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The Ultimate Guide to Using Marble in Your Home

Updated: Jun 21

It’s safe to say we love using marble in our interior design projects. Beautiful, hard-wearing and timeless, this classic building material has been loved by artists and designers for 3,000 years.  Our ultimate guide will help you make the right choice - without losing your marbles! 

We used a rare 'Bianco Fantastico' marble to draw the eye upwards in this beautifully simple master bathroom.  © Catherine Wilman
We used 'Bianco Fantastico' marble in this master bathroom. © Catherine Wilman


A touch of marble on a side table or in an alcove adds instant elegance. We loved creating this cosy nook under foxed glass shelves for a stylish London client who loves to entertain.
We loved creating this nook under glass shelves for a London client who loves to entertain. © Catherine Wilman




Why Choose Marble? Is It a Good Investment? 

Marble triumphs over other stones in its ability to absorb and refract light, resulting in a soft and attractive surface that is crying out to be touched. Marble is one of only a few building materials that last hundreds of years, and while there are levels of quality and rarity, even an entry-level stone can be a lifetime investment.


From a tiny bathroom nook or side table to an entire staircase, using marble in your home screams good taste. Installed and cared for correctly, it can add value to your property and an instant touch of elegance that will set you apart from the neighbours. 





Different Types and Colours of Marble 

There are over 50 different types of marble, and the team at Catherine Wilman regularly attend trade shows and meet with stonemasons and fabricators to find new patterns. Here are some of our favourites:



A gorgeous Verde-Bianco Carrara slab from Granite and Marble International who help us to source exceptional pieces.
A Verde-Bianco Carrara slab from Granite and Marble International who help us to source exceptional pieces.

Carrara Marble  Carrara from Tuscany is the most famous marble for its cloudy white base and faint silvery-blue veins. It is the stone of the Pantheon in Rome, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, and the Marble Palace of Dubai. It is also the most wished-for marble in our projects for its surprising affordability and classical appearance. There are different grades and price points for Carrara, depending on the purity of the slab. Grade C, for example, is pure white, while Grade CD tends to have a greyer background. Carrara is a great choice for consistency as the random patterns match well, no matter where they meet.  


The classic grey veins of a Calacatta slab offer more options for drama in a room.
The grey veins and the crisp pure white of Calacatta

Calacatta Marble  Calacatta Marble is considered Carrara’s higher-end, rarer and more expensive Tuscan sibling. Similar in look, the base white is purer, and the veins are broader and darker, giving dramatic grey and white lines and cracks that make an architectural statement. It is less blurred and milky than Carrara. We prefer to use this special marble in large slabs as it gets far too chaotic when broken down into tiles. It makes a lovely vanity top and a gorgeous statement when ‘bookmatched,’ (see below, ‘Where Else to Use Marble?) We used a gold-veined Calacatta to create drama on a bathroom wall that faced a mirror. You can see that the marble we used on the shower enclosure was much purer to add contrast. This was a stone called Mystery White.  




A chunky, 'Mystery White' marble frame contrasts beautifully with darker herringbone Alphina marble tiles.
'Mystery White' marble frame contrasts with darker herringbone Alphina tiles. ©Catherine Wilman
Calacatta marble Catherine Wilman bathroom design
A subtly gold-veined Calacatta adds a feeling of infinite depth to this bathroom ©Catherine Wilman
A 'bookmatched' Bianco Fantastico marble shower enclosure greets you like the centre pages of a fine novel.
A 'bookmatched' Bianco Fantastico marble shower enclosure greets you like the centre pages of a fine novel. ©Catherine Wilman

Bianco Fantastico  Fun to say and beautiful to use, this black and cream marble can have faint sparkly veins of burgundy and green and very random patterns which offer a painterly look. This marble can have concentrated inky splashes, veins and colour in one spot, and huge swathes of unmarked white or cream in others. A connoisseur's choice for adding drama.


We used Bianco Fantastico in a shower enclosure in our Brook Green project where our lovely art-loving client was unafraid of standing out.   

One of the rarest marbles in the world, Connemara is the jewel of Ireland
One of the rarest marbles in the world, Connemara is the jewel of Ireland. ©Catherine Wilman


Connemara Marble Hailing from Ireland, this beautiful rich green marble with white and black veins is one of the rarest in the world. Perfect for both traditional and contemporary designs, the richness of colour adds a touch of private member’s club elegance to homes. Sliced correctly, it can give the look of a giant agate slab to walls. Also striking as a fireplace surround.






Onyx certainly has the wow factor, especially when backlit to show off its incredible mineral veins. ©CatherineWilman
Onyx certainly has the wow factor, especially when backlit to show off its incredible mineral veins. ©CatherineWilman


Onyx Marble Dark and moody, layered marble Onyx is famed for its use in Egyptian and Art Deco art. In tones of brown, black, green, and terracotta, this beautiful semi-sheer stone can be backlit for dramatic effect. Onyx gives a jewel-like beauty to any home and we love to use it in homes for powder rooms and commercial projects. This is a stone you often see in hotel bars, where colourful shiny bottles and brass cocktail tools stand out when set against it.  









