Materials | Natural Stone
Natural stone can add unique texture and elegance to a room, building, or outdoor space that can’t be achieved with other materials. Incorporating natural stone into interior or exterior settings can give both residential and commercial spaces a little something special. Whether you’re designing a residential space or a grand foyer in a public building, using natural stone is a guaranteed way to make a statement.
Brittney Fischbeck, designer at Abodwell in Laguna Beach, Calif., said she couldn’t recall a time in 20 years when natural stone wasn’t used in her projects in some capacity.
Fischbeck says among the things she loves about natural stone are the many finishes that can be achieved, such as antiqued, honed, brushed, and bush-hammered. Depending on the finish, results can enhance the stone’s color and texture or polish it, resulting in a nice consistency of material with several different looks within the same space. Additionally, the durability of natural stone makes it a sustainable material that you don’t have to replace every few years.
“I never want the spaces I design to look dated,” Fischbeck said. “Natural stone is a classic building material that has wonderful versatility, allowing you to create an experience or evoke a feeling, with a few simple tweaks. That versatility adds interest and texture to the design—whether warm, cool, sleek, sumptuous, earthy, ethereal, strong, lively, whimsical, traditional, or contemporary—the sky is the limit.”.
Joan Soranno, design principal at HGA Architects and Engineers with more than 30 years of experience in the industry, explains that textural variety and flexibility in natural stone makes it a preferred material. There are many different ways to manipulate texture with stone that simply can’t be done with other materials, she said.
When HGA designed Lakewood Cemetery Garden and Mausoleum in Minneapolis, Minn., Soranno said they wanted a very rough textured exterior, and they found what they were looking for in split-faced granite.
“It’s very rough. There’s a textural quality and it incorporates shade and shadow into the façade that makes it truly beautiful,” Soranno said. “That’s the interesting thing about natural stone in that it can be very rough and very jagged or highly smooth and polished.”
When incorporating natural stone in a design, Soranno says it’s important to make sure that a timeline and budget have been set for the project. With the many different types of natural stone available in the marketplace, finding the perfect one takes some research. Stone experts can help with proper detailing to maximize a stone’s use and its longevity.
Fischbeck advises working with an importer or supplier that is well versed in natural stone, and hiring a quality fabricator and installer.
Of course, natural stone is used for more than just aesthetics. In addition to enhancing the look, natural stone also can add to a space’s functionality.
“Stone is just as versatile when used for functional purposes, and can make the design really sing,” Fischbeck said. “Structural columns, retaining walls, pier caps, sills, hearths, and mantles are all wonderful areas to use stone as a statement and to convey strength and stability.”
Soranno agrees, pointing out that many of the most well known buildings throughout the centuries are made with natural stone. That’s because stone is heavy, permanent, and low-maintenance. “People tend to think it’s a special building because natural stone is such a beautiful, permanent material that adds a sense of beauty, dignity, graciousness, and adds value,” she said.
As a place of burial, the Lakewood Cemetery Garden and Mausoleum, with its natural stone exterior and interior, needs to last forever. Soranno says that although it will require some maintenance over time, the building still will be intact hundreds of years from now. That sense of permanence can’t be attributed to many other materials.
For more information about natural stone and a list of professionals in the industry, visit www.usenaturalstone.com.
Article courtesy of Kleber & Associates, a national PR firm that specializes in the home and building industries. More information is available at www.kleberandassociates.com.