Ah, spring! It's that exhilarating season when we start moving on those honey-do projects we've been dreaming about all winter. Is stonework on your list? Maybe a winding garden wall to define your planting beds. Or a stone patio and outdoor fireplace for summer celebrations.
If you've decided your honey won't do for the bigger projects and haven't worked with a stonemason before, you may be wondering where to begin. Here are some guidelines to help you through the buying process. They're based on our years of experience working with customers, listening and learning along the way.
Finding Inspiration, Pinterest Perhaps?
Most homeowners want to focus on color first. It's the natural place to start and makes good sense to a point. So begin by examining your space and look for colors that will unify your design. Notice the style and color of surrounding elements like paint, cabinetry or landscaping.
Are the shades cool or warm? Hazy grays or copper browns? You may want to choose a granite that complements the Tuscan hues already found in your home. Or maybe use a green bluestone as a backdrop to the cool pinks in your perennial border.
After you've chosen your color palette, consider using light and dark elements to add visual interest. Contrast allows the most beautiful stones to stand out. Though for a cohesive look, let unity play the lead and keep contrast in the supporting role.
Alternatively, sometimes a contrasting color scheme is the better and more dramatic choice. One example is monochromatic bluestone set against red brick. It's a classic pairing that works well for walkways, patios and steps. Another option is to mix different types of stone for a custom result that makes a beautiful impression. For visual inspiration, give Pinterest a try. It's the hot social media site right now for home and design ideas. Plus, it's so easy to use.
"Choosing the right stone is easy with some planning and makes all the difference in the quality of your project."
Draw On Nature
Be aware that natural stone that's exposed to the elements will sometimes change color over time. Walls will age with lichen and moss. Patios take on a patina. Efflorescence (deposits of minerals on the surface of the stone) may form. If your stone is planned for outdoors, keep this in mind during the design process.
As important as color is, the attributes of size, shape and texture play an equally important role. Examine the properties of the stone - is it sleek, rustic, textured, round, angular? Consider how these properties relate to the look you want to achieve and work them into your design plan. Are you thinking polished contemporary or English cottage? Whether it's installed inside or in the garden, you can draw on the natural characteristics of stone to bring your project to life.
It's easier to visualize the finished project if you can see local stone installed before you buy. Ask your stone center if they have sample boards on display. Request photos from your masonry contractor. Call on your contractor's expertise to help you choose a material that works best for your particular application and budget.
Most contractors will be glad to meet you at a stone center to discuss the range of products available for your job. Choosing the right stone is easy with some planning and makes all the difference in the quality of your stonework project.
Best Laid Plans
On a final note - while I encourage customers to have a plan, making room for spontaneity can offer nice rewards too. Working with stone is a creative process that will allow for happy accidents. In the end, the unplanned ideas are often the most unique and cherished parts of the project.
This post continues with A Buying Guide For Stonework: Choosing Your Contractor
Originally posted March 31, 2011