You may not think of a slab of granite as a work of art, but when you visit Allied Stone, it’s hard to not draw that parallel. Arranged like a sleek gallery space, the showroom of Allied Stone’s Dallas Design District location has gigantic swaths of granite, marble, onyx, and many other exotic varieties of natural and composite stones draping the walls, floors, just everywhere.
But it’s Fraun Delafield, a design consultant at Allied Stone, who really conveys both the business side and passion she has for the beautiful ways that natural stone enhances a home’s character.
“I’ve always loved design, and I just get excited when people call with interesting projects, ways we can incorporate natural stone into their home in unique, unexpected ways,” Delafield said.
It’s a way to add color and texture to a project, whether a kitchen, a bathroom, an entryway, a fireplace, a bar, or one of the many outdoor projects that Delafield has worked on, she said. Each of these projects was an intense process in which the vision of a client, an architect, a designer, or a builder was realized with expert craftsmanship and attention to detail. Allied Stone, while it remains a distributor to large-scale homebuilders and contractors, is also a retailer, a place where high-end designers can shop for their clients and find unique materials that take projects to the next level.
When I toured Allied Stone this winter, I was truly gobsmacked by how broad a selection of marble, granite, and specialty stones that Allied had on site, and it’s only going to get larger, Delafield said, when the company expands. Right now Allied Stone has three locations — one in Dallas, one in Houston, and one in Durant, Okla. After starting as a supplier in 1991, the company has become the largest importer and fabricator of stone in the state, and installs 5,000 square feet of stone in homes and businesses around Texas and Oklahoma per day. That’s right, PER DAY.
That sounds like a business where you’d be just overwhelmed by the traffic, the noise, the workers cutting stone all day. Except, in the showroom at Allied Stone, it feels more like a place you’d go to for a yoga class, or a pedicure, or a spa day. It’s quiet, actually. It’s almost relaxing.
That’s intentional, Delafield says. “I want this to be a place where you can come in and kind of meditate,” she said. “I want the stone to really speak to someone.”
When someone comes into the showroom to see Allied’s collection of Antolini precious stone surfaces, it’s easy to imagine them sitting in front of the slabs, studying them like the works of art they are. From there they can imagine the Agate slabs, backlit and upright as a bar pedestal, or the malachite slab as a gorgeous backsplash to a modern bathroom, adding depth and texture.
“I think people are finding that nautral stone can take the place of wallpaper and art as a visual experience,” Delafield said. “And some people know what stone belongs in their home the moment they see it. Others take their time.”
Delafield recalled a particular client, a geologist, who requested a Brazilian Jurrasic slab that contained fossils for a conference table. “There really is a stone for everyone,” she laughed.
For her, she is craving the silver fusion leather granite, a matte, honed surface that takes the look of a weathered hide, but has the cool feel of stone under hand. But what about marble?
“Marble is the new bacon,” Delafield says, adding that the surface, while beautiful and durable, is becoming ubiquitous. “But, it’s going to be around. It’s going to last. Marble has a story.”
Delafield is seeing more designers and architects use carved-in, integrated sinks made of marble and stone in their projects. It’s a beautiful way to add modern lines with natural materials. And the workers at Allied Stone are experts in making these ornate, detailed projects look flawless.
“I don’t think people realize that the people who are cutting the countertops, the tiles, and the fireplaces are really artisans,” Delafield said. “They are pouring their hearts into it.”
These craftsmen work every day in the warehouse, honing, cutting, and shaping the slabs that will become new additions to a home’s environment. Using their hands or automated computer-operated machines, these tradesmen are doing excellent work and earning return business for the supplier and fabricator.
“Allied is just a very interesting concept in that it’s a luxury business and it’s a distributor,” Delafield said. “Builders, designers, and architects can bring their clients here and see what we have to offer. I really appreciate how transparent Allied Stone is. We take pride in that.”
As they should.