Dynamic new British company, Fox Marble, has been excavating new quarries in Kosovo and Macedonia, an unexpected source for world-class marble. The industry flourished for millennia, the quality fine enough to satisfy the temple builders of Ancient Rome, but lying dormant for decades.
Fox Marble is regenerating a formerly troubled, newly-independent region, encouraging investment and economic stability. It owns the quarries and processing factory, an advantage for professional designers and developers to keep prices lower than competitors’, maximise efficiency and cut out time-wasting middlemen.
This exotic red and white marble bathroom was fitted by a skilled craftsman, but the design and concept came from the owners themselves, an entrepreneur and Business Executive, who decided to build a sympathetic extension to accommodate their three children.
The house is a five-bedroom 1930s detached villa in a secluded Hertfordshire village. The floorplan for the extension is almost twice the original size, with plans to build a swimming pool.
They had basked in scented bathhouses (hammams) on frequent travels to Turkey and the Balkans, longing to recreate a Turkish experience in their own home.
Jon Mitchell of Fox Marble describes the project: “The challenge was how to fit the homeowners’ vision into a 3.7 x 3m modern box without it looking over-ornate. The result was, in design terms, quite a lot simpler than a typical hammam, but the stone and the colour, for us, captured the spirit of the inspiration.”
The owners described how they were attracted to the idea of using an exclusive stone from somewhere they knew. They wanted to use stone that might have been available to the region’s original hammam builders to give the project a real sense of coherence.
Top-to-toe marble in such a relatively small space could have looked excessive but the clever choice of colour, a rich tone to highlight part of the floor and around the door frames, with a more subdued grey with white on the walls and the remainder of the floor, created a striking but not overwhelming aesthetic.
The room required .15m² of Breccia Paradisea and 75m² of Alexandrian white. It was purchased as industry-standard 2cm-thick stone slab with a polished finish.
It was essential to commission a craftsman exceptionally skilled in cutting, fitting and installing marble. The homeowners worked with Bekim Derguti of Natural Stones Production. The master craftsman and his team took three weeks to complete the project.
The main lighting consists of 15 standard LED spots augmented by a simple double light over the sink and two windows. The one area where they went for a little more mood lighting was in and around the shower which has an illuminated step as well as internal LEDs.
Much of the room was bespoke. Cupboards and shelves were built by a local carpenter and the shower cubicle was also bespoke.
The homeowners added: “We commissioned the extension with solid concrete foundations, so the weight of stone was never going to be a problem. The stone from Fox Marble worked well with the planned underfloor heating.
“It was really only the use of the marble as a material and the traditional combination of colours, which echo early ideas of a hammam. But, just as it did for the Ottomans, it feels right for our bathroom, it is clean, luxurious and yet functional.”