November 12, 2015:
Jaclyn Davis, Orlando Studio Manager
Design blogs everywhere are encouraging the incorporation of natural, organic elements into every interior palette. There is something magical about how a piece of precisely placed driftwood can transform even the most clean-lined, modern spaces, instantly adding depth and warmth. This natural element can come in many forms – from an entire two-story wall clad in stacked stone to a simple floral arrangement added as the final touch in a space. One of the most common natural elements in home design is granite countertops in the kitchen. Although I have embraced the trend of solid-surface materials such as Viatera, there is something so beautiful and timeless about a truly one-of-a-kind piece of granite. The Ashton Woods Studio team in Orlando recently toured our granite supplier’s facility and saw firsthand the incredible process that each slab of stone goes through before making its way into your kitchen. While the material does occur naturally, there are many steps it must go through, including being mined directly from our Earth’s core (that alone is a bit mind blowing), shipped overseas, cut to exact dimensions, polished and finally installed. When you think about all of that, it’s amazing that we can affordably offer it in every home we build! Below are some of the highlights of our trip. Safety first!A large conveyor system moves up and down the rows of slabs, clamping on and lifting the granite overhead to move around the warehouse. I asked our rep, jokingly, how often they’ve had one fall and his response was along the lines of, “oh, not too often.” I tightened my hard hat and backed up a few feet. Once the granite is selected, it’s moved onto a conveyor belt and photographed. The technicians compare the measurements of the exact slab to the kitchen and/or bath it is slotted for. They check for imperfections and arrange the natural color variations to be in the best locations. If necessary, they plan where the seams will hit and how it will best match up. An enormous suction cup is used to transfer the slab of granite onto the water table where it will be cut. A blade cuts the straight lines and a water jet cuts the rounded portions. Yes… water cutting granite. Pretty unbelievable. Next, the granite slab is moved to be polished, which is all done by hand and is quite the work out for these gentlemen. Now the granite is ready to be shipped off to your kitchen, bath, fireplace wall or backsplash. The possibilities really are endless! For our next studio field trip, we plan to head to the quarries of India to watch phase 1.