Choosing new kitchen counter tops! Help!
chonnie
December 13, 2012 in Design Dilemma
I really need some feedback on my kitchen. It has maple cabinets and terrible poorly installed laminate counter tops which we would like to replace.

Granite, quartz, and stainless steel are the options. I'm leaning towards stainless steel, but the women in my life feel that it might be too much stainless steel since my appliances are all stainless steel. Maybe it's a "man thing". Also, many people have mentioned the way that stainless ages ... scratches ... but I somehow feel lured by it. Others have mentioned the "resale" question too. Stainless steel is apparently the last choice of many homeowners. Please give me some help. I'd really appreciate it.
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mmilos
As a man, I agree with the women who say don't put in stainless steel counters.
If you did, I think you'd have too much of one finish, light warm woods and stainless steel. Plus, they do scratch easily.

Personally, I would restain your cabinets darker to provide more contrast to the wood floors. Then, I'd go with a light granite or quartz in a gray, beige or white. You need texture and contrast. Granite and quartz will provide the contrast, adding a backsplash tile could help introduce texture.
December 13, 2012 at 9:33am   
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chonnie
Thank you for your feedback. Your ideas are right on trend. I live on the bottom floor of a triplex, and my neighbours on the top floor did exactly like you mentioned, except they changed their wood floors for tile. Being on the ground floor, with less direct sunlight, I'm a bit hesitant on staining the cabinets a dark stain. I guess that I still could go with a lighter granite or quartz all the same. The backsplash is something I've considered too, but I was waiting to see what counter tops I'd decide on.
December 13, 2012 at 10:05am   
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mmilos
One other option to consider is this:

Your floors look like they have some water damage. You might have the hardwood refinished in a darker stain that helps mask the damage. Paint the cabinets white...this would look quite contemporary with the simple shaker style you have. It would also help lighten up the kitchen if concerned it's too dark. Then, do whatever you like for countertops.

