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Bipolar Countertop Emergency!
Anne Dewvall
January 22, 2013 in Design Dilemma
Help! I'm having a bona fide design emergency. (WARNING: slightly melodramatic post to follow) After planning our kitchen remodel for more than a year, it's go-time. We need to officially officially order our new countertop material in the next 2 weeks. After originally wanting soapstone (way back in the dark ages of Spring 2012), I decided I was sure I wanted "marble" (or, in my case, Zodiaq Bianco Carrara quartz) for a "classic white kitchen" look.

Now, I am having nagging worries that I should go dark (probably a black granite) for contrast. The kitchen is open to the dining and living room and although it's across from french doors that lead to the deck, the kitchen itself lacks a window and is dim, which is part of the reason I wanted all white - to be as visually expansive as possible.

We'll have white cabinets, trim, doors, and ceiling and nickel hardware and either white subway tile or marble/glass mosaic blacksplash (something slightly shimmery, probably). Medium/dark wood floors, stainless appliances, light grey walls, white window treatments (shades and curtains), tan couch, medium/dark wood dining table and coffee table. The fireplace in the living room (which is visible from the kitchen and vice versa) will be tiled in slate. Our style is classic contemporary.

In the summer I like to incorporate polished coastal influences (white coral, capiz shells) and in winter, ski lodge (birch bark candles, fur throws). We spend more time in and looking at this room than any other so I am freaking out about making the right, very costly choice.

I know either option would look good, but I am paralyzed by fear that I'll make the wrong choice and regret it. Some inspiration images follow.

What should I do?

Mt. Baker
White Kitchen
Casa Verde Design
Needham Kitchen
Surf Road House 10
updated kitchen
Overall kitchen layout
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oakleyspanky
I think a dark granite or soapstone would look lovely and provide some contrast while remaining very crisp.
January 22, 2013 at 7:45pm   
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suesiewert
Why don't you go with a stone that is still light, but has some visual interest such as Bianco Romano or even Santa Cecelia. With all the white you already have, this will bring in the beach feel you like and it will also go with your textural winter motif, but break up all the white a bit. A dark stone, especially a honed one can absorb a lot of light and it sounds like you want to keep it light. Good luck!
January 22, 2013 at 7:50pm   
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patriciarhall
what is the material and color of the kitchen floor?
January 22, 2013 at 7:51pm   
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collettec
I would go with a black countertop for some contrast.
January 22, 2013 at 7:53pm   
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Anne Dewvall
Suesiewert - thank you for the suggestions! I will check into those.

patriciarhall - Highland Hickory Pergo
http://www.homedepot.com/buy/pergo-xp-highland-hickory-10-mm-thick-x-4-7-8-in-wide-x-47-7-8-in-length-laminate-flooring-131-sq-ft---case--lf000317.html
January 22, 2013 at 7:56pm   
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mveasey
I think you suffer from classic contemporary syndrome.
More classic would be the black countertops, white is more contemporary, in my mind. Both will look great, which you already mentioned. What are other pro and cons?
Black might show fingerprints and watermarks more. Which one is more reasonable? Marble has to be resealed occasionally. What does your husband say? What does the rest of your house look like? I do believe black offers more contrast, but will swallow more light. Personally I would go with your first gut instinct, which was white. You sound(and look) fairly young and your inspiration shot to me looks somehow happy and hipper. It can be done with black, but will be a little harder to pull off...
January 22, 2013 at 8:09pm     
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PRO
Norm Walters Construction Inc.
If you were going to go with white, use Quartz as it is non porous and won't stain. Normally the lighter color granites or more porous. I've installed some granites that needed to be sealed three times before they stop absorbing the sealer. Absolute Black granite and Black Galaxy granite do not require a sealer at all, in fact, they won't absorb it because they are so dense.
January 22, 2013 at 8:17pm   
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mveasey
Other question: is the question black or white only?
How dark is your slate? You could do a compromise and do a lighter gray quartz if that is an option at all. Guess we are confusing you even more now...can you get larger samples back into your space and look at them again?
January 22, 2013 at 8:46pm     
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kathleen MK
It depends on the natural light in the room. if you get lots of light the black will look great. If you live in a hot sunny climate you will get more solar heat gain with dark stone. A speckled midtone might work better in this case.
January 22, 2013 at 9:27pm   
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collettec
How visible is the living room from the kitchen? Just barely visible or part of the same room? You might want to consider the color and shade of the slate tile in the fireplace in the living room in making a determination for the countertop as well. For instance to have more cohesion between the rooms, particularly if visible to one another.
January 22, 2013 at 9:29pm   
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PRO
Anish Motwani Associates
hello

just go for Black Granite top.. or if BLUE PEARL marble is available in your country than its the best option.

