Interior Design

The Kitchen Material That Wants to Hang Out in Your Living Room

March 15, 2016

When I first began working in interior design, my boss advised me that no room was complete without an element of marble. While this could be interpreted in the more obvious ways—a kitchen countertop, a bathroom basin, a garden sculpture—she always veered toward using it in an unconventional manner, like furniture.

Whether we were working in a modern console in a Spanish Colonial entryway or a sculptural stool in the middle of a Craftsman living room, I soon realized how versatile marble could be, seemingly at home in any style of interior.

A marble serving board, available in the Food52 Shop.

Marble first made an appearance in French furniture dating back to the early 1800’s, when the Empire style was prevalent, and has since showed up in interiors ranging from Art Nouveau to Mid-Century Modern. The material is found extensively in countries like Belgium, Greece, France, India, Spain, Italy, and more recently, the U.S.

A shallow marble shelf makes a statement on the wall. Photo by Bresic Whitney

In classical times, only pure white marble was considered worthy, while colored marble was considered impure—a sentiment that to a certain extent can still be seen in trends today, with white Carrara marble dominating the spotlight due to its pristine and modern appearance.

Small marble tables, in two graphic designs. Photo by Caroline McCredie, Arq4Design

These days, many product designers are turning to marble as their medium of choice, inventively sculpting the material into everything from lighting fixtures to seating. After a few decades of synthetic materials invading the housewares industry, there’s no denying the renewed desire for more natural materials in our spaces.

White marble coffee tables. Photo by Bresic Whitney

Personally, I’m always on the lookout for marble accents during my flea market trips, and have picked up a marble piece or two that now serve various uses throughout my home: Some function as side tables, some as plant stands, but all with an incomparable longevity and durability. They’ve become the classic pieces that ground a room while the rest can be interchanged.

The perfect sized side table, in black marble. Photo by Living Edge

As with many aesthetic choices, there are a few downsides when it comes to marble furnishings—for starters, the cost and weight of marble itself. The easiest way to start incorporating it into your interior is through smaller accents (read: try a stool and spare the dining table). It can also be difficult to remove any stains from a marble surface, as natural marble is very porous, so if you’re going to incorporate it into the kitchen or bath be sure the marble is sealed.

More: How best to care for your marble surfaces.

Some classic and some statement-making, below are a few of my favorite marble furnishings of the moment—from floor lamps to console tables and chairs—many from from 1stDibs' enviable stock of antiques.

What are your thoughts on marble—timeless or too much?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Jessica is a Los Angeles based designer and art director whose work aims to balance subtlety, grace, and quiet sophistication. She founded her design studio in 2012, which specializes in refined visuals for emerging lifestyle brands. Building off of her formal interior design training, Jessica imparts her eye for detail and appreciation for simplicity into all facets of her work, including The Elysian Edit, which she launched in 2016 as a way of showcasing the people, places and practices she finds inspiring.