When designing a high-end, custom interior space, choosing unique and unexpected materials can really help create a one-of-a-kind look and feel. From rare natural stones to innovative composites, some more unusual options add drama, luxury and interest. Here are 10 interesting interior materials to consider for your next upscale project.

Natural Stone

Natural stone offers unmatched beauty and luxury for residential and commercial interiors. While granite and marble are popular choices, consider some rarer natural stones to really make your space stand out:


Travertine is a form of limestone with a distinctive honeycomb-like texture formed by small cavities and holes. Quarried in Italy and other parts of the world, this elegant stone comes in warm beige, tan and cream colors. Its natural holes and texture provide visual depth and interest. Travertine is often used for floors, walls, countertops and backsplashes.


Onyx is a stunningly beautiful natural stone with distinctive translucent bands of color. While white onyx is most common, it also occurs in shades of brown, yellow, red and green. Polished onyx has a smooth, velvety look. Use backlit onyx to dramatic effect on walls or as window panels. As it is relatively soft, limit use to wall surfaces and decor items.


For a high-end look, consider using quartzite for kitchen and bathroom countertops or flooring. This natural metamorphic stone has an appearance similar to marble but is harder and more durable. It occurs in shades of white, gray, pink, brown and gold. Quartzite’s shimmering natural texture and crystalline flecks add luxury and visual interest.


A naturally occurring volcanic glass, obsidian has a beautiful black color with a glossy shine. As it fractures conchoidally, meaning the edges are curved, it has an elegant, curved sculptural look when used decoratively. Use black obsidian tiles or panels as an accent wall or backsplash. Obsidian is also made into decorative bowls, vases, mirrors and sculpture.

Reclaimed & Sustainable Materials

Using reclaimed or sustainable interior materials is an eco-friendly choice that also provides a unique, custom look. Consider using:

Reclaimed Wood

Using reclaimed wood adds warmth and a rustic sense of history to a space. Salvaged from old barns, factories, wine casks and more, the wood has a worn, weathered look that new wood can’t replicate. Use it on floors, walls, ceilings, furniture and decor items. Hardwoods like oak and maple have the most decorative grain.


Reclaimed industrial concrete can be repurposed as countertops or made into bowls, furniture and decor items. For a textural look, use concrete with the wood grain of the formwork still visible. Concrete adds cool, contemporary style and the imperfections add custom character.


Sustainably harvested from the bark of cork oak trees, cork is a natural material that is antibacterial and sound-absorbing. Use sheets of cork on walls or ceilings to add visual warmth and a tactile surface. Cork floors are also an eco-friendly option, available in a variety of natural patterns and colors.


For flooring, paneling and furniture, bamboo offers sustainability along with a clean, contemporary style. Bamboo grows rapidly and is easily replenished. Ideal for warm, natural interiors, bamboo varies from light to caramel-hued. Use wide planks for drama or narrow strips for a more traditional look.

Recycled Leather, Glass & Metal

Using recycled and repurposed leather, glass and metal also brings environmental friendliness and custom style. Available from salvage yards and craftspeople who upcycle these materials into wall tiles, countertops, furniture and design objects. Their imperfections and signs of previous use add uniqueness.

Textural & Multi-Media Surfaces

Mixing media creates eye-catching accent walls or surfaces. Combining the visual and tactile qualities of different materials makes for one-of-a-kind designs.

Concrete + Wood

Pairing the clean, utilitarian look of concrete with warm, natural wood results in high contrast and interest. Use wood inlays in custom concrete countertops or combine wood accent walls with concrete floors. The natural grain and knots of the wood complement concrete’s unnatural uniformity.

Tile + Recycled Glass

Incorporating recycled glass fragments or tiles into ceramic or stone tiles creates surfaces that sparkle with color and light. Use recycled glass tile accents, full mosaic murals or mix glass and traditional tiles on backsplashes and walls. Available in many colors and varieties, it adds a jeweled, kaleidoscopic effect.

Metal + Stone

The pairing of stone’s earthy texture with the sleek industrial look of metal makes for an edgy, artful combination. Try a mosaic panel combining metal tiles, metallic tiles and cut stone tile pieces as a focal point. Or use metallic finishes like zinc or patinated copper sheet metal along with stone.

Leather + Wood

Leather adds a luxurious, tactile accent on walls, cabinets and furniture when combined with wood. Use leather tile inserts along with wood paneling, or cover a wall with sustainable leather wallpaper. Old leather suitcases stacked on wooden shelves make artistic display storage.

Advanced Composites & Resins

Some newer interior surfacing materials take customization to the next level. Advanced composites, resins and polymers allow for completely unique designs.


Clear cast resin can be used to create one-of-a-kind countertops, art, wall panels, floors and furniture surfaces when combined with embedded objects. Encapsulating natural items, photos, fabrics, coins or beads suspended in the clear resin creates visual depth. Shimmering metallic or colored tints can also be added to the resin.


A composite of marble or glass chips set in concrete-like binder and then polished, modern terrazzo offers limitless design options. Available in any color and able to include custom objects like seashells or grasses, terrazzo brings contemporary style and artistry to floor and wall surfaces.

