Art­ful Liv­ing By De­sign

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Se­lect­ing stone for your home re­mod­el­ing or build­ing project can be over­whelm­ing and con­fus­ing. Let’s fo­cus on coun­ter­top sur­faces for the mo­ment: natural stone such as granite, mar­ble, soap­stone, quartzite, or basalt, to name a few; or en­gi­neered stone, which is natural quartz com­bined with high-qual­ity poly­mer resin and pig­ment— such as Cae­sars­tone, HanS­tone or Sile­stone— all beau­ti­ful in their own right... the list goes on. You are most likely con­cerned about dura­bil­ity, cost, aes­thet­ics, main­te­nance, and the im­pact on our en­vi­ron­ment. No won­der this can be per­plex­ing.

First con­sider how you move through and use your space on a daily ba­sis. If it is a kitchen sur­face, whether the coun­ter­top or floor, this room is prone to more sub­stances that have the pos­si­bil­ity of stain­ing or burn­ing. Your choice should be made in har­mony with your life­style and knowl­edge of the char­ac­ter­is­tics of each stone type you are con­sid­er­ing. I per­son­ally have mar­ble inmy kitchen (not usu­ally rec­om­mended by sales peo­ple) and many kitchens in Europe have had mar­ble tops in their kitchens for many decades. My hus­band and I are aware of the is­sues around mar­ble as a coun­ter­top and have found it to be not a prob­lem. We think the mar­ble in our kitchen is gor­geous and af­ter five years of use it still looks ter­rific.

Other ap­pli­ca­tions for stone or other stone­like sur­faces in­clude floors and walls. Imag­ine a beau­ti­ful bush-ham­mered white quartzite in a niche sub­tly bathed in light as a back­drop to a lovely ob­jet d’art, or per­haps chis­eled lime­stone jux­ta­posed with brushed lime­stone set in a ver­ti­cal run­ning bond pat­tern as a sur­round for your soak­ing tub: gor­geous! The pos­si­bil­i­ties are lim­ited only by your imag­i­na­tion. Lime­stone of dif­fer­ent shades com­bined with black slate could be used to cre­ate a dra­matic floor in an en­trance foyer. There is re­claimed floor ma­te­rial to con­sider as well. How about an aged lime­stone tile floor planked along with richly colored hard­wood?

Natural stone tiles, in my opin­ion, pro­vide a level of ob­vi­ous lux­ury to the home. Be­cause it is natural, no two tiles are ex­actly the same. Natural stone is more por­ous and has to be fin­ished with a pen­e­trat­ing sealer to pre­vent stain­ing. A good rule of thumb is that honed sur­faces wear bet­ter than pol­ished sur­faces, which can etch with acidic juice, wine, or clean­ing chem­i­cals.

Ar­chi­tec­turally, a fire­place is a great op­por­tu­nity to elab­o­rate and de­sign a mar­velous fo­cal point for a room, whether a fire is burn­ing or not, and us­ing natural or en­gi­neered stone can be ab­so­lutely strik­ing. Con­sider a large hunk of natural sand­stone as a man­tle, sur­rounded by clay plaster or natural fis­sure fos­sil­stone cladding the fire­place face to cre­ate a grand state­ment.

The vast ar­ray of stone is phe­nom­e­nal and my rec­om­men­da­tion is to get some pro­fes­sional advice to help with your big de­ci­sion.

Lisa Sa­muel ASID, IIDA, is prin­ci­pal of Sa­muel De­sign Group, 607 Cer­ril­los Road, Suite A. She is an award-win­ning in­te­rior de­signer, light­ing de­signer, and fur­ni­ture de­signer. Con­tact Lisa at 505-820-0239.


The natural soft beauty of honed sand­stone is the per­fect back­drop for this beau­ti­ful cer­e­mo­nial pot ar­ti­fact from Africa.

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