What’s New Is Old: Fireplaces and Stone Veneer History

What’s New Is Old: Fireplaces and Stone Veneer History

Stone Colors Stone Fireplace Stone Fireplaces Stone Interior Stone Veneer

Today’s thin cut stone veneer looks like the real thing.  However, it is manufactured from concrete, a combination of Portland cement and aggregate molded in rubber casts that capture the texture of real stone. Ground pigments provide its natural looking colors.

Lightweight fireplace stone veneer weighs far less than real stone, so it’s possible to construct rustic, historical looking surrounds that may even reach from floor to ceiling. It is a modern miracle that can give homes a historical look.

But dig deep enough into the past, and you discover that what seems new started in ancient times.

Ancient Synthetic Basalt

Many articles have commented on the strange trifecta of chance that an archeologist with the last name of “Stone” representing the State University of New York at Stony Brook, discovered the first evidence of artificial stone.

In 1998, The New York Times reported that Dr. Elizabeth C. Stone had identified slabs found a decade earlier in southern Iraq as being artificial basalt. Her team uncovered the find in the ruins of Mashkan-shapir, a Mesopotamian city that existed 4,000 years ago and had no basalt quarries.

Although real stone was scarce, basaltic river silt was plentiful in the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Dr. Stone theorizes that artisans melted the silt to create material for construction and stones used in grinding grain.

Historical Uses of Stone Veneer

Concrete was an invention of the Roman Empire. The ancient conquerors used it as the underlying structural material supporting more attractive brick and stone veneers in buildings such as the Coliseum. The art of making concrete disappeared at the fall of the Roman Empire after 400 AD.

About 1,300 years later, a British engineer devised a new formula. Thin stone veneer construction with real, hand-tooled stone reappeared in the late 19th century.

By the early 20th century, most natural stone veneer work was limited to building interiors, but the exterior of the Empire State Building is an example of heavy limestone veneer over brick and steel.

Arrival of Manufactured Thin Veneer

Natural stone veneer is about four times the weight of thin veneer product. This makes it more difficult to support on walls and more expensive to ship and to purchase.

RELATED: Control Dust & Dirt During A Home Remodeling Project

In contrast, today’s concrete stone fireplace veneer is affordable and supportable for many kinds of construction projects from commercial to residential.

Thin veneer manufactured stones vary in thickness from about 1 to 3 inches depending on the stone on which they are styled. They have become increasingly durable and realistic looking since introduction in the early 1960s.

The color of some manufactured thin veneer may fade faster than others due to being spray painted with pigment. However, at North Star Stone, we infuse the pigment during the curing process so it permeates the stones and looks natural.

North Star also hand assembles fireplace walls and smaller surrounds to avoid repetitive patterns. We strive for the highest craftsmanship while also making a luxurious look affordable.

For more information about the many kinds of fireplace veneer and designs available for your project, please contact us at North Star Stone. Let’s make it an important moment in the history of your home.

Get What You Pay For!

Get What You Pay For!

Inspiration Stone Colors Stone Fireplace Stone Veneer

You know that expression you get what you pay for?  It’s true. 




Once our customers find out that we custom color every batch of stone to their specifications they start to understand we are doing something special at North Star Stone. Clients will bring in a sample of paint, flooring, fabric or window coverings to help create the perfect color of stone. Then we discuss the shape of the stone to create the mood of the room. You don’t get this level customer service at Home Depot, Lowes or most of the specialty stone yards.



When it comes to installation some potential customers will hire contractors that are a handyman and assure the client they can lay the stone. Just make sure they know the proper methods of preparing the work surface and use the proper adhesive. (Yes, the DIY’er can install the stone but the trick is taking your time).





Our masons have been laying stone for many years and typically only lay stone with a focus on stone veneer. The skill the masons bring to the project includes blending the proper color, shape, texture and size in a pattern that is random, not in a straight line and is not splotchy.  Each mason has a slightly different way of laying stone and that is why no two fireplaces will ever look the same, but they will all look beautiful when completed by our masons.