Regards
Anish Motwani Associates
www.anishkmotwani.in
January 22, 2013 at 10:58pm   
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joannepaul
I am doing the same type of reno right now and I chose a grey quartz to contrast with the white cabinets. I originally thought of black but the contrast was to great for my taste. Hope all goes well with your Reno
January 22, 2013 at 11:17pm   
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onthefence
mveasey, very insightful re: lighter being more contemporary and dark being more classic. My personal taste runs toward transitional/contemporary and before I even read your post I was drawn to the photos with the light counters.

If I were in your shoes Anne, I'd go with the light. Particularly if you're looking at the quartz that's going to be lower maintenance. A couple things really influenced that. I read your description of how you decorate both summer and winter and what the area and view around the kitchen were like. When I put those things in context of the 1st photo, they felt right to me. When I put them into the last 2 photos, it just didn't seem to flow.

As they say, YMMV.
January 22, 2013 at 11:20pm     
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designideas4me
Take the countertop to a good shrink who treats bipolar disorder. There are many good medications on the market that might help the countertop feel more well balanced. Just a thought.
January 22, 2013 at 11:45pm     
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designideas4me
I have that needham kitchen in my idea book and always wish it was mine. That one is the Best.
January 22, 2013 at 11:58pm   
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Anne Dewvall
mveasey - That comment really helped. As much as I get encouragement to "go dark" (that's what 100% of my "real life" friends have voted for) I think light is what's in my heart. Haha. The lighter granites in my area that I've seen priced comparable to the quartz are too creamy, grey, or just plain icky.

I think I'll bring home some darker samples- both black and grey- just to be sure, but after reading everyone's responses, I find myself clinging internally to the Bianco Carrara quartz. If it still feels out of sorts, I plan to heed designides4me's advice and look into professional help, with medication as a last resort. I hear they've made great strides in countertop medication lately.

Thanks all for your help!
January 23, 2013 at 7:32am     
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julie kolln
I feel your pain! I just went through the whole dilemma myself. I crossed marble off the list as I am a avid, messy cook that is too OCD to take care of it - but I love the look! I ended up with leathered Cambrian on the perimeter and perla venata quartzite on the island. Quartzite is a granite like natural stone - wears like iron, not sure why it isn't more widely used. I did white subway on the backsplash. Love the classic look.
January 23, 2013 at 7:33am   
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Anne Dewvall
Your kitchen looks great, Julie! If I had room for an island, I'd likely do the same!
January 23, 2013 at 7:56am   
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aniluap2
If your gut says white go with it . If you do decide to go black, absolute black granite is the way to go - very durable. I have put it in my last two kitchens...polished for a more transitional look and honed for a vintage feel. The polished is easier to maintain. That being said, the quartz is equally durable, unlike white marble which stains easily. It will give you the clean, contemporary, light look you want. My vote -go with your instincts and you will have no regrets.
January 23, 2013 at 8:06am   
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feeny
You are not going to make a mistake, Anne, because everything you are considering is classic and will look great. It is all a matter of personal preference at this point. We have a similar kitchen (off-white shaker, subway tile) and chose a darker counter (soapstone) only because our previous kitchen was stark white with white formica counters and we just wanted a change. I love what we chose for many reasons, but I also realize our new kitchen would have looked equally good with white counters or one of the medium shades, had we wanted a slightly different over all effect. So go with your heart on this one.
January 23, 2013 at 8:20am     
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Luciana
All I can advise from my experience is to be careful with different shades of white. We have matt white lower cabinets and polar white corian for countertop; the difference is subtle but noticeable enough to drive me mad! And the kitchen seller promised me they would match :(. Luckily with red glass for backsplash nobody pays attention to the counter!
(You can see what I'm talking about in your second inspiration photo)
January 23, 2013 at 8:48am     
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PRO
Island Soapstone
There are alternative finishes for granites, if you do not like a high polish. Highly polished dark stones could be pretty hard to keep clean looking, since they have a tendency to show any drips, streaks or fingermarks - think of having a black car!

