The ever-evolving urban home design scene has once again sparked my fascination. I recently toured a newly renovated Brooklyn brownstone, and the onyx-clad shower instantly captivated me with its striking, ink-dark presence. As a designer who gravitates toward bold aesthetics, I became entranced by how the stone’s natural luminosity and mesmerizing patterns commanded attention.
Onyx may seem extravagant, but its innate resilience makes this polished rock a practical option for chic yet durable shower walls. As I dove deeper into research between client projects, I uncovered why design lovers and luxury seekers embrace onyx surfaces to introduce alluring textures into their sanctuaries.
- 1 Understanding Onyx’s Allure
- 2 Why Onyx Shower Walls Work
- 3 Classic to Contemporary: Styling Onyx Showers
- 4 Planning Your Onyx Shower Project
- 5 Executing a Flawless Installation
- 6 Maintaining Your Onyx Stone
- 7 The Takeaway: Dare to Make a Dazzling Statement
Understanding Onyx’s Allure
For those unfamiliar with onyx, this remarkable metamorphic stone emerges when minerals dissolve and re-crystalize under heat and pressure over millions of years. The result? An eye-catching banded appearance in stunning shades of black, white, brown, yellow, red and green.
While onyx is commonly associated with black and white banding, each stone flaunts unique color variations and veining. This is because onyx consists of silicon, calcite, and other minerals that create mesmerizing patterns as they shift and settle during formation.
Beyond its visual depth, onyx boasts a smooth, cool touch. Yet its density grants durability and surprising water resistance, making this translucent surface ideal for steamy, wet environments like showers. Once I learned of its resilience, the designer in me became compelled to explore Onyx further.
Why Onyx Shower Walls Work
Given its hardness and tight crystalline structure, onyx can withstand years of regular use and moisture with minimal impact. Properly sealed and cared for, onyx walls retain a glossy finish without succumbing to stains, cracks, or scratches. This is what sets Onyx apart from more porous stones like marble.
While upfront costs exceed basic tile, onyx delivers significant aesthetic returns that enhance a home’s atmosphere for decades with little maintenance required. Its refinement contributes an elegant, tailored look in every style, from modern, minimalist baths to vintage-inspired spaces rich with ornamentation.
Beyond sheer luxury, an onyx surround adds spa-like tranquility to the daily bathing ritual. Consider lighting the stone from behind to make bands glow like vibrant mineral veins. Or opt for striking contrast by pairing it with wood or concrete. However you incorporate it, an onyx feature wall emanates an irresistible, dynamic energy.
Classic to Contemporary: Styling Onyx Showers
For owners of historic homes or those who appreciate traditional luxuries, classic onyx patterns with white, gray, or gold accenting deliver an ornamental flair. Intricate carving and inlay motifs nod to the stone’s legacy. These ornate shower walls reference grand centuries-old European estates and palaces.
If your tastes tend to be more modern, don’t dismiss Onyx. Sleek, seamless panels in monochromatic dark onyx or vibrant red onyx make stunning contemporary statements. Consider pairing with glass for captivating texture contrast.
Drama With Lighting
While onyx supplies plenty of wow factor, you can amplify its allure by backlighting the surface. Concealed LED lighting throws bands and veining into sharp relief for unforgettable drama. Picture entering your shower enclosure and becoming enveloped by otherworldly glowing stone surrounded by shadows.
Intersperse multiple onyx colors and patterns into your shower wall design for even more visual interest. Combine backlighting with warm accent spotlights trained on specific areas to vary the mesmerizing experience. The lighting possibilities are endless.
While onyx commands attention alone, introducing other textures can provide an alluring contrast and prevent a space from becoming overpowered. Use onyx as an accent wall alongside wood paneling or concrete for smaller bathrooms for an earthy, modern mix. In more extensive showers, combine vertically on opposite walls for balance.
No matter your overall vision, onyx delivers captivating focal points. Its adaptability mingles beautifully with metal, tile, stone, and glass. Don’t be afraid to get creative with shapes, layouts, and pairings tailored precisely to your desires.
Planning Your Onyx Shower Project
Installing onyx requires careful prep and precision. Unless you possess substantial tiling expertise, I strongly recommend hiring professionals to ensure proper layout and seamless execution. However, thoughtful planning still establishes the foundation of success.
Mapping It Out
Measure your entire shower area carefully, considering plumbing, shelves, niches, and any obstacles. Based on these measurements, meticulously map out slab placement before finalizing plans. Decide on color patterns and finishes. Will you alternate slab direction for visual interest? Determine the ideal grout width.
Account for any outlet positioning, considering potential backlighting. Also, think ahead for future flexibility; if you later update the showerhead, will the onyx panel arrangement limit options?
Selecting Your Stone
Once you have defined your layout, choose the perfect onyx slabs. Color and pattern set the tone. Do you prefer bold contrast or subtle accents? Look for specimens without cracks or defects that compromise durability. Determine the necessary sizes and thickness. Slabs should exceed the width of your planned grout lines.