Paper Composite

Made from layers of paper and resin molded under heat and pressure, paper composite panels can be used like wood. However, translucent white or colored paper panels have their own unique, minimalist style perfect for modern interiors. Use for wall cladding, cabinets, built-ins and shelves.

Fiber Cement Board

Fiber cement board offers design versatility for interior and exterior walls and cladding. Layers of natural fibers like sisal or abaca combined with minerals make panels that are mold and fire resistant yet easily worked and finished. Often used to achieve a stucco look, fiber cement is extremely durable.

Unconventional Textiles & Rug Materials

Rethink interior textiles with more unusual fabrics and rug materials that provide warmth and texture with artisanal flair.


Wool rugs and upholstery fabrics lend natural luxury and comfort. Seek out hand-woven wool styles or Alpaca and Llama wool for added uniqueness. Wool area rugs can also be custom cut-to-order in any size and shape from offcut scraps for zero waste.

Jute & Sisal

Made from natural fibers, sisal and jute rugs have rustic texture and interesting natural color variations. Both durable and sustainable, they work in casual to formal settings and can be bleached or dyed in many colors. For custom appeal, use irregularly shaped area rugs.


Leather upholstery and area rugs lend softness along with tailored style. Look for woven leather rugs made of smaller pieces in patchwork designs. Recycled leather lends eco-friendly custom style too. Leather wall hangings also make great sound-absorbing acoustic panels.

Natural Fibers

Seagrass, banana silk, bamboo – area rugs and wall hangings made of natural fibers add textural, earthy style. Custom options like hand-knotted banana silk rugs support fair trade artisans as well. Abaca and water hyacinth are other eco-friendly choices.

Synthetic & Recycled

For the modern interior, rugs of Nylon, polyester and recycled PET fibers offer durability and easy care along with lots of possibilities for vibrant colors, patterns and textures. Custom-sized rugs can use less material while offering versatility.

Unique Wood Flooring

Wood remains a sought-after flooring choice that instantly warms up any interior. To stand out from the crowd, look to more distinctive species, finishes and laying patterns.

Wide Plank Black Walnut

Prized for cabinets and furniture, American Black Walnut wood has a rich brown color and flowing grain patterns. Using wide planks shows off the wood’s beauty. A natural oil finish enhances the variation in color and grain. The contrast of dark floors with white walls is crisp and elegant.

Whitewashed Oak

Applying a bleached, whitewashed finish to red or white oak boards lightens up the wood while allowing the grain and knots to show through. The distressed look pairs well with many styles from modern to rustic. Use extra-wide planks for full effect.

Chevron & Herringbone Patterns

Wood planks laid in chevron, herringbone or geometric patterns make a bold style statement. The custom layout draws the eye and creates visual interest underfoot. Choose a distinctively grained wood like hickory or bamboo and combine with plain borders.

Reclaimed Barnwood

Salvaged old barn siding repurposed as flooring has unmatched character. The worn patina, nail holes, stains and personal history of reclaimed barnwood creates vintage appeal. Random widths emphasize the hand-crafted uniqueness.

Statement Medallions

Custom wood medallions inlaid into flooring add artistic emphasis and focus. Medallions can be solid wood or mosaic designs made from contrasting woods. Work with a designer to create a symbol, monogram or artistic accent that personalizes the space.

Creative Ceiling Options

Luxury interiors draw the eye up by installing special ceiling elements or using upscale finish materials on this often overlooked surface.

Wood Beams & Planks

Exposed solid wood beams, installed decoratively or structurally, lend architectural appeal. Douglas fir timbers or reclaimed oak boards create visual warmth. For drama, choose beamed cathedral ceilings or a coffered square pattern.

Metallic Tiles

Intricate patterns of embossed tin ceiling tiles reflect light in a soft, warm way that flat paint can’t match. Antiqued, variegated metal tiles offer old-world character. For contemporary spaces, opt for more minimalist perforated metal tiles.

Natural Stone

Natural stone on a ceiling never fails to impress. Travertine, limestone or marble mosaic tiles bring luxury. For a showstopping statement, install a few select stone ledger panels over other finishes. Alternately, use stone to frame other ceiling design elements.


Custom artwork makes the ceiling anything but boring. Paint a stylized mural or use faux painting techniques like trompe l’oeil for artistic drama. For textural richness, embed relief items like thick molding or dimensional shapes into the design.


Glass used overhead makes ceilings disappear and fills rooms with light. Try translucent colored or patterned glass panels. Or install backlit glass tiles and glass mosaic accents to create ambience and interest at night.

Accent Materials

Combining fine woods, ornate moldings, metal leaf, mother of pearl inlay and lacquered finishes elevates ceilings to a work of art. Decorative ceiling elements anchor and complete the room’s overall custom style.


Unexpected fabrics like velvet, embroidered silk, leather and tapestries add softness overhead. Use pleated fabric sails or swaths of bold patterns. Install fabric as removable panels to easily change the look.

Architectural Wall Panels

Dimensional wall panels layered over basic drywall provide display space and visual drama. From ornate traditional to sleek contemporary, specialty panels customize and enhance high-end spaces.

