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      Now more than ever, our homes are our sanctuaries; an extension of who we are and a reflection of our souls. Over the past year and a half, home design trends have evolved at a rapid speed, simply because we had been spending so much time in our homes and using them in ways that they were never used before.

      What was once our haven after a long, hard day at work or school, became our end all, be all. Our homes served as our classrooms and our offices. We spent every waking moment in and around our homes. We repurposed and redefined our spaces, as well as rediscovered the importance of nature and our outdoor areas in our day-to-day lives.

      Nature often brings comfort. Incorporating natural materials such as greenery, wood and natural stone, into the design of your home can have a calming effect on your overall mental health and wellbeing. The current design trends bring natural elements, such as stone, indoors. They are a mix of both function and retreat, creating an ideal space that fits each and every facet of your life.

      “Human beings have an intrinsic attraction to nature,” says Carolyn Ames Noble, ASID, interior design director and founder of Ames Design Collective and ASID chair elect. “Natural stone brings biophilia into our spaces and it is well documented that biophilic engagement can reduce stress, improve cognitive functions, and enhance mood and creativity. These and other outcomes can increase wellbeing.”

      Homeowners are also looking for easy, low maintenance, yet beautiful, surface options that promote health, safety and wellbeing. We have become more and more aware of ways in which germs and bacteria are spread. Natural stone countertops, like granite, quartzite and marble are inherently antimicrobial and antibacterial. They do not absorb odors, and will help keep your home safe and clean.

      When it comes to countertop edges, the current trends lean towards simple, no-frill, minimalist lines. In a world full of chaos and clutter, homeowners are embracing the “less is more” mentality. Mitered edges and waterfall ends (think infinity pool), reminiscent of the mid-century modern era are making a huge comeback. Full-height, natural stone, kitchen backsplashes are also becoming all the rage. Again, they are easy to clean, anti-bacterial and of course, stunning!

      But stone is not just for countertops. Natural stone allows you to create character by incorporating different colors, textures and patterns (ie. veining) into your home. It’s neutral palette of whites, ivories, greys and browns is timeless. Investing in stone elements for your home will lay the groundwork for the rest of your design. For example, adding a floor-to-ceiling stone statement wall or fireplace will add warmth and make your space more welcoming, bringing nature and the outdoors in.

      Speaking of outdoors, everyone is looking for new ways to spend time outside. Therefore, curated outdoor living spaces are in high demand. There is a plethora of ways in which you can incorporate stone fabrication into these outdoor spaces, such as outdoor fireplaces, countertops, kitchens and bars. But why stop there? Marble and granite can also be used to create water features, stone walls, walkways and steps leading to your patio.

      Personal space has taken on a whole new meaning. While we are still attracted to the open floor plan concept for gathering and entertaining, we now realize that it is equally beneficial to be able to close a door when more privacy is needed, especially when working or learning from home. Therefore, as the world opens back up, let us be mindful of the balance and function of our space. May we never forget how our home, our personal retreat, gave us such refuge.