Post by Camila da Paz | Source: The Dallas Morning Views
Prized for its beauty and rich in texture, natural stone has become a sought-after decorative accent for home interiors. Varieties from quartzite and marble to onyx and limestone are enhancing not only kitchens, but living areas, bedrooms and furnishings.
Drawn to stone’s exotic patterns, homeowners are turning to interior designers and contractors for help with selecting the right type for their homes.
“Some of them ask for stone right off the bat. They’ve seen it before and have an elevated aesthetic. Others are asking questions,” says Nicole Arnold of Nicole Arnold Interiors, Dallas.
Timeless and elegant, stone complements any décor, and trends in variety and color are driving new choices. Stone distributors offer a selection of slabs and tile in polished, honed and brushed finishes.
“We use stone in beautiful ways, going up staircases, as headboards, as artwork, and beautiful pieces that are mirror images of each other,” says Fraun Delafield, design consultant at Allied Stone, Dallas.
While granite is still popular, especially as countertops in kitchens, stone suppliers offer a much broader collection of inviting options. Different varieties offer a range of color from deep hues to natural tones.
“There’s some incredibly beautiful stone out there. The trend in color tends to be white, taupe and gray, and smooth. Marble and quartzite provide that. They’ve been ‘in’ lately,” Delafield says.
To decide which choice is best, homeowners should first consider how the stone and the room will be used. Areas with ongoing family traffic will benefit from categories that are durable and easily maintained. Specialty stones work well in less frequently used rooms.
“A homeowner’s lifestyle should determine the type of stone they use,” says Delafield.
An alternative to granite, marble looks and feels glamorous with distinctive veining and elegant hues. It’s heat resistant, but must be sealed yearly in order to avoid staining. Sharp knives can scratch the surface, so a cutting board is a must. Marble is better used in a bathroom for counters or flooring.
“In a bathroom, you can use marble on walls and floors and water jet liners,” Arnold says.
In living areas, bookmatched marble slabs create a dramatic accent wall or fireplace surround. Cut slabs with opposite sides polished are placed side-by-side to create a mirror image of each other. Bookmatching is best used in larger spaces where the full pattern can be visible.
Designers will often suggest quartzite in lieu of granite or marble for kitchens, baths and wet bars. Not to be confused with quartz, an engineered product, quartzite is a natural stone known for its crystalline sparkle and generally neutral hues.
Quartzite is often used for headboards and fireplace facings. When stacked, it creates a distinctive wall treatment.
A sophisticated choice for a kitchen, sink, fireplace or tabletop is soapstone. Extremely dense, it’s resistant to water, stains, heat and cold. Unlike other stones it doesn’t need to be sealed before using.
Its unpolished look appeals to homeowners who don’t like the shiny, glossy finish of granite and marble.
“It’s the most durable, and it has heat tolerance because it’s so dense. It’s not polished, and it has a chalky look,” says Arnold.
Limestone is a personal favorite of Arnold who has used it in multiple applications including slab, honed tile and stacked elements. Striking and trendy, the natural stone is best used for walls and floors. Its broad appeal comes partly from shells and fossils embedded in the stone which create an interesting pattern.
“Limestone is so cool, especially the gray tones that are so popular right now. You can use the vein cut or the more fossilized,” she says.
Perhaps most elegant is onyx which is used often for bathroom walls, tables and bar tops. Expensive and impractical, its veining adds contrasting colors that make the slab resemble a work of art. Backlighting the stone causes it to have a warm glow.
Though beautiful, onyx is soft and requires much maintenance including sealing and frequent cleaning with a non-abrasive cleaner.
“We’ve used split-face onyx in a shower before. That’s a desirable look in some cases. Onyx has such translucency, it’s fun to work with,” says Arnold.
Once relegated to entryway floors, travertine has moved into every room of the home. So many colors and varieties are available that it is sometimes mistaken for limestone or marble. Rustic or polished, travertine can be purchased in sizes from small mosaic tiles to large slabs for walls and countertops.
“You can tile a full house in travertine. It’s a good balance between affordability and a good look,” Arnold says.
In addition to learning the individual characteristics of a specific stone, homeowners should be mindful of the stone’s weight and size. It’s best to consult a builder to determine the structural requirements of a stone installation.
“The builder is an integral part of this. We need to consider the weight load and how we’re going to adhere it to a wall. We might just have a structural engineer come in,” says Delafield.
The size of cabinets and islands should also be taken into consideration. More than one slab may need to be used to fit large cabinetry, resulting in a visible seam joining the pieces.
“Know the general size of the stone and how to get it into the house. You’ve got to know the application, what use the stone will be used for,” Delafield says.
Natural stone brings a new dimension to a home’s interior design. Eco-friendly and durable, stone brings character and fashion to every room.