15 stunning examples of interior design using natural stone

January 31, 2017 by  
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Successful interior design creates aesthetically pleasing and healthy indoor environments that enhance how we live, work, and play. Since many of us spend the majority of our time indoors, it is important that the spaces we inhabit support health, productivity and happiness. From uber-renewable bamboo , to hard woods that develop rich patinas over time, it is no secret that nature produces some of the most beautiful building materials around. But out of all of natural building materials available on our planet, time has proven stone to be the most resilient, luxurious, and longest-lasting of them all. Its ability to resist rot, mold, extreme temperatures and water damage, coupled with a low need for maintenance, makes natural stone a great choice throughout the home. Designers and homeowners often choose stone for flooring and walls due to its durability and resistance to wear and tear, but nowhere is natural stone more popular than in kitchens and bathrooms, where its moisture-resisting properties really shine . For those of you who are interested in the design possibilities of natural stone, here are fifteen examples of stunning interior design using natural stone. Why natural stone is an ideal material for bathrooms When it comes to interior design, stone is a perennially popular finish material – especially in bathrooms and kitchens. Natural stone such as marble and granite connote luxury and opulence in an interior space, and it is easy to see why. Not only are these materials more expensive than your average vinyl countertop or vinyl floor, but stone is also much more durable , water-resistant and long-lasting than any synthetic manmade building material. In the wettest room in the home this water-resistance matters. Because of this, the bathroom is the most-likely room in the house to find marble, slate or other types of natural stone. Here are some beautiful examples of bathrooms using natural stone: photo courtesy of MSI Modern marble makes this bathroom shine From the Taj Mahal to the Washington Monument, marble has always been a popular building material due to its wide availability and durability. This modern and minimalist bathroom (above) makes the most of white Arabescto Carrara marble (also known as “Chinese White” and “White Carrara”), which typically exhibits white and grey coloring in medium variation. This marble isn’t too high-contrast or showy, therefore it is neutral as a background color, allowing the homeowners to have fun with their Chevron Pattern White Quarry marble tiles around the bathtub. These beige-colored marble tiles cut into a chevron pattern lend a cool geometric look to the tub that spices up the minimalist bathroom just a bit and gives it more personality. Spa-like bathroom mixes wood and stone to create zen tranquility This gorgeous bathroom combines rich tropical wood with different textures of grey stone to create a warm, soothing ambiance.  The shower floor and backsplash is lined with Ostrich Grey Quartzite tiles from India which are durable, water-resistant and easy-to-clean, making this shower hassle-free as well as rejuvenating. photo courtesy of MSI The modern, freestanding bathtub next to the shower sits on a textured floor of Black Marble Pebbles .  These pebbles look like river stones, but are polished black marble, so extremely durable and water resistant  The varied, bumpy texture of the pebbles on bare feet stimulates the nervous system and is purportedly good for health , if you subscribe to Asian medicine philosophies (see Chinese reflexology path ). It’s like a massage or acupressure for the feet! Imagine stepping out of the tub on to this textured pebble floor. photo courtesy of Stoneshop Luxurious marble bathroom channels old-fashion opulence Reputed to be Michelangelo’s favorite stone to work with and one of the most sought after natural stones around, calacatta marble carries a certain prestige and emotional weight that few other natural stones rival. This elegant bathroom in a Moorestown, NJ mansion utilizes calacatta marble for flooring, backsplash, shower and vanity countertops, creating a sense of timeless grandeur. An elaborately inlaid floor with gorgeous water-jet marble tile pattern looks a bit like reflections off a surface of water, and creates a feeling of organic flow. photo courtesy of MSI Black slate creates a nature-inspired bathroom retreat This open-plan bathroom embraces three different types of natural stone to create a nature-inspired respite for its homeowners. The shower wall and floor tiles are made of smooth, unglazed Montauk Black slate , which creates an tranquil backdrop for the shower’s water stream. With waterproof and slip-resistant qualities, slate is an ideal material for bathroom applications, and creates a sense of calm and grounding. By sticking with a consistent dark-gray color pallet, eye-catching textures come to play without being overwhelming. Watertight thin veneer black marble covers a large expanse of the bathroom wall and creates a rippled effect reminiscent of a waterfall. Both planes meet loose river stones that soften the look on the bathroom floor, evoking a natural river bed. photo courtesy of MSI Classic marble tiles exude elegance This charming bathroom utilizes 2-inch  hexagonal Telaio marble tiles for the vanity backsplash. The intricate geometric Telaio tiles provide a refreshing twist to a traditional mosaic pattern, with white honed marble and