countertop advice - color scheme

April 3, 2014

Hi All,

I am nearing the end of my kitchen remodel but am stuck on the countertops. My contractor is none too happy with me as we have been stalled for a few months now. I have read pretty much everyone else's counter top sagas here. But I think I need specific color scheme advice from the crew.

Initially I wanted to do cararra marble. I later changed my mind because the cabinet color came out warmer than expected and to me doesn't look great with the cararra and I can't do the more expensive "warmer" marbles. Or maybe I just got nervous about marble because I have a ten year old boy who loves to cook.

At this point I'm interested in fairly neutral granites or engineered quartz. I had originally wanted the perimeter counter top to blend in with the cabinets and back splash (probably simple white subway tile), to contrast with the wood kitchen table. Now I am wondering about dark grays and even blacks, like honed virginia mist.

So, the choices are:
-a white that really blends with the cabinets (caesarstone frosty carrina really blends well)
-a grey such as caesarstone pebble
-a black such as caesarstone piatra gray)

What do you all think? Fairly homogenous perimeter color scheme to contrast with wood table? Or add something darker to the perimeter in the form of a gray or black counter?

Many thanks,

Comments (80)

  • nosoccermom

    This is really tough, but no matter what you pick, it'll be gorgeous.
    1. I'd consider durability, especially with a 10-year old cook.
    2. I'd tape black trash bags on my counter and see what that looks like in my kitchen. Then repeat with a roll of white paper. (and maybe even gray tarp)

  • sas95

    I agree with may flowers about looking at the quartz patterns with some warmth. The reason the marble doesn't look good with your cabinets is the same reason the grays aren't quite right. Plus, the black and gray don't relate to anything else in your kitchen. A warmer quartz color would tie in with the wood table.

    We have warm off-white lowers and went with one of the Caesarstone limestone colors. I like the look, because the scheme does call for a warmer color.

    This isn't a great picture, but shows the idea:

  • Related Discussions

  • feisty68

    SUCH good suggestions from nosoccermom. I always encourage my sister to "mock it up" when she is having trouble deciding - find some way to "fake" the overall effect being considered, rather than visualizing. Usually it answers a question very quickly, no matter how many hours of agonizing has occurred beforehand.

    My dh is a lighting engineer and he wanted midtone counters because he pointed out that counters are work surfaces and black or white backgrounds create a lot of contrast which is not ideal for task work. FWIW.

  • feisty68

    And, your kitchen is really beautiful.

  • kbb100

    The third photo posted by mdin was my inspiration of the kitchen initially. i like the way the marble blends so well with the cabinets. That kitchen is very warm.

    I guess I took a turn for the cooler with grey paint on the walls. So I think I was thinking that a grey countertop would pull things together.

    I will see if I can get a bit of costa smeralda next time I get over to the granite place. May also try to get a warmer caesarstone.

    The first thing I'm going to do this weekend is do the trash bags, and post some pictures. Thanks nosoccermom.

    And durability is on my mind. The darker granite counters are so sensible!

    Thanks all,

  • mdln

    Love your big wood table, wish I had space for it in my galley kitchen.

    Am doing white on white - with this small cart as my token wood table.

    Wish I could buy used carrara marble that already has a nice patina.

  • raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio

    Sounds like you are doing what I did last year. My contractor was quite annoyed with me for the same reason. Went from July until October without a decision or countertops! I had actually purchased a medium grey quartz, but changed my mind about 5 times, first to River White granite, then to soapstone when that wasn't available, thought about slate, maybe another granite or two in there like steel grey, ended up with honed Verde Lavras granite. I didn't want a dark dark stone nor a very busy one (plus I had budget issues).

    You mentioned that the soapstone in the finished kitchens is what you were most attracted to. Other than questions about would you like the patina of soapstone over time, you likely really have the answer to your question. Why NOT soapstone?

    If no to the patina, Virginia Mist honed seems to be a very good substitute. Even the stoneyard warned me against honed Absolute Black (and the samples there were covered with highly visible handprints).

    In fact, each of your example choices will look fine, IMO, as long as they work with the tones of the painted cabinets and walls (of course, walls can be tweaked unless you absolutely love love love that particular shade). It is just a matter of what degree of contrast really pleases you. You don't seem to have to worry about the kitchen being rather small or dark as a factor. Your table will stay the star with any of these choices I think (rightly, too!); maybe *slightly* more with a medium contrast instead of high contrast.

