Design Tips from Nature, Now

There is a critical point in the design process where angst begins to inhabit the lives of the participants. The open questions continue to outnumber the answers. Color, scale, texture, pattern, what to leave in; what to leave out. Maybe one way to sort some things out is to take a few Design Tips from Nature, Now.

There is superb website,, that we read and try to absorb on a regular basis. They recently gave us a post entitled 10 Design Lessons You Can Learn From Nature”. Perhaps we should take a glance at the first five for the purposes of todays post.

Natural Beauty – The introduction of more nature into any interior space always seems to make more sense as you reflect upon the idea. says that, “the beauty of the natural world is all around us, just waiting to inspire your home decor—you just need to stop for a moment, taking it all in and then replicating it within your home”.

Colors in Nature – In particular, don’t be afraid to mix colors. Nature does it!

Bring Nature In – Freshome asks us, “when was the last time you went on a hike and brought home some lovely leaves, stones, twigs or acorns?”

Nature is Random – The route that nature takes to form a shoreline is both a mystery and a wonder, as you see in the image at the top of this post.In many cases, why not follow your heart on the random course it wants to take in designing a space?

Design Tips from Nature, Now

Nature is  Well Organized – Time and tide comes to mind in the natural world. With that said, utility and the organization that it implies, should never be ignored in your design plan.

Stone is a great example of a natural element for modern interiors. Our sister company, Materials Marketing has ten showrooms where you can see that very idea in practice. Stop in and visit!

Natural Stone Options

In 2014, given the advances in machinery and overall technical competencies, a homeowners Natural Stone Options have been increased by orders of magnitude previously unimaginable. Let’s slip behind the curtain, so to speak, and take a look at two game changers and what they mean for your design plans

Take for example the CNC machines (computer numerical control) used to produce architectural elements such as fireplaces, stone hoods and stone columns. These machines increase accuracy and flexibility, reduce production time and human error, and infinitely increase the ability to shape and contour in affordable terms.

Waterjet cutting technology has also been highly impactful in driving Capabilities in Natural Stone to new levels. Wikipedia defines this technology as using “an industrial tool capable of cutting a wide variety of materials using a very high-pressure jet of water”. Custom murals and mosaics that once upon a time were virtually unaffordable are now within the reach of many homeowners and their design teams.

Capabilities in Natural Stone 3

In summary, AJ Brauer and our sister company Materials Marketing, have long been at the forefront in allowing technology to drive product feasibility for its clients. Whether that is is natural stone flooring, stone fireplaces, stone range hoods, stone columns or all variety of mosaics the company feels it is in an enviable position to add value to the clients stone experience. Visit any of the ten showrooms of Materials Marketing in America for more advice. Thanks for reading.

Travertine or LimestoneWe here at the A.J. Brauer quarry are clearly a Texas limestone company and of course we see things from that view point. But as a service to clients and potential clients it is worth a discussion around Travertine or Limestone.

Travertine or Limestone

That being said, the questions of how to distinguish when to use a travertine versus when to use a limestone or what is better travertine or limestone, inevitably arise. So let’s begin with the science of the question. Both are sedimentary rock which is one of the three major groups with igneous and metamorphic being the other two. In fact, travertine is a type of limestone.

Moving past this bit of  science, both travertine and limestone are generally light in color and have been used in design and architecture for centuries. Limestone tends to be more uniform in its properties as opposed to travertine which will inevitably present with voids or holes which may or may not then be filled. Both stones can be polished and honed but will react slightly differently to each. It is also worth noting that they can both be “antiqued” in a finishing process intended to “age” the appearance of the surface, but again they will behave somewhat differently.

In thinking about their relative durability and cleanability it would be easy to come down on the side of limestone since it is generally denser. But here is where the “art vs. science” part of the equation comes in. For example, where is this stone being used? Are we considering interior flooring, an exterior paving, an interior wall covering, an exterior wall cladding, a carved item, a machined element and what are the expectations of the end user in each case as it relates to performance? In short, there is simply no quick and easy “off the rack” selection for a performance guide. Quite the opposite approach is necessary if the true expectations of the end user are to be fully met.


As we finish up this post, as always we appreciate your reading. Our sister company, Materials Marketing, has many showrooms around the US where A.J. Brauer limestone products are available. The professionals there will be able to guide you through the travertine or limestone question with ease!

Architectural Stone Moldings

Architectural stone moldings fulfill several different purposes in a well thought out design plan. In fact, if you consider that from chair rails to window surrounds, fireplaces to backsplashes, nothing quite completes your overall stone work like moldings. The process of sorting through molding selections can be challenging. But after all, a successful design is all about details. There are many sizes, types, finishes and color options available. It is wise to take bit of time in these selections.

Let’s start with your overall scheme. Right now, we continue to see cleaner lines and lighter colors as a basic trend. There is also much less hand carving and general ornamentation. You might want to consider this in your preliminary thoughts when picking out your architectural stone molding. Now, sticking to just the interior spaces for today, your check list might include crown and base moldings by room. Then, you should consider if and where to use chair rail molding and casements around doors and windows.


Your selection of finishes further allow for personal expression. Currently, honed, distressed and brushed finishes are very popular. Of course, classic polished white marble is seldom out of style. The size of your molding can be tricky. A good rule of thumb is to be very conscious of the size of the space when picking trims and architectural stone moldings.

In conclusion, the evolution of technology in stone processing equipment has made for a greater selection of architectural stone moldings at better price points. Our sister company Materials Marketing has ten showrooms around America. The professionals in those design centers will be happy to provide more assistance. Thanks for reading.