Most homeowners only build a home or do a major remodel once or twice in their lives. It’s an exciting time, but can be stressful without the right guidance. Back in 2001, while building their first home in a small Massachusetts town, husband and wife Harsh and Liliette Walia found sourcing stone materials to be one of the most difficult tasks. The Walias found the process arduous, the selections limited, and little guidance determining the pros and cons of different stones. So, the Walias decided to become the experts and founded Granite & Marble Depot near Boston.
While vacationing in Arizona, the family fell in love and, a few years later, decided to build a home in the Valley. They discovered the same lack of resources for stone, so decided to bring their expertise to the Phoenix area. They opened Arista Quartz and Natural Stones as the Arizona sister store to the East Coast business.
Today, Arista is a family-run business with Harsh and Liliette joined by their daughters, Vidya and Jo. They continue to carry out that initial desire to help others avoid the frustrations they experienced with their first house. Arista is a company created by homeowners and for homeowners, offering hands-on assistance and expertise.
The Arista philosophy is that everyone should be able to have a resource to help them make their design dreams a reality in a creative space. With that goal in mind, they opened a new showroom in Tempe in 2017. “They wanted to create a space where each client can feel informed, involved, and inspired when designing their new space,” explains daughter Vidya.
Sourcing the right stone, whether it be natural or manufactured, can be a complicated process. “We don’t expect anyone to come in and know the intricacies of each type of material,” says Vidya, “but that’s why our staff is here.” She explains that even those simply thinking about building or remodeling can feel free to browse their showroom and ask questions. Even during the pandemic, Arista has worked to make it easy for customers to access their vast collection of stones. Those who visit in person will find a conscientious staff following safety guidelines. Those who prefer can take a virtual tour and explore available materials online.
Vidya says that Arista offers a boutique experience, working closely with the customers. Having a client love the material they select and getting it within their budget is more important than always thinking about the margins. “Here at Arista, we follow our slogan of a stone for every style and a price for every budget,” she explains. “We recognize that at the end of the day, it’s an expensive decision to invest in your home, and we’d rather customers feel 100% satisfied with their selection rather than trying to get the sale.”
Another advantage of working with Arista is that they can help guide you through each material and discuss the pros and cons of each. This helps customers avoid feeling overwhelmed with so many choices. Vidya points out that, because Arista is small, it’s possible to work with customers to find something truly unique. “Because we are small, we are able to focus on getting smaller amounts of high-quality material within a wide variety of styles, allowing our clients to find something truly unique.”
Vidya reminds customers that design is an art form. “There is no right answer when it comes to picking your materials,” she says. “Your home is a direct expression of you!” With the emphasis on homes in 2020 and 2021, it is an exciting time for that artistic expression. “On one hand, I see clients opting for bold, statement pieces paired with reserved perimeters. Lots of beautiful use of color, patterns and texture. At the same time, I have clients elevating their space with subdued, neutral tones and tranquil subtle movement.”
Choosing stone materials for the home is a major investment and Vidya sees that reflected in recent buying choices. “I think because of all the extra time we spent at home in 2020, there has been a shift where homeowners realize that investing in their home is an opportunity to invest in their lifestyle and daily experience.” She points out that with so much more time at home, consumers used their kitchen and bathroom counters—along with other surfaces—so much more.
While the budget for any project is an important factor, Arista notices people looking more at the total value. Vidya points out that “it’s not about getting the trending look but getting something that is timeless.” She uses porcelain as an example. Porcelain surfaces are increasingly popular. Even though it requires a bit more investment upfront, the beautiful product is timeless and durable. “I’m obsessed with our porcelain line,” she says. “These products truly just take your breath away.” She says that Design Lab Phoenix was the first to start incorporating the Arista porcelain into their designs. “Everything they design turns out beautifully.”
But Arista understands budget and finding the right stone for the right budget is part of their company philosophy. “Even for the smallest of projects, we are able to get clients connected with the right options,” says Vidya. “We have such a wide and eclectic variety of materials that high-end industry professionals are always satisfied with our options while still retaining a plethora of affordable styles.”
And Arista takes being able to offer that plethora of styles seriously. When they can, they personally select the materials. When that isn’t possible, they rely on a trusted team who knows the company’s high standards and can ensure the highest quality.
Arista sources directly from quarries and producers around the world. Because natural stone is just that—natural—it can vary all the time. Even stone from the same quarry can look drastically different when sourced from different spots, so the variety from around the world is amazing. Arista has had some of the most notable slabs from Brazil, Italy, India, Spain, Malaysia, and Tanzania. Along with the natural stone, Arista carries engineered stones such as Quartz, which they source from Italy and Malaysia, and the porcelain that is manufactured in Spain.
Vidya explains that, while they offer expertise and design guidance on the stone, they are often equally wowed by how customers use the products. “It’s incredible to see people get really creative,” she says. One of her favorite stories is of a couple that walked in asking to see the most exotic stones in the collection. “I knew it was going to be a one-of-a-kind project,” she recalls. It truly became a work of art. “The client chose an absolutely stunning and colorful quartzite to use as an accent wall in their home office. Once it was done, it felt like you were walking into an art gallery.”
Arista always works from a place of compassion and enthusiasm. “We are here to empower and inspire clients to feel confident with their home build/remodeling projects and create spaces they will love for years to come,” explains Vidya. “While the process can be stressful and overwhelming, it is also a truly unique way to invest in your home. Our hope is to make this part of the journey not only easier but the exciting and enjoyable experience it should be.”