Successful interior design creates aesthetically pleasing and healthy indoor environments that enhance how we live, work, and play. Since many of us spend the majority of our time indoors, it is important that the spaces we inhabit support health, productivity and happiness. From uber-renewable bamboo, to hard woods that develop rich patinas over time, it is no secret that nature produces some of the most beautiful building materials around. But out of all of natural building materials available on our planet, time has proven stone to be the most resilient, luxurious, and longest-lasting of them all. Its ability to resist rot, mold, extreme temperatures and water damage, coupled with a low need for maintenance, makes natural stone a great choice throughout the home. Designers and homeowners often choose stone for flooring and walls due to its durability and resistance to wear and tear, but nowhere is natural stone more popular than in kitchens and bathrooms, where its moisture-resisting properties really shine. For those of you who are interested in the design possibilities of natural stone, here are fifteen examples of stunning interior design using natural stone.

Why natural stone is an ideal material for bathrooms

When it comes to interior design, stone is a perennially popular finish material – especially in bathrooms and kitchens. Natural stone such as marble and granite connote luxury and opulence in an interior space, and it is easy to see why. Not only are these materials more expensive than your average vinyl countertop or vinyl floor, but stone is also much more durable, water-resistant and long-lasting than any synthetic manmade building material. In the wettest room in the home this water-resistance matters. Because of this, the bathroom is the most-likely room in the house to find marble, slate or other types of natural stone. Here are some beautiful examples of bathrooms using natural stone:

photo courtesy of MSI

Modern marble makes this bathroom shine

From the Taj Mahal to the Washington Monument, marble has always been a popular building material due to its wide availability and durability. This modern and minimalist bathroom (above) makes the most of white Arabescto Carrara marble (also known as “Chinese White” and “White Carrara”), which typically exhibits white and grey coloring in medium variation. This marble isn’t too high-contrast or showy, therefore it is neutral as a background color, allowing the homeowners to have fun with their Chevron Pattern White Quarry marble tiles around the bathtub. These beige-colored marble tiles cut into a chevron pattern lend a cool geometric look to the tub that spices up the minimalist bathroom just a bit and gives it more personality.

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Spa-like bathroom mixes wood and stone to create zen tranquility

This gorgeous bathroom combines rich tropical wood with different textures of grey stone to create a warm, soothing ambiance.  The shower floor and backsplash is lined with Ostrich Grey Quartzite tiles from India which are durable, water-resistant and easy-to-clean, making this shower hassle-free as well as rejuvenating.

photo courtesy of MSI
The modern, freestanding bathtub next to the shower sits on a textured floor of Black Marble Pebbles.  These pebbles look like river stones, but are polished black marble, so extremely durable and water resistant  The varied, bumpy texture of the pebbles on bare feet stimulates the nervous system and is purportedly good for health, if you subscribe to Asian medicine philosophies (see Chinese reflexology path). It’s like a massage or acupressure for the feet! Imagine stepping out of the tub on to this textured pebble floor.

photo courtesy of Stoneshop

Luxurious marble bathroom channels old-fashion opulence

Reputed to be Michelangelo’s favorite stone to work with and one of the most sought after natural stones around, calacatta marble carries a certain prestige and emotional weight that few other natural stones rival. This elegant bathroom in a Moorestown, NJ mansion utilizes calacatta marble for flooring, backsplash, shower and vanity countertops, creating a sense of timeless grandeur. An elaborately inlaid floor with gorgeous water-jet marble tile pattern looks a bit like reflections off a surface of water, and creates a feeling of organic flow.

photo courtesy of MSI

Black slate creates a nature-inspired bathroom retreat

This open-plan bathroom embraces three different types of natural stone to create a nature-inspired respite for its homeowners. The shower wall and floor tiles are made of smooth, unglazed Montauk Black slate, which creates an tranquil backdrop for the shower’s water stream. With waterproof and slip-resistant qualities, slate is an ideal material for bathroom applications, and creates a sense of calm and grounding. By sticking with a consistent dark-gray color pallet, eye-catching textures come to play without being overwhelming. Watertight thin veneer black marble covers a large expanse of the bathroom wall and creates a rippled effect reminiscent of a waterfall. Both planes meet loose river stones that soften the look on the bathroom floor, evoking a natural river bed.

photo courtesy of MSI

Classic marble tiles exude elegance

This charming bathroom utilizes 2-inch hexagonal Telaio marble tiles for the vanity backsplash. The intricate geometric Telaio tiles provide a refreshing twist to a traditional mosaic pattern, with white honed marble and mini gray accents. This preset mosaic looks great on walls but is durable enough for countertops and floors as well.