Additionally, we pay our masons a fair wage so they can live comfortably, the crews are all insured and a certificate of insurance can always be issued if there is a customer request.

Dry Stack Stone Fireplace 23


When you are reviewing your estimates for a fireplace, review our past projects and customer reviews. Did you know that North Star Stone has an A+ rating from the BBB and over 65 FIVE Star Ratings  on Houzz? We are proud of our custom made stone and the men that install the stone and the unusually high level of customer service.

Kildeer Long_Grove

Please call us at 847-996-6850 and let us help you with your next stone project.


5 Ways to Beautify Your Kitchen With Stone

5 Ways to Beautify Your Kitchen With Stone

Houzz- NSS Stone Colors Stone Interior Stone Veneer

Have you just finished creating your dream kitchen but feel like it is missing that little something extra? Or, are you happy with your kitchen but feel like it could be better? Then you may want to consider adding stone veneer. Versatile, strong, beautiful and highly customizable, stone may be just what you need to turn your kitchen from that place where you keep your food and eat the odd meal to a warm and inviting room that your family will want to congregate in as the heart of your home.


stone-veneer-accent-wallStone Accent Wall

Add depth and variety to your kitchen by turning a plain wall into a stone accent wall. Select colors to coordinate with your kitchen or do something a little bolder. Choose more symmetrical stones to offset gleaming stainless steel appliances like a stacked stone or maintain the earthy continuity of hardwood flooring with organic cobblestone.  Either way, we think you are going to love the new look.


Give Your Island a Facelift

Turn a boring or plain kitchen island into something special by adding a stone veneer face to one or more sides. Select the perfect colors from the endless shades available. Why not consider updating the island top as well? Granite and marble still add a touch or refinement but you will never go wrong with classic butcher-block.


A Stone Veneer Backsplash? Why Certainly!

Tired of looking at that old tile backsplash? Then consider swapping it out with stone veneer. Stone is quickly becoming one of the first choices when updating kitchens.  Thin and lightweight, stone veneer is much easier to install and friendlier to the pocket book then original stone. Stone looks beautiful with any special hardware, faucet or sink materials. For an elegant look consider a brushed nickel faucet out in front of a narrow profile stone veneer – in your personalized color selection of course.

RELATED:5 Things You Can Do With Stone To Turn Your Backyard Into a Sanctuary

stone-veneer-kitchen-chicago1Beautify Your Breakfast Bar

Completely transform your breakfast bar into something beautiful by adding a customized stone veneer face. Compliment your kitchen by selecting coordinating colors or select colors that pull in from a shared space with your breakfast bar, like the living or dining rooms. Compliment the stone facade of your breakfast bar with a granite top for a rich look. We think you are going to love your new and improved breakfast bar so much that you’ll find yourself eating more than your morning meal here!


Highlight Cabinetry By Adding Stone Accents

Have you ever wanted to add a rustic or country feel to your kitchen but were not exactly sure how? Then why not consider stone veneer? Hand pick your own style and color to bring out your kitchen’s potential as an inviting space that is a little closer to nature. Add stone around your cabinets and places that will accent the beauty of the wood or other special cabinetry you may have selected. For example, stone veneer nestled among glass-faced cabinets is not only beautiful but also adds openness to the space that can’t be denied.


Things To Keep In Mind

  • Stone pairs beautifully with marble or granite counters
  • When it comes to looking good with flooring materials, stone looks amazing with stone tile, wood, bamboo and all other flooring materials.
  • Because stone veneer is so customizable you can create the perfect color palette for other features in your kitchen like cabinets and flooring.


If you are ready to consider stone as an option to enhance and improve your kitchen then please call or email the experts at North Star Stone and learn why homeowners in Chicagoland suburbs like Arlington Heights, Libertyville, Barrington and Mount Prospect are turning to North Star Stone when it comes time to beautify those special indoor and outdoor spaces with stone.  To learn more, please contact us at info@northstarstone.biz or call 847-996-6850 for a free estimate on your new stone.