mini gray accents. This preset mosaic looks great on walls but is durable enough for countertops and floors as well. photo courtesy of MSI Laid-back limestone channels beachy vibe Limestone is a unique natural stone that actually improves with age. Uniformly textured and even in color, this pleasantly beige stone weathers evenly over time and even develops a patina that is described as antique, old-world, or comfortable. Occasionally it contains pieces of fossils or seashells, which only add to its character. Due to its ability to scratch and stain, limestone is not an optimal choice for kitchens, but it holds up well against water, making it the perfect material for bathroom floors, showers, or tubs. This gorgeous bathroom embraces a beachy vibe with an entire coastal sand limestone wall and a backsplash made of eye-catching hexagon tiles. photo courtesy of Lundhs Using stone in the kitchen Stone is widely used for kitchen countertops, due to durability, water resistance, and imperviousness to scratching, bacteria and food stains.  Popular countertop choices include granite, marble, quartzite and Lundhs Larvikite.  Some kitchen countertops – like the Lundhs Emerald (shown above) are so scratch and stain-resistant that you can forgo cutting boards and do your chopping right on the stone. photo courtesy of MSI Form follows function in modern granite kitchen There’s a reason granite is the most popular choice for kitchen countertops. It’s easy to clean, durable, and scratch resistant, but economical and available in a wide range of colors and patterns. This snowfall granite countertop adds an unexpected pop to an otherwise minimalist kitchen, making it eye-catching yet still understated. Snowfall granite is distinctive for its speckled, snowfall-like markings, which come in black, charcoal, grey and beige. photo courtesy of Stoneshop Quartzite countertop exemplifies elegance and practicality Any successful cook will tell you that having a sturdy, accessible, and fuss-free counter space is key to getting the job done. With constant and repeated exposure to sharp utensils, extreme temperatures, mechanical force, and spills, kitchen countertops take a beating that is guaranteed to wear down even the sturdiest synthetic materials over time. For those who want to spend less time on cleanup and more time on preparing yummy food (all of us), hardy, water-resistant quartzite makes an excellent choice for kitchen counter top material. With a creamy gray-white backdrop decorated with beige or darker gray veins, quartzite resembles marble but it boasts the incredible durability of granite, making it well suited to the daily kitchen stresses. This well-polished Mont Blanc quartzite island in a Moorestown, NJ mansion brings all of marble’s timeless elegance to the room without forgoing practicality. photo courtesy of Stoneshop Quartzite counter accents contemporary kitchen style Like other types of quartzite, White Macaubas quartzite boasts all the sturdiness desired for a kitchen countertop, with the rich and timeless beauty of marble. Lighter in color than most forms of granite, white macaubas is a sure bet for anyone looking to increase the value of their home with a material that is sophisticated, low maintenance, and durable. Breakfast nooks, kitchen islands or counters, buffet tables and decorative wall accents are popular spots to make the most of this attractive natural stone. In this kitchen, the quartzite countertops look great paired with the classic tiled backsplash. photo courtesy of Lundhs Norweigan Larvikite sparkles in modern kitchen A beautiful, sparkly stone endemic to Norway is sometimes marketed as ” Blue Granite ” – but it is not actually granite. Instead, it is called Larvikite , and it comes only from the specific Larvik region of Norway . Larvikite is prized as a building material due to its incredible durability and iridescence caused by the crystalline structure of the stone. You can find it in many upscale storefronts in London and New York such as Harrods, and even in the Burj Dubai, but it is also quite popular as a kitchen countertop material. This modern kitchen in Norway is using Lundhs Blue for the countertop. Photo courtesy of Lundhs Here’s another photo of a different Lundhs blue larvikite countertop in the same modern Norwegian kitchen. Prized for its polish and crystalline sparkle, larvikite contains dime-sized crystals of feldspar. Lundhs larvikite is just as hard and durable as granite and is used in similar applications. Larvikite is believed to have calming and healing properties and has also been adopted as Norway’s national stone. photo courtesy of Arizona Tile Artistic tiling exudes charm This eye-catching geometric wall using Arizona Tile illustrates the design possibilities that can be explored by combining different types of natural stone. The contrast between the artfully arranged round White Carrara marble tiles and smooth Fantasy Brown marble countertop demonstrates the homeowner’s artistic eye and attention to detail. While beautiful and easy-to-clean marble has always been a popular countertop choice, it is subtle decorative applications like this that add character and warmth to a home. photo courtesy of MSI Sleek granite and unpolished quartzite complement each other in surprising ways This arrangement by Arizona Tile provides another example of how pairing contrasting natural stones creates unexpected depth and texture. A sleek and contemporary Marron Cohiba Satin granite countertop meets rugged Golden Gate Stack quartzite to create a kitchen space that is both unique and inviting. What might seem like an unlikely combination at first ends up feeling like an organic pairing. To learn more about different types of natural stone, check out MIA+BSI: The Natural Stone Institute . + MIA+BSI: The Natural Stone Institute

