by Emmi Micallef
April 20, 2018
There are many stone companies available that offer limestone flooring from all over the world with various textures and finishes. As one can imagine, each limestone color and style has it's place. However, within our repertoire of limestone flooring - we specialize in French limestone floors. Of course - this is by choice because we value doing a few beautiful products well. Our passion and focus is stone flooring fabricated from French quarries, where blocks of stone are held to the highest goals of recreating for our company 18th century stone floors.
The beauty of French limestone flooring done right, is in our humble opinion, unsurpassed. The neutrality of colors combined with an authenticity of textures find homes in California and Montana to Texas, up along the southern and northern east coast and everything in between. In our Pavé showroom, we installed our entire collection of French limestone flooring not just for our clients - but for us as well. Over 18 years in this business, we know a stone floor must be installed and grouted before understanding the nuances of color, texture and best choice of grout colors. Believe me - we have made a few mistakes over the years and have no problem ripping out a new installation if the color grout was off or the tiles were laid too far apart to not achieve the grout line we were looking for. We prefer that additional work then to have to view a floor that - to our standards - is not right.
Always seeking to understand our French limestone floors through artist's eyes, has made us quite skilled in harnessing the secrets of which French limestone floors are the most beautiful. I admit easily that we would not simply add a new French limestone floor to our collection because it's French limestone. Not all French limestone flooring holds up to our goals of what we value aesthetically, and this is why we have a highly vetted French limestone flooring collection where all photography is done by us from our own showroom installations.
The goal of this blog will be to showcase our French limestone flooring collection and to help you understand the nuances of their differing beauty and texture and what materials pair well with them. However, I would like to first provide insight on what is limestone and three reasons why one could easily choose French limestone flooring for one's home versus limestone from other parts of the globe.
The definition of limestone as I found in the Glossary of Geology is, "a sedimentary rock that is composed of calcium carbonate plus calcium and magnesium. Limestone is formed when layers of minerals, fine sediment and skeletons of shells and marine organisms undergo lithification - which is the process in which sediments compact under pressure, expel connate fluids, and gradually become solid rock." *
Understanding how limestone is formed makes me personally appreciate this building material. To view the various veining and occasional shells, knowing it came to be from thousands of years of formation, one could conclude that limestone flooring is a grounding material from the Earth into the home.
*Jackson, J. A. (1997). Glossary of Geology, 4th Edition. American Geological Institute.
The three reasons that one could chose French limestone flooring for the home begins with color. Due to the numerous French limestone quarries throughout France, there is a range of colors and varieties of French limestone where the goal to choose a certain tonal value for a desired aesthetic can be met.
Another reason to choose French limestone is that it's known to have some of the hardest densities available. "The density of rock is measured by a scale which factors the packing structure, molecular arrangements and composition - which is then assigned a number. Limestone ranges are from 2.3 to 2.7 on the ‘density scale’ which is the range found in most building stones, comparable to marble and granite. In general, French limestone’s hardness is classified as semi-hard, medium-hard and hardest." *
And if a picture is worth a thousand words - the images in this blog that I personally took in Provence through the years are proof that French limestone is as durable and sound as it is breathtaking!
Finally, a French limestone's surface texture is like painter's canvas - and this allows for a variety of finishes. After the quarried blocks of stone go through a process of machine calibration and cut to a specific or custom size tile, the final texture, as for us, is to achieve an old world 18th century stone patina. What's also interesting is that the same French limestone from the same block but aged differently will result in true color differences - to the point where one may not be able to tell they came not only from the same quarry - but the same block of stone.
When François and I choose a French limestone for our collection - we go mainly by instinct - what we feel about a color and texture of a stone. Beauty is not intellectualized for me - it's more of an emotion. From there - we make sure to get the range of hues and tonal values that could speak to many clients. With color - we make sure to have whites and creams. From there we go to beige and more saturated brown and vintage olive tones. Finally - we end up with greys and stone floors with color variation to represent reclaimed stone like Bar de Monpellier French Limestone. Each French limestone floor in our collection also has various surface textures that would create varying ambiances for a home. If one is looking for elegance - in creams with undertones of dove grey - I would suggest our Marie Antoinette French Limestone Floor. However - if one is looking for a handsome stone floor that has an antiqued texture with more color saturation - I would suggest our Napoléon French Limestone Floor.
