Extraordinary Onion House in Hawaii lets you vacation in a work of art

March 18, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever wanted to stay in a work of art, now is your chance. The Onion House in Kona, Hawaii is a prime example of renowned architect Kendrick Kellogg’s visionary style. Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, Kellogg was one of the early innovators of organic architecture , which can be seen throughout the vacation home’s striking aesthetic. Although the home is clearly a work of artful design, Kellogg’s original plans were so eccentric that local contractors refused to build it, forcing the architect to construct the “multi-layered” home himself using locally-sourced materials . Located on a remote hill overlooking Kona’s beautiful shoreline, Kellogg built the home for the McCormick Spice Family in the early 1960s. The hilly location was a practical step to keep the structure safe from tsunamis and storms . The home’s design, however, entailed complete whimsy. Related: 5 exotic, eco-friendly Homestay locations to satisfy your wanderlust Kellogg’s drawings were so extraordinary, he had a hard time finding a contractor to build the complicated structure. Instead of adjusting his designs to meet the standards of the industry, however, a determined Kellogg moved his family to the site to build the structure himself – with Frank Lloyd Wright’s metal worker and glass artist James Hubbell . Many of the materials for the home, including Italian tile, plumbing fixtures, and sheets of colored glass, had to be specially ordered from the mainland and beyond, delaying the building process. Soon, the architect began to see the advantages of using local Koa wood and lava rock, and incorporated the locally-sourced materials wherever he could. The home is set on a massive base of lava rock , which was carefully carved to create the large terrace that overlooks the ocean. The odd roof “tunnels” comprise a creative defense against harsh sunlight during the day, while walls of stained glass and the translucent roof panels provide pleasantly diffused natural light. Outside, a covered outdoor walkway runs the length of the compound, connecting the separate master bedroom to the main structure, which houses two smaller bedrooms, a bath, and the kitchen and dining space. A 70-foot turquoise pool surrounded by tropical gardens is at the heart of the design. And then there are a few private areas in the compound, including a walled meditation garden. + Kendrick Kellogg + Onion House Hawaii Photos via Onion House Hawaii

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Extraordinary Onion House in Hawaii lets you vacation in a work of art

Parasitic wooden cubes slash Parisian building’s energy consumption by 75%

March 3, 2017 by  
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Stéphane Malka has designed a clever way of optimizing the energy efficiency of older urban structures while working within the restrictions of Parisian building codes. Malka’s Plug-in City 75 design envisions attaching parasitic wooden cubes to the facade of a 1970s-era building, extending the living space and significantly reducing the building’s annual energy consumption by approximately 75 percent. The innovative design is slated for a 1970s-era building in the French capital’s 16th arrondissement. Like similar buildings in the city, this one is burdened with low energy performance due to thermal bridges, poor insulation, and permeable windows. However, current building laws are quite restrictive and do not allow for the structures to be raised to make way for better, more efficient space. Related: Parasitic prefabs mounted atop buildings create affordable green housing in Paris Malka’s solution is to incorporate a type of parasitic architecture to improve the building’s energy envelope. According to the design, a series of bio-sourced wooden cubes would be mounted onto the facade, extending the apartments horizontally through openings in the exterior. Extending the apartments outwards would divide the total energy consumption of the building by four. This would significantly reduce the rehabilitated building’s annual energy consumption from its current 190KWh per square meter to 45KWh per square meter. The modular boxes , made from wood particles and chips are quite lightweight, which allows for easy transport and on-site assembly. Once mounted onto the building, the cubed extensions would not only add more living space and light to the interior, but would also create an inner garden courtyard on the first floor. The new facade would be draped in hanging greenery, greatly improving the structure’s overall aesthetic. + Malka Architecture

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Foldable, lightweight kayak assembles in 10 minutes

February 24, 2017 by  
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For all the joy they can bring out on the water, traditional kayaks are bulky, heavy and often cumbersome to transport. But that’s all about to change thanks to the Justin Case Kayak , a foldable, lighweight kayak design made with 3D-printed materials that can be assembled in just 10 minutes. Most kayaks are long, bulky and heavy, making transport extremely difficult. The Justin Case Kayak prototype is designed for water lovers by fellow adventurers who wanted to make kayaking easier, simultaneously enabling better access to nature and spontaneous adventure. Related: Modular kayak with an off-color name breaks down into three portable pieces  The team behind Justin Case developed their prototype based on optimal functionality. With the foldable design , kayakers of any level can easily carry their kayak folded up in its carry case, making impromptu water excursions easier than ever. The compact design is optimal for storage as well, easily hidden from view unlike most kayaks. The lightweight carbon fiber frame is held together with 3D printed connectors, and covered in a water and tear-proof ripstop skin. The prototype development process was green-minded throughout, focusing on using as little material as possible while providing a long-lasting product. Via Justin Case Kayak Images via Justin Case Kayak

