The reassuring quality of natural stone constitutes a warmth and a presence in a room that’s hard to ignore. Whether it’s the coolness of flagstone underfoot in a country kitchen or a soaring overmantel, grounding the room with its tea-stained mottles and fortuitous motifs of nature’s own design, natural stone lends at once a gentle yet imposing weight to an interior. Perhaps its solidity evokes a sense of security, its ruggedness striking some primal chord within us.
Whatever its appeal, current trends mapping and statistics from the trend forecasting and analytics body, WGSN, support evidence for the enduring popularity of natural stone homeware, including a recent uptick in sales of marble in particular. Findings from its recent marble trend curve report suggest that the stone is steadily trending and that marble products experienced a 107 per cent jump in online retail between 2019 and 2020. WGSN puts this down to increased consumer appetite for luxury purchases of durable, natural materials with the long term in mind.
Filling your home with natural stone will lend a soothing quality to any room, complementing both contemporary and more traditional interiors. Isabel Fernandez, the Business Manager of the leading retailer of natural stone flooring, Quorn Stone, tells me that the passion for the beauty of natural stone is very much central to the success of the company. “As a family who has grown up around natural stone flooring, we are still utterly fascinated by the individuality of each flagstone or cobble,” she says. “We find that in our showrooms, adults and children alike are captivated by the rich history natural stone can offer to your home, an element that is easy to overlook when browsing online.”
The history carried in each slab or tile is packed with character and charm in the form of unique textures, colours, and fossils. Fernandez considers every installation a case of “millions of years in the making,” meaning that laying a natural stone floor is a timeless investment for the home and a beautiful, practical choice for modern-day living.
Owen Pacey, the founder of Renaissance London, a fireplace restoration and reproduction expert with a passion for marble, travertine, Kilkenny, slate, peperino and beyond, echoes this sentiment. Natural stone acts as a “character-builder” for your home, he says, adding that “the natural imperfections and inconsistencies in each fireplace will bring an intrinsic uniqueness to your home.” He went on to say that “sprawling veins of Carrara marble forge their own distinct pathways and nebulous fossils found in jet-black Kilkenny limestone are dotted in one-of-a-kind constellations.” According to Pacey, the best way to introduce natural stone into the home for an authentic, warm effect, is to consider it a supplement, or a way to enhance, the ‘bones’ of your home. “But that’s not to say it should take a back seat in the design scheme,” he caveats. “The very fact that each jamb, mantel, or corbel made from natural stone is so individual elevates each fireplace to the status of a work of art.”
In many cases, the exposure of natural stone walls and features warrants the abandonment of artwork, in the traditional sense, altogether. In a recent project in Puglia by London-based interior design studio, Alexander Waterworth, the natural stone walls of a 300-year-old farmhouse are left to speak for themselves to exquisite effect. “The building has a long history,” he tells me. “It was once a farmhouse, fortified against Saracen invaders, so our goal was to honour the heritage of the building in many aspects of the design. We exposed and regenerated the natural finishes of the project and the building has a richness of history throughout. Maintaining the history of the building was a key factor to the design’s authenticity.” The property has high, vaulted ceilings and original stone fireplaces that Waterworth believes evoke “a rustic purity to refresh the mind.”
Tollgard Design Group, founded by Staffan and Monique Tollgard, has also recently completed a stone-centric project. The studio tells me that Amman house in Jordan is “literally set in natural stone.” Jordanian limestone and Omani marble run through the building, reflecting the landscape surrounding the property. The brief for the project demanded the warmth and uniqueness of natural stone, and the Tollgards tell me they worked to a mantra of ‘heartfelt minimalism,” a phrase that they felt was perfectly encapsulated by the beauty of the material. “The stones we worked with throughout this property delivered a minimalist story with texture, echoed throughout the kitchen island, coffee tables, and the staircases.”
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