Nate Berkus Says We're Overlooking This One Element When Choosing the Perfect Marble for a Kitchen

He urges us to prioritize this particular feature before agonizing over the color or variety of a marble

A split image with a headshot of Nate Berkus looking at the camera and a picture of a kitchen with a marble island
(Image credit: Alamy / Jeremiah Brent Design, 1stDibs)

If I were to choose three qualities that define Nate Berkus' timelessly luxurious aesthetic, they would be earthy neutrals, antique decor, and deep veined marble accents. It's the latter of these that, despite its ubiquity, always stands out as truly unique in Nate's designs, pulling entire spaces together through the stone's contrastive threads. And now he's shared his secret so you can do the same.

In a recent Instagram post, the master of warm minimalism shared a handy tip on how to choose the right marble slab for your kitchen countertop, and it could be the one consideration that makes all the difference to your space. Rather than prioritize the variety or color of the marble, Nate says there's an overlooked quality that should always take precedence. While we always trust Nate's word, we asked the experts to back up his theory, and here's what they had to say.

Nate Berkus' advice for choosing the perfect marble

With so many different variations of marble out there, deciding on the perfect design for your modern kitchen idea is hard enough as it is. Throw in factors like natural vs engineered stone, fluted finishes, or bookmatched slabs, and it soon becomes a minefield. That's why Nate's advice, which hones in on one specific design element, has totally changed our perspective.

'The first question you should ask yourself when you're trying to pick marble for your kitchen is not about color but it's actually about the busyness of the stone - how much veining do you want, or how much energy do you want the stone to have?' he said in a recent Instagram video. 'The stone in our kitchen has a tremendous amount of veining, a tremendous amount of contrast, and a tremendous amount of movement - and that makes a statement. You have to decide if you want something that's a statement or something that blends seamlessly with the rest of the finishes in the space.'

Suddenly, choosing a stone finish becomes so much simpler. If you want a bold, dynamic effect, go for a deep-veined marble with lots of contrast. On the other hand, if you want your kitchen to look delicately minimalist, choose a more gentle design with thinner or lighter veining. Once you've made that decision, the other deciding factors will follow far more easily.

modern kitchen design, featuring marble and curtain skirts

Nate & Jeremiah's kitchen island features dynamic, deep veined marble that makes a serious statement

(Image credit: Jeremiah Brent, Photography: Kelly Marshall)

It might sound obvious, but the marble you choose will all depend on the overall look you're trying to achieve. 'When designing, the busyness of the countertop will determine the choices for the rest of the finishes in the space, so it’s important to have a plan for the whole room at the beginning,' explains Teresa Cannon of Teresa Cannon Design. 'For example, let’s say you intend to do a bright patterned wallpaper. Stone with a smaller vein and less contrast, or even quartz with very little movement at all, will balance the boldness of the wall treatment. But if you are going for the maximalist playful look, you might still consider a countertop with lots of movement and contrast.'

This is something Nate's kitchen does so well. Instead of overwhelming the space with his marble kitchen idea, the deep contrastive stone takes center stage while everything else in the room feels more subdued, allowing the material to sing. 'Most of the other elements in the room, including the appliances, are a smooth cream color that matches perfectly with the stone,' Teresa points out. 'This use of contrast creates a balanced space that feels fresh and light, but still warm and comfortable.'

Our favorite marble accents

According to Teresa, you shouldn't only prioritize the pattern of your marble above the color or variety, but you should make your stone your priority in any remodel and design the rest of your space around it. The problem, she says, is that the average homeowner tends to choose finishes in reverse since contractors ask for selections throughout the project. 'And because the cabinets go in first and kitchen countertops and backsplash last, that’s the order in which the homeowner will be prompted to pick their finishes,' she says.

Instead, Teresa nearly always makes sure the countertop is the first decision she makes when working on a kitchen, bar, or bathroom. 'This is because countertop materials, especially natural stone like marble or granite, are not customizable. Whatever Mother Nature makes is what we have to choose from,' she notes. 'Since there are so many options of cabinets and flooring, and unlimited paint colors, it is much easier to coordinate these things with your countertop slab than the other way around.'

As Nate suggests, your design style should be the deciding factor when choosing a stone. Do you want your marble to look bold and contrastive, or light and delicate? Ultimately, the decision is yours, but a look at this year's kitchen trends might help you decide.

'With regards to 2024 trends, we are seeing white marbles with braver veining coming to the fore,' says Mor Krisher of Caesarstone. 'This past year, we have seen increased sample requests and sales of our white marble-inspired products with bolder veining.' Similar to the marble used in Nate's kitchen, these are likely to be statement stones that wrap up the walls and become the primary talking point within the space.

Get Nate's Kitchen Look

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.