If you are looking for next-level luxury in your bathroom, exotic stone surfaces are the way to go.
Whether you choose exotic stone countertops or feature it on walls, floors or sanitaryware, it’s a look that is timeless and will bring instant wow-factor to your scheme. Use pale stones for understated glamor, or darker hues to add richness and stand-out appeal.
We asked bathroom experts for their take on this look – and how to get the very best results. For more beautiful bathroom ideas, don't miss our dedicated page.
1. Choose an exotic stone lookalike in a bold color
Exotic stones like onyx and Marinace marble are stealing the show in luxury bathrooms. Celebrated for their jewel-like hues and crystalline sparkle, these rarefied stones can create incredible backsplash and shower backdrops.
In areas that benefit from low maintenance, Bathroom Design Studio (opens in new tab)’s managing director John Naughten recommends manmade alternatives, like this basin, custom-made from 6mm-thick porcelain tiles in a convincing natural Agate pattern.
‘Thanks to the many advances in surface technologies, the design of porcelains inspired by precious stones are now incredibly lifelike, yet offer far easier cleaning and no aftercare,’ he explains.
2. Create a wraparound effect with bookmatching
Bookmatched marble is an elegant and timeless exotic stone so using it on both walls and floors will create a cohesive and yet striking look.
'I really believe in keeping the number of materials to a minimum and going for it, especially in smaller rooms,' says interior designer Hollie Bowden (opens in new tab). 'It’s more dramatic, maximizes the look and also feels more cohesive and fluid.'
You can continue the flow of the look to other parts of the bathroom, like wrapping the stone round the vanity unit for an even more enveloping feel.
3. Frame the bath with an exotic stone accent wall
Exotic stone, when in a more dramatic color, can be used as a backdrop, creating a layered focal point with a shapely bath in front of it.
Stones such as marble can, of course, vary wildly – you'll find the whites and pale greys, but look out for blacks, greens, pinks and yellows, all of which can come with flecks of other colors, including metallics, running through them.
This bathroom was designed by Cara Woodhouse (opens in new tab), who says, 'I love the fact that all exotic stones are different and have their one of a kind unique markings and colors.'
On a practical note, she adds: 'I suggest viewing full slabs before choosing your final stone.'
See: Ways to use marble in home design – to create a luxe look
4. Use it as a focal point
Forget about framing pictures, a stunning stone with dramatic veining can be a piece of art in its own right. A green onyx shower wall in a neutral bathroom forms a striking focal point. The floor-to-ceiling mirror captures the onyx again, doubling the impact.
'Onyx has a beautiful translucent quality, so when illuminated from behind it creates a subtle glow that highlights the intricacies of the stone,' says Sharon Lillywhite, founding partner at design firm Oliver Burns (opens in new tab).
See: The secrets of luxury bathroom design – from the world’s top interior designers
5. Mimic exotic stone with wallpaper
Exotic stones like marble are high on the wish-list for many but if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, you can still mimic them at a fraction of the cost.
See: Bathroom trends – inspiring new looks for your bathroom
There are porcelain tiles with a gloss finishes which offers the translucent look of natural onyx for instance – or you can go for a dark and dramatic wallpaper, like Marmara by Osborne & Little (opens in new tab) in this cloakroom in the home of interior designer Elnaz Namaki (opens in new tab), which will give a rich and cocooning feel.
As the Deputy Editor of Livingetc's print version, Busola Evans works across both the physical magazine and digital and specializes in kitchens, bathrooms and projects. She is an expert at explaining how to improve, extend and convert your home. Prior to her current role, she was Associate Editor on both Livingetc and Homes & Gardens, where she authored kitchen and bathroom articles. Busola has also written for The Guardian, The Sunday Times Magazine and Grazia, and was an interiors columnist for the London Evening Standard's ES Magazine.
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