Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Stone floors in entries

From the moment my architect first started sketching the new house, we agreed that the entry would have a stone floor. I have never really given much thought to the floor material of entries, but it seemed like the right fit for the house. Recently, I decided to do some research and find good pictures of entries with stone, and I realized that most of the pictures in my files seem to have wood floors in the entries. I am not sure why this is the case; perhaps it is because a stone entry works best when the foyer is defined as its own room (or when the floor of most of the house is in stone), and so many entries in houses these days seem to be open to the other spaces in the house.
I asked my architect about stone floors in entries, and he noted that in previous times, it was probably very practical to have stone in the entry as it offered more durability when a visitor was coming in from the rain or snow. Now, it is more of a personal preference, although he said that there are some styles of houses where a stone entry would be out of place.
This is one of my favorite pictures of a stone entry, from the house of Windsor Smith (featured in House Beautiful). Windsor calls this her ‘David Adler’ foyer, and it is crafted with statuary marble and Bateig Blue limestone.
I love the soft and aged look of the blue limestone; it is a new take on the classic black and white marble entry.

For a classic black and white marble entry, it doesn’t get much better than the Swan House, a Philip Shutze masterpiece designed in 1928; this house is a museum now (and one of the great architectural gems of Atlanta). I had the opportunity to tour three privately owned Shutze designed houses this spring, and two of the three had marble entries. (Source)

A more recent interpretation of the classic marble entry, with interiors by Suzanne Kasler.

This beautiful entry, with a large scale original painting by Todd Murphy, provides a great contrast between the classic and the contemporary.

I am not sure where I got this image, but I saw it with new eyes while working on this post – the scale of the marble tiles is quite large and dramatic. Interiors by Suellen Gregory.

Another striking interpretation of the classic black and white stone entry.

I also appreciate a stone entry that has a bit of flair to it.

This beautiful compass style floor is in a classic Atlanta estate (which is on the market) that was renovated by Neel Reid in the 1920s. Photo credit (this picture and the one previous): Blayne Beacham.

Although this space is actually in the back section of Mrs. Howard, a store in Atlanta, it is designed to feel like an entrance. The Howards always have the most beautiful floors in their spaces, and this is no exception.

In the entry of Suzanne Kasler’s previous home, this charming vignette looks wonderful on the foundation of a polished marble floor.

A stone floor in the entry doesn’t always have to make a formal statement. Take this house, with interiors by Bunny Williams (via Style Chronicle). The ancient look of the stone really relaxes the formality of the space.

Much of designer Jill Sharp’s home (as seen in House Beautiful in January) has natural oak floors, but the entry features reclaimed French limestone, which sets the tone for the rustic elegance of the house. Photo credit: Simon Upton.

I imagine this space as more of a side entry, but it could be the main entry for a relaxed and casual home. The stone in this space is more casual looking; somehow, the running bond pattern seems to reinforce the less formal feel. Architecture by Mark Finlay, photo credit Erik Kvalsvik.
Although a herringbone pattern can be quite formal, there is something about the pattern and materials in this entry that set a slightly less formal feel to this house.

Finally, I saved my favorite for last. This picture is from a real estate listing from several years ago, and I think it is a beautiful and dramatic entry. The stone part is set in an oval shape which emphasizes and reinforces the oval shape of the space.

We are still working on the specific materials and design for the entry of my new house; more than likely it will be limestone, and perhaps a tone on tone pattern with two different kinds of stone. The entry is a defined space, and the stone will help establish it as a special part of the house.
Do you see many stone entries where you live? Now that they are on my radar, I always notice them when looking through magazines and real estate listings.

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  1. We have the same exact flooring in the 15th image, the herringbone tumbled travertine. I love it and people always comment on it when they walk into our home. The texture, pattern, and coloring are just perfect.
    Since doing it in our own home we have used it in 3 other homes for clients...that is the only reason I am wanting something different for our next foyer.

  2. Love all these images. I have often thought of stenciling a checkered floor in our entry over the wood. It's nice you have a blank slate! I like the idea of limestone too.

  3. I wouldn't know which to pick. I'd want smooth enough so folks could catch their heel and trip. I'd want rough enough so folks would slip coming in from the rain. I can imagine the click click of ladies in their heels. Those floors really make a rug look great.

    I love the checkboard but so much of it in such high contrast seem to dominate the room. Shutze's C&S HQ has a bodacious Pantheon type floor but the rest of the room is so "done" the floor just seems to fit in.

    So for now I'm voting for Jill Sharp's reclaimed Limestone. It looks like it's doing it's duty without calling too much attention to itself. I'm sure you and your team will get it just right.

  4. While I love a beautiful checked marble entry, everything else has to be just right so I think people are reluctant to embrace it for their own homes. In Chicago, I am seeing more and more wood (also what we chose) mostly because stone can be so cold here in the winter months. It's one thing in bathrooms where you can do heated floors but a foyer gets tricky. Though wouldn't that be so toasty nice?!