An incredible table and stool from Egyptian-Lebanase designer Omar Chakil
A space-age alabaster onyx table and stool -on-wheels from designer Omar Chakil

Rosso Lepanto used as a dramatic countertop by Poggenpohl kitchens
Rosso Lepanto as a beautifully theatrical countertop looks like a Caravaggio in this Poggenpohl kitchen.



Rosso Lepanto  Rosso Lepanto is a beautiful maroon-toned calcite rock with chalky white veins, giving the appearance of a marbled fillet steak. It is hard-wearing and highly resistant to most temperatures, making it a bold but surprisingly sensible choice for kitchens and bathrooms. A statement piece, especially when paired with similar tones in furnishings and accessories. 



The characteristic light stripes of elegant Bianco Lassa. Catherine Wilman
The characteristic light stripes of elegant Bianco Lassa.








Gorgeously moody black onyx is the perfect fireplace surround
Moody black Marquina is the perfect fireplace surround.



Bianco Lasa This charming off-white stone has fine, grey, darting geometric lines cutting through it like pyjama stripes or wood grain. It is an extremely beautiful, refreshing, and unusual marble for modern spaces, and its unique markings can be used to a designer’s advantage, making ceilings look taller or rooms look wider. 


We would steer clear of using this stone in tiles as the effect would be too busy. 








Marquina or Black Marble 

Marquina or Black Marble has something of a 1980s hang-up but is making a big comeback thanks to the popularity of black paint colours and simple monochrome interiors. The marble of choice for a luxury spa, a cinema room, or to make a dramatic alcove.


Think of a night sky, peppered with tiny stars. We would use this for a beautiful fireplace surround or hearth. 


Terrazzo  This tutti frutti marble reminiscent of Italian 1960s cafes and stairwells has made a fashionable return. We like its jolly colour pop look, its eco-friendly credentials and its affordability, especially when used in tiles. Most terrazzo is made from marble offcuts, offering lower airmiles for those looking for a greener home. 


The perfect marble for a children’s bathroom, a kitchen backsplash or anywhere that needs an injection of fun.  





GMI Stonework.co.uk Cippolino Marble
A stunning slab of Cippolino/Luana Verde direct from the quarry via our friends at GMI. See more at www.stonework.co.uk




Cipollino Marble  Named after flat Italian onions, this highly veined white-green marble was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans for columns and pediments. Also known as Ondulato or Verde Luana, it is still quarried in the southwest Greek islands and comes in shades from medium green with burgundy to pale green with sky blue and cloudy grey veins. We have yet to use this beautiful marble and we are currently pitching it to clients with our fingers crossed.  






Venetian This marble has a beautiful warm white base and also comes in black with pale veins. Its soft, cloudy texture offers an immediate heritage look, even when the stone has just been quarried. We used both black and white Venetian tiles from stone specialist Lapicida in this classic checkerboard flooring project in Clifton Hill, North West London. Here, the tiles were given ‘cushioned’ edges for a soft, lived-in, antique look.  (More on 'edging' below). 

It doesn't get more classic than a checkerboard marble floor.
It doesn't get more classic than a checkerboard Venetian marble floor. We softened the tile edges for a lived-in, antique look.

Marble Edging- what is it?  Marble slabs and tiles can be finished with various edges, from straight cut, (or ‘square’), to rounded, bullnose, bevelled or even coved, as you might find on plaster cornicing. It is a small detail that can greatly impact an overall look. Buffed, square cuts never go out of style but they can be too minimal for some.  We usually like to include edges such as ‘chamfered,’ where just the first few millimetres on the top edge is sanded down to a 45-degree angle. We always admire the way Drummonds Bathrooms use subtle edging on their bathroom sink vanity units to imbue timeless elegance to marble and other stone counters.

An opulent double vanity with classical edging from Drummonds
An opulent double marble vanity unit with both a 'demi-bullnose' edge on the sink and an 'ogee' edged splashback from Drummonds

How to Choose the Right Marble for Your Home 

Always get a sample if possible. Marble can look very different under different lights. If you can, go to the quarry and pick your block. A sample seen in a showroom will never look the same as the product you end up with because every marble is unique. Try not to be influenced by trends. This investment will be in your home for many decades, so pick a stone and a colour that speaks to you. Are you trying to add depth and drama? Go for a coloured or darker marble or clad an entire room in it. Or do you want to imbue a space with calm and light? Whiter marbles may be for you. Have a favourite colour that you have always loved? Be bold and choose one space to ‘colour drench,’ where you match paint, furnishings, accessories, and marble in the same tones. Can’t afford to full marble makeover? Use an offcut to cover a coffee table, console or small shelf.    Where Else to Use Marble?  Fancy an artistic, statement wall or backsplash? Ask about ‘bookmatching’ where the stonemason will cut a slab in half and place the pieces end to end for a touch of mirrored geometry and symmetry, like an ink blot painting. 


