Soapstone Countertops - Ageless, Green & Sustainable

A few years ago, Bob and I remodeled our kitchen. Since we have an older home, built in 1935, we wanted the kitchen to be updated, but it was important to us that it complement and respect the history of our home. We wanted the kitchen to look like it belonged. Soapstone has a reputation for being traditional but is ageless with its rustic, charming and natural look. It has been used for centuries for urns, cups, ovens, fireplaces. It was, and still is, common in homes particularly in New England and has been used in kitchens for over two centuries. There are homes where the 100+ year old soapstone is still standing. 

There really is nothing quite like soapstone. It's extraordinarily beautiful and possesses remarkable stability, feels soft, to the touch. Because of its density (it is nonporous), it makes it a desirable choice in kitchens and bathrooms for sinks and countertops. It's impenetrable, which means it won't stain. That's why you see it in biology and chemistry labs; it's inert. Its longevity to long term, high traffic use has been given the test of time - it's amazing! Alkalis and acids won't affect it as they will granite, marble, limestone or slate. It is the most practical of stone countertops. Soapstone is quarried like granite or marble. It is a steatite stone and its primary components are magnesite, dolomite, chlorite, and talc. It ranges in age from 300 to 400 million years old depending on where on the planet it came from. It is smooth to the touch like a piece of dry soap. Thus the name "soap" stone. 

As an important bonus, soapstone is the most environmentally friendly countertop available, from taking it out of the quarry to preparing it for the consumer, there is near zero impact on our planet. Another big environmental benefit is its high resistance to bacteria. No harsh chemicals or cleaners is necessary to clean the countertops. 

Soapstone develops its own personality over time. So, after doing much research and many nay sayer's comments, we had soapstone installed. I love everything about it and we are happy we made the choice to select natural soapstone for our countertops. Soapstone is o aesthetically pleasing!

Click on these websites for information on purchasing soapstone:

Soapstone International



White English Ironstone - what a collection!

We just acquired a huge collection of white ironstone from Staffordshire, England. I was doing some research on some of the pieces and came across an article I wanted to share with you. I found it on Martha Stewart's site. White ironstone has long been an American favorite. Although massive quantities of the handsome, functional, undecorated and inexpensive Staffordshire were imported to America in the late 1800s, Martha Stewart revived its popularity in the 1990s. It is no longer inexpensive.Ironstone dates to the early 1800s; the name and its formula, containing the mineral feldspar, were patented in 1813 by Charles Mason of Staffordshire, England. Ironstone decorated with colorful patterns was an immediate success in England, but the white-glazed variety has little official history there because virtually all of it was made for export to Europe, Australia, and the United States. It is a staple, like the little black dress of the antiques world, can't go wrong with it.

By the 1830s, enterprising British potters recognized a potential market among rural American families buying china for the first time. They put together services of snowy-white ironstone, predicting that its simplicity and affordability would appeal to the no-frills aesthetic associated with American country life. These pieces, given names such as graniteware, stoneware, pearl china, or feldspar china, are now all categorized as ironstone.

White ironstone patterns fall into distinct periods. The earliest, called gothic or primary, date from the 1830s to 1840s and comprise paneled hexagonal or octagonal shapes. More rounded forms emerged in the 1860s, including harvest patterns decorated with relief-molded berries or sheaves of wheat. After 1860, bulbous, highly ornamental designs combined ribs with leaves and flowers, and from 1880 on, ironstone reverted to plainer forms, often unadorned except for the handles or finials.The once ubiquitous and affordable ironstone is now highly coveted by collectors and therefore expensive. A teapot might sell for $350 and a soap dish for $200. Its quality is based on the evenness of the color and the crispness of the relief work. All edges, finials, and handles should be chip-free and unrepaired. The cost of a piece depends on its maker, pattern, condition, and rarity, as well as where it is being sold.

I never tire of seeing White Ironstone in displays or changing it around. it is so cherished by collectors. It can be used with any combination of color or texture.