When designing a room, or a house, from the ground up, the biggest challenge is making decisions. Especially when every decision you make impacts the other decisions you make, so that it’s nearly impossible to make just one decision and move on to the next thing. What it really goes like is something like this:
“So, what kind of countertop material do we want for the kitchen?”
Well… that depends. What’s the sink? What’s the tile? Should we make the counters more of a statement? Well that depends on if the backsplash is going to be bold or not. What about finish – should we have it honed or polished? Should we do a different top for the island than the rest of the counters?
But there was one question above all of them that was the most important to us: What’s going to be beautiful and low maintenance?
The initial materials that I was drawn to were concrete, wood, quartz, or a natural stone (like marble or soapstone).
Concrete done well, like above, can be soft and lovely. But it has to be paired with the right atmosphere and accents in order to not instantly feel cold, modern or overly architectural. For our space, I was worried about there being SO much of it. Our island is pretty large! On top of that, we were using all new materials (no amazing vintage wood island here) so that was a concern as well.
We considered a combination situation where the countertops would be concrete and the backsplash and island would be marble, but that just added more cost, and I wasn’t sure I’d love it forever. On top of it, the style didn’t feel 100% appropriate to our home, which was built in the 1920’s. While even now I still love the idea of it, the reality was that it wasn’t the right fit.
Wood or butcher block was also a strong contender for the countertops. I was a little worried about maintenance, but I don’t mind the way wood looks when it gets worn and broken in. We really wanted to bring more wood elements into the kitchen to make it cozy, so this seemed like a great option.
Mostly, we considered wood on just the island, but by this time had already decided that the island would be a dark grey while the rest of the cabinets were a creamy white. This meant that the island itself would be dark grey with wood while the rest of the cabinetry would be white with quartz or marble. That felt really disjointed to me, and I was worried about our massive island feeling really heavy. So we nixed the wood.
So, then it came down to the usual suspects: marble, quartz, soapstone… and I immediately knew that quartz would be the winner. We had previously used it in our kitchen at the office and after seeing first hand the way it stood up to dinner parties, I was confident it would hold up to any beating it took in our own home. Because it’s a manmade product, it’s way more tough than marble or soapstone would be. And it’s sealed to resist stains.
Not to totally backtrack, but after our initial conversations with Cosentino, we were also introduced to another brand in their family, Dekton. These surfaces are also manmade and insanely strong and even weather resistant (so if you’re doing an outdoor kitchen, you should know about this option!). You can see in the chart above that Dekton even makes two styles that look like concrete and wood. Which of course, put me back at square one with decisions for a hot second. But then I went back to all the reasons that we didn’t choose concrete and wood from an aesthetic perspective, and I pulled myself back into focus on the quartz options.
The first question was, what color? Should we do all white, or add in a little drama with dark grey tones like the kitchen above? This was an option we seriously considered. I liked the idea of the darker quartz grounding the countertop areas, with a lighter quartz on the island. But, c’mon guys, who are we kidding? I LOVE WHITE. Taking the mixed quartz approach would have changed the space completely because there is not a single touch of dark grey or black in the entire kitchen. Appliances excluded, of course. It definitely would have changed the backsplash we chose, and the lighting. So I went with my gut and finally decided on all white quartz – and I haven’t looked back since.
Out of all the white options that Silestone offers, I like ‘Statuario‘ and ‘Snowy Ibiza‘ a lot, but decided on ‘Lagoon‘ for the countertops, backsplash and island. It has just enough veining to be interesting, but not enough to be distracting when shooting blog recipes. It also wasn’t SUPER white, which I liked.
You can see from the image above (yes, that’s a sneak peek at the finished product!) that we went with a super simple square cut for the edging of the countertops to keep things clean and a bit more on the modern side. And if you want to get really technical, you’ll notice that the thickness of the countertop is 3cm and the backsplash is 2cm.
I am practicing the most insane amount of restraint in not showing you any more of the kitchen prior to our big reveal, but just wait until you see how bright and airy it all is with all the white!!