  5. I love the idea of tile as it is not only practical but can really make an impact! I think you can't go wrong with any of the beautiful styles you've shown above. I remember an entry way done by Sarah Richardson, I loved the tile she used, and it flowed with the wood in the rest of the home: http://www.sarahrichardsondesign.com/portfolio/project/sarahs-house/hallway

  6. What a beautiful collection of images... so many to choose from! I really like the first entry with the blue tiles, and I think my fave would have to be the neutral floor, with the pretty vignette. We had rustic sandstone floors growing up, and although they look great, they are not very practical for a high traffic area of the house.
    :) Flick

  7. When I started reading I was so expecting image 12 to pop up (There are a lot of Georgian homes in Hobart with rough sandstone entrances) So it was with some surprise to see the black/white checker floors appear. I love them and we are looking at that for our kitchen and family area. But for romance the sandstone block floor is just yummy!

  8. The black and white checkered floor theme emerged as I was writing the post, although it is not a look that I personally like as it is so high contrast. I do, however, love the soft look of Windsor Smith's foyer.

    I hadn't thought about the slippery factor. Anything polished looks like it has that potential. All of the stone samples I have seen are honed, so I suspect we will do honed.

    We are also using stone in the back hall area, but that hasn't been selected yet. I imagine is will be a bit more casual back there.

  9. Stone entrance halls are my favorite. You will love how they wear and look - like the perfect pair of shoes. After 2 1/2 years in our house I like my stone floors more now than when we first moved in. Age serves them well. Plus, they hide dirt pretty well, a nice feature since I have 3 children and two dogs.

  10. In house-hunting a few years ago I was looking at a house in an "upscale" neighborhood. The entry was in cheap vinyl tile. I was appalled.

  11. I see more wood in this area....but I do like the look of the more rustic stone floors. For some reason I am not a huge fan of the black and white polished marble....although it is stunning in many of these images. I am sure whatever you and your team come up with will be a show stopper!

  12. Don't see a lot of stone up here, unless its a side or mudroom entrance, then you see the brick and less formal, (although equally beautiful) examples you have shown. A diamond pattern and a compass are two of my favorite floor motifs for foyer floors! Beautiful selection of images...as always!

  13. yum yum! i tend to favor the rustic looking stones in the last few. but that basket weave black and white floor is gorgeous!

  14. I have always wanted a black/white marble foyer too! Love the 1st take on it with the marble and blue limestone!

  15. My personal taste goes more towards a reclaimed limestone, peacock paver, parrefeuille, etc but I have to admit that Windsor Smith space is pretty sharp. I've been in a couple of older homes recently with the black and white marble look and there is something very classic and distinguished about it.

  16. The herringbone pattern floor has to be my favorite right now, although they are all lovely and I would take any of them :)

  17. The most breathtaking entry floor I have ever seen is in Mrs. Howard's Charlotte store. The tiny mosaic tiles--nearly tone-on-tone--undulate to replicate waves in the oval entry. It must be seen to be believed!http://www.phoebehoward.net/Max_and_Company/1-of-89.html. I like your idea of using limestone--the juxtaposition of formal entry with casual materials is very fresh and approachable! Maurie@graciousinteriors.blogspot.com

  18. OOH WOW
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  19. The majority of homes around here have entries. They're pretty much a necessity when you wear winter coats and boots for five months of the year!!

    Our entry is granite tile. I'm not crazy about it because it can be slippy when it's wet. I'd much prefer a rustic stone entry.

    The entry in our previous house was wood. It was a pain in the winter when snow melted off boots and left pools of water on the floor.

    Have fun designing your entry :-)


  20. I'm drawn more to the rustic looks. My mother has a wonderful stone entry -- cream-colored stone with white porcelain accent tiles at the corners of the bigger stones -- the shininess of the accent tiles is lovely against the rougher surface of the bigger stone tiles, and they are all set on the diagonal. Good luck!

  21. Love that Windsor Smith entry. Wonderful collection of entry floors...but you just triggered a master bath idea. Collateral inspiration, thank you! Trish

  22. We have a stone entry in our home. I love how our rustic-looking floor (much like the Bunny Williams designed home) contrasts with the large formal crystal chandelier hanging above. What a great post!

  23. Hands down my favorite is the last oval foyer. Like you, I also like the muted hues from Windsor Smith's house. The Harris Trail house has a similar entry (color-wise). I will send you a picture in case you don't have one.

  24. this post is near and dear to my heart. I have a black and white marble entry that ties into a black and white checked marble floor, You can see it here:

    It was a dream come true for me, I have always loved this classic look. If I were to do it again I would go a little more casual and get it honed. It has been an easy floor to keep up and I have had it for over 10yrs now. If I were to do something different it would be a honed stone in a herringbone pattern. I love that look and find it to be a classic but very interesting and textural. I love all of your post It really does make you think twice about what you love for your new home doesn't it. Thanks for sharing your journey!! Kathysue

  25. Love stone entries in every shape and form, The one with the Todd Murphy art is a fabulous image!

    Giveaway by Beth Cosner Designs is up on my site. Do come visit and spread the word!

    Art by Karena

  26. The photos you have selected are all beautiful. I can tell you that although my foyer is not as grand as the ones you selected I have stone, and love it. There are so many beautiful ones and installation designs to choose from, the possibilities are endless.

