Innovative Uses for Stone
You may never have experienced the real “kissin’ of the Blarney Stone” in Ireland, and the prevalence of leprechaun images just puckering up and leaning over to plant one on the stone has given you an idea of what it’s like. Those who have kissed the famous rock know that a kiss is not just a kiss here. It’s a process – you lay on your back, gripping two iron bars on either side of you and extend over backwards so that your neck is over a small ledge. Then comes the big pucker! Purse ‘em out as far as possible so you can brush your lips over the smooth surface of the stone. Then wiggle back away from the rock and pull yourself up from the ground. That’s no blarney.
Just like the Blarney Stone, using natural stone in your home remodel or custom home can be typical or it can be an experience in itself. Stone is sturdy, versatile and elegant. Depending on the type of stone, you can mold it, cut it, sculpt it or lay it. Use it in common, expected places, or make it unexpected and add real character to your home and your décor. You can make it seem like the luck o’ the Irish, but you’ll know that it was your imagination combined with skillful custom remodeling techniques:
Hot Stone Bath: The hot stone massage has nothing on this use of stone in the bathroom. Think smooth, oval, round stones with water trickling over and between them like the stones on the riverbank or within a babbling brook. Create a stone wall inside or outside of the shower that will simply soothe as the water runs down and over them. Relax in a bath tub surrounded by — or literally made of — stone or with a stone base. Also, try stone inside sink bowls, as tub and shower surrounds, benches inside showers and on shower thresholds.
Bend Backwards: Create a work of art in your family room, living room or master suite fireplace area by molding stone. Limestone, one of the common stones used for sculpting and color, will make a beautiful centerpiece for that fireplace. Try Travertine, which is crystallized limestone that looks pitted or has little holes in it. Think Italian here — Travertine is used throughout the Coliseum in Rome. You can use it for walls, fireplaces and vanities.
Can you tell the difference? Faux or real columns: Speaking of Rome, stone columns also make a decorative statement in homes. Marble is the norm, but a limestone or natural stone column is also a sturdy stanchion for family rooms or foyers. Stone fireplaces are often the centerpiece of the home.
Back Up: Kitchen and bath countertops are often done in granite or soapstone. The back splashes can be done in the same material, or you can have a full stone back splash wall. Granite is ideal because of its durability, scratch- and stain-resistance and easy clean-up. Granite also picks up the glint of the light and adds shine and color to your walls. Marble is great for bath counter tops, but not so good in the kitchen. Citric acid will etch and discolor marble counter tops or backsplashes, so choose something more durable.
Brick pizza oven: Place your kitchen appliances in a natural environment. Try slate around a grill in the center island or create a slate wall in which your oven is nestled. It’s like your very own brick oven! Slate is ideal for places in the home that will be subject to extreme temperature changes. It maintains its beauty and color through both freezing and high heat temperatures. Slate can also be trimmed to size rather easily.
Pave the way: Use stone in outdoor environments or foyers. Patios, driveways and walkways incorporate stone in many forms, including crushed. Paving blocks are made of crushed stone, as are cement and concrete. Combined with whole stone, crushed stone can create an imaginative, natural environment outside your home.
Covering the Bases: Stone is a sturdy support material, so it works well as the base for a center island, a bathroom sink or tub, or a vanity. A combination stone base and granite countertop, for example, is an au’ natural way to use stone.