The use of fieldstone is becoming more and more popular as its cost decreases, causing homeowners to shy away from the use of cheaper materials such as stucco, brick and concrete. Furthermore, people are now looking for a local rough-cut block stone, which can provide a durable and long-lasting living space, as well as connect a home to the surrounding environment.

“The cost of natural stone generally dictates that the stone be used with other materials to keep costs down,” said Scott Wilson from Scott Wilson Architects of Brentwood, TN. “People like to spend a lot of time and look at various stones since it is more expensive. They are treating it like a luxury item, and enjoy the process - much like shopping for a Lexus or Mercedes.”

As the cost of stone has continued to drop over the years, more people have been incorporating the material into their home for the sense of permanence and stability it can add to a structure. In addition, fieldstone adds a classic, Old World look, and helps blend houses into their natural environments.

“Stone ages gracefully and lends a sense of timelessness to a building,” said Wilson.

“The Old World or European designs are very popular, and have caused a large demand for stone to create the look of age that high-end homeowners crave. The more natural and rustic second homes are also incorporating more stone in an effort to connect the sites better.”

Scott Wilson Architects of Brentwood, TN, recently incorporated fieldstone into the design of a private residence in Leipers Fork, TN, as the clients were looking for something with a feel of permanence. Tennessee limestone was chosen for the exterior facade and for a floor-to-ceiling outdoor fireplace. Designer: Scott Wilson Architects, Brentwood, TN; Stone Installer: Krohn Homes, LLC Custom Builders, Brentwood, TN.

A “Rustic Cabin” Feel

For the design of a private weekend residence in Leipers Fork, TN, Wilson incorporated fieldstone into the design, as the clients were looking for something more permanent. In addition, the owners wanted the home to have a natural rustic cabin feel that meshed with its surroundings. “Being an indigenous material, [fieldstone] blends well with most sites in our area,” said Wilson. To meet this goal, a Tennessee limestone was selected for the foundation of the home - which sits on a 100-acre farm - as well as for interior accents.

“We wanted the home to become part of the landscape, not just attached to it,” said Wilson. “We got a lot of different stone and laid up different panels. This stone palette really worked for us. It went well with the trees and colors of the soil, as well as with the cedar columns on the front porch.”

Rough, random-sized pieces of Tennessee limestone were used for the foundation of the home and for a floor-to-ceiling outdoor fireplace.

The same stone also served as the focal point for the interior of the home. According to Wilson, the limestone creates a dramatic entrance to the residence, as it is used as paving on the terrace and continues into the foyer area. Limestone is also used for an indoor floor-to-ceiling fireplace, which shares a chimney with the outdoor one. “We wanted to tie the outside and inside together by using the same material throughout,” said Wilson.

The architect found the fireplace to be the most challenging aspect of the project. “It was hard getting the masons on board with being creative with laying the stone,” he said. “We wanted to use large rocks to frame it and give it more drama. We really wanted them to put their artist cap on and have fun with it.”

In addition, the home contains a large common area, as well as small breakout spaces for business retreats. According to Wilson, the owners are extremely happy with the end result. “They put a lot of faith in me,” he said. “I asked a lot of questions to make sure they were getting what they envisioned. I found a look and presented it to them to see what they liked, and we went from there.” He added that the couple not only designed the cabin for the family to use, but for the husband to use as a business retreat. For its significant architectural elements, the residence won an Aurora Award for Best of State.

European Inspiration

According to Gary Chandler of Gary R. Chandler Architecture and Interiors of Houston, TX, the use of fieldstone is increasing for sentimental as well as practical reasons. “Fieldstone gives a real sense of permanence - that a house is built solid and built well,” said the architect. “It says 'I'm going to be here' - permanently, not just temporarily, and people today want that. Stone gives a sense of being where stucco and other materials are more temporary.”

Chandler has noticed that people are now using fieldstone to clad their entire house, rather than just using it for a wall or fireplace, as was the case 10 years ago. He also believes that people are considering color as well as texture. “We approach architecture by looking at all of the elements - its color, its texture and what is appropriate to evoke the image we are trying to create,” he said. “If someone wants a rustic look, we choose a rustic stone. If someone is looking for a more Mediterranean or Italian style, we choose a cut stone with a more refined and tailored finish.”

Chandler enjoys working with fieldstone so much that he recently used it to design his own 4,200-square-foot residence in Houston, TX.

“The goal was to create a home of European origin that evokes a primal sense of dwelling, a home that is structurally anchored to the site by the stones coming out of the ground, as well as the stone columns inside and outside of the home; thus establishing permanence, stability and security,” he said. For the exterior, the architect selected Windsor Grey limestone for its “structural presence and its rustic texture, which strengthened the home's primal image.”

By using boulders and river stones stacked at the chimney base and embedded in the stucco surface, the chimney appears to emerge organically from the stones. Adjoining the chimney, a low stacked stone garden wall surrounds a veranda of granite chips planted with crepe myrtles.

Just over 700 feet of Windsor Grey limestone was selected for exterior columns, hall pilasters, the family room fireplace and the walls of the powder bath of the residence, which was completed in 2004.