Honed granites tend to give a visually softer effect, and quite often brings out different shades in the stone. Think of Brown Antique/Maron Cohiba: polished the stone is almost black with brown highlights. Honed it shows a dark chocolate brown with hints of red or blue. Same with the old standbys: Verde Peacock honed will show some lovely emerald greens and silver highlights. Black Pearl honed will turn a lovely charcoal gray with hints of silver an caramel.

Brushed (or satin or leather finished) granites will give a ouster with a soft texture. The texture could be quite pronounced or very subtle, depending on the hardness of the stone and the crystal structure. The color variations would hold the same for brushed stones and they are visually very appealing and awesomely touchable! A great brushed stone is Cambrian Black, a Canadian stone. It has small, finger shaped crystals and when brushed, displays some really lovely hints of copper.

None of the stones I mentioned here would require any maintenance other than just a wipe, and your fabricator may (or may not, depending) suggest a treatment of a color enhancer to deepen the colour.

Bottom line is to pick what you love and feel comfortable with.
January 27, 2013 at 7:05pm   
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heidiinisanti
At the end of the day, you just have to have it feel comfortable to you. Put all decorating magazines and advise from experts aside. What make your feel comfortable in the space is the choice you go with. I am a butcher block fan...Others HATE it but I feel like it feels lived in and shows that real people lived and loved in the home.
January 27, 2013 at 7:23pm   
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jvgiaimo
Jet mist honed granite, black with white, has a sort of soapstone look. Just a thought if you decide to go dark.
January 28, 2013 at 1:07am   
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Mandy Potschka
I love the way your kitchen looks, we just recently did the same thing, and I can tell people think we have too much white, but I love it. It's bright and cheery. Although we did go with marble, and I LOVE it. We have three kids, I cook a lot, and we haven't had any problems. I just clean up when I'm done. I have friends who have black with off white cabinets, the kitchen feels very dark because of it. They also do show every mark, and do leave very obvious stains just from water. The lighter tops cover the mishaps in my opinion. Good luck, I agree, go with your gut.
January 28, 2013 at 1:42am     
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thislittlehouse
I absolutely LOVE white kitchens! Trust your gut - if you are drawn to white, go for it! You won't regret it - it's timeless.
January 28, 2013 at 3:28am     
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Anne Dewvall
Thanks to all for their comments. I feel at peace with my decision to go with the white quartz. For reference in case anyone else in a similar predicament finds this thread, our decision is to go with DuPont's Zodiaq brand quartz in "bianco carrara".

Image source: http://www.replacementcounters.com/blog/post/Zodiaq-Bianco-Carrara.aspx
January 28, 2013 at 2:20pm     
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PRO
APPLE KITCHENS
One of my favorites is Vermont White- AKA Super white. It is a Natural Quartzite. It can vary quite a bit but the nicer slabs are predominantly white with gray vein. It looks marble-like but has more circular than linear veins that I describe as looking like "broken ice on a pond."

Another great light choice is Silestone Yukon Blanco in a leathered finish (basically honed). It looks much more natural than the Zodiaq Bianco Carrara in my opinion.

A good dark option is Angola Black in a leathered finish. The pictures attached are the Vermont White and Angola Black leathered from jobs we have done. Hope it helps!
January 28, 2013 at 2:46pm   
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njmomma
Cosmic Black granite is the color I went with in my white kitchen.

Looking at it on line does not do it justice. I was very particular about the slab I chose for my kitchen, not a lot of movement (veins).

I have been asked many times "where did I get the black marble for my kitchen" I absolutely love the counter choice I made.
January 28, 2013 at 3:19pm   
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aniluap2
Great choice Anne. It will look beautiful!
January 28, 2013 at 5:26pm   
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