photo courtesy of MSI

Laid-back limestone channels beachy vibe

Limestone is a unique natural stone that actually improves with age. Uniformly textured and even in color, this pleasantly beige stone weathers evenly over time and even develops a patina that is described as antique, old-world, or comfortable. Occasionally it contains pieces of fossils or seashells, which only add to its character. Due to its ability to scratch and stain, limestone is not an optimal choice for kitchens, but it holds up well against water, making it the perfect material for bathroom floors, showers, or tubs. This gorgeous bathroom embraces a beachy vibe with an entire coastal sand limestone wall and a backsplash made of eye-catching hexagon tiles.

photo courtesy of Lundhs

Using stone in the kitchen

Stone is widely used for kitchen countertops, due to durability, water resistance, and imperviousness to scratching, bacteria and food stains.  Popular countertop choices include granite, marble, quartzite and Lundhs Larvikite.  Some kitchen countertops – like the Lundhs Emerald (shown above) are so scratch and stain-resistant that you can forgo cutting boards and do your chopping right on the stone.

photo courtesy of MSI

Form follows function in modern granite kitchen

There’s a reason granite is the most popular choice for kitchen countertops. It’s easy to clean, durable, and scratch resistant, but economical and available in a wide range of colors and patterns. This snowfall granite countertop adds an unexpected pop to an otherwise minimalist kitchen, making it eye-catching yet still understated. Snowfall granite is distinctive for its speckled, snowfall-like markings, which come in black, charcoal, grey and beige.

photo courtesy of Stoneshop

Quartzite countertop exemplifies elegance and practicality

Any successful cook will tell you that having a sturdy, accessible, and fuss-free counter space is key to getting the job done. With constant and repeated exposure to sharp utensils, extreme temperatures, mechanical force, and spills, kitchen countertops take a beating that is guaranteed to wear down even the sturdiest synthetic materials over time. For those who want to spend less time on cleanup and more time on preparing yummy food (all of us), hardy, water-resistant quartzite makes an excellent choice for kitchen counter top material. With a creamy gray-white backdrop decorated with beige or darker gray veins, quartzite resembles marble but it boasts the incredible durability of granite, making it well suited to the daily kitchen stresses. This well-polished Mont Blanc quartzite island in a Moorestown, NJ mansion brings all of marble’s timeless elegance to the room without forgoing practicality.

photo courtesy of Stoneshop

Quartzite counter accents contemporary kitchen style

Like other types of quartzite, White Macaubas quartzite boasts all the sturdiness desired for a kitchen countertop, with the rich and timeless beauty of marble. Lighter in color than most forms of granite, white macaubas is a sure bet for anyone looking to increase the value of their home with a material that is sophisticated, low maintenance, and durable. Breakfast nooks, kitchen islands or counters, buffet tables and decorative wall accents are popular spots to make the most of this attractive natural stone. In this kitchen, the quartzite countertops look great paired with the classic tiled backsplash.

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photo courtesy of Lundhs

Norweigan Larvikite sparkles in modern kitchen

A beautiful, sparkly stone endemic to Norway is sometimes marketed as “Blue Granite” – but it is not actually granite. Instead, it is called Larvikite, and it comes only from the specific Larvik region of Norway. Larvikite is prized as a building material due to its incredible durability and iridescence caused by the crystalline structure of the stone. You can find it in many upscale storefronts in London and New York such as Harrods, and even in the Burj Dubai, but it is also quite popular as a kitchen countertop material. This modern kitchen in Norway is using Lundhs Blue for the countertop.

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Photo courtesy of Lundhs

Here’s another photo of a different Lundhs blue larvikite countertop in the same modern Norwegian kitchen. Prized for its polish and crystalline sparkle, larvikite contains dime-sized crystals of feldspar. Lundhs larvikite is just as hard and durable as granite and is used in similar applications. Larvikite is believed to have calming and healing properties and has also been adopted as Norway’s national stone.

photo courtesy of Arizona Tile

Artistic tiling exudes charm

This eye-catching geometric wall using Arizona Tile illustrates the design possibilities that can be explored by combining different types of natural stone. The contrast between the artfully arranged round White Carrara marble tiles and smooth Fantasy Brown marble countertop demonstrates the homeowner’s artistic eye and attention to detail. While beautiful and easy-to-clean marble has always been a popular countertop choice, it is subtle decorative applications like this that add character and warmth to a home.

photo courtesy of MSI

Sleek granite and unpolished quartzite complement each other in surprising ways

This arrangement by Arizona Tile provides another example of how pairing contrasting natural stones creates unexpected depth and texture. A sleek and contemporary Marron Cohiba Satin granite countertop meets rugged Golden Gate Stack quartzite to create a kitchen space that is both unique and inviting. What might seem like an unlikely combination at first ends up feeling like an organic pairing.

To learn more about different types of natural stone, check out MIA+BSI: The Natural Stone Institute.

+ MIA+BSI: The Natural Stone Institute