Using Soapstone in a Historic Home

Historians have found soapstone in homes going back to the 13 colonies, and with some refinishing, the sink, countertop, or fireplace will be as good as new. If you have a historic home (or you’re adding character to a builder-grade home), consider this natural stone to add a timeless style you’ll love every day.

Historic Examples

Soapstone truly stands the test of time. One of the best examples of this is Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, which uses soapstone for the stairs, column bases, and cornerstones throughout the building. 

Native Americans made bowls and cookware from soapstone because the material held heat better than any other in the region. In fact, we still make pizza stones out of soapstone for the same reason! The heat is even and consistent but allows for a crispy crust.

Other uses include stoves, griddles, foot warmers, and shoe warmers in the northern region where the weather was colder. Settlers and early colonists heated the stones and then kept them in the cold carriages where they would radiate heat for at least another hour.

Although not a historic home, the famous Christ statue in Rio de Janeiro is made of soapstone and withstands the elements to welcome visitors to the city.

Fireplace Surrounds

Because soapstone is most commonly found in the New England region, it’s also very popular in the homes in the area – particularly inside and around the fireplace. Almost every historic home in Maine and Vermont will have a soapstone fireplace because the stone radiates heat long after the fire goes out.

Homeowners today often use soapstone as the hearth for their fireplace for the same reason. Whether or not the home is historic, soapstone adds literal warmth and timeless character to the space.

Historic Utility Sinks

Another widespread use for soapstone in the New England area and beyond is utility sinks. While we picture these large custom sinks in beautiful kitchens, the durable non-porous stone is ideal for a laundry room, outdoor grill, or garden shed, too. As the stone ages and becomes more distressed, the authenticity of your home and activities become part of the sink, too.

Some northern homes have soapstone utility sinks already “built in,” and their durability only adds to the charm of houses in the region. If you choose to put one in your own home, you can pass along a sustainable, natural stone heirloom to the next homeowner.

Adding Age

If your home has a historical style, soapstone may be the right choice for your kitchen countertops or fireplace hearth. Granite or quartz will instantly make your home modern with its polished, reflective surface. Because of soapstone’s soft texture, it diffuses bright modern light while still adding value to the home as a higher-end natural stone (although not as expensive as many would assume).

The patina and natural distressing of soapstone only make your historic home look more lived in and loved. You’ll enjoy the organic quality of the stone as it wears and tells the story of your family!

Timeless Style

But soapstone offers instant style and timelessness to modern homes, as well. We’ve already acknowledged the great contrast in today’s black and white kitchens, but depending on the edge cuts and sink design, you can soften a modern, sleek kitchen with the texture of soapstone. Balance the trendy with the traditional by considering this unique stone for your home over a manmade option.

And at Garden State Soapstone, we only source the highest quality soapstone, so you can be confident your choice will only get better with age.

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January, 2021

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