Choosing Colors For Your Home’s Exterior Stone & Siding

Choosing Colors For Your Home’s Exterior Stone & Siding

Stone Colors Stone Exterior Siding Stone Exteriors Stone Veneer

Selecting a color or colors for the exterior of your home might seem like a pretty straightforward, simple task. You just pick the colors you like, right? Well, there is a little more to it than that, especially if you want your home to make a statement while still seamlessly adding to the beauty and character of your neighborhood and surrounding landscape. To make this task easier, we at North Star Stone thought we would put together a mini guide to make the process simpler.

Do Some Research

Before you head down to the paint store, talk to a contractor or check in with your local exterior stone expert, do a little homework. By following a few steps first, the task of selecting colors for the exterior of your home can go a lot smoother. We recommend that you:

Consider your environment; is your home situated in an urban, suburban, or more forested area? This can guide your exterior color choices.

Head down to your local library or bookstore and take a look at some architectural books and magazines to see what the experts have done.

Drive through the neighborhood and see what those in your community have done with color to keep their homes looking fresh and renewed.

Check out some of the helpful decorating and home design software that is available on the market. This software allows you to play around with color first and see what your home will look like.

Consider your home’s design. Is it modern or historical? Being able to determine these qualities about your home will help you select a color palette from which to begin. Perhaps you want to maintain your homes classic look or switch it up and do something bolder?

Think Top to Bottom

Another good way to approach selecting colors for you home is to start with the roof and work your way down. Here is what we mean:

Related: Thinking of Buying a Home with Synthetic Stucco? What You Should Know



You should choose either a cool or a warm color when considering your roof. Warm colors include brown, orange and tan. Cool colors are greys, blacks, blues and so forth. If unsure about warm and cool colors, consult a color wheel. They can be found on the Internet, paint stores and places that specialize in home decorating and improvement. If you go with a warm roof, go with warm siding. If you go with a cool roof, go with cool siding. If your roof and siding or main body of the house do not coordinate, the appearance of your home will not appear balanced.



Siding can be the best vehicle in which to add new colors to your home. Fortunately, when it comes to selecting a siding there are many exterior options to pick from. These include, stucco, stone veneer, Hardie Board, wood, vinyl siding and aluminum siding, and of course stone veneer. Your siding will cover the largest surface area of your home. Make sure it does not clash with other homes in your neighborhood. Also, keep your particular landscaping in mind. You will want your color choices to work with shrubs, trees, rocks and other plants and elements in your yard or on your property. Classic colors, like those found in varying shades of white, are always a safe bet. Keep in mind that a lighter color house will appear larger and a darker color house will appear smaller and remember your siding should coordinate with your roof. A warm roof looks more cohesive with warm siding and a cool roof looks better with siding that utilizes a cool palette. Also when it comes to your exterior and picking your new colors, keep in mind parts of the home where the color will not be changing, like your foundation. It is generally a good idea to keep your siding the same color as your foundation or go darker.


We Custom Color Every Batch of Stone Veneer


Trim and Windows

Think of the trim and windows of your home as a team. They should work together! When considering a color you are going to want to go either two shades lighter or two shades darker than your siding. Or, if you want to take the guess work out of selecting a color you can always go with a crisp bright white, which would fall into the cool category or an off white, which would actually fall into the warmer color zone. Remember, you can’t really go wrong with white when it comes to picking a color. Just remember that if your trim and your windows are in extreme contrast to your siding your house might look artificial. One interesting thing to remember when it comes to a white window trim is that it will actually reflect the light from outside and bring that light into your home. There really is nothing not to like about white window trim.

Garage Doors

Garage doors can take up a significant amount of surface area. If your garage is closer to the street you will want it to match the siding of your home. However, if it is set farther back you can select a color that contrasts, by a shade or two. Make sure to highlight details like window trim and decorative elements that may adorn your garage door.

Front Door

Think of your front door as setting the tone for how you want to represent your home. Moreover, your front door inevitably is responsible for making a first impression. Feel free to give it some personality. Be creative with windows and window panels that may flank either side of your door. Don’t be afraid to be bold. Think back to homes you may have seen that had doors in an eye catching blue, dashing red or vivacious turquoise. Color can leave a lasting impression!

