Dec­o­rat­ing

We asked the ex­perts about the va­ri­ety of stones on of­fer and how to use them in your home

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Contents -

Five ex­perts share their tips on us­ing white mar­ble in your home, plus a his­tory of paint colours from the Stone Age to to­day

How many dif­fer­ent types of white mar­ble are there?

‘In the UK you’ll be able to find up to 50 dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties,’ says Ja­son Cher­ring­ton, di­rec­tor of stone spe­cial­ist Lapi­cida. These range from pure white Thas­sos, used by the an­cient Greeks to build tem­ples, to grey-veined Ital­ian Car­rara and Cala­catta mar­bles. The stronger the pat­tern, the more con­sid­er­a­tion needs to be given to how they are laid out and whether slabs need to be ‘book matched’, so the veins align.

Where do the best mar­bles come from?

Mostly from Car­rara in Tus­cany, the favoured source of Re­nais­sance sculp­tors such as Michelan­gelo. Its many quar­ries pro­duce more mar­ble than any­where else in the world, and clas­sic Bianco Car­rara is a favourite with ex­perts such as Gabriele Sal­va­tori, CEO of Sal­va­tori. ‘It has an en­dur­ing beauty and per­forms re­li­ably,’ he says. How­ever, its pop­u­lar­ity is inevitably run­ning down sup­plies, so it’s time to also look to Turkey and Greece for white mar­bles.

How much do they vary in price?

Con­sid­er­ably. ‘ White mar­bles of Turk­ish ori­gin can cost as lit­tle as £40 per square me­tre,’ says Gra­ham Rose, sales man­ager of Man­darin Stone. ‘Car­rara gen­er­ally starts at around £60 per square me­tre, and very pure white mar­bles from £100 per square me­tre.’ Rarer stones, or com­plex mo­saics, can cost as much as £1,500 per square me­tre.

Can white mar­ble be used any­where in the home?

Yes, with some re­stric­tions. Pol­ished mar­ble isn’t prac­ti­cal for floors, where it will be slip­pery, or work­tops, where it will show scratches. There are fewer is­sues with wall fin­ishes. ‘Even if you only have the bud­get for a mar­ble splash­back, it will add a spe­cial touch to even the small­est room,’ says Fired Earth’s cre­ative di­rec­tor Colin Roby-welford. How about out­doors? Mar­ble’s poros­ity tends to rule out its use in gar­dens, but there are ex­cep­tions. ‘Bianco Car­rara is able to with­stand very cold tem­per­a­tures, which makes it suit­able for ex­ter­nal use in all cli­mates,’ says Sal­va­tori. How is mar­ble in­stalled? ‘Al­ways lay all your tiles out prior to fix­ing them in place so that you can swap them around,’ says Roby-welford. ‘This way you can en­sure colours and pat­terns are evenly dis­trib­uted.’ Floors re­quire spe­cial prepa­ra­tion. ‘Any mar­ble that is go­ing to carry weight needs to have high den­sity and flex­i­bil­ity, and it should be laid on a per­fectly level sub-floor to pre­vent crack­ing,’ says Cher­ring­ton. How do I look af­ter it? Mar­ble should be sealed upon in­stal­la­tion, with ad­di­tional wa­ter-re­pel­lent treat­ments ap­plied in wet ar­eas. There­after, wipe up spills quickly – af­ter a cou­ple of hours, stains will pen­e­trate even sealed stone – and use ph-neu­tral clean­ers, never or­di­nary de­ter­gents. Roby-welford rec­om­mends ‘Easy-care’ by Lithofin (£12.06 per litre; puread­he­sion.co.uk). Some wa­ter­marks from acid-based liq­uids are in­evitable, says Deedee Gund­berg, di­rec­tor of prod­uct de­vel­op­ment and de­sign at Ann Sacks. ‘Fans like me con­sider this patina part of the ma­te­rial’s charm.’

Turn over for nine of the best white mar­bles to buy now

‘Choices range from pure white Thas­sos, used by the an­cient Greeks to build tem­ples, to grey-veined Ital­ian Car­rara and Cala­catta mar­bles’

Above The two main stair­cases at Valentino’s Rome con­cept store, de­signed by David Chip­per­field Ar­chi­tects (david­chip­per­field.com), are entirely lined in Car­rara mar­ble and give the im­pres­sion of be­ing carved from a sin­gle block

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