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Whenever I drive around fancy neighborhoods, my attention is always drawn to those stately stone houses that are classy, elegant and cozy. Stone is an ancient construction material that never seems to get out of style. Inside or outside, stone adds a touch (or a punch) of elegance and luxury.

Stone outside: Old World, European, modern

Stone can give your home a variety of looks, from Old World colonist to uber-modern. It all depends on the type of stone, the way it’s laid out and, of course, its color. From 19th century houses built with field stones (many of them still survive on the East Coast) to contemporary architecture, a stone home makes a statement.

Stone is an excellent outside material because it insulates better than wood. In a stone home, the summers are cooler and the winters are warmer. It also tends to wear very well with time and requires less maintenance than painted wood. A good stone home is a heirloom investment, something to pass on to future generations as it gets increasingly beautiful with time.

This type of rural stone house takes me back to my own home town, where a lot of these, build in the late 19th and early 20th century, still survive. Their rustic, traditional look make it perfect for second homes or for someone with simple tastes. With careful renovations and updates, you can turn these old-style homes into havens of quiet rural life. (And no, you don’t need to know how to farm to have one!)

Stone is also widely used in European-style construction; Italian villas, Provençal homes and even Tudor-style mansions use stone as their primary construction material. Their look is refined and elegant, a far cry from our fieldstone prairie home. In Italian villas, you’ll often have pale stone bound together with stucco. This style also features arches, porticoes and even inside garden space.

There are many, many traditional-style homes around the world that use stone as the primary material. But modern architects have also taken the material to build stunning contemporary buildings that take match the beauty of stone with today’s more minimalist tastes.

For example, this stunning home features a monochromatic stone that looks almost geometrical in its placement. The smooth finish and darkened windows make the exterior look polished and sophisticated.

As you can see, stone is extremely versatile and can be used for any kind of home, whether traditional or modern, and for everything else in between. Stone is definitely an investment, but its beauty and durability definitely make up for its usually higher price.

Stone inside: welcoming accents

Using stone indoors usually gives a rustic flair to a home. Whether it’s one bare stone wall that you decide to leave as is or a beautiful stone fireplace, this material also has a place of honor inside the house.

Stone used indoors recalls homes of the past, where everything was built in that material. It catches our imagination and takes us back to medieval castles and rustic Swiss chalets. It speaks of ghosts and whispers, of warm waters and evenings spent reading by the fireside.

I can totally see two swashbuckling rivals fighting for the heart of the lady of the home in this photo–how about you? All it lacks are swords and shields hanging on the walls.

But you don’t have to go all French Castle-y to use stone inside your home. You can simply add a stone covering to already existing walls at strategic points–the entrance hall, over the kitchen range, over one wall in the living room or the office. Using stone this way lets you have the elegance of the material without the exorbitant cost of a complete remodel.

I love how, in this entrance, the natural stone of the floor is enhanced by the fieldstone along the arch–all in perfect harmony with the warm wood. As soon as you walk in, you know this home is a welcoming place for family to gather together after a long day at school or at work.

Where would you like to see stone in your home? Are you in love with that material as much as I am? Tell us your stone stories in the comments!

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Anabelle Bernard Fournier

Anabelle is a freelance writer, writing teacher and blogger. She spends a lot of time at home, so she likes to make sure that it's cozy and nice, especially in her reading nook. In her free time, Anabelle knits, walks and learns how to write stories.