Fresh bright tones, a natural look and an appearance that communicates luxury – what’s not to like about marble bathroom ideas?
If you’re after a hot new look that’s bang on trend, a splash of marble in the bathroom is the way to go. However, as a bathroom idea, you may have dismissed it as expensive. Which, if you are planning to clad every wall in Carrara marble slabs, is a reasonable assessment.
But thanks to clever new technologies, it's now possible to find convincing lookalikes that have the same luxurious finish at a lower price tag. These ceramic and porcelain options are lighter, less expensive, and ensure there’s a way to hop on the marble bandwagon no matter the size of your bathroom, or budget.
Is marble a good choice for bathrooms?
Marble is a great choice for bathrooms as its light finish complements white sanitaryware, while its delicate grey veining elevates a space from mundane washroom to luxurious spa. No wonder it's having its moment where bathroom trends are concerned.
'People are looking to make their homes and their bathrooms as luxurious as possible, with marble in the bathroom being the perfect antidote,' says Dominic Lees-Bell, interior design specialist at Drench.co.uk (opens in new tab), who praises its versatility in design.
'You could go super sleek with marble and opt for a monochrome look. Or why not try making a statement with gold details that perfectly harmonise with neutral marble?'
Marble bathroom ideas
1. Start with a marble floor
Large-scale marble tiles are a stunning bathroom flooring idea, though too slippery a finish could be dangerous, particularly around the bath or in a shower. That applies whether you are choosing natural marble stone or porcelain tiles.
'With any bathroom project it is worth considering the slip resistance of the tiles,' says Isabel Fernandez, Director at Quorn Stone. 'A balance of beauty and practicality should be met!'
'In most instances, a natural finish is sufficient for bathrooms, however in wet rooms we would always recommend using a porcelain tile in a "grip or R11 finish". This finish is designed to offer more traction in wet conditions.'
2. Clad the bath
Up the indulgence of a soak in the tub by surrounding yourself in marble. Here, black 'brassware' – including a bath filler, hand shower and flush plate – are in striking contrast and give a material with such classical connotations a very sharp and modern look.
3. Make a feature of the shower in marble
When you want to use a smaller amount of marble, whether for budget or aesthetic choices, there are few better ways than cladding a shower enclosure. What better feeling than stepping into your own bubble of luxury every morning or evening?
A dark bathroom colour scheme allows the marble to really pop and become a statement, standout feature.
4. Go wall-to-wall herringbone marble
This wet room look combines two key trends – marble and herringbone tile patterns. The way the tiles have been laid and the playful way the dark and light surfaces combine give the space a very contemporary and upscale feel.
Choosing the right grout colour is especially important when working with a natural stone like marble. And not just because of aesthetics. Darker grouts can actually stain a pale tile, so it's best to stick to lighter shades, as is the case here.
5. Bookmatch your marble
Book matching – a process in which a stone slab is split down the centre to produce a mirror image of two identical grains – takes the decorative possibilities of marble to a new level, turning the elaborate graining into a work of art.
For its sensual feel and inherent natural beauty, marble is an unparalleled choice for bathrooms, adding instant glamour to a scheme, and this bathroom in no exception.
6. Add marble glamour to a country bathroom
What a contrast in styles! On the one hand, this bathroom perfectly embodies country chic, with its gorgeous roll-top bath and wall panelling. On the other hand, the shower's marble surround and rainwater head wouldn't look out of place in a boutique hotel.
The use of a shower curtain, rather than a sleek screen, marks the boundary between the relaxed and formal looks. If the real deal is out of your budget, opt for a marble-effect panel. They look just as sleek.
Get the look
Similar marble effect panel, Splashwall Cararra Marble Effect Single Shower Panel, £80, B&Q (opens in new tab)
7. Introduce marble details
How grand is this basin? Marble is not a cheap material, but even just a little will inject a classy feel into your look. The large basin, traditional wall-mounted taps and a wooden vanity unit make this bathroom far from ordinary.
Natural materials are always beautiful and combining two of them together works a treat. Re-create this look yourself by upcyling an old wooden cabinet and adding a marble countertop and splashback to shield it from water damage.
8. Fake it with wallpaper
Ceramic tiles aren't the only way to fake the marble look. You could also bring the look through via a wallpaper or wall mural. Bathroom wallpaper ideas are often the subject of debate – many have had no issues using standard wallpaper on the walls. But you may want to take extra steps to ensure it doesn't deteriorate in the damp conditions.
Where the wallpaper is situated far from your bath or shower, and you have an extractor fan to gobble up any steam created, you should have no issues. However, in small bathrooms and those with limited ventilation, you should apply a decorator's varnish for protection. And never apply wallpaper in an area that's likely to be splashed a lot, such as above a sink or in a shower.
9. Enhance an all-white bathroom with marble
White remains a popular choice for a bathroom because of its natural association with cleanliness. But if you are concerned it could feel stark, bringing in natural marble will add texture and a silver glint of glamour.
Here, the tiles have been laid in a geometric L-shape that juxtaposes with the less uniform surface of the tiles themselves. One joy of natural marble is that no two tiles will be the same – however, this can be a frustration to people that like a very orderly look. If you're not prepared to 'vive la difference', it's probably a material to avoid.
10. Play with patterns
Marble mosaics offer a high-quality surface that allows you to create a personalised decorative scheme, and the timeless beauty of Italian marble is ideal for a country house.
Although a more expensive choice for flooring, keep costs down by choosing basic metro tiles on the wall and simply updating taps and fittings instead of replacing whole suites.
11. Go geometric on walls
Using marble in a bathroom may seem an obvious choice, but to ring the changes try wall tiles in unusual shapes. Here, geometric marble tiles add a contemporary touch and provide plenty of visual interest even for the most pared-back scheme. White marble has a timeless appeal and luxurious purity so it's perfect for modern or country bathrooms.
12. Introduce hotel luxe
A marble bathroom oozes hotel glamour, and the designers of this smart en suite have spared no expense. Cleverly surrounding a deep bath with the same marble as the floor and walls creates a seamless flow of luxury and also gives the illusion of a larger space, as the eye is not distracted by varying patterns. It's a wonderful way to create your own spa-style bathroom at home.
Does a marble bathroom need to be sealed?
Any natural stone – including marble – requires sealing. The experts at Ca' Pietra explain that 'once your tiles are installed, you will need to use an impregnating sealant for protection against fading and staining. This should be applied after they have been installed and cleaned, but prior to grouting, in accordance with the product label. You should apply a second coat after grouting.'
They also recommend you apply a surface finish such as wax polish, to 'offer further protection and give an attractive patina, although in non-wet areas only. This would be applied after grouting once fully dry – around seven days depending on humidity.'
Of course, this doesn't apply if you choose a marble-effect ceramic or porcelain tile.
Amy Cutmore is Editor-in-Chief, Homes Audience, working across the Future Homes portfolio. She works on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.
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