Introduction to Stone Balustrades

There are many different types of architectural elements that can be added to a home or building to give it additional architectural interest and enhance the overall design aesthetic.  Some architectural elements are purely decorative while others provide both form and function – serving an important purpose while also adding an element of decor.  One architectural element that has been around for centuries is something you have probably seen but may not have known the name of – balustrades.  Balustrades are a row of balusters, which are posts or columns that support a railing.  Architectural Digest explains the purpose of balustrades and why they have been around for centuries and continue to be used today, “‘The balustrade’s functions are multiple, from reducing the possibility of a person falling off a stairway to cordoning off an area for the purposes of privacy, such as the gilded balustrade that separates the bed in the king’s chamber at Versailles from the rest of the room,’ says Mitchell Owens, Architectural Digest’s decorative arts and antiques editor. The earliest examples of balustrades come from ancient bas-reliefs, or sculptural murals, dating from sometime between the 13th and 7th centuries B.C. In depictions of Assyrian palaces, balustrades can be seen lining the windows.”

While balustrades can be constructed from a variety of materials including wood and iron, stone is the traditional material and its durability and elegance have given it its timeless appeal.  Today, stone balustrades come in a variety of different types of stone and carving styles to coordinate and accentuate different architectural styles.  Many envision that stone balustrades are exclusively for large residences and, while they do look excellent in large residences, balustrades are not too opulent or over-the-top for smaller residences.  In fact, they often add much needed character and function that helps enhance the existing architectural style.  Stone balustrades can be used inside or outside.  Whether you want to complete the look of a patio or distinguish particular areas of your landscape or inside a home to define areas in a large room.  Carved stone balustrades will elevate the look of any space and the variety of stone colors that they are available in ensures that they will seamlessly coordinate with existing style and decor.  Beyond a purely aesthetic value, the also add safety just like a balcony or hand rail would.  When you invest in quality carved stone architectural elements you invest in timeless elegance and durability that can weather any elements and stand the test of time.  The investment adds unique character to your home that could not otherwise be achieved and actually enhances the overall value of your home as well.

An Introduction to Tuscan and Doric Columns

Columns have been used as architectural elements in both buildings and homes for centuries.  There is a reason this architectural element has stood the test of time while many other trends have fallen by the wayside – columns are elegant, timeless, refined and ideal for use in any home.  Columns are the perfect way to not only add structural support and reinforcement but to also insert your personal taste and design aesthetic into your home.  While many people may have a vague image of what stone columns look like, there are, in fact, different styles of carved designs that set them apart.  For instance, there are both Tuscan and Doric stone columns that have their own unique style.

When choosing columns for your home, either Doric or Tuscan columns would make a lovely addition, but the differences in style may help you make a determination as to which is a better fit to complement your individual architectural style.  The Architecture section of About.com describes Tuscan columns, “The Tuscan column—plain, without carvings and ornaments—represents one of the five orders of classical architecture and is a defining detail of today’s Neoclassical style building. Tuscan is one of the oldest and most simple architectural form practiced in ancient Italy.”  As well as Doric columns, “A Doric column is much plainer than the later Ionic and Corinthian column styles. A Doric column is also thicker and heavier than an Ionic or Corinthian column. For this reason, the Doric column is sometimes associated with strength and masculinity. Believing that Doric columns could bear the most weight, ancient builders often used them for the lowest level of multi-story buildings, reserving the more slender Ionic and Corinthian columns for the upper levels.”  Additionally, About.com makes note of some of the defining characteristics of both Tuscan and Doric columns.  For instance, Tuscan columns has a shaft that is set on a simple base, the shaft is typically plain and not fluted, the shaft is slender with proportions that are similar to a Greek Ionic column, it is typically smooth with round tops, and usually is free of ornaments or carvings.  Furthermore, Doric columns are usually placed directly on the ground without a pedestal or base, the shaft is usually wider at the bottom, the shaft is fluted or grooved, and usually does not have carvings or other ornaments.  Depending on your home’s architectural features, Tuscan or Doric columns would make a beautiful addition that elevates the overall design aesthetic and gives your home a truly unique appeal.

Stone Columns Add Character to a Home

Columns are an ancient architectural detail, adorning homes and buildings for centuries.  While many ancient societies implemented columns in their architectural designs, people are most familiar with the use in Greek and Roman culture.  They are timeless, beautiful, strong, durable and unique – just a few reasons they have remained a staple of architectural design.  But, just because they are ancient it does not mean they are outdated.  Far from it, columns make a beautiful addition to any home or building and are sure to stand the test of time.  Architectural columns are both ornamental and structural.  They can be used for just one purpose or to serve both simultaneously.  Many homeowners are implementing columns in their home to give it a timeless, elegant and high-end aesthetic appeal.

Columns, like many stone architectural elements, can be used both inside and outside.  Columns, in their most basic form, can be used to support weight.  How much weight depends on the size of the column and the materials of which it is made.  When you use a stone column you can be sure that you are using something with incredible strength and durability, capable of supporting a sound structure.  In addition to providing support, columns add an interesting architectural detail to any home that enhances character and makes a home more unique.  Today it can feel like many homes are cookie-cutter replicas of one another.  With such similar and common features a home not only lacks uniqueness but may even feel downright boring.  Even very nice, high-end and well-designed homes often lack a certain element of “something special.”  Columns can be added to your existing architecture to enhance what is already in place while allowing you to put your own personal style into your home, making it truly your own.  Columns can be used in a home to serve as a room divider, to accent certain architectural features, or in passageways throughout the home.  Outside they can be used quite similarly and can also support balconies, as part of a structure outside such as a pergola underneath which you can sit and relax enjoying the weather or in many other ways.  Stone columns are a great way to delineate space.  Open-concept living is all the rage in homes right now but it is still critical that spaces within a home have clear delineation so that everything does not run together into one giant room.  Stone columns are a beautiful way to help the eye separate spaces even when no walls are present.  Stone columns can be relatively simple in design or quite intricate depending on how much hand-carving the homeowner prefers.  There are stone column designs for suit any individual’s personal preferences and enhance any home’s architecture.