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Is This the New Marble?

Design by Kelly Wrestler | Photo by The Ingalls | via Yellowtrace

In today’s edition of “Arlyn, I think *this* is a thing now” and Arlyn giving me a kind but deliberate “prove it” look,” I am talking about… travertine. Now, for some reason when I hear that word, I instantly think, “nope. Not for me.” Maybe it’s because it was so overused in the early to mid-2000s? Maybe it’s too beige (and historically not the good kind)? Regardless, I didn’t have a clear enough reason for why I felt this way. In an effort to help me figure out my personal dislike of the material, I took it to the streets. And by streets, I mean, the office. I took a poll at work and asked what was the first thing that came to mind when I said travertine. Words like suburban, McMansion and faux rustic summed up all of the responses. And that was exactly it. So many homes have used it an effort to look “expensive” or to make their new build feel like a “Tuscan villa.” It felt showy and not special…until now. Example A (shown above): The dining table in the new Kelly Wearstler-designed Proper Hotel in Santa Monica, California. Hi beautiful. 😉

2019 design trend
Design by Pampa | Via Sight Unseen

Now this was the first photo (above) I saw that made me think, “huh, is travertine A THING that the cool kids are using now?” The answer over a short period of time became yes. I started seeing it a ton. I dare you to look at an international (definitely Australian) interiors site and not spot some cool travertine moments.

2019 design trend
Design by Golden | Photo by Sharyn Cairns | Via Yellowtrace

What I think has made me ease into kinda loving this “suburban co-opted” stone is that many artists and designers are using it sparingly. Take this incredible console above for instance. It’s not being used everywhere in the home. Just one awesome feature. Even Sarah Sherman Samuel used it for one of her fireplace surrounds in her stunning new home.

2019 design trend
Design by Rodolphe Parente | Photo by Claire Israel | Via Yellowtrace

What I also love that is happening, is that raw/rough travertine is being used as an accent like the walls in this Rodolphe Parente design. Granted, it’s probably not a material for the average person’s home but it really helps to give a very quiet but powerful texture in an already ultra-cool and colorful room.

2019 design trend
Left: Design by Alexis Brown and Elizabeth Roberts | Photo by Floto+Warner | Via Architectural Digest | Right: Design by Ken Fulk and Victor Legorreta | Photo by Douglas Friedman | Via Architectural Digest

No, typically I’m not a huge fan of the whole room look BUT these two beauties are where I say, “hell, yes” to travertine being used in a larger scale. Why? These two bathrooms have a much lighter and softer patterned stone. They look like art that greets you with a polite “hello and yes I know I’m beautiful,” as opposed to, “HEY I’M HERE.”

2019 design trend
Top Right to Left Clockwise: Side Table | Accent TableLight | Objects | Dining Table | Console

If you need more proof that travertine is happening and very cool, feast your eyes on six beautiful photos of products that are on the market. If you are thinking that dining table looks like it’s from Anthropologie…it is and it’s awesome. My favorite, of course, is that heart-stopping side table that I will own once I make millions of dollars. Mark. my. words. I think one of those very chic objects will suffice for now. 🙂

2019 design trend
Design by Groupwork | Photo by Timothy Soar | Via Yellowtrace

So here I leave you with one of the most gorgeous travertine staircases I’ve ever seen. Consider it a mic drop on this conversion.

Expect wait! Just kidding. I’m passing the mic to you. I want to hear your thoughts. Have you always loved travertine and are happy to see its new and improved look? Would you ever use it in your home? Do you think this 2019 design trend has 2020 lasting power? Let’s talk.

Love you, mean it.

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4 years ago

A few years ago we took a big anniversary trip to Rome and splurged on a really really nice 5 star hotel. Travertine is EVERYWHERE in Rome, and unsurprisingly, it covered most of the surfaces of the bathroom. Unfortunately, the whole room had a really strong urine smell. I suspected it was from the difficulty in cleaning the travertine’s nooks and crannies. So … maybe think twice about using this material in the bathroom.

4 years ago
Reply to  JP

Speaking of nooks and crannies, my sister has very large travertine tiles in her home (built in the early 2000s) and all those little craters are TREACHEROUS for little toes. I think you can have them filled with epoxy, though.

4 years ago

I don’t think any material is inherently bad, and these are beautiful examples of travertine. But travertine still has an office/corporate feel to me and does not feel like home.

4 years ago

That staircase is mesmerizing, what a statement – I love it! Here it ends though, I am not a fan
of travertine otherwise and I am gladly bypassing anything that looks remotely like travertine.

Julie P
4 years ago
Reply to  Betty

I’m trapped living in a lovely mid century house that was flipped in the travertine explosion era. It’s lovely here in the Getty Museum color palette, but in a bathroom it’s tough to clean, and on a floor it’s really really hard on your feet. If I could take every single piece of it out I would.

4 years ago

I’m over here giggling. My first thought about travertine was HGTV’s Flip or Flop. Their use of it in suburban beige, in EVERY bathroom & kitchen, is soooo overdone!

4 years ago

It makes me think of the Getty Museum.

4 years ago

Did anyone else imagine falling down those stairs and getting hopelessly caught in the center wires? It’s like a clumsy-person spider web. And where to look first when your dinner guests go missing.

“Marge! Dr Ramos is stuck in the stair web again!”

4 years ago

Love this post! I’m loving the travertine as an accent, as opposed to being plastered all over a room. And that stairway is amazing!!!

4 years ago

In the right context (like all of the above), I’m here for it! I think that as browns make a big comeback, we’ll start to see more travertine as an alternative to the grey/white marbles we’ve been seeing for so long!

4 years ago

YES for travertine…. not only in Rome but anywhere you go in Italy (e.g. Lecce), travertine is literally everywhere.. and I love it as Italy is my fave place to go to on holidays.

4 years ago

Well. I have an old table with two big travertine tile inlays that I was on the fence whether to refinish or donate (it just will NOT sell) – I guess I’m refinishing!

4 years ago

I’m an Aussie and yep, it’s definitely a thing here right now. It reminds me a little too much of the early 2000s but I think it looks amazing in some spaces …

4 years ago

I admit I really struggled with what floor to put in our kitchen when we were renovating (everything but the actual cabinets) and tumbled travertine won out because it truly seemed like the best fit of a stone with our 1916 arts and crafts house . We used a similar hue that was already on all the stone columns of the front and side porch. If I were totally gutting the kitchen I would have ended up with a herringbone or other more contemporary floor, but the travertine just…fit? It also serves double duty being fairly non-slip, since we have a pool and lots of little wet kiddos come into the kitchen.

4 years ago

I like the travertine in these photos but I really hate the travertine floors in my house. They look builder grade and have HUGE grout lines and marks everywhere that they just look dirty — not antique. The upkeep is a PITA too. I can’t wait to replace them. But in the right setting (Italy, minimal design) they could look pretty.

4 years ago

I love how travertine is being used now. I think it’s being selected more consciously by designers and furniture manufacturers. They are ensuring the right veins are exposed and choosing the right slabs. The travertine used in the above photos isn’t comparable to the types selected for those awful 90s countertops and floor. My favour parts of the travertine is those darker specks nestled amongst the veins. Marble is beautiful but there is something about the quiet warm texture of travertine.