  27. Beautiful images! I had a black and white marble entry in my Charlotte house --- and I miss it still. I don't see stone much up here. I have wood --- and I see that along with marble the most. I think an entry way is so key - really tells the story of the home and what's to come!

  28. I love a stone entry!! Thanks for using the pictures! I actually took the second one from the bottom too. That's from our listing on paces Ridge. the very last picture looks quite familiar to me also. thanks so much for an awesome topic, as always.

  29. I JUST went into a home yesterday with white marble - and small black diamonds in the corners of the white tiles. In your photos, I like the black and white marble laid out in a square pattern (just below all of the diagonal photos). The limestone is gorgeous, but the limestone and the "other" stones seem casual when compared to the marble, as you pointed out.

  30. I too love Windsor Smith's entryway. The blue-grey stone is right up my alley. My grandparents' home (which my grandfather built) had a gorgeous black and white marble entryway and it was honestly my favorite element in the whole house. So graphic and classic -- and it worked beautifully with all the gilt and red!

    As for stone entryways in Houston. Don't see them too much, though my parents do have a lovely one in their circular entryway with an inset compass. I believe it's limestone.

  31. Back in Feb/Mar of this year we put in about 2,500 sq. ft. of 'stone' flooring on our first floor. I had wished for Calacatta marble & limestone flooring but sealing/maintenance was more than I was willing to handle given we have young children & a dog. I was introduced to an unbelievable porcelain tile by Cotte D'Este out of Italy; they have mastered making porcelain tiles that look like real limestone. We used the large 17.5" x 17.5" limestone looking tiles with real Calacatta Marble accents (similar to a estate project photo I saw on the Belgian Pearl Blog-it was my inspiration). Given that we're outside of NYC, we also had radiant heat put under all the floors - something you may wish to consider given that the stone will feel cold. FYI - ours are honed and are not any more slippery than our finished wooden floors - both are slippery when wet, and not so when dry. Though wooden floors scratch and show dings. Love my 'stone' floors.

  32. The inspirational flooring I referred to above is the Dec. 22, 2009 entry on the Belgian Pearl Blog. It appears to be limestone and marble - not as bold as the black & white combinations you have shown.

  33. We built our house in 83 and did a stone floor in the foyer. I think it is the only thing that has never been changed. I would not have anything else . They only get better and better.

  34. As I reside in the Great White North and must contend with four distinct seasons; practicality is the main priority when addressing entry ways....thus stone is the norm. -Brenda-

  35. I saw your comment on your FB page, and I wanted to add that typically is what we do in your current situation is either sink the foyer by 2 steps (that is what we have done in our current & next home) or we will run a simple hardwood boarder around the foyer with the tile inset, that still allows for the material to flow without there being a dramatic start/stop line.

    We did do an oval foyer in a home that we built 5 years ago, it was fabulous!!

  36. Holly,
    I seriously love all of these images and wish I had a stone floor entry! Mine is wood. Oh, and a vestibule too while I'm dreaming.

    I love Windsor Smith's foyer...it's saved as a favorite in my images...but this oval...I think it is just so unique and amazing!

  37. the third to last picture has is from one of my all time favorite houses, designed by famous architect Mark Finlay. More pictures of the home are available here:

  38. My entry floor is a rustic grey slate tile with tumbled marble insets. A rustic floor fits our lifestyle perfectly. We are an active family in NY, so there are a lot of people coming in and out of here and we have some pretty extreme seasons. Slate is low maintenance, which is a godsend. Consider your lifestyle and the amount of time you want to spend maintaining it when making your decision.

  39. Those suspended curving staircases are, for me, the most spectacular design element. I have always loved hard-surfaced floors, mostly because we have Persian rugs. But, even bare they are beautiful. Your post is beautiful too.
    Thank you for this lovely eye candy piece. xx's

  40. Regarding the wood vs. stone flooring... I really wish I could remember where I read this, but just this week I read that entry floors should coincide with the exterior of your house. So if your home is brick or stone, then you should use stone tile in your foyer. Likewise, if your home is wood siding, then your should use wood flooring in your entry. I had never thought about that before but it does have a certain logic, and I wonder if we intuitively choose wood or stone based on the exterior materials of our homes.

  41. If I had a choice, I'd go with a stone foyer as well. Not only is it beautiful - you've shown some of the most beautiful! - but much more practical too. I think that every time the dogs run through after a rain!

  42. this is a hard one! i love the black and white marble - esp. the large ones. seems so elegant. love the flags too. tough decision. good luck with it!!!!

    love windsors so much too!!!

  43. You fav is my fav too. Love the oval shape!


  44. I love all of these flooring ideas -- gives me some great planning ideas when I remodel my house!

  45. Wonderful as usual, and SO hard to pick!
    You have featured some of my favourite entryways of all time here. Am mad about Windsor Smith's foyer with the marble and limestone. Fantastic balance with the right intensity of colour.
    Also have a real weak spot for the one with the Todd Murphy painting, however the black/white check may overwhelm some houses.
    All in all there is so much inspiration here I am feeling faint! :)

    x Charlotta

  46. Stone floors and lanterns are the best things for entrance


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