Exotic stones with lots of bold colors and movement are quickly become some of the more popular choices for homeowners that want to make a statement in their homes. Unfortunately, many of these same stones aren’t practical for use in large areas such as kitchen counters, because they can overwhelm the space with their pattern and color, and because these exotic stones tend to be more expensive than their subdued counterparts. There are still many ways you can work an exotic stone into your design scheme, however, so that it becomes the focal point of the room, without overwhelming the style or your budget.
One of the easiest ways to incorporate an exotic stone is to work it in on a smaller, separate area within the space. Kitchen islands, bar tops, kitchen desks, and built-in kitchen tables all make great areas to introduce a wild stone. By concentrating the area that gets the more exotic stone to a smaller section, it more easily draws the eye and creates a sense of interest for the space, rather than overwhelming it. The key is to ensure that the stone used around the perimeter of the room is much more subtle and stable in color and pattern, but that still matches. For example, if Rainforest Green granite were used on the island, Imperial Coffee Brown, which matches the brown veins in the more exotic stone, could be used on the perimeter.
It’s also possible to use an exotic stone in several smaller spaces scattered throughout the space as well to help add a lot of interest to the design. For example, within one space a stone could be used:
- On large window sills or window seats
- On a small counter dividing the kitchen from the living room or dining room
- Topping half walls that divide open spaces
- On accent tables
Put together as a whole, these many small areas can add up to a big punch of style within the room, without detracting from the rest of the style.
Exotic stones with lots of personality are a fun way to spice up your interior design. If you’re nervous about committing to one in a big way, consider using them in any of these smaller spaces to add a lot of interest and style to your design.
Outdoor kitchens are rapidly gaining in popularity in all areas of the country. Used for everything from parties to regular outdoor cooking, today’s outdoor kitchen is often an extension of the indoors. This includes appliances, cabinetry, countertops, and flooring. Stone flooring is one of the more popular materials in an outdoor kitchen, as it nicely bridges the gap between the outdoors and the man-made kitchen. Not all stones are suitable for this outdoor use, however; finding the right one will help ensure that your new kitchen lasts for years to come.
Slate is one of the most popular materials for outdoor kitchen floors. It’s non-porous and doesn’t require a lot of sealers or special treatment to hold up well. It doesn’t stain easily and can withstand a freeze/thaw cycle. It can scratch however; most scratches can be hidden by mineral oil or a topical sealer if desired.
Flamed granite is another popular material for outdoor flooring use. Flaming removes the weakest particles of the granite’s surface, so what’s left is the strongest part of the stone. Flamed granite has a very rough texture that can provide traction underfoot, and it doesn’t require sealers or special cleaners outside. It can also withstand freeze/thaw cycles.
Bluestone is a frequently used material as well, particularly for those that like the look of large, uneven pavers, or who have bluestone elsewhere on their property already. Bluestone requires little to no maintenance, and can provide a small amount of texture underfoot – less than flamed granite or slate would. The color can vary slightly, but less than materials like slate, making it a nice choice for homeowners that don’t like a lot of variation in their floors.
It’s important to remember, when selecting a stone for an outdoor kitchen, that the floor isn’t just subject to the elements; it’s also subject to food stains. Therefore, softer stones like limestone or travertine may not be the best choice for this area, even in warmer climates.
Consider using a natural stone on your outdoor kitchen floor to help get the look you’re after for the space.
White marble continues to be one of the hottest materials for floors, counters, and walls in the home. Unfortunately for many, the patina that it naturally develops over time can detract from its appeal. While it isn’t possible to keep marble looking like it did the day that it arrived forever, it is possible to help slow down the patina and keep it looking great for longer.
- Always seal your marble with a silicone-based impregnator. This will help give you time to clean up any spills on the surface and prevent staining. It’s time to reseal your marble when water stops beading off its surface.
- Wipe up spills as soon as you see them; sealers help give you time, but can’t prevent stains from setting in if a spill is left indefinitely
- Clean your marble with a PH neutral cleanser made just for stone to help prevent etching and help the sealer last longer. Use a soft cloth to apply the cleanser, and rinse with plain water each time.
- Remove soap scum in a shower with a squeegee to help prevent it from dulling the finish. This will also help prevent dulling due to hard water, and will prevent the appearance of water spots on polished marble as well.
- Never use vinegar, bleach, or products that contain these ingredients to clean your marble, as these will dull and remove its finish. Even using these products on honed or tumbled marble could leave marks over time.
- Dust mop your floor often between cleanings to help remove abrasive grit that could dull its surface.
- Never use a vacuum with a beater bar, or that has worn wheels as these could scratch and dull the finish of the marble.
- Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes on a marble floor as these can leave “stun” marks or bruises beneath the marble’s surface.
It’s impossible to prevent your marble from aging, but taking these steps will help protect it from looking worn before its time. Embrace the marble in your home, and be sure to take care of it to help ensure it looks beautiful for years to come.
Made of metamorphosed talc, soapstone is one of the softest, yet durable stones available. It’s this contrast that leads a lot of homeowners to wonder if soapstone is right for them; can they maintain it with their lifestyle. Soapstone is actually one of the easier stones to care for, making it perfect for homeowners that want its softness, but not the type of maintenance involved with other softer stones like marble.
Unlike most other stones, soapstone requires no regular care or maintenance. It doesn’t have to be sealed or cleaned regularly with special materials. In fact, most homeowners will find that they need to do nothing to their soapstone at all.
Soapstone does develop a natural patina over time, which will slightly darken the stone. Some people who like this patina will help it along by applying mineral oil to the stone on a regular basis. This oil application is entirely optional, but will help deepen and darken the color of the stone over time.
Oiling the stone is simple, and involves rubbing the oil into the surface with a soft cloth every few months until you achieve the desired color. This application of mineral oil is also a great way to help hide any scratches that may develop in the surface of the stone over time.
Soapstone is naturally very durable and waterproof, scratchproof, and weatherproof. It holds onto its “soapy”, soft feeling whether you decide to oil it or not. This makes it the ideal kitchen counter surface for busy families that need a counter that can handle things like hot pots, spills, and daily use without being negatively affected. It’s also the perfect surface for homeowners that need a counter they don’t want to worry about or put a lot of time into maintaining.
If you’re looking for a beautiful natural stone that you never have to worry about, consider soapstone for your home.