There are so many options for kitchen countertops that are available to you when updating your space it can be overwhelming and difficult to determine what style is the best fit for your families’ needs. Home decor is not unlike fashion. There are classics with looks that will last a lifetime and there are trends that come and go. Generally, life lifetime of kitchen decor last less than 10 years, so when creating your dream kitchen you want to consider a look that will last the course of its time. So now you’re ready for an upgrade and you’ve given careful consideration to your appliances and the overall look, but how much have you thought about your counters? How much do you know about the options available to you? There’s more to a counter than granite or marble these days. Though they are still wildly popular I’d like to offer some other suggestions that are trending in kitchen design.
Poured concrete counters offer strength, style and are seemingly timeless in appearance. They offer a natural, organic look for those who are wanting such in their kitchens. These counters need to be sealed well, perhaps more than once, to prevent staining. Poured concrete can be tinted to be any color you wish. If sealed it is stain resistant and can be cast and poured into any shape you desire. Its appearance improved with age, as opposed to many others that start to look weathered and dingy after just a few short years. While concrete is heat resistant the sealer is not and hot pots and pans should not be placed directly on top of the concrete. Likewise, cutting boards should be used as well as chopping directly on to the concrete could damage the sealant. Concrete, requires just a little bit of maintenance and is a very desirable option at a very desirable price.
Butcher block offers a look that is elegant yet casual and environmentally friendly. Her soft surfaces mean that some maintenance is required, but nothing that will take up any significant amount of time. Cutting should be left to be done on cutting boards. A nice butcher block surface should be sealed and oiled about once a month. Cleanup is easy, requiring simply mild dish detergent and a light cloth or sponge. The only potential negative is that the surface, if not well maintained can dry or crack and excess water should always be wiped off. There are many kinds of woods with varying thicknesses available. Butcher block is another well priced option.
Reclaimed wood is all the buzz lately. What is reclaimed wood? It’s simply wood that has been salvaged from older homes and barns that are about to be, or have been, slated for demolition. Reclaimed wood, simply put, is a smart and attractive option. Reclaimed offers a look and feel that the newer butcher blocks simply can’t. Reclaimed wood that was used from older trees is much sturdier than the newer counterparts made from younger trees. When purchasing reclaimed wood for your kitchen you are, in effect, doing wonders for the environment. If you are concerned about the environment, want a “greener” feel to your kitchen and love the casual elegance that wood has to offer, you should see how you can obtain reclaimed wood products near you.
It’s not just for wine anymore! Cork is a material that is growing in popularity in our kitchens. It is dense, sturdy and lightweight. It is a sustainable product (another good choice for those of you who want environmentally friendly alternatives) that has sound-cutting properties that may appeal to mothers of noisy children world-wide! The material is resistant to water and heat and has anti-bacterial properties. Cork, it seems, is a very versatile and sensible option.
Stainless steel has an elegant, classy, sexy feel to it. It invokes the feeling of an up to date, modern, trend-setting material. These counter tops are resilient to water, heat and germs. Over time they are susceptible to dings and scratches, and these surfaces show every little finger mark, but other than a regular polish and wash, these tops require very little maintenance, making it perhaps a very sexy and smart surface!
Soapstone is a natural stone that’s quarried like granite. It’s a softer surface composed mainly from mineral talc, but the varieties used for kitchen counter tops are generally sturdier as they contain more quartz. This makes it a suitable option for a kitchen surface. The color is naturally gray which darkens with age. Like stainless, this material is not impervious to dents and scratches. Soapstone has a beautiful natural grey color, offers smooth, matte feel. Scratches can be sanded or oiled away.
With kitchen and design trends leaning towards more environmentally-friendly choices, as noted above with the use of the reclaimed wood and cork, another option to consider is the recycled glass counter top. They are not only beautiful with many colors and options available but they have a life expectancy of 50 years. They are easy to care for and clean but may require to be re-sealed every few years. While recycled glass does cost less than granite, it is probably not for the budget conscious.
Pewter is actually an alloy made up of several metals. It is fairly soft and not as sturdy as say, stainless. It will show nicks and dents so one must take some care when working on this surface. It has a beautiful look and offers a more gentle look as in contrast to the more clinical look of its stainless counterpart. Pewter’s dark silvery color is muted and is not brash like chrome. Because it is a softer material it is easily shaped and stamped. A hammered antique look would mask some of the natural dents and dings that naturally occur on many kitchen surfaces. While the look of pewter is more of a traditional one, it could look right at home in a more modern or eclectic setting.
One tends to think of rooftops or walkways when one thinks of slate. A natural, fine-grained rock, slate is softer than granite but harder than marble. Slate has a naturally uneven surface that many find aesthetically appealing. Many find this particularly appealing as these natural occurring dents make it hard to detect nicks and scratches that inevitably happen on well-used kitchen surfaces. Slate has a dull matte finish and would not be the material of choice for those who prefer more of a high gloss look. Maintenance is easy – a simple wash with soap and water. Slate is not a material conducive to bacteria build-up. To prevent staining and uneven coloring or discoloration it is best to use trivets under hot pots and pans and coasters under glasses and other items containing liquid.
Quartz is a plentiful, natural occurring mineral. It is one of the most scratch resistant minerals available, because of this it is extremely easy to care for and clean. Wiping stains from its surface is easier than even granite, making it a very desirable choice for your kitchen counter top. Quartz needs not be sealed, has a long lifetime and is available in a wide variety of colors. For those wanting a natural mineral counter top in your kitchen, but wanting to stay away from granite for a slightly different, more unique look, quartz could be for you!
So now you know more about some of these popular materials, is there one that you like best? Are you classic or modern by design choice? Perhaps you like a bit of the old and the new as I do.
When square footage is limited, the last thing you need is an obstacle course of furniture to weave through. Stick to the basics of what you need to enjoy your space. This doesn’t mean you need to live in an empty apartment; it means you should select pieces that serve double duty. Some ideas for multifunctional furniture include. An ottoman (even better: a storage ottoman). It can convert your sofa into a chaise sectional or work as a coffee table (with a tray on top for stability) or extra seating. A sofa table. This can serve as a makeshift dining table, a desk or an entryway table. Go the extra mile and choose a narrow 30-inch-high bookcase or a sofa table with shelving. Stacking, self-storing furniture. Nesting side tables have a variety of uses. A bench. It can serve as dining room seating, a coffee table or a low media cabinet.
Ikea Kallax Shelving Unit without a back works well as a room divider. Zin Home Metropolitan Low Bookcase is stylish and mid-century modern in styling. Container Store Driftwood Aspect Shelving Unit is lightweight in steel and less than 12 inches deep. Room & Board Slim Bookcase is available in 14 colors. Container Store Dark Grey Sapien Bookcase is a small-space storage solution for stacking items. Crate and Barrel Kyra Console Table has two rows of shelving versatile enough for use anywhere. Smart Furniture Trilogy Staircase Shelf at amazon.com is designed for awkward staircase walls but would add a graphic look to any area. Mercury Row Draco Bookcase at wayfair.com has an elegant, polished look. Crate and Barrel Sawyer Mocha Leaning Wine Bar has storage space for wine and all the accoutrements.