What started as a carefree conversation over jalapeno margaritas and guacamole at bartaco, quickly transitioned into a panicked monologue on the enormous pressure that accompanies large-scale home investments.
Catching up with a friend in the throes of building a new home, while simultaneously planning the wedding of the year, she confessed that the overwhelming number of decisions were taking a toll. She began scrolling through a camera-roll scattered with snapshots she loved from Instagram.
I ordered us both another round and haphazardly scrawled a list of kitchen “priorities” on the back of a cocktail napkin. The usual suspects..
Layout. Cabinets. Lighting. Countertops.
Undoubtedly, one of the larger (more final) purchases will be your kitchen countertops (alongside cabinets, of course). Appliances, decorations, and furniture can likely be returned - but once your countertops are cut, those babies are yours.
But fear not - whether you’re building your dream home or renovating your existing home, spending time and money in your kitchen is universally considered a worthwhile investment. Nate Berkus says so, which cements it as fact.
We’re sharing our insight in the hopes of helping you make the right choice for your kitchen.
There are so many options these days when it comes to counters. Our favorites are marble, quartz, soapstone, and butcher-block – and each come with their own advantages and disadvantages.
We’re listed our top picks with the pros and cons for each so you can rest easy knowing you did the necessary homework and made the right choice for your family's lifestyle.
There is something inherently luxurious (not to mention timeless) about marble. Marble creates an elegant and sophisticated feeling, regardless of whether it has a polished or honed finish. In addition to being absolutely gorgeous, marble is highly durable and heat-resistant, but it’s ridiculously porous so stains from cooking and entertaining are likely. Spilled red wine spells disaster.
Rumor has it even olive oil can leave you with stained countertops. Google it if you don’t believe me. The stone also needs to be resealed every year or two - so consider the maintenance before making your final decision.
If it’s Quartz you choose, you’re in good company. Practicality and gorgeous good looks ensure Quartz remains the golden child of kitchen countertops. Flawlessly mimicking the real deal without the maintenance. It’s stain, scratch, heat, acid and impact resistant.
Not to mention it’s famed hygienic anti-bacterial benefits. No sealing required.
Quartz countertops are man-made, consisting of approximately 93 percent crushed natural Quartz, with color pigment and plastic resin mixed in for good measure. All the gorgeous good looks of Marble, without the upkeep.
Kitchen countertops are textbook masochists - they’ll undoubtedly take a beating from water and heat, sharp knives and spilled red wine. My unsolicited advice is to invest in something that can go the distance.
It’s also worth mentioning that Quartz is considered the “green” choice. It’s engineered from leftover stone so it doesn’t require mining slabs, or shipping them world-wide, both of which leave quite the carbon-footprint.
If you’re looking for dark and moody countertops, soapstone is certainly something to consider. It’s ridiculously durable and is virtually immune to heat and all chemicals, so it’s been a constant in labs for ages.
You’re welcome to seal it if you're so inclined (which will create a darker look), or leave her to age gracefully. Small surface scratches can be treated by applying mineral oil.
I’ve heard whispers that soapstone can crack over time, so keep this in mind when making your final decision.
butcher block counters
I'm throwing Butcher Block a bone here...
Butcher Block can be economical and has the uncanny ability to lend a sense of warmth to your kitchen. She's relatively versatile and tends to work well in contemporary spaces or more rustic settings.
Scratches can be easily sanded away, but butcher block needs regular oiling, and you must be mindful of protecting it from extra-hot cookware.
I'm personally in favor of butcher block in smaller doses (like an island, or in a butler's pantry). Who needs a Boos Block when you can go all out?
*Let it be known that I am in no way knocking the beloved Boos Block - mine gets more mileage than any of my other "countertop" kitchen essentials. Coffee maker excluded, obviously.
IN OTHER NEWS!
We've been hard at work on a collection of intentionally-designed house plans I cannot wait to share with you all. If you been following along, you know this has been on the books for quite some time now. Great news, guys, the wait is (almost) over.
We're releasing our first three limited-edition house plans this November. We've worked tirelessly on these babies (obsessing over ALL the details) and you don't want to miss out.
Get your name on our list to receive exclusive updates, sneak peeks and shop the collection before the public.