We don’t know anyone who’s more generous than Mother Earth. She has provided us with natural building supplies even before the beginning of civilisation. We get them from the plants and animals that live among us. We extract it from the ground, like the minerals we quarry and metals we forge.
These natural building materials come in a variety of forms, colours, and textures. And, each one possesses a unique characteristic which makes our homes more special. No two pieces are exactly alike.
Integrating building materials that come from environment helps us achieve the biophilic design. If you haven’t heard it yet, the biophilic design allows us to get in touch with nature while living in our built environments. It nurtures our mind, body, and soul. It’s our innate need.
With that, you need to learn how to encapsulate natural building materials in your home. Here’s how you can use these treasures:
Natural stone tiles
Using natural stone brings effortless elegance and sophistication. More importantly, it’s timeless. It doesn’t go outdated — a fashion that your home can carry for a long time.
There are so many natural stone tiles available on the market today. Your choice depends on your style preference.
Marble tiles weather and age well. These are perfect when you want a classic and luxurious interior.
In this kitchen, the designers used a marble slab as the countertop. The beauty and character of the stone elevated the look of this space. Although it’s white, it still brought warmth to the area. Choosing a lighter countertop also highlighted the trendy pieces, such as the matte black pendant light, tapware, and door frames.
A lot of you guys want this idea but are hesitant to do it because it’s easy to stain and ruin an expensive stone. Upon seeing this, we hope that you won’t feel scared of using marble (especially in the kitchen). You should know that marble sealable. When you seal your marble well, staining will not be a problem. Also, there are expert contractors in Australia who re-hone porous stone to make it look great again. Most of them offer home service, for your convenience.
With its muted colour schemes, limestone tiles help create a contemporary space. It comes in a wide variety of earthy and neutral colours which makes it versatile. A taupe limestone tile like the one used in the bathroom above can easily match with your home interiors. It pairs well with the chrome tapware, glass, mirrors, and the vessel sink made of a lighter limestone.
The homeowner opted for these tiles in their bathroom because these are easy to clean and maintain. The material only requires a quick seal annually. It’s also resistant to mould and bacteria.
Travertine tiles are close to our hearts because we’ve used it a couple of times on various projects. This type of stone is available in earth tones like beige, rust, brown, and tan. It’s the go-to material when the homeowner wants elegant yet rustic interiors. It’s charming.
In this living room, the used honed travertine tiles as the cladding of the fireplace chase. They also laid the same tile colour on the floor, but polished. For the decoration, they used chocolate brown furniture pieces that are darker than the veins of the tiles. Everything in this room complements each other, creating a warm and relaxed vibe.
The stair is a vital element in the architecture of a multi-level house. There are plenty of materials used to build a staircase today, but the designer chose timber for this project.
Also, timber has a natural ability to add warmth and interesting texture in the room. The wood grains here create a unique pattern on each step. You should know that the grain varies depending on the timber species you’re using. Select the one with a grain that attracts you the most. More importantly, choose a durable timber for your stairs. This area must endure the high amount of foot-traffic it receives.
We’re huge fans of the cement-stabilised rammed earth (CSRE). It’s a mixture of low-clay soil, water, and cement compacted in layers between temporary formwork. Once dry, you’ll see a beautiful and textured horizontal pattern.
This doesn’t require plasterwork or rendering. It’s a marvellous wall finish on its own.
Today, the people use the rammed earth technique for affordable housing. Soil, the main ingredient, is cheap. It’s free when extracted from the same property. Using nearby soil reduces the costs of transportation.
The construction process is straightforward as well. In most cases, a rammed earth project only requires one or two expert builders. The homeowner can hire low-cost but skilled workers for the rest of the work.
The upper class also use this method when building their expensive designer houses. These special projects become works of art and end up in a magazine and online features.
Timber and rammed earth
The designers of this courtyard encapsulated these two natural building supplies to showcase the colours of nature. The walls made with the rammed earth have similar toning and horizontal banding across. It looks as solid as concrete.
Then, a slim and tall tree planted in the middle of the courtyard draws your eye up to the translucent roof. The roof allows natural light to come in, which enables the plants to grow under a covered outdoor space. Most of the greens are at the root of the tree, surrounded with wooden benches, inviting you to take a sit.
In this residential project, the designers used concrete in both the interior and exterior floors. Some people think it looks cold, but it makes the home warm.
Concrete is a material with high thermal mass, meaning it can store heat effectively. As you can see, the concrete floors here have access to direct sunlight. Concrete absorbs and stores heat during the day and slowly releases it at night.
Aesthetically speaking, the designers used concrete in its natural and raw state. They polished it to show the beauty of the aggregate. This final floor finish requires very little maintenance too.
Concrete and wood
Here, the designers combined raw concrete and grey wood. The colours of the two materials aren’t far apart, which unifies the home’s exterior. There are large floor-to-ceiling windows on both sides of the door which enhance the entry. These glazed windows also invite the beautiful landscape to the house.
Concrete, wood, and brick
This combination works great as your interior and exterior home design. Together, these natural building supplies create a warm and inviting space. The elements offer multiple and unique textures; there’s no need to decor further.
In this apartment, the designers combined concrete, wood, and brick to achieve modern yet relaxed interiors. They left the concrete floors in its natural state. They never painted it or hid it. Raw concrete is so versatile that it pairs well with the metal, wood, and brick elements in the room.
Then, the bricks made of clay brought warmth into the room. The colours of the firey kiln and sun stood out against the greys. Same goes for the timber furniture and cabinetry. The neutral browns glow in this space.
Natural Fibre Fabrics
Fabric is one of the most versatile natural building supplies from nature. You can use it in a multitude of ways. In this family room, the designer laid a sisal rug on the floor. The colour of the rug also relates to the rattan light fixture hanging on the ceiling.
Leather is also a popular material used to make furniture. It’s not a fabric, but it’s used like one. It is stitched together to form coverings, like the one used in this sofa.
Natural fabrics are derived from either plants or animals. These are intrinsically soft and breathable. Unlike synthetic fabrics, these materials do not fade or discolour when exposed to UV light.
Some examples of plant fibres are abaca, coir, cotton, flax or linen, hemp, jute, ramie, and sisal.
Some examples of animal fibres are wool, cashmere, and silk.
Steel is a flexible material that you can use inside and outside your home. Indoors, you can opt for a stainless steel kitchen, similar to the one below. It’s fascinating, cool, and trendy without losing its elegance. Your kitchen will look and function well like an industrial or commercial kitchen after.
We recommend using Corten steel outside. This weathering steel forms a protective rust that will give your home a dramatic kerb appeal. Unlike regular steel, Corten will stop rusting. You can seal the panels to inhibit the oxidation, but it may not give you that rustic look that you desire.
Oxides are pigments extracted from the soil and other natural materials such as heated iron and clay. In the construction industry, we add these pigments to your concrete, mortar, and render to give it a more interesting colour and appeal. You can use coloured concrete alone or combined with another aggregate before finishing the surface. With oxides, you don’t need to paint the wall anymore.
Here’s how you mix oxide with cement:
The colours are UV and weather resistant. It will not fade and will retain its original colour for years to come.
Harnessing nature’s gifts
There is no limit to how many natural building supplies you can use at home. Use them in combination with others. Have them in their natural state whenever possible too. That way, you’ll end up with a home design that connects you to the Earth.