While you won’t see us giving marble the boot anytime soon, we’ve got eyes for a hot new hunk in town: travertine! Equal parts sophisticated, decadent and cool, travertine has been racking up some serious snaps as of late from notable names such as fashion designer Ulla Johnson and Cali cool girl Jenni Kayne. While travertine’s main modus operandi remains flooring, we’ll show you how it can be a serious slam dunk in the furnishings department as well.


What is Travertine?

First things first; travertine has been in use for a looong time. So long, in fact, it makes a starring appearance in the exterior of the Roman Colosseum. Travertine is actually a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs, which accounts for its tonal color and lumpy, bumpy surface (usually polished to a radiant sheen for furniture). As recently as the 1980s, Italy was the only known location with travertines quarries—hence the reason you’ll notice the Italians make some mean travertine furniture. Today, quarries are in operation all over the globe, including Turkey, Iran, and Mexico.

Series of small, square pedestal marble coffee tables with brightly colored vases.
Photo by Eron Rauch / Design by Black Lacquer Design

Embrace The Travertine Table Trend

Travertine has a certain heft and gravitas (perhaps explaining why travertine was such a roaring sensation in the bigger-is-better 80s), making it an ideal material for coffee tables and side tables. One of the most iconic table designs rendered in travertine was Mario Bellini’s Il Colonnato dining table for Cassina, which combined a daringly thin tabletop hoisted atop a cluster of chunky travertine columns, and continues to be the epitome of chic. A warm-hued alternative to most marbles, today travertine coffee table and side tables are popping up in stylish abodes everywhere.

Try Travertine For Lighting

Be it modern or neoclassical, travertine lamps run the gamut, meaning there’s an option to satisfy everyone’s style preference. Among the most iconic travertine lighting styles are the Philippe Barbier for Maison Barbier lamps. A Frenchman with ravishing taste, Philippe Barbier created a line of curvy orb and plinth based lamps in the the 1960s and 70s that collectors today clamor for. Since travertine is a soft stone, it can easily be sculpted and chiseled with striking, and room-enhancing, details.

Marble table with gold, brass, and marble trinkets including starburst sculpture, oversized dice, and a gold egg.

Add A Travertine Accessory (Or Four)

If you’re looking to buck up a room without breaking a sweat, travertine accessories are a total bingo. Usher in a mood of elegance with a polished travertine box from a maker like Maitland-Smith, or underscore a more minimalist, modernist tone with a duo of tumble-finished bookends or a chunky bowl. Or opt for one of Fratelli Mannelli’s iconic animal bookends and objects. Originally imported to the U.S. by Raymor, Fratelli Mannelli animals strike the perfect balance between charming and cuckoo-bananas!

Let’s Talk Travertine Color

While the creamy color of traditional travertine may still get top billing, new international sources for this yummy stone have resulted in a whole new ballgame color-wise. From dark, plummy purples to peachy corals and vampy reds, travertine is no one-trick pony anymore when it comes to color.

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Lead photo by Eric Piasecki / OTTO / Interiors by BAMO

December 28, 2020

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