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Foldable, lightweight kayak assembles in 10 minutes

Self-sustaining island eco-lodge in Florida has its own desalination system

February 21, 2017 by  
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For those looking to get away from the chaos of modern life, a stunning luxury eco-lodge is currently on the market. The solar-powered Melody Key Lodge is a timber home located on 5.24 acres of secluded island paradise, just 25 miles from Key West, Florida. But if you’re on a tight budget, you might not want to read on. The breathtaking lodge previously owned by an undisclosed rockstar comprises a three-story timber structure with three bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. The top open floor, which houses the gourmet kitchen, dining area, living and lounge space, offers beautiful 360-degree views of the ocean. Lucky guests will be able to choose between a dip in the pristine beaches or the adjacent freshwater pool. Related: For $2.3 million, this breathtaking self-sufficient Scottish island could be yours The home, which is listed for $6,900,000, is perfect for wealthy folks looking to go off grid . In addition to its integrated solar system and backup generator, there’s also a desalination water system. Add in all-you-can-eat seafood, and off-grid living has never been so luxurious. + Engel & Völkers Florida Keys Via Uncrate  

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Iceland building biodome community to be fully sustainable oasis

February 2, 2017 by  
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Iceland’s weather extremes poses unique challenges for residents and travelers – but the country’s capital Reykjavik is planning a series of new eco biodomes that will welcome Icelanders with warmth and style. Designed by Spor i Sandinn , Aldin is a fully sustainable biodome community powered by geothermal energy. Located in the Elliðaárdalur Valley of Reykjavik, the biodome community will feature a central plaza surrounded by ample public spaces for social functions and public activities – as well as a marketplace and various cafes. Inside the biodome, the interior temp will be kept at a balmy 25°C – an optimal temperature for tropical plantings and a working urban farm . Related: Stunning geodesic domes from Romania can handle earthquakes up to 8.5 on the Richter scale According to Hjördís Sigurðardóttir, the founder and CEO of Spor i Sandinn , the project will show the world a new side of Icelandic agriculture: ” This glazed landmark Biodome will seek to reconnect people to nature in new and exciting ways, combining the experience of tropical temperatures, with a farmers’ market and an agricultural laboratory. Aldin will be a hub for minds and thoughts, a space for a healthy community to meet, shop, relax and socialize, as well as an authentic attraction for tourists.” Aldin will rent out spaces to green-minded tenants such as farm-to-table restaurants, green product retail stores, and health-related businesses. Sigurðardóttir contends that the biodome project could also serve as an example of how to create and build new and meaningful infrastructure, “The Biodome represents this. It is a statement of change, highlighting the benefits of another way of thinking and of energy-efficient buildings.” The Aldin project is currently waiting for approval, but it’s expected to open late 2018 or early 2019. + Spor i Sandinn

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8 natural immunity boosters to get you through cold and flu season

