Kitchen Decision #1: Countertops

Now that we’ve made some decisions regarding our layout (see more on that here), the next decision to tackle is that of countertops.  Why countertops?  Well, since the cabinets were staying, the next big thing in the room (at least as we saw it) was our countertop.  And it may have something to do with the fact that I currently HATE our laminate countertops and backsplash (oh yes–that laminate covers lots of square footage in our current kitchen, including the backsplash–ick):

So countertops seemed like a good place to start.  But it was also a hard place to start because there are so many choices: Corian, Granite, Quartz, Butcher Block, etc.  So how did we decide?  Well, I’m not going to lie–price has played a big role in our decision.  Since we’re not doing a complete gut job, I just don’t feel the need to go overboard with the countertops.  Of course, that doesn’t mean I want to go totally cheap and just put laminate in, but I’m also not going to go crazy and put in super expensive counters on top of old cabinets.  Something about that just seemed wrong to me.  Of course, with ~48 square feet of countertop space to cover, I knew that this would be a sizable investment regardless.

Anyways, I immediately knew that I wanted something low maintenance.  I don’t want to have to worry about my countertops (I’m pretty sure I’ll have enough to worry about in the coming years without having to add kitchen countertops to the mix).  So that meant that wood butcher block counters were out of the question–they’re beautiful, but just too much maintenance for me.

My next thought was Corian.  I mean, those kids at YHL always do their research, and that’s what they chose . . .

Image from YHL here.  And it didn’t hurt that some of the Corian was pretty cheap, especially Glacier White (the one the YHL kids used up above).  What was crazy, though, is that a lot of Corian is actually the same price as Granite or Quartz, and since both Granite and Quartz are considered capital improvements (and therefore tax-free in NY), and are also more coveted by future homebuyers, it seems to me like a no-brainer to go with Granite or Quartz, especially if you’re going to use a more expensive Corian option.  Just my two cents.

But since I was digging the whole solid-white countertop thing, the price of the Glacier White Corian was actually pretty appealing to me.  (Both Home Depot and Lowe’s priced their Corian pretty similarly–our countertops in Glacier White would cost ~$2,100.)  Especially when similar white countertops in Quartz were crazy expensive (the Silestone Bianco River that I picked out for my old mood board was quoted at $5,000).

But, I still wanted to do some price shopping and to see what white-like options existed in granite.  Turns out, there’s only a couple: Kashmir White and Bianco Romano.

Here’s the Kashmir White (image from here):

And here’s the Bianco Romano (image from here):

For some reason I thought that all the different granite places in the area would have different stuff than what was at Home Depot and Lowe’s; and I guess if you’re looking for a dark countertop, then maybe they do.  But we went to five different places (in addition to HD and Lowe’s) and for white granite, the options are SUPER limited.  As it turned out, everything I really liked turned out to be marble, and since that’s definitely NOT low-maintenance, there was no way we were going that route.  I did like Kashmir White, though, so I ended up getting quotes from all five places for that.  The quotes ranged from $3,300-$4,300 (crazy that the prices were that different for basically the same thing, huh?).  Oh, and keep in mind that all these quotes include templating and installation.

Okay, so now I was thinking about granite.  But what about Quartz?  Everything I’ve read and researched says that Quartz is the best–it’s completely maintenance-free, it doesn’t scratch, and you can put hot stuff directly onto it (not that I do that, but I guess it’d be nice to know I could).  Granite isn’t quite as maintenance-free–it needs to be sealed, and you have to be careful to not leave smelly stuff on it (like garlic, red wine, etc.) since it can absorb odors.  Yuck.  And having granite before in our Boston condo, I just didn’t like worrying about it.  So Quartz started moving up my list.

But the problem with Quartz?  It’s expensive.  Well, at least I thought it was.  Turns out, just like Corian and Granite, there are lots of price points within the different Quartz options.  Silestone at HD and Lowe’s ranges from $58/sf to $90+/sf.  So I started looking at the Silestone colors in the lower price range, and whaddya’ know?  I actually liked some of them.  In fact, there were three that I really liked: Niebla, Gris Expo, and Marengo.  And with a price of ~$3,200, it seems to me to be the best value for the money.

Some images of the Silestone Niebla in a Spanish kitchen (images from here):

Here’s the Silestone Gris Expo in a laundry room (image from here):

And in a kitchen (image from here):

And here’s the Silestone Marengo in a kitchen (image from here):

They kind of read like concrete, right?  And since I’ve always liked the more industrial look, I’ve been really digging these.  So I got samples.  And brought them home:

From top to bottom: Silestone’s Marengo, Gris Expo, and Niebla.  Oh, and the wood-like sample is the likely flooring we’re going to use (more on that in another post), and the white subway tile is what will likely make up the back splash.

I immediately wasn’t thrilled with the way the Gris Expo looked with the flooring–the flooring has a lot of grey in it, and it was almost too close of a match to the Gris Expo.  But here’s a little one-on-one for ya’ (the water bottle represents our stainless steel appliances):

Niebla:

Gris Expo:

Marengo:

Oh, and since we’re keeping our cooktop (it works great and doesn’t seem to be that old, so why replace it, right?), here are the samples next to that (left to right: Marengo, Gris Expo, Niebla):

So, after reviewing our options, and looking at them during all times of the day and against all objects in the kitchen, we’ve decided to go with the Silestone Niebla.  Here’s another shot that’s a little more close-up so you can get a sense of the direction we’re heading:

So now we just have to order it (which we’re hoping to get done this week–we’re going to order it from Home Depot since they came in with the lowest price quote).  Okay, so now it’s your turn–any feedback?  Do you think we’re crazy?  Do you hate the direction I’m taking this kitchen?  Inquiring minds would like to know . . .

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