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7 Unusual, Ultra-Luxe Interior Materials (That Aren't Marble)

February 6, 2017
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When you think of a luxury home, rich textures like marble, glass or silk usually come to mind. Sure, they will always be timelessly luxe, but if you're looking for something exclusive that'll knock everyone out with that instant 'wow' factor, you've got to dig a little deeper.

After all, uniqueness is a form of luxury - and these seven uncommon materials are the new alternatives for a tasteful, discerning space.


7 Unusual, Ultra-Luxe Interior Materials (That Aren't Marble)
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People who love a bit (or a lot) of classy bling to their 'bode.

What Is It?

When you can't afford real gold or even gold foil, brass is your next best option. A metal alloy made from zinc and (2017's hottest metal) copper, brass' uncanny resemblance to the prized substance makes it popular in interiors and furniture for that low-cost, Midas touch.

Aesthetics aside, brass is also highly durable and malleable, and is available in various golden shades, from bronzy to pale yellows.

7 Unusual, Ultra-Luxe Interior Materials (That Aren't Marble)
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Source: Dwell

How To Work It

Well, you never can have too much gold, can you? The same reason stands - brass gorgeously complements all sorts of materials, whether its traditional Peranakan tiles, cement screeds or marble.

7 Unusual, Ultra-Luxe Interior Materials (That Aren't Marble)
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Source: Domino

It even looks good on its own, and if you're looking for a lived-in industrial/vintage look, burnished brass is definitely the way to go.

Expected Damage

Note: These prices are estimates, please check with your supplier for more accurate pricing.

  • Brass sheets (for plating, backsplashes, wall tiling etc.): from $100 / square feet, without metalworking and installation.
  • Doorknobs, cabinetry handles: $5 - $20.
  • Taps, pipes and faucets: $50 - $100.
  • Bigger furniture (e.g. coffee tables): From $500

What Other Homes Are Doing

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With brass accessories anchoring this classic living room space, the homeowner is able to play with various colours, patterns and textures.

Interior Designer: Fifth Avenue Interior
Location: Compassvale Crescent

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A burnished brass shower head brings a hint of industrial edginess to an otherwise pristinely white bathroom.

Interior Designer: The Design Abode
Location: Neil Road


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Avid rock collectors, marble lovers and those who adore vibrant splashes of colour to their homes.

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Source: MyDomaine

What Is It?

Remember those bulky slabs of amethyst that were all the rage in Feng Shui shops? They are back in fashion, guys.

Besides the added perk of bringing good health and luck, minerals like agate and geodes are now used as posh decor accents to put a complex, colourful twist to the marbled effect.

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Source: Murals Wallpaper

How To Work It

Minerals may look pretty, but they are larger-than-life divas that should be adorned sparingly in a space. Because of its distinctive pattern and vibrant colours, agate textures do not go well with other complex-looking materials like marble.

For a sophisticated, cosmic look, keep furniture simple and in solid colours to complement these statement-making components.

7 Unusual, Ultra-Luxe Interior Materials (That Aren't Marble)
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Source: Decoholic

Expected Damage

Mineral interior accents don't come cheap - they are semi-precious stones, after all.

  • Agate stone slabs (for countertops, backsplashes, feature walls): US $100 - 300 / per sqm
  • Small home accessories (coasters and trays): From $50

Balking at its expensive price tag? Don't worry - these cheaper alternatives still bring the same glitz and glam as the actual thing.

  • Agate-inspired wallpaper: Approx. $40 / sqm
  • Agate and mineral poster prints: Less than $100

What Other Homes Are Doing

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The brown colouring of this agate inspired backsplash mimics and blends seamlessly with the wooden countertop's marbling.

Source: Tello Interiors


7 Unusual, Ultra-Luxe Interior Materials (That Aren't Marble)
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Perfect For ...

Bohemian nomads with an Asian flair.

What Is It?

Nothing morbid like the Catacombs - Taking on a cream, almost iridescent sheen, bone inlays are so pretty, you'd easily forget they are animal bones.

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Source: Paige Morse Creative

First originated in India, bone inlays are valued highly for their intricate handiwork; Camel bone is carved, polished and set into resin and wood. Its ornate, tribal looking motifs work great for bohemian interiors. But if you're looking at something modern, designs today also feature bold, simple lines.

How To Work It

Some bone inlays are actually mother-of-pearls in disguise. Match that lustrous finish with a milky, monochromatic palette, or minimal accessories.

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Source: Atkin and Thyme

For a more cosmopolitan look, try pairing it with 2017's trending colour, navy too!

Expected Damage

You get what you pay for; Those tireless man hours translate to higher prices.

  • Small Accessories (End tables): From $500
  • Larger Furniture (Dressers, sideboards): From $1,500

Because of its workmanship, high cost and small supply, the availability of this material hardly extends beyond the odd accessory or furniture.

What Other Homes Are Doing

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A subdued palette of greys and creams allow this bone-inlaid end table to match seamlessly to the modern bedroom decor.

Source: India May


7 Unusual, Ultra-Luxe Interior Materials (That Aren't Marble)
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Those who are obsessed with anything and everything wood. Rustic homebodies.

7 Unusual, Ultra-Luxe Interior Materials (That Aren't Marble)
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Source: Carla Aston

What Is It?

Nothing screams luxury than having a one-of-a-kind slab of timber as the centrepiece. Reclaimed live edges are pieces of wood that retain the original lines of a tree trunk, usually on one or two of its edges.

Rustic and arresting, these live edges are sourced from all sorts of woods, from popular walnuts to gnarly trees like mesquite. And, depending on its size, it can be used as a table top, headboard or even shelving piece.