    In looking at your samples, I thought that the SS looked rather too cool against your wall, but maybe that is because it is next to the pebble which is a really warm color. I like the pebble. I personally love soapstone unoiled. I find white counters with white cabs too much white unless the walls have a stronger color. But I do like something like River White which can have more contrast, greys and creams and those garnet inclusions.
    There are many lovely soft greens out there too which I agree would look great.

    You just have to go with the one that speaks to you the most and stop worrying!

  • kbb100

    Raee - yes getting so caught up on countertops does seem silly, to think of all this time we have gone without a full kitchen.

    I think if I go dark, I will go for a honed granite. I don't love the soapstone enough to pay more and have some maintenance and patina. I googled your verde lavras and it's lovely. It seems there are honed granite options that I'd be fine with, IF I'm comfortable with going dark.

    There aren't many options that appeal to me for going light/white. A pricey marble would be the look I want, but I don't think I can do the price or the marble. My beloved kitchen table has gotten some scratches and I don't think I'll be a lover of patina. I haven't found a marble-esque quartz that I like.

    I did just see this link:http://hgstones.com/shop/neolith-estatuario/ on another thread. This looks extremely promising, but may not be in my price range or in my area. I will call about it monday.

  • Kitchen_ Reno

    I'm another one who visualized getting a light, marble-like countertop. I have had cabinets for 5 weeks with no counter decision. Just this past week I finally decided...leathered jet mist. I considered all the same options as you :) hopefully I love it! It is certainly hard to go against your long time vision so I feel your pain, lol

  • feisty68

    I picked River White because dh wanted granite. I had light grey counters (laminate) and I actually found that a very pleasant surface (colour-wise) to work on. It's not just how it looks from a distance ;)

  • sedona_heaven

    I have to say that I think any of the medium or dark toned stones in your pics would look simple, classic, and beautiful. Not marble, not light gray. I personally really like the look of the honed absolute black in your pic - almost the same tone as unoiled soapstone, a soft grey/black. Just be sure you take home a sample and test it with various oils, etc, to make sure it is a good quality slab (have heard some stories about AB).

    FYI, I have Costa Esmeralda in my Tahoe house, and fell in love with it back when it was a favorite on this board about ten years ago. It is a grayed out green that is not busy but has some strands of quartz running through. Costa is a quartzite which is even more durable than granite from what I've heard. We chose a different quartzite for our new house. I think I just like quartz (the real thing, not the fabricated version!). But unless you fall in love with the Costa (happened to me), I think you should go with the darker gray or blackish stone. Classic, simple, beautiful.

    Your kitchen is charming and you are clearly on the right track!

  • tinker1121

    I agree it will be beautiful and I say stall all you need to so it is exactly what you want.

    This post was edited by tinker1121 on Sun, Apr 6, 14 at 5:44

  • cawaps

    Another vote here for the Frosty Carrina. While I think white-on-white is too stark in many kitchens, the wood table really warms things up and the white-on-white will let it take center stage. I actually think that the warmer white of the cabinets is working for you here.

  • kbb100

    Here's a photo of the trash bags to get the dark countertop effect, per nosoccermom's suggestion. Couldn't find honed trash bags, though.

    I am really trying to love the black/white/warm wood combo because honed dark granite really seems like the most sensible choice in my case.

    I do love the soapstone look. But the perimeters in my case are meant to be functional. And so I'll take fewer chips and scratches over beauty.

    I also hear the votes for frosty carrina. I agree the color tone is perfect, I just don't love the squiggles. It doesn't look enough like marble to me.

    The other option is to wait for the neolith marble look alike. But no one has it around here yet.

    Kitchen-reno - sounds like I'm headed in a similar direction as you. I look forward to seeing yours.

    Any opinions on the trash bags? Perhaps disposable countertops will be the next thing.

  • mdln

    I think the dark color pulls your eye away from the beautiful wood table. Following are notes (not mine) on carrara alternatives:

    1) Super White Quartzite: hard, metamorphic rock formed from sandstone. Harder than granite, sometimes more porous. More expensive than Carrara.

    2) Bianco Romano Granite: Usually cat B, comp. to Carrara in price.

    3) Kashmir White Granite: Similar to Bianco Romano, comp. in price.

    4) Caesarstone î Quartz Misty Carrera: engineered product made from mineral quartz & polymer resins. Good mimic Carrara marble color.

    5) Silestone Quartzî Lyra: color comes in Jumbo slab sizes which measure 63â x 128âÂÂ, may limit number of seams.