A Dream House

The exterior of a 12,000-square-foot private residence in Northern Virginia was recently constructed with fieldstone. After discussing several design options with the homeowners, Architect Logan Derek Yates of Logan Architecture, PC, in Middleburg, VA, began creating the couple's dream house.

Ravenwood fieldstone from Luck Stone's MasterCut Natural Veneer Stone line was selected to help meet the desired aesthetic for the home and because it tied in with the overall style of the house.

“The particular stone that the homeowners chose goes great with the beautiful property and the setting near the woods,” said Yates, who added that he has worked with this material in the past. “I think it's a great product. It's durable, cost effective and the look you get is fantastic. I plan on using it for my own home that I am going to build. That speaks for itself.”

Luck Stone of Richmond, VA, supplied 7,100 square feet of Ravenwood fieldstone flats and 488 linear feet of corners, with sizes ranging anywhere from 4 x 4 to 12 x 18 inches in diameter.

“In Northern Virginia, there are a lot of brick Colonial homes,” he said. “I think more people are choosing to use fieldstone because is gives a different classic look.”

The homeowners were heavily involved in the design of their residence. “They had specific ideas they wanted to incorporate into their home,” said Yates. “We looked at their wishes and put some design flair to it.”

The garage was designed with the same materials so that it would look like it is actually a part of the house, even though it is detached. “We used the same architectural design and style,” said the architect.

Speaking generally, Yates said that he finds that people are commonly looking for an older feel for their home designs. He has also noticed that more upscale residents are using stone-faced fireplaces, rather than brick. “Stone can be used for a lot of different styles for everyone's personal taste,” he said.

“It's challenging to make sure the client is happy with the end result based on their initial expectations,” said Yates. “This couple seems extremely happy. They had really good ideas.”

The stonework was completed in early January of 2005, and some finishing touches are still being implemented.

A Contemporary Twist

Project Architect William Pierce of Fritzlen Pierce Architects from Vail, CO, said he frequently sees fieldstone being used for residential projects in the area. “Here in Colorado, people want to reflect the mountain feel,” said Pierce. “One of the best ways to integrate exterior material with interior material is to use stone. It makes for a nice transition from outside to inside, and people really desire that look.”

He also added that his clients look for unique colors to provide distinction. “Clients don't want to use the same material that everyone else has used,” said the architect. “They want to find a unique mix or blend of a stone that you don't see on every street corner.” For the design of a residence that sits on the Vail Golf Course in Vail, CO, the client wanted a contemporary home of durable materials that reflected their love of the mountains. To meet this desired aesthetic, Idaho Black granite was selected for the exterior stone veneer while Colorado Buff sandstone with a cleft face on the cut edges was used for the exterior trim. Gallegos Corp. of Gypsum, CO, supplied the stone for the project.

The residence is a family compound comprised of a main home and a clubhouse building that frame a central pool and patio area spanning over 11,000 square feet of livable space. “The client wanted a stone with a rugged, strong appearance that would complement the large expanses of windows that overlook the golf course,” said Pierce, who added that no other masonry was considered for the project.

For interior features, including the hearth, mantel and sills, the sandstone was finished to a medium hone, and random sizes were used for a random natural look. In addition, Mica slate and polished sandstone were used for interior stone flooring.

Architects were challenged by the extensive use of interior stone veneer. “There are several stone details that read from inside to out,” said Pierce. “The detailing was challenging, but the architectural expression is unique and well-crafted. The clean lines and open feel are somewhat unique for Vail.”

Lately, Pierce is noticing that a much larger color palette of fieldstone is now available. “There is much more of a variety of colors today,” he said. “Ten or 15 years ago, there were two choices - red moss rock or tan moss rock. Now the palette has really exploded.”

A French Chateau

Fritzlen Pierce Architects also incorporated fieldstone into the 10,000-square-foot Arrowhead Golf Course Residence in Vail, CO. According to Pierce, the client wanted a residence that would accommodate their extended family in a style reminiscent of the chateaus of southern France, which they had often visited over the years.

For the exterior of this residence, architects used 8,000 square feet of Chateau Blend - a buff sandstone moss rock.

The interior floors were decorated with a honed limestone in 4- x 4-, 8- x 4- and 8- x 8-inch pieces. In addition, a “fractured face” limestone makes up the fireplace surround in the living room area.

“The client looked at other stones with more reddish tones and an ashlar cut,” said the architect. “The random edge Chateau Moss Blend was selected for its more rustic appearance, which was more suited to the Colorado location.”

Pierce said that the homeowners were heavily involved with the stone selection. “The husband sells large electric motors and sold one to a limestone quarry in France,” he explained. “When he saw how much cheaper the material would be overseas, he took a trip to France. He had the stone cut there and shipped back to the U.S. He ended up saving $60,000.”

Architects faced minor challenges regarding the size of the stone. “There were numerous large-sized pieces that were required for the exterior sandstone quoining and elsewhere,” said Pierce. “The architect and contractor carefully culled through the stone to select the appropriate pieces.”

According to the architect, the home has been featured in numerous local journals, and the original owners are still happily living there.

Looking at other work, Pierce has recently been using two different types of stone for vertical applications, to give the sense that a home has been there for a while, and that the stone was added on over time. “This gives a sense of timelessness, like the house has evolved instead of just been built,” he said.