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15 stunning examples of interior design using natural stone

How stone can help you create a more sustainable home

November 23, 2016 by  
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From the pyramids at Giza, to Stonehenge, to Machu Picchu, it is no coincidence that all of the longest lasting human structures are made from stone. Stone lasts forever, is natural, and is readily available in the environment. When it comes to outdoor landscaping or interior applications that see a lot of use and moisture (i.e. kitchens and bathrooms), natural stone is often the most durable and lowest-maintenance choice for surfaces. Unlike wood, plastics or composite materials, stone will not rot, mildew or disintegrate over time. From granite, to marble, to slate, read on to find out more about how natural stone can help you create a more beautiful and sustainable home. The stone walls at Saksaywayan outside of Cusco, Peru, are still in great shape after 1000 years! photo courtesy of wikimedia Durability = sustainability As I argued in my article Resilient Design is Green Design , the ability to stand the test of time is the epitome of sustainability. Out of all of the building materials that humans can utilize to create structures, stone is the longest lasting, and for this reason, the most sustainable. Image via Pixabay Architects and builders have always held stone in a high regard due to its durability, aesthetic, and ease of maintenance, but one of the most compelling reasons for homeowners to consider stone is its environmental sustainability . And this doesn’t just mean “sustainability” in the stereotypical treehugger sense of low carbon footprint, but also the material’s ability to endure over time. Unlike bricks or concrete, natural stone requires no baking or heating and is a fully formed, finished product upon extraction. This means no additional CO2 needs to be released in producing it. Natural stone also doesn’t have toxic chemicals like VOCs that can off-gas into your home, polluting the indoor air, unlike synthetic surfaces such as carpeting and vinyl. If positioned optimally within a house, natural stone has the ability to passively heat and cool a home due to its ability to store heat and release it gradually. And of course, the biggest appeal to most homeowners is that natural stone has an incredibly long lifespan with very low maintenance, which means that you are not going to have to refinish it, replace it, or send it to a landfill in 15 years. photo courtesy of Artistic Tile Low maintenance = sustainability Natural stone typically doesn’t show dirt and wear and tear in the way that materials such as wood, gypsum board or vinyl do. It doesn’t easily get scratched, waterlogged or stained, and is easy to clean. An imperviousness to moisture makes materials like limestone, marble, and slate popular choices for bathrooms, while sturdy, scratch-proof, and easy-to-clean granite is an obvious choice for kitchen countertops that endure sharp knives, liquids and food spills (and the microbes that come with them). Outdoors, designers like to use stone for everything from patios to walkways, retaining walls to landscape planters. Stone’s longevity and durability makes it a smart investment that, if cared for properly, means it won’t need to be replaced. This keeps wasteful, synthetic materials out of landfill. photo courtesy of Connecticut Stone Stone is a natural material Stone is a natural material that comes straight from the earth, unlike most other commonly used building materials. How the stone is quarried, processed, and transported affects its environmental footprint, as does the distance the stone must travel to get to you. The kinds of natural stone endemic to where you live are likely to differ from those found in other regions, but with so many different types of stone available, finding something local that fits your taste and budget should be fairly easy. Gneiss, granite, limestone, marble, quartzite, sandstone, and serpentine are all common to North America and exist in a range of colors and textures. Consumers who value environmental sustainability will be happy to know that there are stone quarry sites within 500 miles of nearly any building site in the United States and Canada. photo courtesy of Matthew Giampietro, Waterfalls Fountains and Gardens Inc. Using stone outdoors As Mother Nature’s original green building material, natural stone is the best material available when it comes to withstanding the elements and aging gracefully outdoors. Because of its ability to weather harsh changes in temperature and moisture conditions, landscape designers prefer stone for everything from patios to walkways, retaining walls to planters. photo courtesy of Stone Pavers Concrete Natural stone can add charm to your yard or garden by adding a sense of timelessness. While concrete, wooden decking and other manmade materials often impose rigid lines and hierarchy onto the nature world, stone fits organically into nature’s design. Stone is also just the most long-lasting outdoor material, hands down. Since it won’t warp, rot or disintegrate over time, it’s an ideal choice for withstanding weather, biological and environmental stresses. Termites, beetles and funguses may enjoy