Saturday, August 8, 2015

Stone Shopping: A Fractured Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was an old, decorating dame who renovated a 70s ranchburger. Just when she thought the project was wrapping up, a problem surfaced. Was this Murphy's Law? she wondered. Or a Fractured Fairy Tale?

The old dame had been waiting and waiting to go and pick out the faux stone.
Like a wicked fairy, one day it just appeared.
 Needless to say, the dame and her husband were speechless. 
He'd found that ranch house, you see, and he'd fallen hopelessly in love with it. After the remodeling began, he hadn't always been pleased with the dame's plain, simple selections..
It's true--she had made some awful decisions, like the black-painted doors. The black basement carpet looks like an oil spill, and the guest bath's sconces aren't to scale. Suffice to say that she is perfectly capable of choosing Bad Things. 
However, this time, she was innocent. The old dame hadn't picked this. The contractor had chosen it, and he had not enlisted the dame's opinion. She had said she'd wanted stacked stone, and she had expected to choose the type, color, and style. She had said this many, many times, about many projects: let me pick out everything, please. 

Like her mama always says, "What man breaks, man can fix."
Unable to sleep, the dame's husband ate some ice cream, then he picked up a Consumer Report magazine, hoping to sooth himself by reading about lawnmowers. He turned a page and saw a picture of the most perfect stones in the world. He woke the dame in the middle of the night to show her the image. 
"This is what I'm talking about," he said, thumping the picture.

The next morning, armed with the inspiration photo, she rolled up her sleeves and got to work. She emailed a photo to her GC. No one knew where to find these stones. Undeterred, she looked online. 
What man makes, man can ship.
Above right, you can see the husband's inspiration photo. The rusty-orange and blue-gray stones work together because orange and blue are opposite on the color wheel. Together, they rock (couldn't resist that pun).

The GC's sub said he could replicate that look. However, he was just this side of rude. Very defensive. He didn't see what was wrong with the stone. Except the dame and her husband hadn't picked it out, hadn't given approval, and besides, the stone looked horrid, all pink and mauve, and the gray was cold. The house has warm tones. 

Summoning my wise grandma, I tried to be calm. I tried not to freak out, in other words. By the end of the day, we all interpret colors differently, but nearly everyone agreed that the white and cold gray pieces weren't in harmony with the warm, peachy-pinks. Well, the sub didn't agree, and he was very rude, to boot. The discussion became uncomfortable, but the Dame refused to back down. The colors didn't work with each other, much less the house. 

The old gal sent photos to friends and asked for their honest opinions. "Eeeek! was the collective reponse. Texture-and-tone challenged, these faux pieces resembled bricks and baked potatoes--shockingly expensive potatoes and bricks. People were outraged that the dame (me) hadn't been allowed to choose the stone that went on her (my) house. And that the wrong stone was being crammed down our throats by the stone guy. Why wasn't my contractor, who is the best, taking up for us?

The stone from the sub was (to put it mildly) unacceptable and very ugly, so cheap-looking, it did not meet the definition of stone or faux stone.

It was the stuff of nightmares. She hadn't chosen the nightmare, yet men were pressuring her to accept it and to PAY for the nightmare. Reaching far back into her childhood, the dame summoned every steel magnolia she could find. Then she stood her ground. 
Her husband called a lawyer. 
 Deep breath.
She looked online and found a business that was just across town--and they sold the same products that can be found in major showrooms across the country. Within two minutes, the dame had found exactly what she and her husband had envisioned for the front elevation. This faux stone is made in Tennessee, and she loves using local products (the Dame isn't promoting their products--she is just smitten with them).

Her GC was worried that the sample board was a small representation of the stone they could end up with, so the Dame's son found a larger sample online, and it did, indeed, have some blues and deep reds. The boy did a little checking: the company was more than happy to mix and match stones--and colors. But it still might not work, the GC said.
Well, anything would be better than the stone that was on her house. The stone she had not approved nor chosen. She has told her contractor, and put it in writing, that she will not pay for something that was chosen without her knowledge or consent. 
Well, the thing is, if the old gal picks something for her house and it sucks, then it's her bad. But it's a different situation if an expensive product is chosen for her. 

Honeybaby, the Dame picks you. For better or worse, she picks you, this perfect stone.
It actually LOOKS like stone.

The gal's husband is in favor of extending the shake on the two wings (front elevation), and running a very small stone base along the bottom. 
The gal's mother agreed. So did her GC, who finally admitted that he knew I' wanted stacked stone for the rear bay room, and he knew that he'd barreled ahead (though he did not say why). 

Below, you can see the original Tennessee limestone on the porch. The veneer sample looks pretty damn good. It's well-nigh seamless.  

Luck was with them that day, because they found the perfect stacked stone for the sun room, and it was just as wonderful as the husband's inspiration picture.

These stone veneers are marvelously textured, with subtle nuances. To the couple, it was the most beautifulest stone ever, perfect for their home sweet home.
(They also found oodles of gorgeous things at this marvelous place, including a trellis.)

But what about the shake house? How will it weather, and will it always work with warm stones?
Apparently, the shake will not turn grey, because it isn't exposed to salty sea breezes. The shake the dame has seen locally holds its color fairly well--for years. So the cool mauve-grey stones will never work with their warm house. . . unless they stained the shake (not likely). And the hideousness of the stones can't be changed. No. The GC agreed that he would order the stone I had chosen and would not bill me for the mess up. 

This post wasn't easy to write. Twice, the Dame's finger hovered over the "delete" button. She is a worry wart and avoids ruffling real life feathers. And a lot of feathers were ruffled over this stone.