Wood Paneling

The warmth of wood paneling imparts elegance. The rich grain and luster of woods like walnut, teak or mahogany never go out of style. Arrange decorative wood panels on one focal wall or use textured wood plank walls floor to ceiling for rustic ambience.

3D & Extension Panels

Cantilevered wood panels that extend out from the wall make shelving and display space while creating modern dimension and angles. Suspended or backlit wall panels also add floating architectural interest.

Glass Block

Glass block panels diffuse soft lighting into a space while partitioning rooms or adding privacy. Use clear blocks or colored glass for rich ambience. Try custom patterns like waves, diagonal designs or medallions for window panels and accent walls.


Limestone, travertine or marble panels and thin veneers applied to walls provide natural texture and luxury. Bookmatch stone veneers create mirror image patterns. Use stone to frame doorways and mantels too.

Metal Panels & Sheet Goods

Perforated and embossed metal sheets, commonly in brass, copper and stainless steel, impart contemporary edge. Try hammered metal panels or corrugated metal to accent furniture and walls.

Leather & Hair-on Hide

For dramatic accent walls, leather and hair-on-hide panels add texture and unusual rustic style. Patchwork panels of recycled leather or varied hides create modern natural interest. Use metal studs to create tufted hide designs.

High-Impact Kitchen & Bath Surfaces

Make kitchen and bath areas focal points by using materials creatively on cabinets, walls and fixtures. Unexpected use of materials in wet areas really makes them stand out.

Stone Furniture

Massive slabs of honed granite, marble or quartzite used as kitchen islands bring sculpture-like beauty. A live edge wood tabletop set on a stone base makes a natural mix. Stone bathtubs, vanities and unusual vessel sinks become art.

Geometric & Colorful Backsplashes

Eye-catching backsplashes and wrap-around mosaics boost the design. Combine porcelain, glass, metal and stone tiles in colorful geometric layouts. Use special shapes like hexagons and chevrons to create patterns. Vary gloss and matte finishes.

Dramatic Marble Veining

For natural beauty, detailed brown, grey and white marble veining has depth and elegance. Use bookmatched marble slabs with mirror image patterns on islands, countertops, walls and flooring to highlight the stone’s sweeping graphics.

Wood Cabinets

Warm, grained wood instantly elevates kitchen style. Use unstained rift-cut oak, maple burl or American black walnut for ultra-luxury custom cabinets. Glass front accent cabinets display collections while breaking up wood tones.

Textured Metallic Tiles

Hammered copper, embossed brass, galvanized metal and textured zinc wall and backsplash tiles reflect and bounce light around in an organic, shimmery way. Add modern shine and movement with metal.

Salvaged & Upcycled Objects

Create one-of-a-kind focal points using reclaimed or upcycled materials. Turn old window frames or barnwood into cabinet facing. Use castoff items like vintage lenses and farm implements decoratively.

In Summary

Designing and building a high-end, customized interior space offers limitless possibilities for using innovative, unexpected and rare materials to dramatic stylish effect. Get inspired browsing salvage yards and specialty reclamation stores. Consult designers, artists, makers and installers about how to creatively use these materials for maximum visual impact and appeal. With careful sourcing and selection, uncommon materials provide the final flourish to any unique living space, resulting in interiors that wow.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Here are some common questions about using unusual materials in high-end interior design:

How do I source reclaimed or rare interior materials?

Check architectural salvage stores, antique dealers specializing in decor, and online sites like Craigslist and eBay. Use keywords like “reclaimed,” “vintage”, “architectural salvage” or the specific material type. Also contact stone suppliers, tile companies and custom fabricators about sourcing special order materials.

What expertise is needed to work with unusual materials?

Some uncommon materials require specialized skills for fabrication and installation. Consult designers or tradespeople experienced with that type of material. For example, resin art requires proper mixing, pouring and curing methods. Hiring a studio that specializes in resin will ensure success.

Which materials work best in high moisture areas?

Natural stones like granite, marble and travertine hold up best in kitchens and baths, along with ceramic, porcelain or glass tile. Many metal finishes are impervious to water if properly sealed. Avoid using unprotected reclaimed and antique woods in wet areas. Always check material specifications.

How can I use reclaimed materials but still meet code?

Consult an architect, engineer or permit office to determine what materials can be used structurally vs decoratively. Some need reinforcement to be construction-grade. Fire codes also apply. Much can be repurposed decoratively if not used for load-bearing walls, floor structure, etc.

What are realistic budgets for high-end, custom materials?

Costs vary widely, but in general, full-slab natural stone, commercial-grade wood flooring, and extensive hand-done details raise prices exponentially. Have a large contingency budgeted for unforeseen costs and on-site modifications too.

What level of variation should I expect in natural materials?

Imperfections like cracks, fossils, veining and color differences should be expected when using genuine stone and wood. Some materials are more uniform in appearance than others. If perfection is preferred, look at porcelain, laminates, composites and other manufactured materials.


When designed thoughtfully, high-end spaces integrating reclaimed, natural and state-of-the-art materials make lasting impressions and become signature