I design lots and lots of kitchens. The counter top is, of course, a key element in the design concept because, if you are selecting a slab, that choice is “limited” by what is available at the stone yard. I say “limited” with quotes because if you have ever been to a stone yard, you will know that the choices are vast, and at the same time very specific to what the earth has created in one long-ago moment in time. One might think that marble is marble and granite is granite. No. There are varieties and swirls and details that seem to be as limitless as snowflakes. It is literally an awesome concept to fathom that they can bring these beauties out of the ground and ultimately place them in your kitchen. Kitchen cabinet stores have some generic samples of granite to select from, but I highly recommend going the step farther to the stone yard. Your world will change.
When I design kitchens, I work out a general color and style scheme with my client, and then we go shopping for the slab. Secretly, I know that all bets are off. When we find something that we love, that is where the direction can change…. radically. The image above is exactly an example of such an occurrence. I went shopping with clients yesterday, and had a dark surface in mind, maybe even a solid Caesarstone. Look what happened! Love was the air.
Here are some things you need to know about countertop options:
Marble: It is the most porous surface, so you need to be careful about the application. (The lighter the stone, the more porous it is.) I have used marble in kitchens and I always caution my clients about coffee and red wine. You have to either be really careful, or not care so much; either is fine with me. The Italians and Greeks have been using marble for centuries, so I say go for it.
Caesarstone and Silestone: These are manufactured products made from crushed limestone and resin. They can look remarkably like marble and granite. The advantage with the whiter colors is that this material is not porous and will resist stains. They also come in fantastic colors and solids, so if you want that look, this is the product for you. I use it a ton, both for counters and for back splashes.
Granite: Well, everyone knows granite, so here is what the dictionary says: a very hard natural igneous rock formation of visibly crystalline texture formed essentially of quartz and orthoclase or microcline and used especially for building and for monuments.
And: unyielding firmness or endurance!
Corian: It is made from a mixture of some natural products with plastic or polymers. It creates a durable yet fairly soft material that is used for countertops. It comes in great colors, and is especially useful in certain applications because you can build the sink and counter out of it for a completely integrated look. It can get a burn if you set a very hot pan on it, but this can be sanded out and restored. I have used Corian in bathrooms mostly.
Laminate: Don’t laugh. The laminate of today is not your Mother’s laminate of yesterday. I absolutely love using laminate in all sorts of applications including kitchens and my designed furniture. Yes, it ultimately does not hold up like a stone, of course. But there are thousands of great choices and it is great if you are on a super budget. Be open to rejecting your negative psychological references to the past or your Mother’s kitchen counter….this is a wonderful option. Mom would be proud of you!