Our modern obsession with all things marble can be traced back to ancient Rome. Over the centuries, the sturdy material has stood by our side, supporting iconic structures and serving as the base for sophisticated bathrooms. From Carrara to Calacatta (and every variety in between), marble has left a lasting impression on history and our homes. But a new stone is out to rock its very foundation to the core.
Meet onyx: marble’s edgier (and sexier) older cousin. Often confused with agate—a similar gemstone that’s also formed from layered bands of chalcedony—onyx has long been a source of respite for the superstitious who swear by its protective qualities. While traditionally used on a small scale for creating jewelry, the material is entering the home in a big way, thanks to a handful of interior architects and designers. Famed French design studio Liaigre has found itself at the forefront of this movement.
Alongside Dutch architects Powerhouse Company, Liaigre recently transformed a Munich home into an avant-garde masterpiece complete with a green onyx bar. With the exception of a dark floating shelf, the veiny panels envelop every surface. The studio opted for a more dramatic treatment in the master bathroom by taking the stone up to the ceiling. Suffice it to say that the second we saw this sultry retreat, we were green with envy.
Although onyx shares many characteristics with marble, it has a richness and soul to it that its heavy counterpart can often lack. Ahead, discover three colorful alternatives for the bathroom, backsplash, and beyond. Plus, little ways to steal the look on a budget.
There’s a reason everyone has been hanging eucalyptus bundles in the shower—green feels good in the bathroom. On a much larger scale, the calming hue exudes a sense of restfulness. The wave-like movement of this stone’s alluring veins makes it a perfect pick for an accent wall. Though, that’s not to say every room can’t be a little more zen.
Introduce your new obsession to dinner party guests as they settle down with their drinks. The raw edges of these coasters beautifully complement the hand-cut stone.
If you still prefer the look of onyx’s free-spirited sibling, agate, consider serving the evening’s hors d’oeuvres on this ornate tray. With its grainy snow-white and gray quartz center, it looks ready to beckon another ice age.
Boasting a refreshing dose of darker notes, this catchall bowl is all about contrast. Park it on the entryway table as a statement catchall for keys and personal belongings or use it as a nest for accessories on the bedroom dresser.
What better way to warm up a cool slab of stone than with a hit of hot pink? While we’ve seen pink onyx grace the surfaces of bathroom sinks (the women’s restroom at Annabel’s Mayfair Club in London is a playful example), designers and makers are turning up the temperature by applying it to furniture and decor.
This aspirational chair by Quebec-based studio Claste combines rose-tinted onyx and clear glass for a transcendent look. It might not be as inviting to sink into as your Eames lounger, but it sure is a feast for the eyes.
Soap dishes are easily the most underrated bathroom accessory. This sculptural, hand-polished pick is one unexpected way to stop your bar from slipping and sliding around the sink.
While Baxter’s medium-size onyx table holds its own ground, the luxe piece can act as a second layer to a low-sitting coffee table.
We’re not telling you to give up on marble entirely. Crafted from onyx and Carrara marble, this handmade dish is proof that the best of both worlds exists.
The Earth Tones
Of course, Mother Earth’s greatest gift for the home doesn’t just come in punchy pinks and minty greens. In fact, onyx often puts its best foot forward when its sourced from the ground in scorched yellows, muddled browns, and lustrous taupes.
Swimming in coffee-colored swirls, Nomade Atelier’s UÑA table is a tasty example of how this stone can work wonders for contemporary furniture. The tiered slabs, which almost appear to levitate, are sourced and designed in Mexico—the largest onyx producer in the world.
At first glance, it’s hard to peg Carl Kleiner’s block-like vase. Is it a light? Is it a paperweight? Does it hold anything? The slim brass wire that stems from its onyx and marble base is designed to hold a single flower. The minimalist structure can be positioned at different angles to hold blooms in place.
Bath time just got a whole lot sweeter. Pools of caramel-colored whirls set the stage for a curated display of luscious perfumes and precious beauty products.