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10 ways to create luxury home oomph. Part 4: natural stone

stone in house design

4/10 ways to create luxury home oomph: natural stone

What does your dream home look like? Chances are that if it is a contemporary house you are after some wow effect. But there are dozens of ways to do it. In this series of posts I will try to cover 10 ways that really make a modern house stand out.

From the Stone Age
natural stone interior

Stone, or rock, has been essential to human civilization. From stone knives to Stonehenge and Easter Island, to mediaeval castles, baroque marble sculpture and Victorian sandstone architecture. The interest in stone develops in us probably as early as two years of age. Whose kids did not pick up little stones or pebbles on a walk? Today many of still have this inclination and this post is for those who like using stone in house design.

The never decreasing popularity of stone can be explained by several reasons.

  • One is that there is a lot of variation – colour, texture, finish – stone can be honed, polished or rough.  It can help to create a rich tactile experience, especially if you have small children who need to develop their fine motor skill. Stone can be cut in different manners to create interesting layered effect.
  • Another reason is that it is a natural material which we are always eager to have in our houses in the age of synthetic materials.
  • Yet another reason is the emotional or spiritual connotation. Stone is very old and there is some kind of reverence in having a piece of our planet’s history in our house.

The problem with stone is that it is hard to get, it is heavy and hard to handle. It is also expensive. For these reasons we do not build solid walls out of stone anymore. In most cases we can afford a feature wall. To meet this demand manufacturers offer stone cladding – stackstone, which is a brandname used generically to denote engineered stonemasonry.

What I am going to say below is only my personal opinion. Feel free to argue in the comments. My opinion is that if you would like to use stone in your interior or exterior design, it is preferable to go for solid stone, rather than stackstone. Of course, in this case you will not be able to build a feature wall. Instead, you will be able to introduce stone in other ways that will create a similarly powerful visual effect and will have one unbeatable advantage.

The advantage of using solid stone is that it allows to avoid the fake effect. It is the imitation, which robs stackstone of the power of natural stone. Once the stone is reduced to a just a cladding, once it loses its structural strength, the stone, in my view, loses its appeal. It becomes flimsy, hollow, even sterile, if you wish.

image from maxistone.com.au

The appeal of the stone is in its strength. This is why the stone castles induce such awe in us. We admire the effort of the ancient builders, their craft and the beauty of what they created out of such hard material. This is why today rock chips do not create anywhere near effect. Stone cladding simply does not work as it should. It is not better that any other cladding and wallpaper is just as good as a feature wall internally. Wallpaper in this case is even better because it is honest and quite often it is a piece of art. Wallpaper does not pretend to be what it isn’t. Stackstone does.

 

stackstone feature wall

photo from spec-net.com.au

So how can you introduce stone into your house design without paying too much? The answer to this questions lies in the features of the stone.

Stone is strong and comes in different sizes, therefore you can consider using it as support. For example, a bollard can be a base for a coffee table inside. A piece of rock can be used as a bench, or a shelf, or a threshold – in other words, something that will carry weight.

Natural stone in interior design. Let me know if you know the author.

 

bollard as table

Rock as a coffee table. Found on artefactdesignsalvage.com

rock shelves

Rock as shelves. Pinned from bloodandchampagne.com

Stone also comes in all sorts of shapes. Consider getting a naturally shaped large rock and using it outside as part of landscaping. It is hard to think of something that belongs to landscaping better than stone.

 

rock landscaping

Rock in landscaping. Happy to credit the author if you know them.

However, if you would like to create a statement in the hall, consider using rock as a centrepiece. Add some light, enough room around it and voila!

bollard rock stone interior design

Bollard in interior design. Photo from disdigs.com

As an option to larger rocks you can use gravel. Again, it could be rough gravel or pebbles. These work best in multitudes and in geometrical application.

gravel house design

Courtyard House / Buensalido Architects

For example, pebbles look great inside along the junction of the walls and the floor.

 

gravel pebbles luxury house

Gravel at the junction of the walls and the floor. Design by DeForest Architects. Found on Homeadore.com

They also help to separate areas. The best example would be the one below where the pebbles are used both inside and outside with only a pane of glass dividing them.

luxury homes pebbles onside outside

Pebbles in the interior design. Fung + Blatt Residence | Fung + Blatt Architects | Archinect

A separate thing to consider is using marble as internal cladding. It is hard to disagree that it looks very impressive in the example below.

marble

Marble looks impressive in palatial interiors that project power. Happy to credit the author if you know them. Found in wordpress blogs.

The key to this is that marble is a symbol of wealth and luxury. It works because there is a lot of it and the volume of the rooms is quite large. Marble is a palatial material that represents power. In a regular house it will become pretentious and ostentatious. It is like gold. However, if you can add a little humour or employ contrast you will be able to use marble quite successfully.

 

marble in interior design luxury minimalistic home

Marble success in sensuous minimalistic design depends on the contrast. Casa AR by LUCIO MUNIAIN et al. Fount at architizer.com

In the example above marble is the only visually “rich” and heavy material. The rest creates an atmosphere of lightness. Restrained white on white palette bring to the foreground the beauty of the marble veins.

To sum up, there are many other ways of using stone which will maintain and emphasise its spirit and still look impressive and creative.

Let me know what you think!