February 2, 2017 by  
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Even if you get your flu shot , wash your hands religiously, and try to steer clear of people at home or in the office who are hacking and sneezing, fighting against all the germs and illnesses that seem to proliferate in winter is an uphill battle. While we can’t promise these seven natural immunity boosters will keep you from needing to take a single sick day this winter, incorporating them into your life may improve your chances of a less severe sickness, a quicker recovery time, and even avoiding “catching” a bug in the first place. Some of them (such as getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals) are pretty obviously the basic building blocks of a healthy lifestyle, but its always good to have a little reminder how to stay healhty. Hit the jump to find out how to boost your immune system nature’s way. Image © flickr user planetchopstick 1. Rest up and get some sleep We all know this one, but its easier said than done, right? Instead of fighting long nights with blue screens, Netflix binges, and snacks, try to make an early (or earlier) bedtime a priority. Sleeping does more than feel good: it gives your body a chance to repair itself on a cellular level. Numerous studies have shown that being sleep-deprived makes you more likely to get colds; long-term sleep deprivation may be linked with more serious illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Many of us are pretty exhausted , but if going to sleep is challenging, experiment with a few of the following suggestions: Dim the lights and turn off electronic devices about an hour before bed. Give yourself time to digest before heading to Snoozetown. Falling asleep on a full stomach can be difficult so try to make your last meal or snack a few hours before bedtime. Smell your way to sleep. Dab a bit of lavender essential oil on your pressure points (including wrists and behind the ears) to help your mind relax. 2. Whip up some Golden Milk Golden Milk , a creamy turmeric-spiked drink that has recently been added to menus on coffee and tea shops in the United States, has its origins in Ayurveda. Turmeric ’s active ingredient is curcumin, which has been touted as being anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. You’ll love this drink as a warm and soothing alternative to coffee or tea any time of the day, but we especially adore it when winding down at night. Choose your favorite non-dairy milk as the base; try cashew, which has sleep-inducing and regulating tryptophan. Another healthy turmeric-tinged drink: make a “tea” by mixing lemon juice, slices of ginger, turmeric, and a little liquid sweetener (such as honey) with warm water. Image via Pixabay 3. Eat a vegetable rainbow Incorporating a wide array of veggies and veggie colors is recommended for most healthful and nourishing diets, but it’s especially important for boosting immunity. Vitamins such as C and A have been studied for their ability to fight off illness, so add plenty of dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, and carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes . Actually eating your vitamins in whole veggie form is preferable to supplementing with often unregulated pills and capsules. Selenium, a mineral found in garlic, broccoli, and brazil nuts , also has been touted as an immune system booster. Image © Pixabay 4. Find some magical mushrooms The fungus kingdom is notoriously defensive against bacteria and viruses – after all, it was funguses (specifically the Penicillium mold) which lead to the development of modern day antibiotics. Many funguses produce chemicals that kill viruses and bacteria. Some funguses are believe to have anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties as well. Mushrooms, especially Asian varieties such as shiitake, enoki, and maitake , contain natural anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties including the immune-boosting chemical beta-glucan . Plus, they’re delicious can be added to virtually any meal — breakfast, lunch or dinner. Always make sure you fully cook mushrooms for optimal nutrition and so that you can digest them properly! Image © Aris Setya via Shutterstock 5. Feed your gut flora Speaking of funguses, having a healthy ecosystem of good gut bacteria and fungi is critical for immune health. Did you know that 70-80% of your immune tissue is located in your digestive tract? Traditional foods from a variety of cultures are plentiful sources of probiotics (aka beneficial bacteria) that can feed your gut flora. Cultured yogurts and kefirs, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha , and more provide diverse belly flora, which may help lower levels of inflammation in your gut and boost your immune system. Probiotics are often found in fermented foods; the fermenting process promotes the growth of millions of microorganisms that help break down food. In addition to potentially helping to ward off some illnesses before they attack, probiotics are also used to help replenish the gut microbiome after a course of antibiotics. 6. Sip hot soup A version of Grandma’s healing chicken soup can be found in almost any family lineage, and doctors have figured out that the power of this soup is more than just the nostalgia factor. Soups can deliver easily digestible and nourishing nutrients and keep you hydrated. When you have a cold or sore throat, the steam and humidity of soup can help clear clogged nasal passages as well. Vegetarians and vegans can make up their own version of no-chicken soup or whip up a quick and healthful miso soup instead. 7. Get your blood flowing Exercise and immune function have a slightly contentious relationship: exercising too strenuously has actually been linked with a suppressed immune function, but the benefits of moderate exercise outweigh the potential negatives so don’t throw in the (gym) towel: exercising moderately through brisk walks, cycling, pilates, yoga , dance class, or lifting at the gym can give you an immunity boost. Moving, however it suits you, gets blood circulating, may help flush out bacteria and viruses, lowers stress levels, and helps you sleep better. If you exercise outdoors you can also get the benefit of fresh air and soak in a little Vitamin D from the sun, another key element to a healthy immune system. 8. Get some sunshine Vitamin D is produced naturally in your body when your skin is exposed to UV radiation from the sun. Vitamin D acts more like a hormone than a vitamin, and is thought to play a role in regulating the immune system. It is found in relatively few food products, but it can be found in fortified milk products and mushrooms. Many people have low levels of Vitamin D, so its always helpful to get outside for a 30 minute walk in the sunshine to boost your immune system. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, it is hard in the winter to get enough Vitamin D from the sun alone, so it’s a good idea to drink a Vitamin-D fortified beverage or take a supplement (and/or eat lots of mushrooms!). Image via Shutterstock 8. Herbs and supplements While most of our recommendations can be found in whole foods or through making healthy lifestyle choices, a few potentially powerful immune boosters are best when taken in supplement form, whether as tinctures, capsules, or even as part of a tea. Taking vitamin C and zinc capsules regularly or at the first sign of a cold can work wonders for the immune system. Some herbal remedies have found their way into the mainstream market, including echinacea, astragalus, ginseng, elderberry and reishi mushrooms and can be purchased separately. Visiting a professional, such as a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner who has knowledge of and expertise in prescribing an array of herbs and medicinal roots, may be your best bet for getting the appropriate dosage and most effective combo. While you are there, consider having an acupuncture treatment, which has also been associated with boosting immune function. Lead image via Shutterstock

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8 natural immunity boosters to get you through cold and flu season

