Monday, October 25, 2010

Outdoor design elements: bluestone

Now that the new house is being built, it is quite apparent that the outdoor spaces are of critical importance in making the most of the house design, mainly because the house is an ‘L’ shape, and the inside of the ‘L’ is a courtyard that can be seen from virtually every room on the main floor.   The landscape design was a bit of a challenge, because the orientation and views from the house are as often diagonal as they are straight.  Thankfully, I have an expert landscape architect, Alec Michaelides of LandPlus, and he has created a beautiful design that balances hardscape (the paved areas, including patios and walls) and softscape (the plants). 

For budget and design reasons, we selected the outdoor paver material that will be used in the hardscape fairly early on.   When looking through my files, many of my favorite pictures seem to have bluestone, which is a very popular choice here in Atlanta.   One drawback – because of the darker color of the stone, it can get hot when placed in sunny areas.  Limestone is also used quite often in Atlanta, and has a lighter color, but it is above my price point and some say that it etches and stains very easily.  We also looked at concrete products such as Peacock Pavers, which come in light colors and don’t get as hot in the sun.  Travertine wasn’t an option because we get freezes in Atlanta, and apparently exterior travertine is not hardy enough for the cold.

I thought about this decision quite a while, and ultimately decided that my favorite look is bluestone.  I love the color, and particularly like a tailored installation of the stone.   Because my landscape architect kept mentioning the fact that bluestone can get quite hot under bare feet, I took every opportunity to test it out last summer – whenever I was at a home with bluestone pavers (even the Symphony Showhouse!), I took off my shoes and tested out the feel of the bluestone.  Ultimately, I decided that the warmth of the stone is something I can live with, especially since the stone cools quickly when out of the sun, and the area where the majority of the pavers will be located will only be in direct sun until mid afternoon.   

This is one of my favorite pictures of bluestone on a patio.  I particularly like this bluestone because it is fairly uniform in color, without the oranges that bluestone can often contain. 
Many of my favorite landscape pictures contain bluestone as a major design element.

I am not sure where this picture came from – maybe Restoration Hardware? I like the furniture, but it is the landscape design that caught my eye, with the rugged stone wall and the sunken bluestone patio.

Another stone wall combined with bluestone.  I particularly like how the pool area is like its own outdoor room, with walls and stairs.

One of my all time favorite landscape pictures – a bluestone patio culminating in an outdoor fireplace.

There is something about bluestone that looks so beautiful in combination with a pool.  This pool is actually part of the same property as the previous  picture  - what a magnificent landscape design.  I have had these pictures in my files for years, source unknown.

And last, but not least, one of my favorite backyard pictures – an outdoor room attached to the garage of a home, with architecture by Pursley Architecture.  The color palette, with the gray of the slate roof, the off white of the painted brick, the gray-blue of the pool, and all of the bluestone  - sheer perfection.   

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  1. I think Bluestone is a totally classic material that will look just wonderful. The examples you posted certainly support that. I "inherited" a lot of bluestone last year when I disassembled a path and stairs at my grandmother's house before it was torn down. I don't have enough to make a complete path, but I'm hoping to be able to mix it with a less expensive material such as flagstone. That's one of the reasons I love bluestone, I think it can be casual or formal depending on the circumstance.

    A great choice!

  2. Beautiful outdoor spaces! Can't wait to see pics of yours,I'm sure it will be fabulous!!!!!!

  3. I love bluestone, and I can't see many setbacks. These images are beautiful, and I am with you on the last one. I love the rocks walls, also.

  4. I love that stone! I have a brick patio {and a brick walkway in the front of the house} but I have always been a fan of stone. As I keep saying ~ "next house"!

  5. I love blue stone. It's so soft and natural . Choosing the stone for our patio was one of our hardest decisions. Love blue stone, but obviously it would not work with the Texas Limestone on the exterior of our house. We finally chose a soft flagstone palette that complemented our rock nicely. Good luck with all of your decisions. Mona

  6. I love that look and never knew the name of the stone. It's such a sophisticated look and I agree it looks great with a pool reflection. Thank goodness for flip flops if it gets too hot! You won't have to suffer for its beauty.

  7. Bingo! The photo you posted of the patio culminating in the fireplace is just what I've been needing to see. We won't start our renovation until Spring...an the landscaping will happen afterwards...but I've been trying to explain what I wanted. Now I have something to show them!!

    I love bluestone and currently have that. Your plans sound fantastic!!

  8. Your so right! Something about that bluestone and pool combo is fantastic! I love these images and I think I need to bookmark this post for my 'dream house' files :)

  9. I love bluestone too. It is so elegant. Your new home is going to be simply stunning.


  10. I like that bluestone. Really, great work. Different use of bluestone for landscape spaces will look good in the modern age. Really appreciable post.
    landscape architecture sydney

  11. Bluestone is my favorite material for outdoor landscaping. We used it for our patios and sidewalks and really have been pleased.

  12. A great choice.....We have limestone outside and it does look beautiful but it also weathers very badly. Where I live, everything is old and slightly broken down but I think for a modern build it would be very disappointing to find those problems. I am sure you will love the bluestone and be very happy with the outcome, xv..

  13. Hi from Houston, Love your blog, everything is so tasteful. Since it is so hot here and the walkways and pool decking is scalding, i am having a few sprinkler heads added that will occassionally mist where we walk . So if you are thinking of installing an irrigation system this might work for you.