    6) Mountain White Danbyî Marble: calcium based marble,can etch. However, Danby has characteristics not found in other marbles. Extremely dense and has been used on interior and exterior surfaces for years. If etch, resurfacing is simple DIY project.

  • greenhaven

    Honed trash bags, lolol! That gave me a good guffaw!

    I don't like it, for all my opinion is worth. If you were not going to go with a rich butcher block I would have voted (and maybe I did?) for the dark counters, but I totally change my mind.

    I think now a lighter grey would be appropriate. I don't think stark white or a very white counter is right, but a greyer marble or granite like Super White. Something that will tie in to the cabinets but not overpower the room. Or draw the eye. Something predominantly soft grey but with white accents.

  • Gracie

    I can't remember her name (one of those initial-only names, with a lot of Ks, IIRC), but she had white cabs, marble backsplash and a stained island. She said her one regret was the gray quartz countertops--they felt too cold. She had white-washed her fireplace in the DR that opened to the kitchen. Maybe someone will remember her reveal. It may have been as much as six months ago.

  • sedona_heaven

    I like it! I realize I'm a minority in the all white kitchen climate of GW, but I think it looks great. Dark grey/soft black and white and wood are classic and elegant IMHO.

    But the best advice is to go with what you like, and what works for your lifestyle! You'll find the right countertop for you.

  • Lisa

    Do you have a wider shot of the kitchen w/the trash bags?

  • kbb100

    Here's a wider shot, lcskaisgir. Went to see the fabricator today. He had never heard of neolith and was pretty suspicious of the product, as anyone might be, I suppose, with something new. He's going to look into it for me.

    Thanks, mayberry. I have a feeling sensible is going to win so I'm glad to hear you find it elegant.

    Greenhaven, you are a mind changer like me!

  • kbb100

    Oh, and the big box is the cooktop, which is black. It's induction, so that whole area will be flat.

  • sedona_heaven

    I still like it - particularly if it is honed and softer rather than a shiny dark black plastic bag. You could accessorize a little here and there to create a coherent look. For example, you could consider covering the bar stools with a fabric in a similar or complementary color/shade.

    You could also look into honing a lighter granite than absolute black if your budget/availability allows. People seem to be honing and leathering many different types of slabs.

    My philosophy at this point is that reality is a good place to start. What is my budget, my lifestyle, and my preferences within these parameters? Creativity can pick up the slackâ¦.and the feel of your life in your home is the most important thing, so try to stay connected to that.

  • Lisa

    I really like it! Sorry to have you post the other photo but I didn't feel like I could chime in without seeing it from a wider perspective. I think the black was more overwhelming with only seeing it up close. I think it will be beautiful and still allow your island to shine.

  • greenhaven

    Okay...please don't laugh...but I like it waaay better in the long shot! Especially getting ALL the cabinets and your wall ovens in the shots.

    So you have heard from us...what do YOU think?

    Mind changer? Girl, you don't know the half of it. :o/

  • tuxedord2

    Another vote. I like it too. I think a honed black/dark gray is warmer than a lighter gray if you know what I mean. I also think it ties in your appliances and the wood at the same time.
    Did I miss in the thread what your hardware was going to be?

  • ontariomom


    I agree with those above that suggested the counter should have some warmth. Have you seen Cesearstone's Bianco Drift. Perhaps that will work. I really don't like the idea of a plain grey counter.


    Here is a link that might be useful: Bianco Drift

    This post was edited by OntarioMom on Thu, Apr 10, 14 at 21:28

  • Kitchen_ Reno

    I posted today about my leathered jet mist that was installed today. There are a couple pictures in that post. Check it out as an option! I find the leathered to be more appealing than polished, and I find the jet mist black/white to be a softer look in general. I definitely think it would work in your kitchen!

  • nosoccermom

    [Traditional Kitchen[(https://www.houzz.com/photos/traditional-kitchen-ideas-phbr1-bp~t_709~s_2107) by San Diego Design-Build Firms Pacific Management LLC

    And gray

    Has anybody seen the Neolith counters that look like marble?


    Here is a link that might be useful: Neolith web site

    This post was edited by nosoccermom on Thu, Apr 10, 14 at 22:13

  • greenhaven

    After seeing kitchen-renos countertops I totally agree with her on the leathered black. Dark but soft!

  • nosoccermom

    @kbb: You mean where you live, they don't have honed black trash bags????

