on what anybody abroad is doing. “People absent granite countertops is bodies absent to complete like they apperceive what they’re talking about,” Carino says. “It’s like alert to two guys allocution about hot-rod cars.”
The guys don’t apperceive annihilation about hot-rod cars.
A brace walks into a house, in any city, on any HGTV show.
This abode has four bedrooms and three bathrooms, the absolute acreage abettor tells them. It has a fenced-in aback yard, lots of light, a acceptable academy district, a new furnace. It comes with a unicorn. This abode [–] she thinks they’re accessible to apprehend this account this abode will accomplish them lose 15 pounds from their thighs.
Does it accept granite countertops? the bedmate asks.
Let’s get deeper. Let’s get added psychological.
Let’s go to Adverse Intelligence, a Maryland granite banker whose 186 advisers adapt about 40 countertop installations a day. They pride themselves on quick turnaround: two canicule from adjustment to installation. They strive for low amount credibility a basal adjustment could amount about $3,000. A man could buy his wife nice adornment for $3,000. Adverse Intelligence wants to actuate this man to buy a countertop instead.
Richard Trimber is the admiral and arch operating administrator of Adverse Intelligence (which awash Paul and Joyce Kelly their granite). He’s a ruddy, aflush guy. He acclimated to be a advocate afore he got out of that business and into the countertop business. Trimber has spent a lot of time cerebration about countertops. He knows, for example, that his boilerplate countertop accession is usually amid 40 to 43 aboveboard feet, depending on how old the abode is. He has apprehend “Freakonomics.” He has apprehend “The Culture Code.” Richard Trimber knows that aback bodies buy countertops, they are not absolutely affairs countertops.
“Our artefact is absolutely emotional,” he says, aback in his appointment at his desk, which is fabricated of granite. “Nobody needs a new countertop.” What the granite does, he says, is accomplish a account about who you are and breadth you are in life.
It says: I am not active in a accumulation abode in the burghal anymore. It says: I am not holing up in my parents’ basement. It says: I will bandy parties in my open-floor-plan abundant room, refilling the hummus for the kitchen island while chatting with my guests. I will buy the hummus from Trader Joe’s.
Another thing. “Your stone,” Trimber says, “is the alone bean in existence.”
Recently, the Dulles Bazaar and Conference Center captivated a home and advance expo. Customers streamed in from about the greater Washington area. In the back, every hour on the hour, a woman captivated in what looked like papier-mache came out and became the “Living Fountain” display, with baptize cutting out of her fingertips.
Around this spectacle, bodies mingled. A adolescent couple, captivation hands, bought biscuit almonds and looked at amateur granite. An earlier brace bickered about whether they were affairs countertops or attractive at hot tubs. The woman capital the counter. The woman won.
“What do you alarm this?” The man asked, active his easily over a granite asphalt at a dealer’s booth. “Carpe diem, huh?”
Seize it. Seize the countertop.
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