Beauty of Stone: Honed Travertine — a high-end, contemporary house material

First Picture Jag and House
Travertine was used throughout this contemporary home.


Sanjay Kitchen
The kitchen

Travertine comes in many varieties, sizes and finishes. Usually I use a honed finish because it is smooth, flat and easily maintained. Travertine comes in tiles and slabs. I use more travertine tiles than travertine slabs. Enjoy the photos of my travertine masterpieces that I made for Sanjay Soli and Sharon McConnville.

Travertine has voids on the face that are filled with resin and sanded smooth at the factory. I am very selective and discriminate in choosing what tiles are to be used – I stay away from using a lot of filled pieces!

Master bath bench.
Master bath bench
Master bath shower.
Master bath shower
Master bath shower pan
Master bath shower pan
Master bath.
Master bath
Bath corner.
Bath corner
Master bath entry.
Master bath entry
Master bath dressing room.
Master bath dressing room
Guest bath.
Guest bath

The color of travertine is usually nice creams, beiges, light grays, some reds and browns, some gold and yellow – beiges. Beautiful!

Once you find the colored travertine you want, at the price that you’re comfortable with, you find the sizes that are available. The rule of thumb in stone tiles is: the larger the tiles, the better quality the face. However, I think rectangular pieces in a running-bond pattern looks better than a square grid pattern. So, I cut squares in half and set them in a brick pattern (offset or running bond). I can make a huge floor or walls look amazing! I do Flat Work, leaving each piece one at a time; laying out every piece to look great before I set it. For example: I don’t want two plain pieces next to each other or two actively wild pieces next to each other – I lay the floor out like an even tweed.

Kitchen floor.
Kitchen floor

I find the layout of the floor or wall for centers and for elevations before setting. When I am finished setting, everything is flat (hopefully level for a floor and plumb for a wall). I use 1/8” spaces for joints so that I can use sanded grout, which is better for wear and tear. I seal the travertine with 511 Impregnator before I grout and after I grout (days later after the grout dries thoroughly).

I prefer to buy most of my stone from Meta Marble in South Seattle by the Seattle Design Center. The prices, material selection and the people who represent Meta Marble make the design and material purchasing quite an enjoyable experience. They have a huge in-stock material selection in house.

Have fun and make your best travertine masterpiece! Remember, prep work is as important as setting. Take your time and do it right! Be proud and successful – you own it!

Bath floor and toilet.
Bath floor and toilet.
Bath floor and step
Bath floor and step
Bath floor
Two photos of the bath floor

Sharon Bath Floor 2

— By Jeff Sellen

Jeff Sellen is an artist, designer and a master stone mason. His website is here. You can reach him at or at 425-444-5754.


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