I like hardwood floors...they add warmth.
December 13, 2012 at 10:14am   
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kah416
Hi! Nice kitchen! I'd say go with quartz...there's alot of color options and its really durable...and beautiful! I think granite is kind of overdone...plus there are only so many colors to choose from and alot of them are super busy and dark. The good thing is that the color of your cabinets and you SS appliances, plus your beautiful wood floors allow for lots of different color options for your counters! I would suggest something that is not too busy, and not going to be out of style in two years :) Salt and Pepper granite is a good option if you really love granite. Best wishes to you! :)
December 13, 2012 at 10:53am     
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gardenarian
I rather like the laminate you have. Could that be repaired? Perhaps you could use stainless steel on just one area (where the laminate is in really bad shape.)
December 13, 2012 at 11:14am   
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zeitgast
I'd go with soap stone. Great look with those cherry cabinets
December 13, 2012 at 12:47pm   
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PRO
Deborah Butler, Brickwood Builders
Look at Key West Gold granite. Would go nicely with the cabinet and floor color and it is one of the more affordable granites.
December 13, 2012 at 1:31pm   
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chonnie
Thank you everyone. Soap stone is beautiful. A friend of mine in Nova Scotia has it in her summer place. I'll look into the Key West Gold granite. Thanks again to all! I guess stainless is out!
December 13, 2012 at 1:37pm     
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feeny
@chonnie--I went back and found your post! I am biased in favor of soapstone only because we have it, and I do think it would look great with your cabinets, but it is also a bit high on the maintenance issue and not for everyone. But I'm going to be the lone voice putting in a good word for stainless steel countertops, which I love. I can't say anything about how anyone else feels about them, resale, etc. But my cousins (both artists with beautiful taste) put SS counters in their beautiful big renovated kitchen and when I visited I loved them. They always make me feel like I'm in the kitchen of a professional cook. It isn't an accident that SS counters are what's in most professional restaurant kitchens. So don't rule them out entirely unless you find out from a real estate agent that they are a drawback at resale. Granite and quartz are the most popular options at the moment, and I think they are both beautiful.
December 15, 2012 at 10:36am     
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feeny
Okay this is going to sound out of context here to anyone else reading it, but it is a continuation from another thread, responding to chonnie's comments/questions about our kitchen. We splurged on the Wolf range (and love it) partly because we are in our house for possibly the next 20 years (at the very least the next 10-15), so we bought the appliances we really wanted to live with ourselves. Unfortunately, I don't have particularly good pictures of our kitchen. It is very small and hard to get good photo angles that capture the effect, and I think the stove area is the highlight anyway. But there are two more mediocre ones on my Houzz page if you click "Photos".
December 15, 2012 at 11:31am   
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chonnie
Great! Thanks fenny!
December 15, 2012 at 11:44am   
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feeny
But back to your kitchen. I love maple Shaker cabinets (and if the rest of our house hadn't had white trim and white built in cabinets and bookshelves everywhere, I probably would have chosen either maple or natural cherry for our kitchen). I'm posting below some of my favorite maple kitchens on Houzz just to get a sense of what backsplashes and counters look good with the maple tones. I think it makes sense to plan the effect you want as a whole (at least that is what has always worked for me--otherwise you fall in love with one countertop and then fall in love with a tile and then fall in love with a floor material, but they don't end up really going together).
Riverwoods renovation
Kitchen
Rhodes Architecture + Light
Achtenberg Residence 1
Dishwasher Drawer
Achtenberg Residence 2
December 15, 2012 at 11:45am   
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feeny
Okay, so in posting those I noticed a pattern in my preferences. I seem to like either dark counters or stainless steel counters in maple kitchens. Even in the San Francisco kitchen with the lovely mid-tone granite island, they have SS counters everywhere else, and I actually like the SS more than the granite in that photo (though of course I like both). I also have to say I love the off white stacked matte tile backsplash in the bottom photo with the cappuccino maker and the asian-inflected tile backsplash (from Ann Sacks I think) in the close up bottom photo with the vases. That last photo is one of my very favorite backsplash photos on all of Houzz.
December 15, 2012 at 11:47am     
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chonnie
Feeny, I'll check with an agent for sure. Thanks!
December 15, 2012 at 11:51am   
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chonnie
Fenny, I do appreciate the pictures you posted. Maybe I'll go back to my first love. The black does look "sharp" however. Years ago, I knew a couple who had dark brown counter tops and the wife said that she hated them for the upkeep; everything showed up on them. The granite and quartz seem so "busy" to me. The stainless is more "zen".
December 15, 2012 at 11:58am   
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feeny
I think polished black or brown countertops do take some upkeep because everything shows a bit more because of the high gloss (as is also the case with dark wood floors). However, I have to say that the matte finish on our dark soapstone hardly shows anything. The down side is that soapstone needs periodic waxing or oiling (not a bit deal, but not for everyone). But it makes me wonder about matte finish on honed dark granites or other surfaces. Do they show everything? I suspect not as much as polished. But I agree I too prefer less busy, understated countertop patterns, which may also be why I like SS. Most people seem to love the busy patterns of granite, however.
December 15, 2012 at 12:02pm   
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chonnie
Fenny, I'll keep you posted on whatever I decide. I appreciate your comments and insight.
December 15, 2012 at 12:20pm     
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kitasei
Darken the floor, not the cabinets. Change the white outlet cover on the wood to something inconspicuous. Store some of the counter appliances. Consider a stainless backsplash behind the stove to unify it with the hood and lose the plate decorations. I think everything will look better if you achieve a cleaner, almost zen-like look with the cabinets. It needs quieting.
December 15, 2012 at 1:24pm   
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chonnie
Thanks kitasei. The mixmaster is disappearing today. I'll try to get a different outlet cover. The floors will have to be repaired, then darkened a bit as was recommended by someone else previously. I do like the idea of continuing the stainless behind the range.
December 15, 2012 at 2:14pm   
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kitasei
I would also consider painting (or paneling) the white area between the counter backsplash and the upper cabinets. A gray that looks like a natural stone or mortar. Again, with the goal of unifying, simplifying, controlling what you want to pop (as it is, it's the white area and the white outlet that pop). I personally think light is overrated. Dimmers, mood lighting, task lighting, calm colors can be wonderful, even in a kitchen. Light can be appreciated in glints of metal, glass, polished surfaces.. Kitchens are inherently hard to keep free of clutter, They're work spaces. But they're also spaces where you are setting a mood before dinner, or watching the sun come up in the morning. So maybe they shouldn't be the place to flood every nook and cranny with light.
December 15, 2012 at 2:37pm   
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kitasei
To belabor my point just a little further... if you look at your picture, you see that the objects on the counter poke up above the backsplash, creating a jagged skyline or silhouette against the white backdrop. If that area continued the color of the backsplash (which is not far from the color of the appliances) our attention would shift to the lovely wood. Whatever you do, don't put anything on your refrigerator (paper cultch) --- and is that a paper towel holder I see jutting into the scene? There must be a better place for it!
December 15, 2012 at 2:42pm   
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kitasei
What is the empty space next to the microwave? Would a larger microwave fill in the space and give you a more built in look?
December 15, 2012 at 2:44pm   
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PRO
Culpepper Carpets & Interiors, Inc.
Hello Chonnie, I would suggest a gray or black quartz.. It has a lot of sparkle and a slick look that will go very nicely with your cabinets. I would also add a back splash that leans toward contemporary. Perhaps a vertical pattern.
December 15, 2012 at 3:09pm     
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chonnie
Once I get the counters replaced, there will be a one-color backsplash with no edge like the old backsplash has presently. The microwave occupies almost the whole space (picture attached) with a hidden drawer above it. I've added a picture of the mini-island butcher block on wheels which does serve several purposes, one being to hold the paper towels. Perhaps, I'll move the paper towel holder to the other side where the towel ring is, and in that way it will be less visible upon entering. It's funny but I've never really noticed it before until you mentioned it, and it really does stand out. Designers say that we should photograph our interiors so as to critic what we see, however, when we are so used to a space, you sometimes don't even notice it in a picture until someone else calls attention to it. Thank you Kitasei!
December 15, 2012 at 3:15pm     
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chonnie
Thank you Culpepper! Great idea! It would give the effect I'm looking for since I was leaning towards stainless steel for that reason; sparkle. Any ideas on a color for the backsplash? Right now, the wall (sans backsplash) is a light yellow.
December 15, 2012 at 3:23pm   
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PRO
Culpepper Carpets & Interiors, Inc.
http://www.modafloorsandinteriors.com/colors.aspx?id=5703&s=75171&c=3 This glass subway style tile would also add a sparkle/sheen that you need in a small kitchen with little natural light. The color would look great with black quartz, very classy.
December 15, 2012 at 3:41pm   
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myrns
Can you swing the fridge doors the other way? It looks awkward for accessing while working at the sink & range.
December 15, 2012 at 5:26pm   
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