Design Solution

Kitchen Countertop Options: Pros + Cons

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

We’ve been doing a lot of research lately on countertops since the fixer we’re buying has 25 year old Formica tops in the kitchen which will need replaced – more details on the house coming soon! Seven years ago when we were choosing countertops for our own kitchen I exhausted myself researching all the choices that were on the market and finally settled on a marble countertop + wood on the island combo. I’ve never regretted it, I’ve loved those choices ever since. But seven years have passed and much has changed in the world of kitchen countertops.

We have other kinds of countertops in our home, white laminate in the laundry room, wood in the hall bathroom, and modern cultured marble in the master bathroom. All have performed well based on our expectations (images here). Innovation is inevitable, trends come and go, so the decision as to which countertop to choose in a kitchen remodel requires much consideration. Let’s start with a classic favorite.

Marble

Marble will never go out of style so for the price you pay, you do get the “timeless” label with the investment. Always elegant, it complements both Old World and modern kitchens equally; for bakers it’s a favorite, no surface is better for pies and pastries.

marble kitchen countertops

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Properly sealed marble cleans up easily with a mild cleanser and cloth. Marble can stain so it must be sealed, and since it’s softer than granite, it can chip easily (we’ve suffered several small chips around our kitchen sink).

emprador marble kitchen countertops

christopher gaona

Any acidic food like citrus can etch the surface or leave white stains. There are two varieties of gray and white Italian marble that are similar in appearance, both milky white with gray veining, and they are Carrara and Calacatta. Carrara has more delicate, lighter veining; Calacatta is a rarer, pricier stone and has bolder more defined strokes, yet both are a desirable luxury stone. Calacatta Gold and Crema Marfil marbles have brown or gold veins and offer homeowners warmer tones. Prices vary between $40 and $250 per square foot based on the type of marble chosen.

 

Wood

Wood countertops are having a moment in the spotlight right now with butcher block being so affordable from sources like IKEA and many bloggers installing natural and stained versions in their kitchens. Wood countertops are higher maintenance than stone, they require sealing with various natural products like beeswax or mineral oil, or waterproof varnishes like Waterlox.

bhg wood kitchen island countertop

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Wood countertops cannot withstand heat which requires the consistent use of hot pads or trivets. Water spills or rings can leave permanent marks if moisture is left too long, but they have classic appeal and add a warmth that no other countertop can compete with, especially in traditional, craftsman, or cottage style homes.

 

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Formula for a Fabulous Foyer

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

I love to answer reader emails especially when there’s a takeaway for others. Today’s comes from Kari:  “Hey Kate, we have a new single story house with a blank wall in the entry and I’d like it to be functional and welcoming but really nice looking too. Do you have any ideas on where to start?”

Sure do Kari! The entry is an opportunity to make a first impression so embrace it, but also make sure it works for you. There are a few no fail formulas for styling a fabulous foyer, here are some to consider.

The first is the console table + statement mirror combination. Most console tables are shallow so they will take up less square footage in an entry. They also provide a horizontal surface to place keys and mail and what we all really want: a pretty vignette.

ornate white mirror gray console bhg

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black console and mirror abby weiss

 abby wolf weiss interiors

table and mirror in entry

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striped wall sunburst mirror muse interiors

muse interiors

rustic console in entry bhg

better homes & gardens

  

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The Return of the Eat In Kitchen

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

It seems everything comes full circle in design, and another place we’re seeing it happening is in the heart of the kitchen. Decades ago, the eat in kitchen with the dining table set in the middle of the space was commonplace, but over time and with our desire for more storage, it was replaced in many kitchens by an island.

In kitchen design we’re gravitating toward a more open feel, evidenced by the replacement of upper cabinets with bistro style shelving in many a remodel. Now it seems the weightier island is getting some serious competition from the lighter leggier table.

eat in kitchen styleathome

style at home

We rented a small furnished house while we renovated our home seven years ago and while we lived there we enjoyed its eat in kitchen. It had a pedestal table partnered with a trio of chairs (plus a high chair at the time!). It was small but it was perfect for us, we only needed to take a few steps to place the meal to the table instead of the back and forth into a separate dining space. It was cozy, casual, and it worked.

While we rented, we used the adjacent room which was “supposed to be” a formal dining room as a home office/playroom instead. We kept the toys and the laptop in that same spot away from the kitchen and the setup worked perfectly for how we were living with tiny tots.

mod breakfast nook bhg

better homes & gardens

   

How true is it that when we entertain everyone ends up in the kitchen? It’s the hub and where all the action is happening, so placing a dining table in the center of the space invites everyone to “come on in”. Benches and a rustic table lend a casual air where food and conversation take priority over formality.

elle decor eat in kitchen

elle decor

Acknowledging that the kitchen truly is a gathering space is much of the rationale behind the dine in kitchen. Kids can pull out their homework while a parent preps the meal, or guests can sit and relax or help chop vegetables while they visit with the cook. The chairs are comfortable, the table multitasks.

eat in kitchen jute interiors

jute interiors

 

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