Stone for your Home – What to chose and where to use it
If like me, you love the feel of natural materials and want to introduce some luxury into your interiors you would probably like to install some stone in your home. You may have a redundant fireplace you want to re-instate, a bathroom that needs some glamour or want beautiful worktops for your kitchen, but where to start?
Let’s start with where you can use stone
Lay a stone floor and you lay a floor for life. Tougher than wood, easy to clean and it can be heated from beneath. Stone floors feel wonderful underfoot and beats its plastic imitations hands down with natural, undulating colours and patterns that cannot be matched.
Domestic stone flooring comes in tile form from 1 x 1cm mosaic to a whopping 100 x 100cm tile and everything in between. As a general rule for a slick look use larger scale tiles, closer together to avoid having many joins and for a more casual or rustic look smaller from 5x5cm to 30x30cm tiles work well as they come with more grout lines and pattern options.
Things to watch: Avoid high heels and dragging furniture around. Also, unless you and other users are completely aware of the danger in having a polished floor in wet areas DON’T DO IT. As Bon Jovi said “Slippery When Wet”
The recent trend to have bare stone or brick has seen a resurgence of stone clad walls in the home. This might be a hotel style shower lined in limestone, a rough slate coated feature wall or a marble backsplash in the kitchen. Slabs (larger scale pieces) are generally used for walls but mosaic or 10x10cm tumbled (softer looking edges) tiles look expensive and can offer a neutral palette to jump start your décor from.
Things to watch: Vertical plane stone, especially textured, can gather limescale and be trickier to clean but if you love the look, cleaning lightly and often is the way to keep your walls looking good.
Marble, is so sought after for worktops at the moment from edgy East London family homes to high-end apartments. The most popular, grey and white stone is called Bianca Carrara just so you know. However there are other beautiful surfaces if you're wanting something a little different. Grey and brown coloured limestones and granites are favourites of mine with their soft grey into taupe hues. Match these to off-white or mid colours to achieve the anti-dote to a harsh, shiny, footballer’s pad.
Things to watch: All worktops can get damaged by cutting, chemical cleaners and acidic food and drink. Granite is usually the toughest, whilst marble can get marked by everything from lemon juice to red wine. Again, if you love the look you can buy specialist stone cleaner in all larger supermarkets these days and for goodness sake always use a chopping board as stone can get scored.
In bathrooms and especially in Wet Rooms, stone can look stunning on the walls and floor, but you do need to consider the slip-rating of stone. An ideal R-rating (short for Ramp Test) of 10-12 is best for a domestic bathroom, this can be achieved by either adding an anti-slip product or going for smaller tiles. However products like Lithofin’s ‘Anti-Slip’ can only make a smooth stone slip-resistant and the company do not offer a R-rating for this. The alternative is to have a matt (honed) stone or better still a matt stone in smaller tiles with lots of grippy grout lines.
Things to watch: See above, a gorgeous looking spa experience in your home and whilst you’re at it, get yourself a gorgeous stone sink too.
Stone – What’s your type?
You probably have a good idea of the stone you like already having seen it in mags and on Pinterest, but what do you know about it and is it the best option for you. Let me take you through the main contendors.
A hard-wearing granular composition which comes in colours from yellow to chocolate brown. It can have a smooth or characterful pitted appearance and often comes with bonus fossils.
A smoother stone with distinctive veining throughout. Comes in a fascinating array of colours from whites and greys to blues and reds. The most expensive marbles are the ones that have very little variation and veining but I say bring on the character an save yourself some money too
The hardest wearing natural worktop, formed of larger pieces bound together under the Earths natural compression and heat. It’s mostly seen in it’s shinier, polished form but look out for the softer unpolished versions too
Formed of layers in the earth compressed to a hard blue, purple, green, grey or black surface. I love slightly textured slate for floors and smooth for worktops which when treated has a lovely eggshell type sheen
Man-handled material No1. Terrazzo has been around since Roman times and, as with marble, is having a resurgence since its last heyday in the 50s and 60s (think classic Italian cafes). Made from chips of stone and/or glass, embedded in cement or resin and polished, your surfaces can be made in any colour and will be as hard as nails. Again, see how well those old, Italian café floors are holding up
Man-handled material No2. Crushed stone particles are bound together in resin to form a stone-like slab which feels just like the real thing. The added bonus is that the colouring and patterning are more consistent and you can (sensibly) cut and pour any food and drink onto it making it the toughest worktop here. It comes in huge array of colours too. Also, recent versions with marble style veining are becoming increasingly popular and convincing so it’s a good alternative to the more porous, Bianca carrara.
Kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms, we all need them but where to go to find the best suppliers, gadgets and pink sinks? KBB is where.
First let's look at the kitchens (bathrooms to follow). Half expecting the show to consist of endless stands of hinges, extractor systems and shiny suits, although I did see plenty of these, I was happy to be proved wrong as I discovered cutting edge kitchen design and looks and learnt a lot about the forthcoming trends, which I'm going to share with you here.
Wanting to ensure that I do know what the next big thing in kitchens will be for my lovely clients, I also attended a very informative talk on Future Materials and Colour Trends by Formica which correlated with the items I selected on my visit.
Every two years, Formica Group researches and collaborates with global designers and architects to define the upcoming trends that will have a direct impact on design. Called 'Future Vision', it predicted the future materials and colours that will shape the sector and how they fit with broader consumer and societal themes. The key themes for the coming years
Honest and robust materials such as metal, wood, glass and porcelain in industrially inspired spaces. Think warehouse but with softer edges and steely greys anchoring pops of utilitarian colours. A definite move away from the hi-gloss cupboard.
Or bringing the outside in. The latest swathe of Instagram interiors featuring lots of greenery in the home and the use of natural wood along with open spaces and inhabited views through vast panes of glass is where your kitchen will be at. Think blurring the boundaries of inside and outside with herbs growing in mini counter-top glasshouses and soft earthy colours such as Khakis, pale browns and off-whites forming the colour schemes.
Summarised best as minimalist, sensory and tactile. Kitchens will become a lot calmer with tech hidden in appliances (see Samsung fridge above) and transparent and reflective surfaces with lighter hues, simple lines and all small appliances put-away. Only the most beautiful form meets function items will survive the countertop cull.
So, I'd go for the solid pine kitchen, with white tops, hanging baskets, polished plaster walls and chunky handles to encompass al the above.
Please let us know which is your favourite product in the comments below...
Not surprisingly, I didn't spend much time here. Sorry hinge guys.
One of London's Best Interiors Bloggers (Ideal Home magazine), The Open Plan Interior Design, London produces contemporary interiors for homes and business' and this very useful home interiors blog