This Designer Almost Always Chose Marble or Quartz—Then She Found Stonewood

Meet the optical illusion your kitchen is missing.
Lydia Geisel Avatar
view looking down galley kitchen
Photography by Cynthia Zamaria

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“This is an example of letting your heart tell you what to do,” says Cynthia Zamaria, referring to the countertop and backsplash material in her new Toronto home. When the design blogger and author of House + Flower first spotted the slab at her local stone shop, she thought it looked partially like a giraffe and a little bit like the inside of a geode. But the name of this particular surface infers a different source of inspiration: It’s called stonewood

Zamaria admits she was going against her own grain when she decided to splurge on the golden yellow-brown quartzite (the natural stone, quarried in Brazil, is comparable in cost to many granite and marble varieties). In her previous houses, she had always gravitated toward gray or white surfaces and occasionally butcher block. Even the salesperson at the showroom could tell it was out of left field. “They were like, are you really interested in that?” recalls Zamaria, laughing.

brass rod across kitchen sink
Photography by Janet Kimber

But having just downsized from a 5,000-square-foot country house to a 1,800-square-foot semidetached home in the city, Zamaria wanted to challenge herself; to see how much she could get away with in a tiny galley kitchen. “This was the thing that was going to give this space that wow factor,” she explains. 

white cabinets with golden countertop and backsplash
Photography by Janet Kimber

With this statement addition, Zamaria was conscious that the room would feel too busy if she wasn’t careful. That’s why she landed on white, hardware-less, glossy cabinets, which balance out the loudness of the counters and backsplash. On the flip side, she left her circa-1900 home’s ceiling rafters exposed in the kitchen, complementing the raw, petrified wood–like look of the material. “When we stripped that back, it almost created this chic crab-shack feeling,” she says. “It fits the relaxed, eat-in vibe that we were going for in the kitchen.” Carrara who?

Lydia Geisel Avatar

Lydia Geisel

Home Editor

Lydia Geisel has been on the editorial team at Domino since 2017. Today, she writes and edits home and renovation stories, including house tours, before and afters, and DIYs, and leads our design news coverage. She lives in New York City.