There was a time when bright blue and green ceramic tiles ruled the tile outlets. If it wasn’t bright, it wasn’t right. That was then… but now tastes are changing. Many home builders and renovators have taken a hiatus from traditional ceramic tiles because of the rapid shift in designs and styles. With an ever increasing emphasis on a more authentic look, green homeowners now have a new preference in natural stone.
It’s a wonder that we took this long to realise that nature already has the perfect decoration. Natural stone has been used in in the construction and embellishment of homes and epic structures for centuries. Natural stone and great tools were used to make grand enduring columns, arches, pyramids and other ancient structures that have outlived every trend and fad. Never aging or look dated, natural stone is no longer reserved for backsplashes or kitchen trims.
The natural look has moved boldly beyond the kitchen space to exteriors, living rooms, and dining rooms, being incorporated into green spaces around the home like kitchen gardens, flower beds, and stepping-stone walkways.
Not only does it resolve the argument that some couples and families sometimes have about which colour or finish is best, but it also has unique advantages that have green owners especially, clearing out the silica-coated baked tiles for quarried varieties.
In addition, while the paint on some traditional surfaces may need to be removed and repainted over time due to fading and wear, natural stone offers a far more resilient, yet equally attractive alternative.
Debra Duneier, a Graduate Gemologist, and Feng Shui Master Practitioner tells UseNaturalStone, “There’s a positive interaction between people and natural materials,” she explains. Because we are organic beings, natural materials like stone create an unconscious biological, mental, and spiritual connection between us and the earth. Conversely, she equates using synthetic products as primary design materials with consuming chemical-laden foods. “Your body doesn’t know what you’re eating and reacts negatively,” she says. “It also experiences environments full of plastics, resins, and other artificial components as foreign.” In both cases, your body is trying hard to figure out what those unnatural elements are so you can’t experience calm. “Natural stone supports wellness because your body is in an environment that it recognizes and understands,” Duneier says.
The Caribbean is known for a special blend of unique stone. Barbados and other islands in the region are known for limestone quartz, which ranges from almost pure white to caramel beiges and various blends in between. Without a doubt, limestone is perfect for both interior and exterior finishes. (See below)
Coral is found on some Caribbean islands. It has for thousands of years been formed in marine regions. This stone is almost pure white on extraction and is lightweight and porous. It is used both in interior and exterior design for both finishes as well as structurally eg. coral facings, cornices, pediments, sconces etc.
There is no equal to the beauty and tradition of building a home of Coral Stone in Barbados. The style created is much sought after and Coral Stone is now being exported to other Caribbean Islands whom due to their volcanic geological structure do not possess the natural resource to emulate this construction style.
Larimar, also called “Stefilia’s Stone“, is a rare blue variety of the silicate mineral pectolite, found only in the Dominican Republic.
Jamaica and the Dominican Republic both mine marble. (See below)
Volcanic rock abounds in the Greater and Lesser Antilles. This stone ranges from gray to black in colour and makes any home stand out on its own. (See below)
Beyond the obvious green home advantages, the stones are also said to add a sense of tranquility to a space because they allow the outside to transition seamlessly through an interior space.
Here are six great sustainable benefits of natural stone finishes:
- No chemicals or gases are emitted from natural stone, and appealing natural surfaces and colours eliminate the need for VOC-emitting paints and toxic finishes used with many other building materials.
- They are more practical than fashionable. Although aesthetically pleasing, natural stone isn’t a trend that will go away. Homes with natural stone accents like scones, furnishings like dining tables or floor and wall finishes, have increased property values.
- Natural stone is also a natural insulator, which means that using natural stone can help reduce costs for heating and cooling your home.
- Most natural stone products are easy and affordable to clean, with cleaners specifically made to meet sustainability standards, without toxic chemicals that pollute the environment.
- A wide range of environmentally friendly finishes and fabrication options are available to enhance the performance of natural stone, improving weather resistance, slip resistance, and wear and tear.
- They are locally produced, reducing transportation costs and energy use for delivery.
The challenge with use of natural stone is the opportunity to buy something that you saw during your travels. Granite and other stone types are durable and create unique spaces, but the idea of sustainability and living green is to reduce the human footprint on the earth as much as possible. In order for natural stone to be green, it must not be excessively mined in such a way to compromise the stability of the land around the quarry or the flow of waterways.
Unfortunately, ceramic tiles are a cheaper option and natural stone finishes are on the high end of the market. Everyone will not be able to afford a naturally cooler and more efficient home but can begin to explore options before their next renovation that may be a few broken tiles away. Perhaps natural stone can be introduced to the home one room at a time, starting with the fully pink and fully blue bathrooms.