Marble Slabs or Tiles? In general, a large slab will cost more than individual tiles due to weight and shipping, but it will also make a bigger impact and we think it looks more stylish. A clever stonemason will be able to near-match veins across a room for a seamless, luxurious look. Tiles can offer better value and they are charming in a monochromatic scheme or even when used to create detailed, Moorish or geometric patterns. We have seen tiles used to create frescos and murals. But equally, we love a plain square tile repeat because too many marble tiles can look clashing and chaotic. 


Marble Finishes From shiny polished marble to natural, rough-cut, honed or ‘leathered’ it is important to think about the grip, feel and finish. Textured marble works beautifully in minimal interior schemes to contrast with high-shine finishes on cabinetry. Honed is great for shower and bathroom floors and leathered adds a gorgeous touchable texture to kitchen worktops. Conversely, while a water-like shiny floor might look exceptional in a Viennese ballroom or in a fancy hotel reception area, consider whether it is safe and right for you and your home in slippery high-traffic areas. 


Marble vs. Other Materials  Marble certainly requires maintenance and care, especially around stains, so we always make sure clients know what to expect and we’ll happily recommend other materials that are equally as beautiful, but which may fare better in high-traffic areas. 


 A sleek and simple hone black granite kitchen counter from Fisher and Paykel
We love this smooth, sleek and simple honed black granite kitchen counter from Fisher and Paykel.

Marble vs. Granite for Home Interiors 

While both marble and granite are popular natural stone choices for home interiors, marble offers a softer, more luxurious look, whereas granite is more durable and resistant to scratches and stains but usually comes up much darker. We love this use of smooth and seductive Absolute Black honed granite by heritage interior design company Fisher and Paykel.






Marble vs. Quartz Countertops 

Marble countertops provide a classic, timeless appeal, but quartz offers greater durability and is less prone to staining and scratching. We like this man-made faux-marble a lot as an alternative for kitchens. And as engineering techniques improve, it is getting harder and harder to tell engineered stone from natural. One of our favourite quartz or ‘quartzite’ stones is Bianco Eclipse Moon Rock which is a Brazilian quarried stone that looks very like marble. We used it in our Whiteland House project to surround the fireplace.

A silky smooth moon rock has the opulence of marble but fits beautifully in our minimal interior scheme.
A silky smooth moon rock has the opulence of marble but fits beautifully in our minimal Midcentury interior scheme.

Marble Pros and Cons 

Pros 

Naturally cool and naturally antibacterial, there is a reason why every Michelin-starred restaurant has a solid marble pastry or pasta counter. Style-wise, it will never go out of fashion and because every piece is unique, marble lends your home a bespoke look. Marble is relatively easy to cut so you can be creative with it and use it on unusually shaped cabinetry and edges. And don’t forget that marble comes in a jewellery box of colours, perfect for every scheme. 


Cons 

Now the bad stuff - cleaning. Marble is a medium porous stone, meaning you have to be vigilant about stains and accept that a natural patina, small scratches, and maybe even tiny chips will develop over the years. For some, this adds a unique character that makes older or antique slabs even more valuable and beautiful than some new ones. But for others, who prefer a pristine look, it is often best to use marble in lower traffic areas only. Coffee, red wine, acidic foods, and hot pans are the enemy but can be combatted by quickly wiping away stains with gentle soap or a bicarb paste. Regular sealing and resealing of marble is highly recommended for longevity. Some sealants now have ten-year guarantees.


Maintenance and Care of Marble 

How to Maintain Marble Surfaces 

Regular maintenance is key to keeping your marble surfaces looking pristine. This includes routine cleaning with gentle soap and water and promptly wiping away spills to avoid stains.  


Cleaning Tips for Marble Floors 

For marble floors, a soft mop with warm water and a pH-neutral cleaner is best. Avoid acidic or abrasive cleaners that can damage the stone. For polished marble, it is best to buff dry straight away rather than allowing any water stains to set in. 


Protecting Marble from Stains 

Use coasters and trays to protect marble countertops from spills. Blot stains immediately with a soft cloth to prevent them from setting. Rings from coffee and tea mugs can usually be counteracted with a wet cloth soaked in a paste of bicarb and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice. 


Sealing Marble Countertops 

Sealing marble countertops periodically helps to protect them from stains and etching. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results. We usually recommend resealing once every few years. 


Marble Care Tips and Tricks 

Always use a cutting board to prevent scratches, and placemats under hot dishes to avoid thermal shock. Too often we see nicks and chips around marble kitchen sinks so make sure everyone in the house knows not to carelessly dump hot pans and dirty dishes there. These small steps can significantly extend the life of your marble surfaces. 


HELP! I’ve ruined my marble. Don't panic. Yet. There are many fantastic marble specialists who can repair chips, nicks and cracks to bring it back to life. You can even sand and polish stained marble to remove large stain patches. Again, leave this to the specialists.  


Conclusion

Marble adds elegance and value to your home, but it requires regular maintenance and care. It is more susceptible to stains and scratches compared to other materials. But it will never go out of style. 


Interior Design: Catherine Wilman Interiors

Room Photography: Alexander James

  

 

 

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