From here I will present our French limestone flooring collection and further images of pairings I personally chose from our Kings of France 18th Century French Oak Flooring Collection or our decorative wall tile collections to help inspire you when you are building or dreaming about your custom home.
1. Réedition Antique Blonde Barr French Limestone Flooring - Originally quarried in the 17th Century from the Languedoc region of France, these large flagstones were used extensively in grand country homes and stately manors throughout this area. These rendition Antique Blonde Barr French Limestone pavers exhibit the same soft color palettes of neutral cream, white and beige tones with subtle tonal variations. The texture, historically accurate, is an aged patina with antique edging.
White stone and wood floors come off warm with our Réedition Antique Blonde Barr French Limestone Tiles and our Kings of France Great House Collection Danish Whitewash French Oak Floors. Cool and warm whites with hints of vintage olive and oak colors allow for an interior to not be stark cold white. Authentic and historic - these stone and wood floors in white-on-white with contrasting textures are sublime together for those looking for an all in white ambiance that feels clean yet historic and inviting.
2. Dalle d'Escoffier Aged French Limestone Flooring - This unique white-on-white aged French limestone floor is prized by designers and architects to create that white-on-white vintage or contemporary kitchen with softer lines. It's satin patina surface with slight hammering has an interplay of textures that keep the stone architectural, while white cream, white gray and white beige commingle into perfection.
Pairing blue and white together will always remain classic. Traditionally Monet tiles from Giverney see a French reclaimed terra cotta tile hexagon kitchen floor. However, keeping the kitchen white and bright - the Dalle d'Escoffier white French limestone floor is a perfect partner with our Cuisine de Monet Blue and White Decorative Wall Tiles. With the same French provenance - the textural interest and warm and cool whites of this French limestone floor will marry with the reflective, hand-painted qualities of the wall tile creating contrast in surfaces yet synchronizing with the whites.
3. Vaucluse Aged French Limestone Flooring - Vaucluse Aged French Limestone Flooring has the classic beige/cream tones with touches of grey that keep an interior clean and bright yet filled with warmth and historic relevance. The aging technique on the Vaucluse and it's edging has a slighter traditional appearance for those who look for historic stone flooring - but not overly antique or vintage.
The underlying beige tones in the Kings of France 18th Century French Oak Floors - Country House Collection in River Stone Grey provide a perfect companion to the Vaucluse Aged French Limestone Flooring. The cream, beige and beige grey of this limestone floor has a warmer feel that balances the cool hues of the River Stone Grey French oak flooring. Overall, both floors read “light” but exude a warm and authentic historic ambiance.
4. Dalle d'Aquitaine Aged French Limestone Flooring - Loved by architects and designers, this is an aged French limestone floor with a soft, textured patina and a neutral color palette in the cream, dove grey and light café tones. As a go-to stone for authenticity and quiet elegance, it's a harmonizing stone for kitchens and bathrooms using whites, creams, beige, or gray color families.
Traditional styles can mix with old world in this classic pairing of the Dalle d'Aquitaine French limestone flooring and our Vintage Cream White Subway Tiles. The warm cream whites marry perfectly with the limestone's warmth and the contrast between the reflective surfaces of the subway tile with the slight old world patina of the French limestone flooring is lovely.
5. Marie-Antoinette Aged French Limestone Flooring - This hand-finished aged French limestone floor is befitting for a queen...hence the name. The surface texture is comparable to a polished satin oyster shell. There are two edging details from which to choose: a slight pillow edging or the antique edging which remains the same level as the stone. The translucency of the colors - from oyster grey and cream to beige and wheat - nearly make the floor ethereal but still the perfect pairing for the most elegant yet historic ambiance.
It goes without saying that a marriage between a Marie-Antoinette French Limestone Floor with a Kings of France 18th Century French Oak Floor in the Parquet de Versailles pattern is destiny. Both floors speak of past Parisian royalty where the ghosts of kings and queens danced through the evening against a lavish ball.
