THE HISTORY OF MARBLE IN HOME DESIGN
Updated: May 1, 2019
The use of marble countertops is not a new fad. Marble has been used for both decorative and functional purposes within architectural design for thousands of years. Of course, earliest uses of marble appeared mainly in public, religious, or government buildings due to the great expense and effort to quarry the material.
So how did marble eventually find its way into the home? Where did the idea to make a bathroom vanity top out of marble come from? And why has the use of marble in today’s home design come to be so widespread? A brief tour through marble’s historical use can shed light on each of these questions.
Marble Throughout Interior Design History
Few materials evoke high-end living as simply and effectively as marble. It has been used for some of the world’s most notable structures, from the Pantheon in Rome and the Taj Mahal in Agra to more contemporary buildings, such as London’s Marble Arch and the Peace Monument in Washington DC. Favoured by artists since ancient times, it was in full flower during the Renaissance: Michelangelo’s “David” is just one of the marble sculptures that helped shape the western concept of aesthetics. This artistic and historical heritage has lent the material a considerable degree of cultural power, and it has become a global symbol of refined taste and sophistication.
Initially, marble was used in Greece for major structures like the temple of Olympus, the Theseum, and parts of the Parthenon. Because the process to quarry the stone was long and arduous, the use of the material was not used in the home. It was mainly cut into blocks and used for sculptures, wall facades, and flooring.
The practice to use marble (in connection with other natural stones like granite) began because the original methods of constructing important or symbolic buildings did not provide a long lasting solution. Prior to the use of natural stone, Grecian structures were made of wood. But the Greeks and Romans recognized the durability of natural stone and especially the beauty of marble. As methods for procuring marble improved and the costs and time reduced, marble began to appear within the homes of the Greeks and Romans. However, it was primarily used as a building material in bathrooms and main rooms that were used for conducting business. Marble served as a mark of wealth.
Some of the most famous marble used comes from Italy. The Romans made use of Carrara and Calacatta marble for both sculptures and construction. In homes, rather than using blocks, the marble would be cut into slabs and used as a fascia over a brick and mortar. The Romans considered Carrara marble and Calacatta marble to be the best because of their pure white color.
Marble continued to signify wealth through both the Renaissance and Victorian eras. Considering that there still existed a great degree of difficulty and expense involved in obtaining marble, it still only served as a material to be used in churches, government buildings, and mansions.
Marble Counters Fit Into Any Home
So if the use of marble throughout history had been reserved exclusively for the wealthy, why are marble countertops and floors found in so many homes today?
Vast improvements in technology have made quarrying marble faster and more efficient than ever before. The use of wet cutting with specialized blades and power equipment that can easily transport the stone means a much lower production cost. Even polishing methods greatly reduce the time and effort to create the perfect bathroom vanity top or marble countertop. Because of these advancements, practically anyone can afford to have a beautiful white countertop made of Carrara marble or a Statuario marble counter in the kitchen. And not only is the cost to upgrade to marble countertops manageable, but also the benefits of having a highly durable, impact resistant material in the kitchen and bath gives homeowners a nice return on the investment if the home is ever sold.
At RK Stoneworks, we use different importers with over 2,000 different colors of natural stone, including various types of marble and granite. We are sure to have the style of marble to fit any budget. You don’t have to be rich anymore to enjoy the beauty of a super white countertop made out of the finest Italian marble.