A Peninsula expert explains why the popular stone is an excellent option, even in high-use areas
Who: Robbie Robinson of Carmel Stone Imports
Where: Palo Alto, California
In his own words: “Trust how you want your home to look. Look and color are always the primary objective.”
Whether you’re building or remodeling, finding the right natural stone to use in your home can be both exciting and emotional, according to Robbie Robinson, the president and CEO of Carmel Stone Imports in Palo Alto. Robinson, who has installed stone surfaces from San Francisco to Carmel, encourages homeowners to consider all the possibilities, including marble, without worrying how they’ll hold up. For example, he says, marble and limestone “have been used all over Europe and the Middle East for centuries and [those structures] are still standing.”
A move from water to land. Robinson got his start in the stone business when he purchased a small tile store in Carmel in 2000. Though it might have been considered an unlikely choice for someone who spent 24 years in the watersports business, for Robinson it was the right change to make when his family moved to California from Hawaii. “I wanted something a little more mainstream,” he says. “I had built homes in Hawaii. How hard could it be?”
The business has since grown from the 900-square-foot original shop to include a 60,000-square-foot main showroom in Palo Alto, as well as showrooms in Sand City and Carmel.
Trust your eyes. The aspect of the business that Robinson enjoys most is working with homeowners to select the stone that’s right for them. A large part of that process is helping them feel confident in their selections rather than relying on the opinions of others. “Your brain will mess you up,” he says. “Your eyes never lie to you.”
Below, Robinson suggests three ways to add the beauty of marble to your home.
1. Use It in Your Kitchen
Give marble the spotlight by using it as a focal point in your kitchen. When looking for a top for the island in this Carmel kitchen, for example, Robinson chose a marble slab with distinctive gray veining. He also installed marble on the floors and gray limestone on the other countertops to play up the look.
Knowing the stone surfaces would have to hold up for both daily use and as a prep area for the regular fundraisers held in the home, Robinson had them sealed for durability when they were installed. After years of constant use, there haven’t been any problems with etching or staining. “If it’s professionally sealed, it can hold up to anything,” he says.
2. Use It in Your Bathroom
Marble counters, walls and floors give bathrooms a classic look. For this home in the Monterra neighborhood of Monterey, the clients chose a traditional marble — the same type that was used in the Sistine Chapel and the statue of David, Robinson says — for their master bathroom. He used marble slabs for the vanity tops; tiles of the same stone for the floors, shower walls and wainscoting; and a basket-weave mosaic inset for the shower floor. “This culminated in a truly exquisite master bath that’s timeless,” he says.
3. Use a Similar Stone
Some natural stones closely resemble marble yet offer easier maintenance. Brazilian quartzite, for instance, combines the density and durability of granite with the look and linear veining of marble. “It’s like kryptonite,” Robinson says. “It’s practically indestructible.”
For their new kitchen in Monterey, seen here, the owners chose a light-hued, subtly patterned quartzite for the countertops and a darker quartzite with the look of marble for the top of the island. “They loved the look, the color and the pop that it gave the whole kitchen,” Robinson says.
More: For more information on Robbie Robinson and examples of his work, visit Carmel Stone Imports’ Houzz profile.