[Side note: I imagine that after reading this blog you will come to one of two conclusions: (1) that I'm totally neurotic, or (2) you completely relate....here's hoping its the latter]
Back to the countertops....so, my knee-jerk reaction to renovating the kitchen was that I HAD TO HAVE carrera marble. I love the crisp, clean, classic look and I thought it would be perfect with the creamy cabinets and farm sink (see above). But, the more I read about it, the more I reconsidered it. Yes, it is absolutely gorgeous, and yes, it is used all over the world EVERYDAY and has survived the test of time and the elements in colliseums and other grand architectural structures....BUT (yes, there is another but), I didn't want to have to worry about it all of the time. I am not a messy cook by any means, but sometimes I don't wipe down my counter immediately after I prepare food, and sometimes I spill a little red wine when I'm pouring it out.....and worse still, I tend to cut a thing or two without a counting board (gasp). And if that isn't bad enough, you should see my husband in the kitchen. He can cook (i'll give him that) but he is like a hurricane while he's doing it. There is never just one area that is a little messy afterwards...it is the WHOLE KITCHEN! There will be flour all over the floor (and probably in his hair), sticky stuff on the refrigerator handle, random piles of food remnants on every surface....and I don't even want to tell you what his clothes look like. Needless to say, there is no delicacy in our kitchen repertoire (literally and figuratively), and I wanted something that could stand up to a beating when necessary.
That left us with three viable options, concrete, butcherblock and granite. Concrete, by definition, is pretty indestructable, but it definitely waivers on the side of cold and uninviting. I knew that if I was going to be adding all of this light and bright energy in the room, that I wouldn't want the countertops to counteract that vibe. Butcherblock is another gorgeous option that provides such a warm contrast to white cabinetry....BUT...we were already planning to install wood floors in the kitchen to match the rest of the house which would give us that contrast. And honestly, I thought it would be a little too "woody" in there if it were on the floor and the counters. But that's just me. I'm sure it can be done!
So....this led us to granite. You are probably wondering why I have not mentioned soapstone or quartz or other solid surface options, and to be honest, that is not because we don't like them or didn't consider them, but because we felt that they were lacking the "movement" and color variation of most natural stones. In certain circumstances, I would definitely choose quartz or something similarly durable and distinctive (Candice Olsen from Divine Design often uses quartz in her kitchen remodels....possibly because she is a spokesperson for them...but it always looks AMAZING!!!!!) I guess I just took those options out of the running early on because I was aiming for a certain "look" in our kitchen.
Ok. I digress. Back to the granite. So....we finally decided what TYPE of countertop we wanted....but now there was the color factor. I had NO idea how many options there were when it came to granite. Seriously, it is overwhelming. Some places have photos of the slabs online, but for the most part, it is all warehouse shopping. I drove to several stone places with warehouses bigger than shopping malls....and it was ALL granite inside. Crazy, huh? It was definitely cool, but after the first 10 rows of granite, I was getting a little over-stimulated. I knew that I wanted it to be in the cream, white or gray family, so that narrowed it down a bit, but there was still A LOT to choose from. White Princess, Bianco Romano, Kashmir Ville, Kashmir White, Andromeda, Snow White, etc. etc. Some had warm beiges and browns swirled throughout and others had grays and blues. AHHHHH....too many options!
So several trips to the warehouses and granite yards later, I finally chose one: Kashmir Ville. YAY!
But wait. It doesn't end there. We needed to choose two different slabs for the total square footage; one for the island and one for the perimeter. So just when I thought my job was done, the nice granite guy asked "so which two do you like better." Oh man, he just opened up a can of worms. I would have happily left the warehouse and went on my merry way without knowing that there was ANOTHER choice to make. He could have cut any of the pieces and I would have never known the difference. But, now that I knew there was a choice....the process started all over again. I think I spent another hour looking at 4 different slabs (all of which were virtually IDENTICAL) before I finally narrowed it down to two. Sounds like it should have been an easy choice since they were so similar, but it was AGONIZING! I felt like I was choosing my unborn child's name. One wrong move and the WHOLE kitchen is ruined. There would be one with a bigger splotch of gray than the other one, so I would go back and forth on whether or not the splotch would be a good thing or a bad thing. AHHHHH!! I can be so dramatic sometimes.
To make a long story short....or a longer story a little shorter, I finally signed off on the two slabs that I wanted and just waited
This was taken the same day the granite was installed. YAY!! I have countertops! I ultimately chose the Kashmir Ville because it has some grays and blues and even a little bit of raspberry in it to break up the white cabinetry (and eventually the white subway tile backsplash as well). As I mentioned before, my goal for the room was to create a bright and airy feeling, and the cool tones in Kashmir Ville seemed to fit the bill. The alternative would have been something like Bianco Romano, which is a beautiful choice as well, but it has a lot of beiges and taupes running through it. That would definitely brighten up the space as well, but it seemed to have more of a warm feeling to it. At this point, my house has a very cool palette developing, especially on the first floor (which is pretty open now) so it would have been competing against that. To be honest, for a while I was a little worried that my house would feel uninviting with the blues and grays and sages, but so far it doesn't feel that way. At least I don't think it does. The lighting definitely helps to soften the cooler tones at night and I think it will all balance out once we start decorating and warming up the space with our photos and random paraphernelia. Here's hoping....
[As you might have noticed from the before photo above, the island was not part of the original footprint of the kitchen. Early on in the planning process, we decided that we could use some extra counterspace, so we incorporated an island into the design. And not only did it help to add some much needed work space to the room, but it also added some functionality as well. Since we decided to keep our existing cabinets, we knew we would have limited drawer space for pots and pans or baking sheets. So in our final design, we were able to incorporate some deep pull-out drawers for pots and pans, a shelf for the microwave to live, and a double-bin garbage pull-out drawer. At the end of the day, we realized that if we were going to go through the trouble of building an island in the first place, then it might as well be functional AND pretty. Stay tuned for more on the island-building process tomorrow!!]