by nrvmagaz

“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort,” Jane Austen once wrote. Home is where we want to be at the end of the work day or even for the budget-conscious, relaxing and fun staycation. Most people seem to agree with this sentiment and attempt to make their homes relaxing, pleasant places. This is what makes the home improvement industry such a viable one. Even during periods of economic recession, homeowners continue to invest in maintaining and even upgrading their properties.
One growing trend in home improvement is stone and rock, the real stuff for its timeless appeal and durability, and manufactured rock for its cost, weight and ease of installation for the DIY-inclined. These materials can be used to enhance any size and style of home. In addition to paths, walkways and hardscaping, stone is popular in retaining walls, patios, fire pits, outdoor fireplaces, grilling stations and swimming pools. Kitchen islands, fireplaces and a wide range of other enhancements may be made inside the home.
Natural and manufactured stone and rock materials include cultured stone, Cumberland Valley stone, field stone, flagstone, Giles County stone, granite, limestone, river rock, marble, quartz, sandstone and soapstone. Random or symmetrical patterns may be used to create the effect that perfectly complements the surrounding decor. Stone and rock materials not only have a timeless look, but they can last for decades. Improvements using these materials likely will increase the value of the property, so the return on investment is considerable.
David Conroy of Stone Age Masonry in Pilot has been doing real stone masonry from design to install for 30 years. During recession years, there was always a demand for his work, and 2015 was booked into May early in the year. “The art of building a stone fireplace will always have a demand from homeowners building their dream house. Nothing outlasts stone, and what we build stands for generations.”
Darren “Joe” Lucas has been serving the New River Valley and surrounding areas for 20 years out of his Pulaski business. “At Virginia Stone and Brick, we believe that you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” he explains. “Our work is not a job for us – it is our passion, and manufactured stone is our strong point. We have diversified our portfolio of products and services, which has greatly expanded our business. We sell products and offer an installation option.”
Stone can be used to enhance curb appeal, that ubiquitous first impression Joe Lucas talks about, in terms of front steps, walkways, borders, columns and exterior facade accents. The rustic appeal of stone softens even the most traditional or contemporary of styles. Exterior chimneys that hug one end of a home make a stunning statement.
Interior rock and stone accents can be used functionally and creatively in many spaces like:

• man cave
• wine cellar
• kitchen backsplash
• center island “walls”
• around soaking tub
• fireplace
• bathroom walls
• corner wall and hearth behind
• stone veneer over brick
• irregular stone slab coffee table
• accent wall

There are home projects using stone and rock to fit every taste, style and budget, including the cozy condo and tasteful townhouse. “Stone and rock add an aura of prestige to any structure,” says Matt Mann of M-Rock. “The natural beauty of the American landscape can easily be incorporated into your exterior and inside decor.” All the NRV stone professionals can move your project from idea to reality.
Whether you are looking for assistance in designing a dream home or improving the one you already have, consider the elements of natural stone or rock. The real Stone Age, that prehistoric period lasting some 3 million years, may not have used stone for accent pieces, but they certainly knew the value of it for strength, function and beauty. We can embrace those qualities today.

Sheila D. Nelson is a freelance writer and lifelong resident of Pulaski County.

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