Have you collected numerous photos of stonework constructed with a particular kind of stone or pattern? Perhaps a particular color, texture or shape of stone dominates your samples. It’s a good indication that
you’re forming personal preferences about stonework when these decision making patterns begin to emerge.
Notice what is most outstanding about the projects you like. Sometimes it’s not even the stone, but something adjacent to it, such as water or a certain plant. Specific rather than general observations yield the most information and build confidence for your decisions about these details. Asking questions about existing projects helps you identify overlooked considerations, too.
Often ideas and features that continue to engage you end up influencing the look of your project. Or you may deliberately incorporate specific ideas or features you’ve discovered.
Another indicator of emerging preferences is your intuitive response to a type of stone or installation. Sometimes this is called comfort level. Whatever you call it, the experience is an overriding sense that the stone, pattern, type of installation and so on, is right for you, right for the site or would just work well.
Ultimately, there are tradeoffs between design goals, site possibilities and the budget. Many homeowners find this part of the design process the hardest. In these cases, it is often best to seek out the opinions of friends and acquaintances. Eventually, you start to trust in the process, and an aesthetic emerges that works for you and the site.
Inspiration From The Site
The site for your project is a valuable source of inspiration. Often the land itself suggests use and design possibilities that can influence the overall project plan. Professional designers always consider a site’s assets as part of the design phase of a project. This approach makes sense for homeowners as well. It’s usually less expensive to work with, rather than alter, existing site conditions.
Be Curious About Your Materials
Play with stone the way an artist experiments with materials. Explore and test patterns, spacing and the effect of light and shade. Observe how different stones look and feel when they are wet. Study the relationship between stone and its surroundings in existing projects. These exercises provide a basis for decisions that will affect the look of your stonework.
Nature is your best teacher for stone projects that mimic natural features. If you plan a project such as a streambed or rocky wooded hillside, studying the way stone is naturally distributed in these settings can help you adapt desirable qualities to your site.
It takes effort to adapt your personal style to stonework. A spirit of adventure helps too. But if you explore possibilities early on in a project, you’ll find it easier to make design decisions. What you learn during the exploration process makes it possible to turn a pile of stone into something that pleases you.