Home Improvement

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

better homes & gardens

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

better homes & gardens

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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Renovation Respect

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Matt and I are in the process of buying a fixer right now and there is a Story To Be Told about that which I shall save for a later date when it’s all finalized. As a result, our conversation in the evenings over a glass of wine has turned to all things related to tile removal, drywall, electrical work, and plumbing. Romantic isn’t it? I think so.

I’m collecting all kinds of inspiration on the subject and I spied this amazing home renovation over the weekend, it took the owners three years to complete their labor of love. I’m not sure which issue of Country Living this appeared in, I’m a subscriber but I must have missed it in print. It’s one of the most impressive before and afters I’ve seen in a long time, taking this Mississippi historical home from ramshackle to radiant.

country living house before

country living home after

 

 

foyer before

foyer after

 

 

attic before

boys room red and white quilts

 

Read the full renovation story and see more pictures from the transformation here !

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10 Kitchen Trends Here to Stay

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

*First a quick note to all of you in the wake of the winter storm in other parts of the country, I’ve read the temps are crazy and the wind chill dangerous, please be safe, stay warm, take care of yourselves!

I have kitchens on my mind a lot these days and I’m pinning dozens as I round up ideas for the future and of all the spaces in a home, kitchens prove the most challenging because the cabinet, tile, and surface choices are far more permanent.

The kitchen is where we cook and bake, and spend time with family and friends. It must stand up to daily wear and tear, moisture, heat, and the march of time when it comes to design trends. In the past few years, many trends are proving they have staying power, here’s a glance at ten looks that are defining modern kitchen design.

Open Shelving.  This bistro style has surged in popularity over the past few years and while many have questioned whether it’s timeless (including me) it’s a look that so many of us embrace now and ranks high on many a homeowner’s list as an opportunity to showcase pretty dishes or glass containers within easy reach.

open shelves in kitchen bhg

open shelving wood countertops country living

 

open shelving brick backdrop

open shelving summer thornton

better homes & gardens / country livingurban grace interiors / summer thornton

 

Two Color Cabinetry.  It used to be two separate colors between the island and surrounding cabinets, but now the two color cabinetry look is different. Now the two tone look is above and below. Choosing lighter cabinets above gives the illusion of less weight while the darker color on the base cabinets feels grounded. This is a modern and stylish way to mix tones, and one way to give an older single color kitchen a new look.

bhg two color cabinets

 

two color cabinets bhg

 

black lowers white uppers in kitchen

better homes & gardens / better homes & gardens / chatelaine

     

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