Monday, March 22, 2010

Back to the Kitchen

Wow, what a weekend...yes, spring is here! And with that comes the desire to fix up my house. We are back to thinking about our kitchen again.  It's for real this time... my husband started sanding the cabinets!

We've been debating what to do with the kitchen since it may get ripped out if we renovate the whole house. So we're looking at it like this... what would make our kitchen experience better right now? Easy... get rid of the tile counter!  I can't understand why anyone would want a work surface that's uneven with grout joints to clean?!

Unfortunately, it's the only element that would be difficult to reuse if the kitchen gets moved.  But even if we only get a few years out of it... I think it's worth it.  I'm tired of saying, "Someday I'll enjoy cooking when I've got a good work surface!"   So over the weekend I hit the internet for some counter inspiration. We're thinking about gray or black cabinets, so that's where I started...

These cabinets look great with the white Calcutta Gold marble counters.

Lisa Epley Design: Image from Decorpad 

Another beautiful white marble counter with black cabinets... I like that it's thick with minimal veining.

Jeff Lewis Design: Image from Decorpad

We may go with dark lower cabinets and light uppers.  Here the island is in a different material that blends beautifully with the floor.  And another bright counter (looks like I'm leaning towards white!).


We're thinking about subway tile for the back wall since it's economical and would tie into a white counter.  (And we have two boxes sitting in our shed!) Here are nice full walls of subway tile and they've used different colored cabinets.  I would prefer white grout instead of gray to minimize the tile pattern.

Image from Decorpad

These are actually dark brown cabinets, hmmm....

Image from Decorpad 

We're also considering a manufactured stone like Silestone or Caesarstone... which could be considered a 'green' option.  It is easier to maintain and more durable than marble, but mostly I like it for the consistency in color and the potential for a substantial slab edge...

Silestone: Image from Seven Seas

Caesarstone: Image from Re-green

I've read up on marble maintenance issues and found a good discussion on Apartment Therapy.  One other consideration for us is reuse.  If the kitchen does eventually get ripped out and we go with marble, I might cut up the counter for a bathroom vanity or a baking area in the new kitchen (yeah, 'cause I love making pastry?!).

So what do you look for in a kitchen counter?  I'd love to hear what you like and don't like about the material you slave over every day!  Well, at least that's how I feel.


  1. I was attracted to the same look! We looked at Carrera marble for our kitchen (which would have tied in beautifully with a fireplace mantle on the same floor as the kitchen), but we did get scared off by the durability issue. In the end we found a white/gray Quartz -- the lightest naturally occurring Quartz. Different sellers have different names for it: things like "Luce di Luna" or "Natural White". It can vary, though, and be much closer to a light gray; it can also have substantial veining and swirling. Every piece is different. But we found a slab that was mostly quite light (and large enough to do both counters). As far as durability, I think Quartz is kind of a middle ground between marble and granite -- we were able to get the look we wanted with less cost and less worry about how it would hold up And yes, Jen, nice and smooth! We did the counters and the backsplashes in the same material to help open up our small kitchen and make it feel more expansive. We also used white cabinetry and a light oak floor.

  2. Thanks for all the great info! Did you get the quartz from a local stone supplier? I've used Arc Stone in Carlsdat...but looking to see if I can find a company that fabricates too.

  3. Stone Source in Manhattan will fabricate and install; they have a warehouse in Greenpoint where you can pick your slab.

    We got our slab from a supplier in NJ and Atlas Marble and Granite in Newark, NJ did the fabrication and installation. Their pricing was better. I think Atlas also carries a pretty large selection of both natural stone and manmade products.

  4. I'm so glad we chose Carrera marble when we did our kitchen renovation a few years ago. It was sealed when it was installed and that has kept it from getting discoloring stains regardless of what is spilled on it. The one thing that can't be avoided are the slight etching rings and spots that occur anytime something acidic (wine, lemon juice, vinegar, etc.) comes into contact with it. But it's not noticeable unless you look from a certain angle and to me it's just part of the patina process.

  5. Thanks Curt, for your feedback. I'm glad to hear the marble isn't staining... and I agree about the patina process... to me it adds character and a certain timelessness. Manufactured stone may be to precious for me.

  6. Cinthia- It's funny that you mention the gray... when we were talking about what colors we like to wear... you said I always wear gray!

  7. Go marble! Synthetics cannot match its character, depth or feel. 16 million Italian families can't be wrong! Cut through the marketing propaganda and get what you want.

    Great blog by the way. I found you through the comment you left on mine. Thanks!

  8. Thanks Paul, for checking out my blog!

    The only reason I might not go with the marble is that it feels traditional. I love it's character but our home was renovated in the 80's and our current renovations tend toward (for the lack of a better term) 'fresh contemporary'... you can see our style in my post, "Storage Real Estate"

    Thanks again for your comment...and being my first follower!

  9. One of the reasons I love Carerra in particular is that it looks at home in really modern and really traditional settings. It's a rare material that can pull that off. In a modern setting, we use a back mitered edge to make the material seem three or four inches thick. When it's in a traditional setting, we just just a 3cm slab. In both cases, I always specify that it be a honed finish, never glossy.

    I'm going to comb through the rest of your blog later today when I get back from my meetings. I'm looking forward to it!

  10. Stay away from black anything for the counter tops. Ever minute particle shows up - even paper towel "dust" from the roll. The worst is toast crumbs. I am constantly wiping the black marble we got. Stick with the white you are considering. One thing I notice with the marble surface: if a pot slips out of your hands while washing dishes, the edges at the sink get chipped because marble is a soft stone.

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