24 November 2009

Field notes: the complicated counters from last spring arrive

Last May, I designed an adventurous and complicated kitchen and home office. The style was a transitional contemporary with an emphasis on the contemporary. My design was a vision of seemingly unsupported cantilevers, risers and descenders; all made from a stark white Silestone.

Well, this job has been under construction for quite a while and here it is November already. The second phase of my counter installation took place yesterday and there's one phase left to go before these counters are in completely. Like I said, this is a complicated design, clearly the most difficult to install I've ever dreamed up. Difficult, though not impossible and the counter fabricators have been an integral part of this process the whole way through. None of this would have been possible with the expertise of Cutting Edge Granite in Largo, FL; and I cannot imagine any other fabricator pulling this off.

Today's phase dealt with the large horizontal pieces that will make up the kitchen counters, the window seat (for lack of a better term) and the desk. The space where these surfaces were to be installed were unreachable by the usual means of lugging around 500-lb. slabs of counter material, so Cutting Edge brought in a crane and they hoisted each piece up in through a second floor window.

Before any of this could be installed, the engineering had to be worked out and kudos to Allan Palmer for doing the math. That "window seat" consists of a run of 9-inch tall drawers that hang 12 inches above the floor. That makes for an eight foot span supporting at least 500 pounds of Silestone plus the weight of whoever decides to actually sit on the counter when it's done. As you can see in the videos below, that engineering marvel was all but being jumped on this morning with nary a shudder. Unless you count mine. I know it can support over a thousand pounds, but it's still unnerving to watch.

So it was a productive day and everything went as planned. I cannot thank Cutting Edge enough for their skill and professionalism through this entire process. I have to thank my client too. Without whose check book none of this could happen. Just wait until you see the entertainment center I have cooked up.

The long piece that will end up as the window seat gets hoisted up to the window.

It's then caught by able hands and eased into the room.

Once it's in the window, a whole lot of yelling ensues. I think the yelling is an integral part of the process. You'd yell too if you were suddenly handed something that weighed 500 pounds and cost $5000.

And so after the dust settles down a little bit, my idea starts to take its final form. I swear, I have the best job in the world.


  1. This is wonderful and you are so creative. I hope you will show us the finished project. Other designers have mentioned to me the popularity of 'floating' cabinets. Great job!

  2. Thanks Pam. Floating cabinets are a terrific effect, you just have to do the math ahead of time. It's one thing to design a floating vanity, but a floating window seat? My head still hurts from figuring out how to spread the load so it could be structurally sound. The hidden supports in this thing deserve and award.

  3. Well. All I can say is -- TAAA-DAAAA!

  4. Thanks Nancie, but the real Taaa Daaaa comes in two weeks when my clients gets back from Argentina. He hasn't seen any of this yet.

  5. The Egyptians and their engineering feats have nothing on you Paul. I hereby declare this to be the 8th New Wonder of the World! (Bernard Weber himself wud be impressed. He's not your client is he?)


  6. I wouldn't go that far Brenda, but I'm glad you did. hah!

  7. "... my idea starts to take its final form. I swear, I have the best job in the world."

    Once the sleepless nights are over? A great thought for thanksgiving week, thank you.

  8. Definitely after the sleepless nights are over. While I'm in the middle of something I think I want nothing more than to go home and crawl back into bed. But once they're coming together it's a whole different story.

  9. Paul,
    How did you address the inside of the quartz on the waterfall? The part that is visible to the eye...the unfinished side?

  10. I had the backs polished where they were visible.

  11. You are welcome, those kinds of complicated designs need a REALLY good fabricator. Left to do it again the only thing I'd change is the material. White Zeus from Silestone is an ultra pure white and it's an unforgiving material. It's nearly impossible to seam or repair it as there's not an ultra pure white epoxy on the market.

  12. Hi- I'm about to do a 7 1/2 foot bar with the waterfall edge on both ends. It's about 30" wide, and overlaps (literally "sits on top of") the island about 12" of that 30" width. It also extends in length about 15" beyond the length of the island. It is currently spec'ed to be 3 1/2 inches thick, with mitered corners, and the material chosen is the purest white from Silestone. My contractor says the seams and epoxy will show within year, and he doesn't think we will be happy with it. He is also very concerned About the weightload where the two waterfall edges meet the floor. My designer thinks his worries are unfounded. What suggestions can you give me, and what material would you use if you had to do it over again? Any suggestions youhave wouldbe really appreciated. Great project by the way- did you post any actual pictures of the finished room?

  13. Your contractor's right. Don't do it. There's no such thing as a pure white epoxy that will match the material you spec'ed. If I had to do it over again, I'd have used a different material. The thickness you have in mind isn't possible with a quartz product. I'd either change the thickness or change the material to solid surface. There are finished photos on my site, just search countertops and you'll find it.

    The only way we pulled off what we did was by paying for 4cm Silestone and not seaming anything. The cost of this job was around $17,000. We could have done it with thicker edges had we used a solid surface. It would have saves around ten grand.


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