Ten years ago, Lori Hethmon began a natural stone and fabrication business in her 200-year-old bank barn. Given the unusual location, she wanted a warm and fuzzy name for her enterprise. “Granite Grannies” fit the bill. Now, in her Upper Marlboro warehouse, she and her staff offer clients an extensive and continually changing inventory of onyx, granite, marble, soapstone and quartzite. The business is burgeoning, but the name and customer care has remained the same. Hethmon spoke with Chesapeake Home + Living about the wide world of stone.
What are common misconceptions about granite?
Many homeowners don’t realize that there are thousands of granites. Within the normal stone shopper’s price range, there are hundreds of colors and patterns. I love to have people get out of that “box store” look [which is] about 30 different stones in abundant supply. We can go weeks at a time in the shop without cutting the same stone twice.
What are the different uses for granite other than countertops?
Fireplaces, shower walls and tub surrounds are the three biggest noncounter projects we work on. Other places are backsplash[es] and shelves.
What’s your most popular granite?
I don’t have one popular granite, and that’s the whole point — not to do what everyone else is doing. We work in exotics — unique and one of a kind. It’s really an eye-opener for most people when they come in here and see what the real world of granite is like.
What is trending in granite?
I can tell you that whites are trending hard. People want white marble with gray veining. It’s a statement that says classic beauty, simplicity, elegance. Quartzite is particularly harder and denser. It’s an excellent answer for a more durable, marble look. And any granite is durable. Another trend is mixing and matching two different stones in the same area.
What do you tell people who say they can’t afford granite in their homes?
There are hundreds of stones that are not expensive … absolutely beautiful and off the beaten path. Even if you have a basic budget set for stone, you can still get something interesting in granite colors and patterns.