Surface Quality at Cambria in downtown Manhattan Beach

Cambria’s Manhattan Beach gallery offers an up-close look at the many faces of quartz

It’s one thing to see a fetching countertop online or in a magazine—then admire its elegant profile and wonder how it might look in your home. But it’s quite another to see it in the flesh, run your hands along its surface, see your reflection in its mirror-like finish and know it’s perfect. This difference, between image and real life, is resolved at Cambria in downtown Manhattan Beach.

The glossy gallery—open by appointment only—is steps from the pier, and offers a place for consumers and designers, architects and builders alike to experience the Le Sueur, Minnesota firm’s rich supply of elegant quartz surfaces and applications firsthand. “We want them all to come and see us,” says Summer Kath, Cambria’s executive vice president of design and business development.

A point of pride for the family owned company is its status as the only American-made producer of natural stone surfaces, all made of natural quartz and boasting Herculean levels of strength and durability.

A point of pride for the family owned company is its status as the only American-made producer of natural stone surfaces, all made of natural quartz and boasting Herculean levels of strength and durability. “You can toss wine on there, leave it there for a month and wipe it up—and it will not absorb,” says Kath. Not always the case with surfaces like marble, soapstone or granite, she points out, which also sport veins and fissures, making them more vulnerable to cracks.

A dramatic kitchen scene starring Cambria’s Blackpool Matte.

Cambria’s non-porous factor is a boon for the white and pale-gray palettes currently in vogue among coastal and contemporary homes. Those interested in this look might swing by the gallery to check out Brittanicca, a signature Cambria design—white with soft gray veining—that’s ideal for elegant, sunlit South Bay homes.

Subtle green, black and white tones of Skara Brae bring rich depth to this island

When one thinks of stone surfaces, it’s easy to think of only countertops, or bars and islands. But the mind is expanded after stopping by the Cambria gallery. There are shower and tub-deck surrounds for a luxe spa look that reduce cleaning hassles due to an absence of grout. There’s wall cladding and dramatic kitchen backsplashes. Other uses include tiles—cut to any size—and fireplace surrounds. (Tip: Use a clean edge with mitered corners for a mod profile, or trim with a decorative edge for an ornate look.)

Reception area luxe with Skara Brae; Brittanicca at the Manhattan Beach gallery

Since Cambria surfaces are “not beholden to Mother Nature,” says Kath, unlike the aforementioned natural surfaces, there’s an endless selection of Cambria design palettes to suit a kaleidoscope of tastes. “It’s like making brownies,” Kath says of the Cambria process, which results in a uniform product where the outcome and look are assured.

“You take crushed-up natural quartz, 93 percent of the whole composition is quartz,” she explains. “It’s a natural mineral, the hardest mineral on Earth—diamond is the only thing harder.”

Skara Brae frames an elegant sink and faucet

A binder and a resin give it tonalities. After this, the mixture is baked, and the resulting slab is polished. “Because it’s put through that process, and cured,” says Kath, “we don’t seal it, and it’s not treated. You never have to seal it.” cambriausa.com

Photographs: courtesy of Cambria

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