  14. I also love the bluestone, and have a large stone-walled terraced area with patio in a combination of brick (to match the house), antique granite slabs, and bluestone walks. One thing to keep in mind when planning hardscape areas is that the larger the area, the more you have to maintain. A few fallen leaves and seedpods from trees on grass or borders is not as messy looking as hardscape with the same litter. I find that with the new hardscape, I have more area to sweep/blow off in warm weather, and more to shovel in the winter in our snowy climate. It definitely makes for more cleaning time. Best of luck in your new home! I'm sure whatever you do, it will be gorgeous.

  15. The blue stone Sounds wonderful. Not sure I have seen on the West Coast. The inspiration pictures are to die for. These are going into my Dream house files.

  16. Bluestone is one of my favorite stones and I love the examples you have shown. I agree, when in combination with an outdoor fireplace, pool and landscaping, it is stunning. Can't wait to see!

  17. Love the bluestone. The images you shared are all just beautiful. Hope your house is coming along smoothly!

  18. Beautiful outdoor spaces---I love the bluestone and can't wait to see it in your yard.

  19. This is an awesome post.....I just love the simple, rectangular swimming pools surrounded by that gorgeous stone! Thank you!

  20. It's good to be back and checking in on what's up with you! The bluestone has such a nice look, I had no idea about the heat and travertine. Good to know. My girlfriend on the coast of Alabama has it throughout her home and around the front porch, makes sense in that region.
    I would love a 'sneak peak'!
    Best, R

  21. You have such lovely photos! I love the landscape so much. My husband and I are planning with our dream house. We're almost done with the house materials inside the house. We decided to have an earth tone design in our house that will include natural wall colors, furniture and vinyl flooring. Tampa Fl. has a warm climate and having that kind of backyard will be a good idea! thanks for sharing.

  22. I think you will be thrilled with your choice! It's one of my favorite materials too. I used it in the design of our front porch and walkway when we ripped out all the concrete that came with the house.

    I went through our stone pallets and removed any that I thought were too orange. It made the installers crazy along with the circle I designed for the center transition turn! A few with varied color did make it in, but they compliment the brick borders I must say I don't mind them at all.

  23. Select blue stone is always a great choice. It is timeless and easy to maintain unlike limestone that needs to be cleaned and powerwashed to remove mold and moss. We love Pursley architecture and have heard that they are designing a house in Buckhead. Keep us posted on his firms amazing work and the house he is working on in Atlanta. We would love to see the latest pics of your new house in progress. I am sure it will be amazing

  24. Bluestone is also my all-time favorite outdoor paving material. My friend has a Belgian bluestone topped patio table that is spectacular. And bluestone is also great in the kitchen - it's just a terrific material!

  25. LOVE the bluestone, some VERY inspiring and beautiful vignettes!

  26. I love bluestone. I had a large patio off the back of my house and my front door landing and walkway made of bluestone and it is burning hot. When I built my pool I knew there was no way I was going to be able to have the deck made of bluestone like I had always imagined so I had the coping made of a bullnose bluestone and the decking made of a white travertine (which took months to find). I love the combination but still wish I could have it all made of bluestone. I can't wait to see your finished house the choices you are making have me green with envy. xo, MB

  27. WOW! So FAB about the views, So Awesome post! Bluestone is always my favorite paving material for outdoor landscape.Good luck in your new delightful home! I'm sure whatever you do, it will be Exquisitely beautiful.Thrilled to see about the finished project.Thanks for sharing.

  28. this is a beautiful post...
    you will see bluestone NO WHERE in south florida.
    and i think it would work beautifully.


  29. I actually like bluestone over travertine, it's much warmer looking.

  30. We have limestone around our pool (its in the sun) and our patio and deck are all bluestone...I love it. That last image is just absolutely stunning!!!

  31. I love the first pick too of kay Otoole's home, it's just fabulous inside and out.

    Bluestone is certainly impressive. Ina Garten used it (i am pretty sure) for her barn conversion in East Hampton and her terrace is one of my favorites. It is just outside the kitchen/dining area..

  32. Your blog is wonderful -- I've been reading it for months to obtain ideas, as my husband and I are renovating a home in the Washington, DC area.

    We are in the process of kicking off the landscape design part of our project, so this post could not be more timely. I particularly loved the fourth photo -- of the stone wall with stairs down to the bluestone patio. I've been trying to collect photos like this -- the free form of the stonework is absolutely beautiful.

    I grew up with Scott Brinitzer (www.brinitzer.com), who is the incredibly artistic and talented designer of two of the photos in your post (the bluestone patio culminating in the outdoor stone fireplace, and the following photo). You can see more photos of this home in his portfolio (it's the first house in Bethesda, MD).

    Thanks for sharing your fantastic blog! I look forward to reading it each week.

    Kind regards,
    Jody McGowan (jawaugh@verizon.net)

  33. I featured this blog post of yours on my FAB FRI Top 10 Blog Posts..... click on this link to see it.....
    http://www.knottinghillinteriors.com/blog/2010/11/fab-friday-10-fabulous-blog-posts/ .

  34. I love your blog. Have followed it for a long time. I have a new one, just started. Please drop by and see what you think, I would appreciate any help. Passing it on. Thanks, Richard, myoldhistorichouse.blogspot.com

  35. Wow that bluestone looks so fabulous on the pool decks! I agree with one of the previous posts - I live in South Florida and I have never seen bluestone! It would look great in a pool area here. Will definitely keep it in mind, thanks for the idea!

  36. Wow! The bluestone in these landscape designs is such a classic and streamlined way to pull together the various designs! The cool color as well as the varied shades pulls together a beautiful backyard space perfectly!


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