Just Ask A Designer: Kitchen Countertops


Q. I am preparing to replace my kitchen’s tile countertop with either granite or quartz. I am struggling with the appropriate color of the new countertop and specifically whether to go dark for contrast or light for a seamless look.  I have white cabinets and light colored flooring.  Are there any design hints you can share on how to think about this big decision? Thanks for your expert opinion!  Jill

PicMonkey Collage4 A. It is a big decision selecting the countertop for your kitchen, one that will have a huge impact on the overall design aesthetic you are creating. Based on the information Jill sent in there are several directions she could go in, lets start with exploring the options including the pros and cons of each.

Granite- Probably the stone I specify the most based on the variations in color, pattern, price point and durability. With white cabinets you can go with light or dark granite, it is a personal preference. I have been over the moon recently for honed (not shiny) black granite shown in the first image. This look works with light or dark floors and creates a design aesthetic that combines cottage and farmhouse influences. Left, white granite for a monochromatic look that is a more durable alternative to Carrara Marble. Kashmir white granite has a warmer hue but keeps the look light and airy with some horizontal movement if you are looking for subtle contrast to the cabinets.



Marble- Stunning and classic requiring slightly more maintenance and care than granite but worth the effort in my opinion. For my clients that want a true Carrara look there really is no substitute. Shown above in a thick slab for a real wow factor but typically specified in thinner slabs. Marble is porous and can stain easily, I recommend taking extra precautions when preparing meals and more frequent sealing. Sealing sounds intimating but it is actually a simple process; purchase marble sealant and a sponge, wipe the sealant onto the surface and allow it dry thoroughly, I recommend over night.


Soap Stone- One of my favorite choices when a client is looking for a darker color and interesting material. Looks similar to honed black granite but certain slabs can have some veining adding another element of character and charm.

PicMonkey Collage

Quartz- A manufactured natural stone, I often use CaesarStone or SileStone based on the color and texture I am after, their quality is equal. Quartz countertops are virtually indestructible and the look is consistent. When you select a natural stone you need to select the slab because each slab can vary greatly. With a manufactured product like quartz what you see is what you get. The negative is that it is more expensive than most granite and marble, I like using it in bathrooms.


Concrete- Pictured above is a concrete countertop, it is such an interesting option that can be easily combined with granite in the same space. I use it mainly on kitchen islands to change up the look and add some character.


Wood- I like to use wood on islands for warmth especially when I cannot fit a dining table in the kitchen. I stray away from it on the countertops because of wear and mold concerns but love the look and use it sparingly.


When choosing countertops for your kitchen consider first the look you are after, then decide if dark or light stone fits this aesthetic best. Once you have made those decisions it’s on to which type of material you are going to use based on style, function and your budget. Don’t be intimidated when your contractor sends you to the stone yard to select your slab if you are going with natural stone. There are actually very few slabs that you will like for your kitchen and the right choice will stand out. For more tips on kitchen design and a step by step guide to designing your dream kitchen read more here.


Image {1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9}


  • Jill Jones

    Cathy – Thanks so much for responding to my question! What a pleasant surprise to open my inbox this morning to your blog post with this priceless information. Your response described the countertop material and color selection process clearly and methodically. After reading through your advice and examining the pictures, for a seamless look, my plan is to go with granite in a lighter color. Now, I need to get out there and see what’s available in my area. Thanks again for providing a framework for this big decision, Cathy. Jill

    • http://adoreyourplace.com/ Cathy from Adore Your Place

      I’m so glad it was helpful Jill, Kashmir White granite is very pretty and more readily available. Let me know how it comes out. XO

  • Tracey Ayton-Edwards

    I have black granite counter tops and it looks good but unfortunately you can see every crumb on it, even when you wipe it, sometimes you get streak marks so then you have to wipe it again!!! I would love to have marble but again you have to be so careful.

    • http://adoreyourplace.com/ Cathy from Adore Your Place

      Tracey wondering if they are honed or shiny?

  • Tracey Ayton-Edwards

    Hi Cathy, they’re shiny bit I think I would go honed whether its granite or marble

    • http://adoreyourplace.com/ Cathy from Adore Your Place

      Thanks for letting me know Tracey, mine are neutral granite and it hides everything which is good and bad LOL

  • Megan

    Thanks for including an image from one of our design projects Cathy! :) We love your blog.


    • http://adoreyourplace.com/ Cathy from Adore Your Place

      Hi Megan I am a huge fan of your work, my pleasure :)

  • Kate

    Lots of options, great information. We’re about to do our countertops, so this was timely.

    • http://adoreyourplace.com/ Cathy from Adore Your Place

      So happy this was helpful :)

  • Mary in Phx

    Thanks for all the great ideas above. We have 16-in autumn slate floors throughout and open floor plan. I am trying to stick to a creamy/taupe/accents of worn gray scheme. I envision a nice 3-in slab of light creamy tan or taupy countertop on white or off-white cabinets —- the muted colors work well and bring out the softness and lithgt tones in the floor stone. I don’t want concrete and marble is too cold and fights with the dull floors. Would you receommend a light granite (prefer Pyrolvava but cannot get a large enough sample to make a reasonable decision). Caesarstone doesn’t have the right color. Hone black granite too dark with my floors? Too black-white contrasty with the french farmhouse look? Wud love your thots!

  • http://www.createacurb.com/ Create A Curb LLC

    It looks
    awesome! I love it, thanks for posting this.

  • Kelli

    Hi there…. This info is so helpful!! I was wondering if you might know the name/style of the backsplash in the 2nd picture with the Kashmir White Granite Counters and the sink… love love love it! Thank you so much!