Whether it takes the shape of an iconic sculpture such as Michelangelo’s David, or in monumental buildings like the Taj Mahal, marble has long been associated with luxury and decadence. You can see marble in the construction of many religious buildings, sculptures, and cultural landmarks. Travertine, the rough around the edge’s cousin to marble, is rising in popularity due to its more muted tones and is making its way into many interiors of late. But in the battle of the stones, which one will crumble?

What is marble?

Marble is a type of limestone commonly utilized in sculpture and architecture, and forms when exposed to high temperatures and pressures. It is a favored material by sculptors in classical times due to its softness. It was easy to carve and relatively shatter-resistant. Its finish gave sculptures a particularly waxy property, making sculptures appear more lifelike.

You can find many different strains of marble globally. Marble’s appeal further grows thanks to its wide color variety and unique pattern qualities. When mining for marble, impurities in the formation of the mineral in the earth’s crust can result in colorways rending from pure white to red to black as well as unusual patterns or ‘marbling’.

One strain of marble that is quite famous is Carrara. Quite notably, Carrara is popular in England in the creation of fireplaces.

Pros and cons of marble

As stated earlier, marble is a particularly malleable rock which makes it perfect for shaping and sculpture and comes in a variety of colors and patterns that can suit almost any interior decor tastes, and they are very long-lasting. On the other hand, marble can be very expensive to procure. Recently, with sustainability and environmental impact at the forefront of everyone’s minds. It has become more apparent the impact that marble has on the environment. Mining for marble does have a detrimental environmental effect, however, there are emerging designers looking to salvage marble off-cuts to minimize environmental impact, whilst still appreciating the beauty of the illustrious material. Consequently, buying vintage marble items helps to reduce environmental effects, and keeps amazingly designed furniture in circulation to be appreciated into the future.

What is travertine?

Whilst marble’s aesthetics are classical and cool, travertine appears as an alternative sibling with a rougher texture and feel.  With famous quarries in Tivoli and Guidonia Monticello, travertine furniture can often be found of Italian origin. The material also comes as a less costly alternative to marble. It’s an interesting choice for those who are looking to evoke the essence of classical architecture and design, whilst maintaining a modern aesthetic.

Travertine and oak coffee table

Travertine is a type of natural stone that is formed around hot springs. Due to this, travertine’s texture is rougher than marble and very porous.  Travertine also has a variety of color strains, although not ranging as deep and cool as marble. Travertine tends to be in warmer hues such as yellow, orange, pink, and peach.

Travertine side tables

There are many advantages to travertine. It is lower costs in comparison to marble, and it has a uniquely textural and aesthetic difference that could appeal to more modern design tastes. It is also a much greener alternative to marble and even porcelain. On the other hand, travertine is a lot more fragile than marble because of its texture. Also, if travertine is not finished in a gloss or buffed, the surface can be susceptible to wear, so it does require more maintenance and care.

Both marble and travertine have extensive histories being used in classical artwork and interior design. Whichever material you opt for, you’re guaranteed to have an interior that can evoke a sense of grandeur and luxury, be that in the architecture, flooring, or the furnishings such as tables and countertops

This is probably one of our most-asked questions ever so I thought it deserved its own blog post. We design and make and install lots and lots of kitchens every week, many of them have real marble worktops and many of them have a man-made material such as Silestone for the worktop. Of course, there are pros and there are cons to both options, but we have to admit that for us, nothing quite compares to the real, natural thing. I hope this blog will help you decide if it’s the one for you too!! A few of the good bits, a few of the not so good bits, and lots of photos so you can compare the look of real and man-made surfaces.

Shiny polished Carrara marble in the very cool Clapham Kitchen, natural materials just felt right in this room.

Although a fairly soft stone, marble is a strong, hard-wearing, and very tough material that can take a great deal of use. Marble has been used for both decorative and functional purposes for thousands and thousands of years, popular all over the world, in particular the Mediterranean, to build temples and other religious structures, huge government buildings, statues, and eventually it made its way into almost every home too… yet these days people still worry it may not be suitable for a worktop or a sink!! Marble became an abundant and surprisingly economic material, not to mention a completely beautiful one too. Oh, and if you’re wondering what marble actually is, then here’s a short definition – Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.


