From the monolithic attractions of Stone Henge to the first fleeting sparks of man's red fire, since time immemorial stone has been at the centre of what we do. But you needn't strap a flint to a stick and start javelining it around the local park to get back in touch with your Neanderthal roots, as one expert notes: you just have to introduce it to your interior decor.
Sean Cochrane, creative director and founder of Cochrane Design in association with the BIID, knows his interior design onions. The contributing editor of Habitat magazine and leading interiors press commentator has his finger on the pulse of all things design, and according to Sean, the next big thing in bathrooms is stone.
"From a big increase in mosaic over the past couples of years, I see another shift towards the more classic stone finishes," says the expert. "Natural stone offers a timeless quality, with Cararra and the cleaner Limestones being favourites this season."
It's a refreshing move away from tile and reflects a wider movement in households putting an increased focus on their bathroom. Previously, bathrooms have been largely functional: a clinically white room full of cotton pads and toothpaste, fought over in houseshares and family homes alike.
But as the stresses of work squeeze more professionals and homeowners for time, increasingly bathrooms are becoming a priority. With the so-called 'Lipstick Index' in the US seeing a boom in the sales of affordable luxury goods such as soap and lipstick in spite of the recession, it seems homeowners want a relaxing sanctuary to go about those little grooming rituals in. "People are still spending a good deal on bathrooms," says Sean, "as they are regarded higher and higher on the list of house priorities."
And with more planning and focus going on bathrooms nationwide, it means you can achieve an equally impressive finish even on a smaller budget. Lighting is as important as stone in contributing to that: bathroom ceiling spotlights provide brightness in natural tones, and the long-lasting bulbs of LED bathroom lights provide energy efficiency that pays for itself over the life of the bulb.