Healthy, Green Design: Decorating With Pebbles, Rocks and Stone

Reader Contribution by Stephanie Nickolson
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Stephanie Nickolson has designed residential, commercial and eco-conscious environments for more than 24 years. Her firm, Stephanie Nickolson Design, promotes the use of sustainable, non-toxic, recyclable and environmentally-friendly products and services. The firm works largely with clients who have allergies, chemical sensitivies or who have children with special needs.

Back in the days of The Flintstones, the houses couldn’t get any earthier with their stone, pebble and rock compositions. Fred and Wilma even named their daughter “Pebbles,” they lived in “Bedrock” and their neighbor’s last name was “Rubble.” Not that anyone I know has a home made exclusively of stone, including all of it’s interior furnishings. However, this home did exemplify “minimalism” to it’s fullest degree.

Whether your entire house is made of stone, your entry is carved from it, or a part of your home has some stone component, stone happens to be one of my favorite materials in home design and construction. When embellished with wrought iron, in my opinion, nothing could exude a more elegant feeling.

The Flintstone’s House is the epitome of an earthy home made of natural materials such as stone. Photo By Matthew High/Courtesy Flickr.

Stone is so easy to incorporate into an interior; it blends with any style, depending on what it’s integrated with. When paired with metal, it can be rustic, country or Tuscan, to name a few styles. When surrounding a fireplace, it can add to a more traditional tone. I typically like to suggest some stone or rock type of product when designing with a client, while throwing some warm touches into the mix. By its nature, stone can be very cold both aesthetically and physically when used alone. By adding a textured rug over a stone floor or hanging a fabric shower curtain and plush towels in an all stone bathroom, it adds comfort and aids in noise reduction, as well as balances the hard and soft contrasting features. Stone columns need to be transported and installed with care, but when used in any room will make ceilings appear taller than they are and will add a very classic look.

A stone entry adds beauty to a home and looks so inviting. Photo By Stirling Stoneworks/Courtesy Flickr.

A product made of stone which does not take up much depth when installed on an accent wall is sometimes refered to as thin veneer stone. It’s staggered and random and gives such an Old World, cozy feeling to a room. If you have the added feature of a fireplace on that wall, you can flank it with beautiful wall sconces, whether they be wired electrically or simply house candles, to create a perfect harmonization of co-existing materials.

Stone is beautiful when used in a bathroom. Photo By Stirling Stoneworks/Courtesy Flickr.

Some manufacturers are fusing pebbles onto mesh backings; it’s use includes wall and floor tile, shower pans or kitchen backsplashes, as shown in the photo below. These beautiful shades of taupe add so much depth and texture to this kitchen. Make sure to have it sealed if it hasn’t been already, as it will be easier to clean when liquids or grease splatter on it.

A pebbled backsplash adds a nice neutral and textured background to a kitchen. Photo Courtesy Daltile.

There are also many companies that produce blends of tile incorporating stone mixed with glass on one sheet. The glass adds color and an opaqueness to the natural beauty of stone. Since stone is a natural product, it may not be for those who want everything to match and be precise, so keep in mind when considering it for your home that there will be variations in each piece.

Some great books on the subject of incorporating such products are:

Stone: Designing Kitchens, Baths and Interiors With Natural Stone by Heather E. Adams and Earl G. Adams
Design Ideas for Decorative Concrete & Stone by Ellen Frankel and Mervyn Kaufman

Additionally, some great sites to view products are:

Artifacts International
M S International
Schwake Stone

Editor’s Note: Natural Home does not recommend, approve or endorse the products/services offered by companies guest bloggers review online. You should use your own judgment and evaluate products and services carefully before deciding to purchase.