The innate character, the unique graining, the colors that take their cue from the earth—there’s so much to love about natural stone. Using it throughout your home, whether iterated for countertops, walls, flooring, or accents adds a singular beauty that can’t be replicated. “No two pieces of stone will ever match completely, as veining and color are all made by Mother Nature,” says Gioi Tran, founder and principal designer of San Francisco-based design firm Applegate Tran Interiors.
Each type of stone has a distinctive range of natural patterns all its own. For a cleaner look, you’ll want stones with more uniform or solid backgrounds. For a complex appearance choose stones with scattered veining, says Mary Dimichino, senior designer at Bakes & Kropp cabinetry in New York. “The finish, whether polished or honed, also impacts the appearance of natural stone. It can transform a surface’s texture, color, and reflectivity,” she says.
And because of its inherent imperfections, natural stone is forgiving—the more flaws, the more interesting the look. But perhaps its most useful quality is durability. “Natural stone is hard-wearing and provides a durable surface for flooring, kitchens, and bathrooms while also relatively being easy to clean, hygienic, and nontoxic,” says Maneli Wilson of Maneli Wilson Interiors in New York. And it’s entirely environmentally friendly. “It does not require any artificial processes or chemicals for manufacturing, unlike many other man-made engineered building materials,” she says.
One of the strongest of all-natural stone varieties, granite is a low-maintenance option that’s heat- and scratch-resistant, making it ideal for outdoor and high-traffic spaces such as laundry rooms, mudrooms, and kitchens, Wilson says. Many types of granite are speckled with flecks of color, while others have veining and swirls similar to marble.
Made of many types of crystals, each slab of granite has unique coloring and veining and is often sold in shades of white, beige, black, blue, green, or gray, Dimichino says.
It’s great for kitchen counters and backsplashes, fireplace surrounds, and in tiles as a feature wall, Tran says.