6. Buffed Shell Aged Israeli Limestone Flooring - Buffed Shell Aged Israeli Limestone has a name that depicts the texture and color of this beautiful limestone floor. Technically, the aging technique is magnificent, where a time-worn patina remains smooth to the touch but historic to the eye. The color, buffed shell, speaks volumes to designers and architects who look for that perfect warm, cream white. This allows for warm and cool color combinations, such as mixing this limestone with warm or cool greys, whites, creams and buff. At times, some pavers reveal a beautiful grey veining that help those warm and cool colors communicate even more.
Our Israeli Limestone with it's historic provenance from the Middle East goes spectacularly well with our Eye of Horus 150 Year Old Reclaimed Egyptian Cement Tile. The cream colors within the cement tile and the Israeli limestone flooring are the common ground that links these two materials together. The tonal values from various grays, beige and acorn within the cement tile adds interest to both floors while their stone and cement patina marry perfectly.
8. OPUS Romain French Limestone Flooring - Roman antiquity forever influenced the way we view and build architecturally. Their engineering, insight and eye for beauty gave us roads, bridges, aqueducts, and buildings. We can visit a large number of these structures in some form across their empire as a testament to their deep understanding of construction. This time period is reflected in our latest French limestone tile collection called OPUS Romain French Limestone Flooring. The finest and densest collection of Roman remains in France today are to be found in and around Provence as they used the indigenous limestone excavated in this region. OPUS Romain French Limestone Flooring is this same indigenous stone - and aged to achieve the effect of centuries old Roman pathways that forever mark this region. The colors of OPUS Roman vary from light and dark cream, warm wheat, amber and honey to vintage olive and acorn. Like the beloved reclaimed Jerusalem limestone flooring - an installation of OPUS Romain French Limestone Flooring exude not just history - but Roman antiquity, art and beauty that is forever awe-inspiring.
Sunshine on stone pathways among olive groves would be one way to describe the color palette of these two remarkable wood and stone flooring materials. The colors of OPUS Roman French Limestone Flooring vary from light and dark cream, warm wheat, amber and honey to vintage olive and acorn. The common ground of wheat colors is what makes the Kings of France 18th Century French Oak Flooring - Collection Country House - Color: Harvest Wheat so perfect with this French limestone flooring. The contrasting textures of the antiqued Opus Romain Flooring with the wood patina of this French Oak Floor are studies in perfection.
9. Montclair Aged French Limestone Flooring - The companion stone to Marie-Antoinette French Limestone Flooring, this royal and handsome French limestone floor has an elegant masculinity in it's rich color saturation of grey, wheat, brown and touches of vintage olive tones. The surface texture is hand-finished to a satin patina with a perfectly aged edge to replicate an 18th century time worn patina. The pairing of this stone with reclaimed materials is magnificent.
The Kings of France 18th Century Flooring - Country House Collection - Color: Woodlands - is a perfect counterpoint to the Montclair Aged French Limestone Flooring. Both share colors of tree bark - various light and dark brown hues. The silky smooth patina of the French limestone flooring creates a brilliant contrast to the Woodlands grains and knots inherent in French Oak - brought out perfectly in this particular aging wood technique.
10. Napoléon Aged French Limestone Flooring - I love this French Limestone Floor. I love it's rusticity and saturated color palette of beige, wheat, cream and vintage olive. The colors are warm and the aging technique with it's chiseled edges are masculine and present.
Napoléon Aged French Limestone Flooring is beautiful with The Country House Collection in PROVINCIAL MAHOGANY. The red brown hues are a natural compliment to the warm vintage olives found in this limestone. The rich saturated colors of both the wood and stone flooring are the perfect pairing.
12. Dalle de Charentes Aged French Limestone Flooring - This French limestone floor has beautiful coffee, wheat and beige tones with touches of cream. The historic aging technique allows for a wonderful patina that's not overly rustic and can be perfect for more traditional home décors.
The Dalles de Charentes Aged French Limestone Flooring is a perfect partner to the Kings of France Great House collection in Walnut. Both this stone and wood pair are saturated in warm beige and brown tones with subtle oak hues.
