Heart of Stone
Smooth, gleaming and swirling with luxury ... it's time to acquaint your home with shimmering marble style, says Gabrielle Fagan
Marble may once have been the preserve of swanky homes and museums and, most notably, India's Taj Mahal, but it's now on the move and appearing in homes in all sorts of guises.
Whether it's faux effects on wallpaper and fabrics or embellishing rooms in its natural state, it adds a classic touch to any decor, and designers have lost their hearts again to this gleaming stone with its subtle, unique patterns.
Marble has long been favoured in functional areas like halls, kitchens and bathrooms, where its handsome looks and practicality have always made it a savvy choice, but now it's making its way in entertaining areas, like open-plan living rooms, too, and bedrooms. Underfloor heating means that floors in this material need no longer be cold to the toes.
Marble's having a fashion moment too, as perfectly demonstrated in the dramatic fabric of actress Cate Blanchett's Giles Deacon dress at the Cannes Film Festival recently.
"The marble revival has, literally, rather taken people by surprise, but I think it's a sign that we're in a more confident economic era, and are embracing a combination of glitz and sleek modern sophistication in the home," says Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, ambassador for the Ideal Home Show, taking place in Manchester from June 4-7 (idealhomeshowmanchester.com).
"After all, we've all been closeted in our burrows for the last five years, indulging in rich, dark colours, woods and general over-indulgent, high-fat decoration to make our homes cosseting sanctuaries from the harsh economic winds outside.
"But last year saw things start to shift to a lighter, altogether more streamlined look, and that was coupled with a revival in gold which is starting to replace white metals like nickel and chrome.
"Decor's beginning to feel rather sophisticated, and rather early 1960s, with a dash of James Bond and luxe-nightclub style."
Marble will feature in Llewelyn-Bowen's new home - a barn conversion in Gloucestershire - which he's currently renovating. "I'm a fan and am definitely using the stone in the kitchen, and may consider a marbled wallpaper for one room. In the past, I used marble-design vinyl tiles on a wall, which added a brilliant air of grandeur at a fraction of the cost of the real thing," he says.
So follow the trend and play marbles with your decor.
Lose your heart to stone and transform walls with lookalike-marble paper...
"A marble effect on both fabric and wallpaper is hard to achieve effectively, but when done well, it provides a powerful elemental effect which conjures an interesting and visually inspiring look for modern interiors," says Magdalen Jebb, creative director at Lewis & Wood.
"Marble is making a welcome return and always manages to look fresh and new, and works so well for those who want the beautiful effects of natural materials."
Set in Stone
Dress a wall in a marble-effect Force 9 wallpaper designed by artist Su Daybell, £169.20 for a double-width wall panel, and a matching fabric, £108 per metre. A Marble wallpaper inspired by the marbled papers which lined old books, £74.88 a roll. All from Lewis & Wood.
Fabric and paper specialists Harlequin are always quick to spot a trend, and its Makrana wallpaper, £59 a roll, comes in a variety of colourways but is particularly striking in a rich green.
If you want the real thing, Original Style has an impressive collection. The Salina Honed Bevel Marble design, from the the Earthworks collection, is one of the stars of the range; it comes in tiles, bricks and mosaics and no two pieces are the same. Tiles from £109.95 per square metre.
Take to the Floor
White or pale marble for floors can make small rooms look more open and airy...
"Marble appeals because it's a brilliant way of bringing richness, detail and pattern into an interior but also, because it's organic and theoretically non-repeating, it's visually pleasing and gentle on the eye," says Llewelyn-Bowen.
Set in Stone
Marble will always create a grand entrance in a hall and is an ideal material for an open-plan kitchen/dining area. Selection tiles, from £94 a square metre, Refin Ceramics, are made from many different stones from different geographic areas for a totally individual ceramic tile.
Laminate can be a more purse-friendly alternative, and technology means effects can be created which are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. Marble Carrara Laminate Arte, £31.99 per square metre, Quick Step.
Have a bit of fun and play with marbles throughout the home...
Even a few carefully-chosen accessories here and there could give a space that magic marble touch. And while this is a material synonymous with luxury, it's now being used for quirky effect too.
Set in Stone
Dress a bed with Ted Baker's new Marble Bedlinen Collection, which is simply stunning and features those fashionable shades of grey. Double duvet cover, £85, pair of pillowcases, £35 (available from July; visit ashleywildegroup.com for stockists).
Impressive tables demand distinctive dinnerware and there's a marbled look to the Malachite collection, named after rich green mineral. Espresso Cup And Saucer, £70, L'Objet. Another source for brilliant design is The Conran Shop, which has a Nero Marble Pendant Light, available in white or black, £197.
Elegant marble tables never go out of fashion; West Elm has a Marble Oval Coffee Table, £499, and a marble-base Pillar Table Lamp, £199.
Sé, which has a London showroom, is a repository for beautiful pieces of design and its Bala Hi side table, by designer Jaime Hayon, from £800, is a beauty, with an Italian-made ceramic base and a top of Carrara marble. If that's out of budget, John Lewis has an HND Brigitte Marble Bar Table (left), in Carrara marble, from £275.
A Tato Tattoo Carrara Marble Pouffe (above), £649, Chaplins, would certainly be a talking point.
A white or black Menu Marble Clock with gold hands, £219, Amara. A Herbert Table Lamp in white marble, £170 for the base only, Pooky.