What tile coordinates with a calacatta or carrera marble countertop?

This is actually an email question I received, but I thought it would make a good post. So thank you Carly for the inspiration!

For the purposes of this post, let’s assume you’re using the most standard of marble countertop: carrera or calacatta marble.

First I’d like to go on a tiny bit of a tangent and clear up the misconception that these two marbles are so similar you can design the same way with them. This is not true! While they both involve veining on a white surface, the veining is very, very different between these two famous Italian marbles.

Carerra marble has thin, feathery, but heavily concentrated, linear gray veining which produces a light gray tint. It looks like this:

click image for original source

Calcatta marble has thicker and more roping gray veining. Some species of Calacatta also include brown veining alongside the gray (Calacatta Gold Marble) and some have almost charcoal-black veining. But it most commonly looks like this:

click image for original source

There’s a reason this stuff has never (and will never) be out of style. It’s delicate veining screams opulence and is a true show-stealer. This material looks beautiful in any application: fireplace, bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, front hallway, etc. etc.

When choosing a Carrera marble countertop, keep in mind that you are committing to using gray colors as your neutrals, as the marble almost turns a shade of gray itself. Calacatta marble can coordinate with both cooler tones and warmer tones depending on which species you install.

 That being said, my advice when it comes to these surfaces is to let them shine. Don’t choose a backsplash tile that will attempt to compete for your attention; it’ll never win against these beauties.
I particularly like using the same stone in a smaller size for the backsplash. For instance, using a subway-sized matching stone tile for a more traditional look, or a horizontal staggered stone tile for a contemporary look.

click image for original source

click image for original source

Then again, if you’ve already capped out your budget on those spendy counters, maybe you don’t want to invest in stone backsplash material as well. No one would blame you, we all know marble isn’t cheap.

So then what?

Well, if you’ve been following my blog, you already know I have an (arguably) over-zealous love of subway tile. In addition to all the different ways it can be installed, it’s a lot less stressful on the wallet. Why not use it here as well?

click image for original source

 If none of these options is appealing to you, perhaps you should consider running the counter up the wall as well. This provides a seamless and clean look, and gives you even more square footage to show off that beautiful marble.

However, it should be noted that additional square footage = additional money from the good ol’ pocketbook (or husband’s pocketbook). 

click image for original source

So that is just my humble opinion about coordinating with these busy marbles.

But if you don’t agree with my personal design theory, don’t forget that rules are meant to be broken!

If you are feeling particularly courageous, why not try for a look like this?

click image for original source

 OK, you caught me, that’s not carerra or calacatta marble…but you get the point!

Before I conclude this post and begin re-designing my entire house (again), I should warn you dear readers: marble is not for the faint of heart. 

Before committing to marble in your home, ask yourself, “Am I an over-compulsive perfectionist?” If the answer is anywhere in the realm of “yes”, think long and hard before installing this marble. It requires constant vigilence: frequent sealing, cleaning with a special VIP marble-only cleaner, and God forbid your cat knocks over some wine while you’re away at work…that puppy will stain like you wouldn’t believe.  Many of these imperfections, over time, give the marble a more worn-in look that many people find to actually enhace the beauty of the marble, but if you are a neat-freak, it could potentially drive you crazy.

And now you’ve been warned.

And if you’d like advice on how to incorporate marble into your current kitchen renovation, don’t hesitate to email tiletramp@gmail.com for a free online consultation!


6 Responses to “What tile coordinates with a calacatta or carrera marble countertop?”
  1. I think anything goes, I consider them to be a neutral.

  2. I really appreciate the post I have been visiting your blog for a while now but this is the first time I decided to leave you a comment I will post this on my facebook for others to read I couldn’t find your rss feed, do you have one?

  3. Siv says:

    Kitchen opens to the fam room what would look good on fireplace with the carerra marble tops and backsplash

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] always the same two: calacatta and carrera (if you don’t know the difference between the two, click here for a brief explanation). I’m seeing it most commonly in a subway pattern, but also in longer rectangles. Note, not […]

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