JobSight: Growing All Natural

“Even before you get there, you know it’s going to be something special on the approach to the house, and when you step out of the car and onto the stone, it says something special about the experience you’re about to have.”

As with much of the rest of the project, Bella Dura’s Macedonia provides the bulk of the stone used, including the paving for the upper terraces, the balustrades, and the front entry detail.

200_Bella Dura Macedonia Wainscot double panels staircaseClick photo to enlargeHowever, the company’s Ostra provides the stone for four freestanding columns within the garden, as well as the wall and molding surround for the outdoor shower. The company’s Uxmal – an orange/yellow stone – provides an accent for the paving on the outdoor pavilion and was used to create a top-mounted lavatory bowl in the pool bath.

And, some 10,000 ft² of Bella Dura’s Sisal went into the lower terraces and pool deck. Although given the use of stone throughout the project, it’s unlikely the Letos would have considered anything else for the pool decking – but Mark Leto says it also offers a very practical benefit.

“At our other home, we had poured exposed-gravel concrete, and the sun really heats that up; you almost couldn’t walk on it barefoot,” he says. “This stone is the coolest product we’ve found; it doesn’t heat up in the sun. We were pleased to find a God-made product was better than a man-made one in terms of looks and cost.”


The final step in the process – taking Davis’ and Dufreche’s ideas and executing them – fell to Harold Elbert, a Baton Rouge, La., mason who does much of Bella Dura’s installation work in Louisiana.

“This was quite a job,” says Elbert. “It went from doing floors to hanging stone from the ceilings. There were a lot of different looks and a lot of different patterns. We did inlays, we did columns; it’s a pretty complicated house.”

From an installation standpoint, Elbert and his crew of five utilized just about every method for affixing stone to another surface. Various aspects of the job involved thin-set mortar, mortar beds, anchors, pins and straps.

Making it all come together was even more-difficult. Elbert played his own role in making sure the correct stone was fabricated.

“Robert (Day) does a pretty good job of what,” the mason says. “We had the prints and then we do a lot of measuring to check against the prints. If need be, we’ll do a little modifying, and then we send them off to Mexico.”

In addition, he says he did bring in an engineer to advise on stress points and make sure that certain areas, such as the balconies, were adequately supported.

“We’d look at this or that aspect of the job and say, ‘Is this the best way to do it?’” he says.