7 Unusual, Ultra-Luxe Interior Materials (That Aren't Marble)
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Source: Home Edit

How To Work It

There's a whole lot going on in a piece of live edge already - uneven edges, dents and holes and irregular colouring - so it works better in large, airy spaces. Fitting it in a cramped space would risk it looking cluttered.

Neutral colours like white, black or beiges pair well with this material; avoid bright colours with hints of red, that might collide with the warm amber tones of wood.

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Interior Designer: Xprado
Location: Silversea

Expected Damage

We are looking at an entire slice of wood, not compressed sawdust here; Prices run on the slightly higher end compared to other conventional wooden furniture.

  • Shorter slabs (for coffee tables, end tables): From $500
  • Longer pieces (for dining tables, headboards): From $1,500

What Other Homes Are Doing

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This home's black colour scheme frames its elongated live-edge dining table superbly, with warm lights giving the wooden piece a golden, glowing look.

Interior Designer: De Home Studio
Location: Ang Mo Kio

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Wood-on-wood? Definitely luxurious. A master bedroom, completely covered in wooden slates is topped with a regal-looking live-edge headboard.

Interior Designer: AkiHAUS
Location: Oceanfront


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Perfect For ...

Bachelor man pads, city slickers about town.

7 Unusual, Ultra-Luxe Interior Materials (That Aren't Marble)
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Source: Pinterest

What Is It?

Most of us are familiar with leather furniture, but how about faux leather effect walls? Extravagant and elegant, it definitely throws a curveball to your everyday tiles or drywalls. If you're worried about animal killings and funky smells, these wallpapers are also entirely synthetic, so there's none of the guilt.

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Source: Ideal Home

How To Work It

It all depends on the type of colour and finish that you're going for - cow leather, snake leather or crocodile leather effect? Most leathers (faux included) have a sheen to them, so a general rule is to pair these surfaces with something matte, like fabrics or furs to balance things out.

Expected Damage

Faux leathers are commonly half or one-third the price of real leathers, which spells good news for your wallet. However, these wallpapers are still relatively more expensive than your fabric counterparts with prices starting from $50 per meter.

What Other Homes Are Doing:

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Leather wallpapers don't have to look gaudy; Give your usual black walls a luxe twist, like this refined crocodile leather-effect texture.

Source: Pinterest


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Perfect For ...

Urban hipsters looking for the next best option to living in an industrial warehouse.

What Is It?

Think cement screed is too elementary these days? Take your industrial decor to the next level - by throwing some authentic, oxidised metals into the mix.

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Source: Desire To Inspire

It might sound ridiculous to deliberately own rusty furniture, but there's a utilitarian, natural beauty in its worn-in textures. In this case, oxidised metals for interiors are tempered with acids to create an aged effect, then sealed with layers of oil and wax to keep destructive rust from progressing. The end result? An understated piece with a touch of edginess.

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Source: Echlin

How To Work It

The usual dull, matte surface of oxidised metals accompanies well with shiny components like glass, as they provide a contrasting balance. Likewise, its deep, subdued tones carry a masculine slant, and pair gorgeously with other dark tones, like black or browns.

Expected Damage

Oxidising metals to a sustainable condition takes multiple treatments and careful work, which will jack up its price. On the market, custom treated oxidised steel pieces can cost upwards of a few thousand just for kitchen cabinetry.

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Source: How To Spend It

For a cheaper alternative, porcelain tiles that mimic a bronzed oxidised effect are available, starting from as low as $4 - $10 psf. Of course, there's also the DIY route, with metal oxidation kits available at an affordable $10 or so.

What Other Homes Are Doing:

7 Unusual, Ultra-Luxe Interior Materials (That Aren't Marble)
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Want a rusted metal effect with none of the water damage? Replace actual metallics with oxidised-effect tiles, just like this cleverly designed bathroom.

Interior Designer: De Home Studio
Location: Ang Mo Kio


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Practical multi-taskers who value form and function.

What Is It?

Yes, cork used for wine bottles and noticeboards, but much denser. Made from the bark of a cork oak tree, this environmentally friendly and non-toxic material is jam packed with benefits - it's fire resistant, provides natural sound insulation, and is cushioned to the touch

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Source: Domain.au

What's more, cork contains a waterproof substance called suberin, that actually helps to prevent deterioration, growth of mold, bacteria, and dust. Makes you wonder why cork isn't on every homeowner's wish list.

How To Work It

Think of cork as a quirky alternative to wood; It's distinctive sandy grain looks part compressed wood, part rock, making it a great statement in any space. Its sandy, neutral colouring allows it to blend well with most tones, but do avoid matching it with busy-looking textures, like wooden tiling or wallpapers.

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Source: Dezeen

Expected Damage

Surprise, here's some luxury you can definitely get for less.

  • Small furniture (e.g. stools): From $50
  • Floorings, wall coverings: Approx. $10 psf
  • Cork adhesive sheets: From $7/meter

What Other Homes Are Doing

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Large grain cork pieces overlaying a whitewashed brick wall acts as a secondary feature piece and shelving space.

Architect: Studio JP
Location: Dakota Residences

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The best perk about having a cork wall? Being able to pin all sorts of stuff, like clocks, coat hangers and storage boxes for an instant cool factor.

Interior Designer: Linear Space Concepts
Location: Strathmore Avenue


Thinking of putting a unique spin to your luxury dream home? You'll need an experienced interior professional who can bring these ideas to life. Simply drop us a complimentary quote request, and we will match you up with 5 interior designers. All recommendations made by Qanvast will also be covered under our Qanvast Guarantee scheme, up to $50,000.

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