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
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.
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.