It’s true, you will have to live with the little nuances that come with marble, knocks,, and scratches and etching, you’ll need to allow the surface to really settle in. If you spill a glass of red wine, you’ll need to be sure to wipe it up straight away to avoid any lasting damage, you’ll need to be a little more aware of the surface you’re dealing with or just be happy to let it go if you notice a mark or spot. We love things with soul, things that change and age and get better, things that take on the character, rather than things that simply get tatty or just go out of fashion. And if the last few thousand years are anything to go by… marble will be cool and beautiful and a good idea forever.

Honed Carrara marble created a practical and very good-looking splashback in the Islington Townhouse Kitchen

Of course, everyone is different, the style of your homes and your requirements, desires,, and expectations are different and when you’re spending a lot of money on a new kitchen you want to feel like you’re making a sensible and practical decision for you and your future. Some people like everything to be just so, perfect, they like glistening and shiny and easy to care for surfaces that never change and need no extra special care or attention, just spill things on them and wipe them clean. That seems very sensible and logical too. If you’re the type who just can’t bear to see a stain on your new work surface then we’d definitely recommend you explore a few man-made options, companies such as Silestone and Caesarstone are a great place to start.

So, when we’re talking about man-made stone worktops, we’re talking about the natural material quartz that has added chemicals, resins,, and pigments to make it into a hard-wearing, non-porous material for your kitchen. There are many different brands that make their own version of a man-made quartz-based worktop, just like the two I mentioned above. Typically, a man-made quartz worktop will be made up of about 90% natural quartz and the rest will be unnatural products… there is often confusion about whether these are natural surfaces – to put it simply, they’re not. These types of worktops are extremely durable, stain-resistant,, and easy to care for. We’ve chosen a mix of ‘Lagoon’ and ‘Helix’ Silestone for our Shaker showroom at Cotes Mill; these surfaces look beautiful and it’s nice to able to show our customers a different look to our usual marble or wooden worktops.


I guess this is a personal thing, what do you prefer aesthetically? but if I was designing my dream kitchen it would always feature real marble, maybe classic Carrara or my new favorite, Arabescato… either way, there’d be marble and lots of it!! Its smooth finish feels cold and expensive and oh so luxurious and although you can get pretty close, I think its beauty is unmatched and impossible to totally replicate. I guess I’m the kind of person who would choose something for its beauty and not just for its function. Oh,, and if you’re into cooking and baking, a marble top is a must – the cool surface is ideal for rolling doughs and fresh batches of pasta with minimal sticking!!


It’s becoming more important to us all to look after our world and not be wasteful or throwaway. Some worktops are much more sustainable than others but they certainly all have their pros and cons, it’s always sensible to do your research. Think about where you are sourcing your worktops from, if you can get a material locally then that’s a good option, if you can go for a plastic-free material then try your best to do so, if you can upcycle or reuse then it’s worth a thought. There are often debates about the sustainability of marble – it is of course non-renewable and the extraction process uses a lot of energy, and supplies will eventually run out depending on demand. But it is also a natural material, therefore it is recyclable and will also last for a very long time. If you are the kind of person who enjoys using natural materials in your home then it’s an option to consider… we always enjoy seeing people choose the best materials to furnish their houses, knowing that they will age well and be enjoyed for many years. When you do up a property, you’re adding style and value to your home, so it really is worth seeking out quality as it will repay you in so many ways in the future.


I thought this might be a helpful one to throw-in at the end just in case you’re in this predicament!! If you do decide to have marble, you will need to choose between a shiny ‘polished’ finish or a much more matt ‘honed’ finish. Similar to most things in this blog, there’s not a simple answer, sorry!!! Firstly, you might have a preference aesthetically – polished is a little more luxe and glamorous, honed is a little more understated. I’ll help you with the benefits of going for polished first… polishing the surface of your marble adds a layer of protection, so for things like red wine spills, the substance is less likely to completely penetrate and stain the surface if it’s polished compared to honed.

A honed finish is slightly better at hiding scratches, but these will still be visible no matter the finish you choose. With acidic substances like lemon juice or vinegar, a honed finish will hold up slightly better. If you spill lemon juice on a polished marble it will cause etchings and ultimately take away the shiny effect, leaving a slightly matt patch.


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