    I personally would go with practicality and either an obviously man-made stone or a real stone. Having said that, I'm not a purist, and if the "marble" Neolith looks indeed like marble, I'd seriously consider it. However, I'm not sure I'd go with a fabricator who's practicing the use of a new product in your kitchen.

    This post was edited by nosoccermom on Sat, Apr 12, 14 at 11:37

  • BirchPoint

    I love your kitchen. No matter what you choose, it is going to be great. I have been going through the same struggle. I think the honed black granite has a nice organic-ness to it that corresponds well with the organic-ness of your table. Like you and kitchen_reno, I've gone from initially wanting marble, then soapstone, and now settling on honed jet mist. It is elegant but organic AND budget friendly AND practical for really using your kitchen in a relaxed way with no hangups about what somebody else working in your kitchen is doing. I have also decided that because of the money I am saving by choosing jet mist (instead of a white quartzite), I am going to splurge on a slab carrera marble backsplash!

  • kbb100

    Nosoccermom, those photos are really helpful, thanks so much. I've seen black/white/wood photos that I didn't really like. But I like the look in two of the photos you included. Plus the black/white elegance on it's own is growing on me.

    The neolith is stunning in photos but no one around here has an actual slab in the white marble color. I am really now leaning towards the sensible and appropriately casual dark honed granite, perhaps leathered jet mist like kitchen-reno just did.

    BirchPoint - funny how so many of us are going through a similar decision process. Crowd intelligence! Would love to see your honed jet mist with the slab carrara backsplash!

    Lesmobo - hardware? That decision is scheduled for summer 2014 :). Do you have any suggestions? I did actually just pick the pendants. So maybe I will surprise myself and build some momentum.

    Ontariomom - I agree with you. The plain light gray (pebble) was not doing anything for me in the space. But I think I'm probably going to do dark granite at this point. Or Neolith if it should suddenly become possible.

    Kitchen-reno - Awesome photos of your counters! They look terrific. So inspiring.

    Thank you all so much!!!

  • nosoccermom

    You know it's always frustrating when people say, either choice will look great; however, in your case it's true. I'm following along your decision as I'm in the same situation.

  • Pipdog

    You have a beautiful kitchen. I love that rich butcher block counter! Have you considered a warmer quartzite like Taj Mahal or Madre Perla? I had Madre Perla in my last kitchen and I loved it. It has warm tones that would play with your creamy cabs and that butcher block. It is also more durable than marble.

    (not my kitchen)

    [Traditional Kitchen[(https://www.houzz.com/photos/traditional-kitchen-ideas-phbr1-bp~t_709~s_2107) by Lafayette Interior Designers & Decorators Home Systems , Wendi Zampino

    [Traditional Kitchen[(https://www.houzz.com/photos/traditional-kitchen-ideas-phbr1-bp~t_709~s_2107) by Hinsdale Kitchen & Bath Remodelers Normandy Remodeling

    Taj Mahal:

    [Traditional Kitchen[(https://www.houzz.com/photos/traditional-kitchen-ideas-phbr1-bp~t_709~s_2107) by Pineville Tile, Stone & Countertops TILE COLLECTION INC

  • longislandmomoftwo

    Hi Gwebbers - Somebody asked about the new Neolith product - I went to see a slab of the calacatta-look-a-like Neolith at the distributor. From a little distance, it does look great. As you get closer, I think you do realize that it's not the real deal, although it is a pretty good ringer. Where it falls down IMHO, is when you touch it. I'm not sure if it comes in a polished version, but the one they had at the distributor was a honed version (river-wash? pebble-wash? or something like that) and it felt just like you would expect a porcelain tile to feel like. I took my keys out of my bag and gently touched the slab with them and that made a hollow "clank." Unlike stone or quartz it doesn't seem to absorb the sound so well, so I'm not sure if that's addressed with some kind of underlay below the slab at install, or not. It's used on floors as well in commercial applications, so it must be hardy, but my DH ultimately vetoed it as a choice for our island.

  • kbb100

    Thanks Limommyof2 - I appreciate your neolith opinion.

    My son took the neolith samples outside yesterday. He seemed eager to challenge my statement that they were indestructible.

    Naturally, they all shattered quite easily. Even just tapping one with a stone caused it to shatter. I'm guessing this has something to do with the mechanics of the samples not actually being installed as countertop. But still surprised me. I had thought they would be hard to damage.