13. Réedition 17th Century Antique Bar de Montpellier French Limestone Flooring - As a very rare material, the Antique 17th Bar de Montpellier is a prized antique French limestone tile for it's color variation, texture and patina. The challenges of finding quantities of this material in one lot with one thickness are great. Henceforth! We now offer a superb rendition of this magnificent and historic French limestone tile. At the Pavé showroom, both installations are side-by-side and the quality and incredible aging technique of this réedition antique Bar de Montpellier is remarkable. What is more incredible is that one can chose to have all the color variation - from creams and beige, different grey tonal variations and vintage olive like the original antique Bar de Montpellier or one can chose to have just the greys or just the creams. The other caveat is one can chose from two different thickness: 5/8" or 3/4" along with a variety of widths x random length giving an installation the most authenticity. A design appointment at Pavé would be the most beneficial to understand this extraordinary material. We ourselves after 18 years still need to install and grout all our materials to understand color and textural variation.
It is hard to believe that both these materials are not antique. You are viewing technical abilities of aging French oak and French limestone to a point where lines are blurred between centuries. These materials hail from France and it’s the French savoir-faire and their exactitude for reproducing with pride their French heritage that one can witness such authentic beauty. Lucky us. The pairing of The Kings of France 18th Century French Oak Floors in Country House Vintage Grey with the sublime Réedition Antique Bar de Montpellier French Limestone Tile is superb. The tonal values of grey, oak, cream and vintage olive are mirrored in both materials. The textural contrast of the aged French oak floor with an undulation and smoothness only highlights the chiseled edges and patina of the Réedition Antique Bar.
14. Carcassonne Aged French Limestone Flooring - Carcassone Aged French Limestone Flooring is home in warm or cool elements. The feel of a Parisian zinc bar with undertones of vintage olive and cream - pairing this remarkable aged French limestone floor with wood or metal elements will only bring out further this stone's versatility. The patina and perfect vintage edging allows for a tight, elegant grout line exuding an historic ambiance.
The beauty of Carcassonne Aged French Limestone Flooring and Country House Vintage Grey French Oak Flooring is clear. Both aged materials have the texture and patina of 18th century floors. This is only achieved through the skilled craftsmen and the savoir-faire of our French artisans. The color palette of both these stone and wood materials is what is remarkable. Various grey overtones with undertones of cream and vintage olive allow for warm and cool hues to mix perfectly. Elegant, beautiful and authentic.
With the internet today - there is nothing one cannot dream of purchasing. It's easy to click and buy - receive samples of this and that...but not with French limestone flooring. For example, take one image of a French limestone floor I presented. Cut out in your mind's eye a small square of one tile within an entire grouted installation. Take that square, out-of-context, and bring it to your room of choice. Can you understand all the colors, textures and nuances of the French limestone floor from that tiny square? Not to mention the time, money and effort it took our company to cut that square for you...wasting so much time on both of our ends. That beautiful square we cut - apart of a larger puzzle - would be thrown in the trash - as you look on-line for a "better" stone. Sigh...
Samples on-line for interior designers, architects and homeowners are great for mass-produced material that are repetitive in nature like fabric or laminate wood floors. With antique or aged organic material - samples will not work. If you are in the process of building your dream home - where square footage can be 1500-10,000 sq ft...you have a choice. Fly or drive to Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc. or fly to Europe. If you find a stone you love...we can import it directly for you FOB West Hatfield, MA (that's a good thing) or you can import it yourself...FOB Europe (for most people...good luck and $$$).
As you read this - perhaps you are taking a break being something fabulous...as with us - our years of experience of understanding this material and understanding the French suppliers to get amazing product - comes from long hours and hard work. We do offer design services where I put together design boards with your ideas in mind. Many times these design boards along with images and conversations are enough for many clients. Here is a design board for an interior designer trying to understand our 4 choices of Belgian Blue stone flooring and which wood color would partner best with this stone:
She appreciated my help and it went onto the architect and client's desk. This client happens to be in Kansas. Which brings me back to the internet. Until we can literally reach into the screen and pull something out from thousands of miles away - we must decide somehow to work still within the confines of reality. Reality means working with us sincerely. Kindness and conversations are most accepted. Traveling to our showroom is bliss for everyone. Please don't call up and just say, "Can I get a sample" - at least say hello first. The products we present to the world are a thoughtful narrative for those who value beauty and authenticity. We strive to fill this world with beauty.
Thank you for your time,
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