Today, the interior design community continues to search for interesting combinations of surface materials. Many have begun to integrate semi-precious stones into other materials such as marble. While such materials would once have been reserved for only an exclusive few, the new global marketplace and modern technology have impacted all of our living environments. Though we may not be in Rome, we are still able to do as the Romans did.
The surface materials one chooses set the stage for the other design elements. They are not as easily changed as your furnishings and window treatments. Therefore, the type of stone you use and your choice of how the stone is finished will impart a particular sense of atmosphere – not only visually but also in terms of how the surface actually feels. While holding a piece of limestone being considered for a backsplash in her kitchen, a client said that it felt “spiritual.” She found that materials plucked from the earth and full of the imprinting of small fossils over thousands of years made her backsplash a thing of joy.
Many times people are afraid to use the organic material they love in a sample because of the tremendous variety they will encounter when it is actually installed. Many natural stones have ranges of color and dramatic veining that can vary tremendously in the same lot. It is this very variation, however, that caters to a heightened sense of visual interest and that contributes to the beauty of the material and to the space in which it is used. Nonetheless, the strong variation that exists in many natural stones is not for everyone. While there are many man-made versions of natural materials that will not have all the variation, if you want to go natural but with as little variation as possible, you might look for particular types of stone with a more limited natural color palette. Domestic slate, for instance, is more consistent than its imported relations.
Finally, remember that you can use natural stone in many interesting ways – not just on floors, countertops, backslashes and fireplaces. You can use it on window sills or on range vent hoods. Depending on the shape, size, pattern, and color of the natural material you choose to incorporate in your design, you will quickly seize its emotional appeal.
If you can, visit the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and take a look on the Greco-Roman wing. Seeing the door casings sculpted from marble, you too may be inspired to incorporate such materials into your own home and hopefully in a unique and personal way, to create and environment that will not only connect you to the beauty of nature’s gifts but one that will also stand the test of time.