Marble has been a bathroom staple for centuries, often associated with luxury and usually found in the most high-end interiors. Never waning in popularity, marble is nevertheless experiencing a new renaissance as the material of choice in classic and modern bathroom designs. Find out how marble might fit in with your bathroom, whatever look you’re going for.
Marble is a natural metamorphic rock that’s been used in bathrooms for thousands of years. Marble tiling, in particular, is especially popular – since marble slabs tend to be prohibitively heavy and expensive.
Since marble is a natural material, no two surfaces are ever the same – with patterns of fine veins and colours running through the rock. Marble is found all over the world, but the rocks sourced from Italy and Greece are said to be the best for bathrooms, since the surfaces are usually more durable in wet conditions.
Marble is a great material to work with. Since it’s so soft, the rock can be milled, machined and sliced thinly enough for tiling. The downside of this is its absorption – meaning a marble bathroom floor will almost definitely stain if you spill a bottle of hair dye on it... The stone will also chip easily and even erode under some strong acid-based cleaners, so it might not be the best option if you have a busy bathroom that sees a lot of wear and tear.
A favourite of the ancient Greeks and Romans, marble has long been used as the material of choice for designers looking to achieve a classic, traditional look.
Choose traditionally veined white marble for the floor and units to get a palatial feel – and twin with other natural materials like copper and antique brass to accent the old world charm. Freestanding baths and original fireplaces add to the classic look, and using darker marble tiles on the walls will make your bathroom feel grown-up, spacious and luxe if you’ve got a big enough space to work with.
If you don’t want to splash out on redesigning the whole room, a marble basin will create a timeless focal point – and even smaller marble additions to modern units, like a marble countertop or splashback, will add a touch of luxury and permanence.
Marble mosaics let you play around with textures and shades on the walls, and you can mix veins, colours and styles with metro tiles to evoke the feeling of a country house spa.
Light fixtures should be elegant but traditional – with warm yellows, antique bulbs and as much daylight as possible. Marble looks and feels its best in candlelight, so indulge yourself when you take a bath or shower in a traditionally appointed room.
Marble is versatile enough to fit in with almost any modern trend, and the material is perfectly suited to monochrome, minimalist designs, as well as to busier, more ornamental looks.
Flat, smooth black and white marble tiling (with the smallest veining) can be used to create bold wall surfaces and clean, straight lines.
Think boutique hotel when you use the same style and colour on the walls and flooring – with bigger marble tiles creating a sense of space and uncluttered design. Pair with glass, chrome and steel shower enclosures for a modern look, and opt for straight sides instead of curves to match the tile lines of the marble.
If you want to get more experimental, lay geometric patterns in your marble floor and wall tiles – playing with proportion, size and shape to cut through sheer surfaces whilst still filling the room with matching textures. Dramatic veining can be used sparingly, but only if you make a feature of it. Pick out any interesting patterns and use them to punctuate the cleaner, flatter, surfaces surrounding it.
Choose overhead spotlighting but be aware of reflections and dark areas. Marble is shiny, and it shows up every shadow. A modern marble bathroom will use light to its advantage and bounce the reflections off of each other.
Mix it up
Like wood, copper and other natural materials, marble will work well in almost any situation. Place it in a monochrome modern bathroom and it will add a touch of history. Set it in a classically appointed room and the clean, sharp lines will give a contemporary feel.
If you want to mix your styles and achieve a “classically modern” bathroom, use marble to balance the look.
“Book matching” is a production process where a marble slab is split in half to create two tiles with identical veining patterns. Lay them side-by-side, like a mirror image, and you can turn a bathroom wall into an art piece – a perfect modern touch for a traditional interior.
If you do like to mix your styles and eras, and you want a vintage copper roll-top bath, a white chrome deluge showerhead and an stripped-pine vanity unit, marble wall-tiling is the very thing to unite the different trends – making the room seem intentionally disparate, and timelessly unique. Lay a chequerboard marble floor instead of modern tiles; use clean white marble surfaces around a vintage sink; or light the room with bright white bulbs to show off the traditional detailing on the marble units – however you want to use marble in your bathroom, the material will match the trend.
Get more material inspiration from Mira by browsing the other top bathroom trends.