That wasn't her intention: if her remodeling stories help one remodeling soul who is reading this, it's a good thing.

The next two weeks promise to be maddening for the Dame, filled with fractured fairy tales--but also a few happy endings. Here's hoping your week is filled with happy moments.

Shared at:
Sundays Down Under
Metamorphosis Monday


  1. I send myself to sleep at nights thinking about my house being finished. It's a sweet way to drift off to sleep at nap time and at bedtime. May all your remodeling adventures be completed soon. God bless,

  2. I didn't get the almost deleting the post and ruffling feathers part... I LOVE rocks. Rocks of all shapes and sizes. I once told my husband I didn't give a damn about jewelry. But if he wanted to give me rocks, to drive out in the country and walk along the road and bring me some real ROCKS. He never did. He hated the outdoors.

    1. I am the same--don't care for jewelry but love rocks!

  3. Ladies...I love rocks and jewelry! Ha! Seriously...when we built our Georgian I wanted it covered in stone...but we went with hand moulded solid brick from Georgia...because it cost less. Imagine! I am interested in the stone veneer and how it wears. I have a project in mind...maybe. Ha! Love the updates and progress. What will you do after the house is finished? How will you entertain all of us? Kidding!

    1. What will I do when it's finished? Rest. I'll let you know about the stone veneer.

  4. I really like the stone that you finally found. I think it will work very well with what you are trying to achieve. Loved the post - it was a great read. I am sorry that you were stressed out, but everything is looking wonderful.
    Have a martini and take a deep breath and relax. Everything will be stunning.

  5. I like my jewels to CONTAIN very large rocks, pun intended.

    I don't know how you all - including BW - aren't having heart attacks. I just changed my flooring and thought I'd die.

    You are more a magnolia than you imagine yourself to be, Dame Rattlebridge!

  6. Sleepless nights and putting your foot down seem to have been the answer for you. I'm with Michele above - you are a steel magnolia to live with all of this.

  7. It's turning out beautifully.. Many of the upscale businesses in town have used the stone veneer and has been up for years and looks fabulous. If you hadn't been told you wouldn't know it was a veneer. I know you feel as though you're being pulled in a ga-zillion directions, your writing doesn't reflect the stress, only keeps us coming back for more. I hope you have a great w/k . fondly ~lynne~

  8. Hey, I LOVED this post! When we had to redo our entire downstairs due to a busted pipe the start of this year, I planned to go white kitchen cabinets, sea glass colored subway tile...and when we couldn't get the white cabinets we wanted without spending an extra $10K, and I decided to go 180 degrees in the opposite, it set off a major chain reaction, and yet we totally love how it ended up. The journey is a HUGE part of the fun on a re-do. You'll realize that near the finish line. ;)

  9. The dame absolutely did the right thing to stand her ground. After all, wrong stone is just plain old wrong stone.

  10. Oh, the remodeling horror stories I could tell you. And sub-contractors almost always play a significant role.
    For all the good ones there are those that are too invested, too opinionated, too set in their ways or too lazy to want to correct their mistakes. They would rather talk you out of it. And communication break downs are a given. So why are the homeowners the ones who feel guilty? I'm so glad you a wonderful GM who gets the need to see things and try them out and is willing to make changes. My sister's simply quit.

    I'm proud of you for standing your ground. You're the one who will see the stonework everyday. And you're the one who's paying the bills. You're allowed. I think once you see the stone veneer in place you will be so relieved and happy that you will be glad you fought for what you wanted.

  11. I hear you so clearly. Still working on our condo-this week comes paint. I am so nervous to finally see the finished product. I have had to make decisions that I can only hope will be the right ones in the end.

  12. I'm so glad that you, Ms Steel Magnolia, stuck to your gut intuition on the rocks dilemma. This fairy tale is going to to have the best ending, and I've enjoyed tagging along with you on your journey.

  13. Totally agree with the gal's husband, mother and GC that in this instance, more shakes are better with less stone. -Brenda-
    P.S.: Another lesson learned when I reface my own home that proves; 'sometimes more heads are better than one' ..... ☺. Memo to self: Inquire about what can be done with the unsightly concrete foundation that we here in Canada must contend with, because of our basements.

  14. Glad your research paid off and you found the right the idea of extending the shake and just a bit of stone at the base of the wall....after all is said and done, you all will live happily ever after in the land of the Ranchburger. And I so remember the "Fractured Fairy Tale" shows!

  15. Oy! I'm finding it hard to keep up at this point just by reading about the dilemmas let alone actually DEALING with them! And if materials weren't so expensive, maybe we (collective we) wouldn't have to agonize over our choices, but that's not the case! I'm hoping you're not driven crazy before you even have a chance to move in. ;)

  16. Sometimes people would rather gloss over a defect rather than inconvenience someone--I'm sure you felt the GC's pressure. It was something that would have always bothered both you and your husband so I'm glad you found something that worked and stuck to your guns! Can't wait for the next chapter in this real-life fairy tale.

  17. We built our home 8 years ago and used the stone veneer on the outside and it has worked so well. It has held up very well to the PA winters we have. I wanted mostly grey stone for our finish and I love it. We have people stop and ask us where our stone mason was from. They are always surprised when we tell them it is stone veneer.

  18. Bricks and baked potatoes...Oh my! You are a very patient person!

    Thanks for linking up to the #sundaysdownunder linky party.

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

  19. I think everyone, besides the dame, her husband and their son, needs to remember that they aren't going to be living in that house.

    Stick to your guns my friend :)