Railings and Porches

A good rule of thumb is to paint your railings and any porches or steps you may have the same color as your house’s trim. You can also choose to paint these elements the same color as your siding if it is a neutral color. Keep this in mind too if you choose to do stone steps as well.


Accessories include things like shutters, window boxes, mailboxes, and the hardware you use on your doors and windows. Coordinating colors that complement the trim are a good way to go.

Some Important Information Regarding Stone

Stone veneer is a beautiful and flexible option when considering a color change on the exterior of your home. One of the great benefits of stone is how flexible and creative you can be when selecting a color because you can choose to have your stone custom colored to your specifications. Keeping in mind the importance of pairing warm colors with warm colors and cool colors with cool colors will help make the color selection process more streamlined. However, if you have fallen in love with adding a distinctive grey stone to your home, consider adding a warm accent tone to the trim or even the door. By doing this you are offsetting grey’s potential for looking dismal in some instances. Also, it has been recommended that when your exterior is stone or brick you should pick at least two colors for your home’s exterior.


A Few Important Notes

Try to blend in with the neighborhood – You should still be able to do this while maintaining your home’s distinction and unique character.

Monochromatic colors work well if you are trying to blend in with a forested, natural environment.

Cream and taupe blend more naturally into an environment than a stark white.

Track how much light your home gets. Depending on the time of day and position of the sun in relation to your house, your home’s exterior may look slightly different. Keep this in mind when selecting new exterior colors.

See Our Stone Veneer Styles & Colors Here!

Selecting new colors for the exterior of your house should be a fun opportunity to explore new options for your home. Fresh, new exterior colors can literally transform your home’s appearance and personality.  With a new color palette you can create that look you have always wanted for your home but weren’t sure how to execute. Also, don’t forget the amazing variety of exterior options, like stone veneer, on which to carry out your color plans. Fortunately, there are experts ready to help you decide what will look best.  If stone veneer is one of the ways you want to incorporate new color onto your home, check out northstarstone.biz and see why homeowners in Chicagoland suburbs like Libertyville, Arlington Heights, Long Grove and Mount Prospect have chosen stone as a way to liven up their home’s color. If you have questions, please visit our Exterior Stone FAQ page or contact us at info@northstarstone.biz or call: 847-996-6850 for a free estimate on your new exterior stone.

Stone Fireplaces Color Selection Warmer Colors

Stone Fireplaces Color Selection Warmer Colors

Stone Colors

Time to cover that brick fireplace with stone? Or get rid of that tile and wood surround? Maybe you have drywall staring at you for years!  With our stone veneers and expert installation we can completely make any fireplace the focal point of the room. Previous Blog posts describe our work from adding a flat screen TV over a stone fireplace, to adding book cases to a fireplace.

This blog is going to show you some color choices of stone. There is no best color, but there are some rules of thumb. First stay with the natural colors of stone. Don’t get the fancy blues or pink colors or other designer colors that some vendors may offer because they will work with your furniture. We suggest one of two palates of either the warmer earth tone colors or the cooler colors that bring out the grey tones.

Color Intensity is an important factor and so is the light in the room.  I define color intensity  as the amount of stones that have color in relation to the stones that are the natural or buff color. We prefer making the stone fireplace more dramatic and therefore with more color. A ratio of about 70-75% color intensity and the balance being the natural color works very well. A room that is darker with either natural light or artificial light want to reverse the ratio so the room doesn’t get dark.

Picking the “Right Color”.  With good guidance you should be able to pick a color palate that you feel comfortable. A nice blend of colors in the stones allows you to make decorating changes in your room with the fireplace and the stone will not become dated. When we visit with our clients, we bring our I Pad and show the color palates expanded over the fireplace, the near by walls, flooring and furniture.

Below are some a selection of some of the more popular stone colors that we carry. We can easily customize a color just for you and add different colors and add or subtract the color intensity. You just need to to contact  North Star Stone at 847-996-6850 to schedule an appointment.