Sandstone has been used as a building material since ancient times. Its wide availability and range of colors and patterns made this stone a key component in grand structures such as medieval cathedrals and the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. Domestically, sandstone is used as paving stone, fireplace surrounds and bricks. Because it's easily worked, it appears in architectural ornaments, statues and other carved decorations. Sandstone naturally occurs in a variety of colors, including warm browns and tans, as well as reds, grays and greens, which partner handsomely with nearly any color in the spectrum.
Color-Matching Your Sandstone
The surest way to get a paint color that matches the sandstone in your home is to have a paint supplier use color-matching to mix a custom paint for you. Collect a chip, about the size of a quarter, from part of your sandstone that isn't easily seen, and bring it to the paint dealer. They will use computer technology to sample the color hue of the chip and mix the paint to match. If your sandstone is multi-colored or patterned, try to select a chip that is nearly uniform in color.
Color Partners for Sandstone
White and Black
Not many natural elements stand up to the strength of pure white or black, but sandstone admirably does the job. In a contemporary setting, for example, consider a tan to medium brown sandstone fireplace topped with a black ledge or mantel, and a black floor against white walls. This look works equally well in traditional or transitional decor when softened with warm white and charcoal gray.
To make your sandstone stand out against neutral shades, use tonal contrast to set it off against a darker or lighter background. For example, match a light gold or tan sandstone with a deep brown color. Pair soft beige or warm, light gray with dark red sandstone.
Even though it seems counter-intuitive, bright, strong colors -- such as fresh aqua, lime green, true red or fiery orange -- create lively and appealing palettes with sandstone. Wake up a dark gray or gray-green sandstone with fuchsia pink and magenta. Add sky colors to an earthy brown sandstone with turquoise and midnight blue. For a royal palette, offset the medium browns to light tans in sandstone with amethyst or lilac hues and deep purple accents.
Sample the Color Choices
Any color of paint -- even a color-matched paint -- looks different in real life. Surrounding colors as well as wall surfaces affect the finished appearance. Make sure your color choices work for you by using sample swatches. In addition to paint samples, collect swatches of wallpaper, drapery and upholstery materials and other large color surfaces you are considering. Set the swatches against the sandstone and view them under changing light conditions. After a few days of "living" with your swatches, you'll be able to pick the perfect color to highlight your sandstone.