Marble floor design ideasJuly 20, 2018
Where did you last see a marble floor? It may have been on a historical documentary, at the museum, or maybe at the opera house. If you watch reality shows, you’ve probably seen them in someone’s house. Marble floors imply taste and class, and using them in your space raises your social status immediately. That said, it offers lots of benefits beyond style.
For example, polished marble floors are highly reflective, so they enhance both natural and artificial lighting, brightening up your living space. They’re fun for ‘indoor sock skating’ so your kids will love them. And even in a house full of rowdy children, marble floors are remarkably easy to maintain. Just sweep regularly, and mop with a non-acidic cleaner specially formulated for marble.
Interestingly, just like diamonds come from coal, limestone turns to marble when it’s subjected to eons of extreme heat and pressure. That’s why it withstands physical damage so well, and that makes it safe despite your energetic youngsters’ potentially destructive play. However, it can crack or chip when you move heavy furniture to widen the play space – which you may have to do frequently – to keep the kids happy and furniture safe. Consider using felt pads under furniture legs, to protect the floor. Also, no tango on the floor. #HighHeels
Patterns and colour
Marble is described as a ‘soft stone’ from a construction perspective because it’s easy to carve and shape into blocks, slabs, tiles, vessels, and sculptures. Its most distinctive feature is its veining, but the higher your marble quality, the fewer veins it has, and the more subtle it looks. This is because veins (and colour) are caused by impurities like mica, quartz, iron oxide, and graphite. In a way, these impurities make it more beautiful.
Marble floors can last forever. The Taj Mahal and the Palace in Versailles were both built in the 1600s and their marble survives to date. The density of marble handles heavy foot traffic well, making it ideal for floors. Sealing helps make it less likely to break and scrape. Also, while indoor marble can be polished to high sheen with attractive results, outdoor marble floors work better if they’re honed, resulting in a matte, low-slip surface.
The simplest way to design your marble floor is to use contrasting coloured tiles. You can lay them in a herringbone pattern, stripes, or chess-board styling. Regularly repeated designs are pleasing to the eye and can be calming, creating a stabilising effect. Your tiles can be square or rectangular, arranged horizontally or diagonally.It looks too much like ordinary tiling and may not utilise the full expressiveness of marble.
This kind of design is low-hanging fruit though. It’s best used for honed marble, because the pattern takes the focus off your marble’s veining and glossy translucence.If you want a bit of an edge you can use triangular tiles, or semi-circular ones. You can even mix round tiles and square tiles. Another idea is to use roughly hewn slabs rather than uniform tiles. The abstract mish-mash combined with the intermingled colours can produce a daring floor space that works well if you like eccentric décor.
It’s likely to be hard on more conservative eyes though, so maybe retain that for your bedroom or studio, where it will jar your thinking and stimulate creativity. On the other hand, if you’d like to show the characteristics of polished marble to their best advantage, use one-tone stone. Without the distraction of multiple colours, the eye is drawn to the intricate veining and texture. You can still use tiles and slabs for this design, because it’s hard to get a single slab of marble that large. Place the marble tiles right next to each other with no plaster between, to make it seem more continuous.
Colours and pictures
For artistic marble that is more literal, consider installing a mosaic. It could be an abstract pattern developed from bits of coloured marble, or it could be a more identifiable image. The intricacy and detail will depend on the skill of your artist and the scope of your budget. After all, a sunlit valley costs less that a recognisable human portrait.
You could also build a 3D floor-scape by cleverly combining different shades of polished marble. The translucence of the marble plus strategically placed lighting gives the floor extra depth, creating beautiful optical illusions that you could happily explore for ages. This can be lovely feature in an art studio, nursing home, or kids’ play space, because it excites the imagination and offers hours of distraction. Just don’t use it in an asylum …