  • longislandmomoftwo

    Yikes! I was told they were super durable, so that's not a good sign. Did you have a sample that looks like calacatta, and if so, was it a honed or polished sample? Just so curious if the polished version would have felt more like stone, than the honed version. I'm still on the look out for a white island that doesn't stain or etch. I've etched both marble and quartzite samples that I've sealed and I know the spots and splashes will drive me crazy. "Patina" is for the laid back, mellow kind of person who probably loves linen, not the type A/OCD kind of a person who won't sit down for fear of wrinkles! Guess I'll keep on looking . . .

  • chrisinsd

    I personally think that Ceasarstone Pebble sample looks great.

    You should also check out some of the Corian Private collection colors. They are incredibly durable, easy to clean, nonporous. Lava Rock, Arrowroot, Sea Salt or Rain Cloud would look great in that room I think.

  • kbb100

    Hi again,

    Today I happened upon a slab of brushed absolute black at the granite place. It was gray, instead of the usual black. I have a honed sample that is also black. But I guess with "brushed" it comes out gray. I like it a lot. It looks like concrete (which I priced and was too much in my area).

    But then my excitement faded when the granite guy told me that it would have to be sealed to prevent oil from staining it. And it would look black when sealed!

    Do any of you have brushed AB? Is there someway to keep the gray look and protect it from oil stains? I love to fry, and it will be around the cooktop . . .

    Limommy - the Neolith place did not have a calacatta sample, or have it there to look at. I too wonder if it would feel like stone or not.

  • ssdarb

    I think Super White Quartzite is marble, not quartzite or granite. If you don't want etching and staining (patina), don't choose that.

    If you think you'd like a dark counter like the brushed AB, try looking at a leathered dark granite such as AB, virginia mist, antique brown, etc. I like my leathered antique brown; it's more black than brown or grey, not shiny, doesn't scream for attention. I wanted my island to be the star and the leathered perimeter does not compete.

  • kbb100

    Thanks Strayer.

    I don't want a dark counter. I like the brushed AB I say because it is a lightish gray. I'm not a patina person, so I wanted to know if folks who have the brushed AB had it sealed and if so did it make it dark, and did the sealer protect from oil stains.

    I'm going to repost the thread specifically to address brushed AB.

  • kbb100

    Hi again,

    Today I happened upon a slab of brushed absolute black at the granite place. It was gray, instead of the usual black. I have a honed sample that is also black. But I guess with "brushed" it comes out gray. I like it a lot. It looks like concrete (which I priced and was too much in my area).

    But then my excitement faded when the granite guy told me that it would have to be sealed to prevent oil from staining it. And it would look black when sealed!

    Do any of you have brushed AB? Is there someway to keep the gray look and protect it from oil stains? I love to fry, and it will be around the cooktop . . .

    Limommy - the Neolith place did not have a calacatta sample, or have it there to look at. I too wonder if it would feel like stone or not.


  • Kitchen_ Reno

    if you like gray and don't want black, why not go back to the "pebble" choice that was in your original pictures?

  • kbb100

    Hi kitchen-reno - The pebble is caesarstone and thus pricier than the basic granites. Also, I just don't love it. It's lighter than I wanted, and doesn't look as natural to me as non-shiny granites. I did look at the pebble in honed and I still didn't love it. But price was the big issue.

  • Kitchen_ Reno

    Makes sense :-)

    Good luck - I found the counters to be the hardest part of my kitchen renovation, so I feel your pain!

  • Susan St. Pierre

    I think honed jet mist might hit the right note for you. Have you seen it in person?

  • stealthecrumbs

    First I want to say that your cabinets are so lovely. I like the rhythm achieved by alternating glass with closed front. Did you mention somewhere who makes them and the door style? (Just curious-- for my next house renovation!)

    Now- another white on white vote. Biased of course- I have Alabama white marble and Ben Moore White Dove on my cabinets. I just think it is such a great classic look and feels bright and clean. But I think your darker options will be nice too.

    Can't wait to see what you choose!!!

  • Lutha

    The Neolith I have seen does not feel like stone. It is not smooth.

  • kbb100

    Thank you all so much. Belle_va, the cabinets were custom and less expensive than Reiko. I described to the cabinet maker a shaker style, with a little more detail. I went with BM white dove for paint.

    The jet mist I saw yesterday was nice, and I think it would do fine. It was a little too loud, in terms of the white dots and swirls, so I am on the look out for a quieter version. Not sure if I will come across one soon, though.

  • Tanya Panossian-Lesser

    Hi- I know it's been 2 years since this posting, but I am in your position except that I am starting with white cabinets and piatra gray, then trying to decide if butcher block on island would work. what did you choose?

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