C.F. Mllers Low Carbon Energy Center slashes carbon footprint in Greenwich Peninsula

February 2, 2017 by  
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A gorgeous new energy station is poised to dramatically slash the carbon footprint in one of London’s major urban development areas. C.F. Møller Architects completed the Low Carbon Energy Centre, Europe’s largest new build residential heat network in the Greenwich Peninsula. Created in collaboration with artist Conrad Shawcross and developer Knight Dragon, the Energy Centre is a crystalline landmark capable of saving 15,000 to 20,000 tonnes of carbon every year. The 3,000-square-meter Greenwich Peninsula Low Carbon Energy Centre is located at the highly visible entrance to the peninsula next to the Blackwall Tunnel Approach. British artist Conrad Shawcross was commissioned to make the energy centre visually impressive with geometric cladding, called ‘The Optic Cloak,’ as a means to communicate the stakeholders’ commitment to sustainable and affordable energy for all. Clad in hundreds of triangular panels, the 49-meter-high tower is beautifully sculptural and plays with vanishing points and perspectives. At night, the building appears to glow from within as lights pass through the perforated panels. Related: Copenhagen’s largest school will be powered by solar energy The Energy Centre distributes heat energy to Greenwich Peninsula via a District Heating Network (DHN). The process of energy generation and distribution has been turned into an interactive educational experience through a visitor center open to rearranged groups of visitors. The Low Carbon Energy Centre uses Combined Heat & Power and was completed as part of the Peninsula’s Sustainability Strategy. + C.F. Møller Architects Images via C.F. Møller / Mark Hadden

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Wheelchair-friendly tiny house proves universal design can be cool

January 31, 2017 by  
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In a perfect world, architecture would be accessible for everyone, but sadly, people with disabilities or mobility issues are often limited to the physical barriers found in typical constructions. Vermont-based firm LineSync Architecture wants to change that with a new brand of accessible architecture, starting with their wheelchair-friendly tiny house , the Wheel Pad. https://youtu.be/EzE7irfnCbY The Wheel Pad is a prototype home for those who need more long-term adaptability from a home design . The 200-square-feet residence was designed in consultation with home health nurses, physicians, physical therapists and occupational therapists. Related: This $10k tiny house can be built with a hex key in less than a day The Wheel Pad was designed with a number of features geared to a wide range of needs, such as fixtures installed at lower heights, double swing doors, and a Hoyer lift that slides on a ceiling track to provide mobility assistance . Like most tiny homes, the space is compact, however, large windows give the interior a nice, airy feel. The home is also built on a mobile chassis base , which means it can be parked without a permit in most places around the US, allowing the inhabitants total freedom to travel. According to the architects, the design has a wide range of possible uses, “With Wheel Pad, we will change the way our injured soldiers and civilians come home from rehab. Wheel Pad is “disruptive” in the best sense of the word. It seems everyone has a use for Wheel Pad including: spinal cord injuries, people newly using wheelchairs or prosthetics, elderly veterans and civilians, hospice care, children with disabilities.” + LineSync Architecture Via Treehugger Video via Chibi Moku Photographs by Carolyn Bates

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Wheelchair-friendly tiny house proves universal design can be cool

World’s most powerful wind turbine breaks 24-hour record for energy generation

January 31, 2017 by  
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Anyone who still thinks wind power is just a load of hot air obviously hasn’t been paying attention. Witness the V164 , a prototype wind turbine that Denmark’s MHI Vestas Offshore tested at Østerild over December. With a rated power of 9 megawatts under optimum conditions, the V164 set a new energy-generation record by a single wind turbine by producing a staggering 216,000 kilowatt-hours over a 24-hour period. The V164 is no glorified windmill. Standing nearly 722 feet tall, the V164 boasts with a sweep area of 227,377 square feet—or larger than the London Eye. Its 262-foot-long blades, the equivalent of nine London double-decker buses, weigh 77,160 pounds apiece. The platform is part of MH Vestas Offshore’s “continued commitment to deliver affordable offshore wind power,” Torben Hvid Larsen, the firm’s chief technical officer, said in a statement. Related: The World’s Most Powerful Wind Turbine Has Blades That Are Over 24 Stories Tall “We are committed to delivering turbine technology that is in line with the development of our industry, based on our 20-plus years of offshore experience,” he said. “Reliability remains a key enabler, and our approach to developing our existing platform supports this strategy.” With the new record secured, the prototype is now ready to go to market. Built with the unforgiving North Sea environment in mind, V164 has an operational life span of about 25 years, after which 80 percent of it can be recycled. “We believe that our wind turbine will play an integral part in enabling the offshore industry to continue to drive down the cost of energy,” Larsen added. + MHI Vestas Offshore Via New Atlas

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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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