Don’t overlook the importance of finishing. I suggest a honed or leathered surface instead of high-gloss polish for shower walls, as the slightly dulled patina provides better traction. However, polish certainly provides a glamorous sheen.
Complementing Fixtures & Features
Even stunning onyx walls need functional, harmonious fixtures. For cohesion, select metal finishes that match the onyx for the showerhead, handles, spouts, and drains. Consider functional built-ins like shelves or benches in complementary stone or tile.
Determine if you’ll incorporate soothing steam, sharp rainfall heads, or both. Body jets can transform washing into a rejuvenating spa session. Ensure water pressure aligns with the onyx panel size to prevent flooding and leaks.
Executing a Flawless Installation
Once you’ve set the plans, it’s gone time! Carefully follow each critical step professional tilers take for stunning results. Rushing through risks irreparable damage, so patience prevails. Expect the process to take up to a week.
Pre-check Prep Steps
Before installation, tilers thoroughly inspect the shower area. They use a level checker to ensure the surface is sloped correctly for drainage. They confirm that corners form precise 90-degree angles. Walls must sit wholly flush and plumb. Before proceeding, tilers address any underlying issues.
Next, completely clean the space. Remove old caulk, adhesive, or grout residue. Eliminate soap scum, dirt, and oils so the onyx slabs adhere tightly.
Apply waterproofing membranes to surround surfaces as an extra leakage prevention measure. Allow all prep layers to fully cure before attaching the stone.
Handle With Care
Always wear clean gloves when handling onyx to prevent the transfer of oils from your skin. Carry slabs vertically on the edge to avoid dangerous cracking, and set them down gently.
Use plastic spacers between slabs during setting to ensure even spacing for grout lines and prevent shifting. Carefully tap each piece firmly into the thin-set adhesive using a rubber mallet and wooden block.
Check alignment frequently using levels and measurements to guarantee proper positioning. Allow the adhesive to fully cure before grouting.
Grout fills the seams between adjacent pieces, securing sections together and sealing the shower from moisture damage. For a cohesive aesthetic, select a color that complements the onyx stones.
Always follow the manufacturer’s mixing directions. Apply grout between the slabs using a float, firmly pressing into crevices. Wipe away excess grout with minimal moisture, and allow the grout to dry for one to two days.
Finally, run a flexible sealant or caulk between all joints where the onyx meets surrounding shower surfaces. Smooth away any globs for clean lines, and let the sealant or caulk cure completely.
Maintaining Your Onyx Stone
With proper care, onyx will retain its magnificent appearance for decades before needing resurfacing. Follow these fundamental maintenance steps and avoid common cleaning pitfalls.
Gentle Daily Regimen
I advise wiping down onyx walls after each shower using a tiny amount of pH-balanced soap and warm water. Limit moisture contact time by immediately drying with a microfiber cloth. Periodically mix mild, non-acidic cleaner into your wash routine to prevent buildup.
Every week or two, give walls a more profound clean using soft nylon brushes and onyx-safe cleaning paste to remove grime deposits and soap scum missed with basic wiping. Always thoroughly rinse residues.
Caution With Chemicals
While regular gentle scrubbing preserves onyx walls, avoid damaging chemicals. Never use acidic solutions like vinegar or lemon, which erode mineral stones. Scouring powders also gradually rub the surface. And think twice regarding Magic Erasers—the melamine foam is too abrasive for everyday use.
Maintain With Sealing
Applying sealant protects onyx pores from liquid and stain intrusion without altering appearance. Reseal annually in low-use spaces or every six months for frequently used showers. Newly installed Onyx should get an initial sealant layer once fully cured.
Over time, honed onyx finishes can develop a patina from exposure. Restore sheen and safeguard against discoloration with occasional re-polishing every few years. This requires professional equipment to refresh without wearing down the surface.
The Takeaway: Dare to Make a Dazzling Statement
Ultimately, indulging in Onyx’s exotic elegance or bold contrast uplifts a daily routine into a memorable escape that feels uniquely yours. If the cost gives you pause, remember that this resilient material graces bathrooms for generations, making it a worthwhile investment in your home’s future.
For design lovers willing to do the legwork, an onyx feature wall infuses spaces with irresistible charisma and a lively spirit. Its glamorous luminosity stuns while promoting restorative calm.
Indeed, striking onyx surrounds demonstrate peak refinement. But adventurous aesthetes shouldn’t hesitate to get creative by mixing other textures. Mountain stone, concrete, and reclaimed wood mingle beautifully. Your imagination is the only limit. Atop your mood board should perch inspirational photos of the world’s most fabulous tiled walls throughout history.
So whether modern or neoclassical, rustic or avant-garde, consider this enthralling metamorphic stone if a statement shower rings your chic bell. Soon, you’ll discover why onyx is used for entrances; its dynamic splendor must be seen firsthand. Dare to give this glitzy rock star a spin in your urban oasis and unlock its high-design magic!