Bright colors are not usually what come to mind when thinking of concrete, even for concrete countertops in kitchens and bathrooms.
However, Stone Soup Concrete has noticed a lot of orders being placed with the company for just that. “We’re surprised at how much color we’re seeing in the kitchen,” says company cofounder Mike Karmody.
A homeowner couple recently hired the Florence, Mass., company to match a bold yellow-orange color for an island top. Stone Soup’s color specialist matched the color exactly, says communications director Jeanine Lioce, and some crushed glass was added for effect. “The final product was really intense, but it fit perfectly into the space they had created,” she says.
Stone Soup is no stranger to commercial work either. The outfit recently did tile work for a mosaic of Disney’s Buzz Lightyear character to be displayed at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. “The colors are just out of this world,” Karmody says. “Really bright, yellow, really bright purple, really bright blue.
“We never thought we’d see those colors come into the home. But lo and behold, we are.”
In addition to concrete countertops, the company creates sinks, tubs, vanities and fireplaces. Those projects sometimes include colored glass terrazzo, scribed surfaces and drainboards, inlays and acid stains.
Karmody says the housing slump has not had too much of a negative impact on Stone Soup Concrete’s business. “If you’re going to stay in a place, it will degrade. You’ll have to upgrade it,” he explains. “As soon as the people realize the sky’s not going to fall, then we’ll see the return of those people.”
He has also noticed that middle-class client orders have fallen sharply, but higher-end projects have picked up the slack. “We’re seeing a lot more large things,” he says. Those larger pieces include countertops and islands for the kitchen.
Stone Soup Concrete is also being kept busy by orders for tiles for both indoor and outdoor use.
The shift in the workload, Karmody says, means he has more time to spend on other kinds of projects, including artwork that is to be part of an exhibit scheduled to travel all over New England in the coming years. “That just means we’re not so crazy at this time of year,” he says. “I’m really okay with it.”
The custom residential sector is still accounting for 70 percent of Stone Soup Concrete’s business, Karmody says, but the company is taking on more commercial jobs. He says the commercial work is chiefly for upscale and chain restaurants and some retail.
One high-end, high-profile project was for the .406 Club at Fenway Park in Boston, which is named after the Hall of Famer Ted Williams’ milestone batting average in 1941. Stone Soup created a warm black bar top with a light grind that is installed partly indoors, partly outside.
The company offers workshops to the public at its facilities, showing attendees its techniques, processes and business practices. Participants also get hands-on experience designing and fabricating an actual project.
Stone Soup Concrete grew out of a construction company that Karmody and his business partner, Mike Paulsen, formed about 12 years ago. Karmody says he handles more of the production while Paulsen deals with the clients.