10 Earthy Finishes to Collect for an Upscale Aesthetic

By Kate Riley May 15, 2024

If you’ve ever closely examined the displays in high end homes, you’ll notice the statement accessories quite often are earthy, organic, and in all likelihood, expensive. Designers know there are certain materials that create an upscale aesthetic, and they come from materials that have existed for millennia.

Our beautiful earth is the source for unique collectible pieces that are attractive displayed on shelves or tables because of their one of kind shapes and organic textures. No modern plastics or recently harvested wood can compete.

Search 1st Dibs and you’ll find vintage versions for a higher price point. Retailers like Restoration Hardware, Anthropologie, CB2 and others stock decorative objects composed of these rarer materials, but you can also find this luxury look for less at places like World Market or HomeGoods. I’m often scouring their shelves for an earth sourced accent because the texture or shape is eye-catching on display.

Below are ten finishes (with a definition of the material) that elevate your decorative displays around the home.

1. Alabaster

A soft sedimentary semi transparent rock made of gypsum.

octagonal box / pillar candleholders

tear drop candle holders

 

2. Bone Inlay

Intricate or hand carved pieces of bone or shell embedded in a surface to create alluring patterns.

bone inlay table

side tablerounded bench

 

 

3. Horn

Polished or lacquered veneer from the horns of sheep, bull, or buffalo sourced from across the globe.

 

cylinder vase / organic bowl

horn tray

 

 

4. Petrified Wood

Fossilized wood buried in sediment replaced by mineral deposits.

pair of bookends / cube sculpture

slab serving trays

 

 

5. Travertine

A form of limestone deposit found around mineral springs, this durable stone is often used for flooring or backsplashes, but is also be fabricated into sculptural objects as well.

pedestal tray / travertine candle

travertine spheres

 

6. Onyx

A silicate material with parallel bands of chalcedony in alternating colors.

table lamp / trivet

cream canoe / curved bowl

 

 

7. Mother of Pearl

A composite material that some mollusks produce as an inner layer of their shells called nacre used for decorative purposes.

wall mirror / set of boxes

footed shell catchall

 

8. Marble

Metamorphic rock consisting of carbonate materials that has recrystallized under intense heat and temperature.

bowl on brass stand / marble votives

black bowls

 

9. Agate

Semiprecious stone consisting of concentric color banding caused by iron oxide minerals formed in volcanic rock.

  bookends / side table

semiprecious agate catchall

 

 

10. Quartz

In its organic state, quartz is an abundant hard mineral composed of silica known to have healing properties. In manmade form, it’s ground and combined with resins and polymers to make countertop slabs.

natural quartz catchall / sphere on tripod

crystal shelf ornament /

 

Which of these materials have you collected for your displays?

2 comments

  1. This is so true. I never thought about it. I have brass, marble, wood, agate, and stone.

  2. Absolutely love this list of earthy finishes! Incorporating materials like alabaster, petrified wood, and travertine can truly elevate the elegance of any space. These natural elements not only add texture and interest but also bring a timeless, upscale vibe to your decor. Thanks for the inspiration, Kate! I’ll definitely be on the lookout for some unique pieces to add to my collection. For anyone looking to add a touch of luxury to their home, these suggestions are a must-read!

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