munching on wood, but they can’t eat stone. Stone doesn’t erode over time with wind and rain, unlike soil. While ceramics like brick and concrete are porous and can crack and absorb water, most types of outdoor stone are much harder, and generally last longer. photo courtesy of Smokey Mountain Tops Patios, walkways and outdoor ground cover For outdoor patios and walkways, the choice often comes down to stone, brick, wooden decking, or gravel. Gravel is inexpensive and easy to work with, but erodes over time, needs constant raking to look nice, and is often tracked into the house. Wooden decking provides a nice warm feeling to the touch, but need to be sealed and stained on a regular basis, and still eventually will give in to dry rot. (Trust me, I just fell through a rotten board on my wooden deck the other day, and it wasn’t fun.) Concrete has the advantage of a smooth, even surface, but it needs to be poured and can also contribute to flooding and water runoff where it doesn’t allow proper drainage. While stone is one of the most expensive outdoor materials, it has the advantage of long life and durability with little maintenance. Depending on how it is installed, spaced stone pavers can also allow greenery and soil to break up the hardscape, providing a green look, and allowing water to drain naturally. photo courtesy of SBI Materials Landscaping with natural stone For retaining walls and raised planter beds, stone can’t be beat. Landscape plants and trees need a constant supply of water, and that irrigation can lead to erosion of soil and to the disintegration of competing materials, like wood, over time. Strategically placed stones can reinforce the shape of your designed landscape with retaining walls and berms, preventing soil erosion. Although it is heavier and more expensive than wood, natural stone makes a far more durable and long-lasting material for planters. photo courtesy of Lundhs Using natural stone indoors Stone is as resilient indoors as it is outdoors. From the kitchen countertop to the bathroom floor, natural stone is easy to clean with mild dish soap and water, is naturally slip resistant, and is one of the most durable surfaces on the planet. According to the Natural Stone Council , stone can last more than 100 years with proper maintenance. Its lifecycle continues beyond the life of a building, because of the fact that it’s so recyclable and can be reused in so many other applications. photo courtesy of Calvetta Brothers Stone flooring Stone is a great flooring material for high traffic areas, because of its innate durability. Stone is pretty hard to scratch or damage, and any damage that does occur tends to be hard to see due to color variations and texture. Unlike vinyl or wood, natural stone will hardly ever show a scratch or be dulled, and needs only regular sweeping or vacuuming to look as good as new. If you are considering radiant floor heating for your home, stone is the best material to combine with that type of heating system due to the natural ability of stone to absorb and retain heat (and not absorb moisture). Using stone for walls One might not immediately think of stone as a common wall surface aside from a kitchen backsplash, but walls can be a great use for recycled and salvaged stone. Stone walls, like stone floors, are very resilient, can’t be easily damaged, and don’t show fingerprints and dirt. Stone is also readily recyclable. Old stone buildings can be deconstructed and used for retaining walls , and small flat stones can be repurposed in mosaic wall designs. photo courtesy of MSI Using stone in your bathroom If there’s one room in the home that takes the best advantage of stone’s imperviousness to moisture, it’s the bathroom. From limestone showers, to pebbled shower floors, to slate sinks, to marble countertops, stone is easy to clean, resistant to wear, and in many cases, highly resistant to staining. Stones used for bathroom applications must be pretreated to prevent damage from bath products, cleaning products, and water, and must be resealed regularly. If maintained properly, natural stone is a long term investment that adds luxury, durability and character to any bathroom. Stone in the kitchen Many cooks are more passionate about their counter space than they are about their range, since countertops are where the bulk of the food preparation takes place. Countertops endure daily wear from a range of sharp utensils, spills, extreme temperatures, and mechanical force, causing synthetic materials to wear over time and become dingy. Granite and marble are ideal materials for kitchen countertops because of their sturdiness, imperviousness to moisture and heat, and lack of absorption (which makes them easier to keep clean and hygienic). Very difficult to scratch and easy to wipe down, granite helps keep bacteria at bay, making it the counter material of choice for those who are serious about cooking. Its inherently cool temperature makes it ideal for working on with pastry or pizzas, and a resistance to warping under high heat makes working with hot dishes a breeze. The bottom line is that stone is a great choice throughout any part of a house for durability, quality, low-maintenance and environmental sustainability. To learn more about different types of natural stone, check out the Natural Stone Institute . + Natural Stone Institute Article underwritten by the Natural Stone Institute

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How stone can help you create a more sustainable home

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