Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rant #1: Countertops

DON'T SHOOT THE MESSENGER!! I am sure that this, and future "rant" posts may offend some. If you have worked with me, you probably know that I am not the biggest fan of granite. I don't mean to put anyone's personal counters or preference down, and understand that it is probably not possible to just go ahead and swap out your counters on a whim. That being said, I think that the interior design profession is over granite. It is overused, and quite frankly not that attractive (in most cases). Here are my thoughts on granite countertops, and their alternative. The culprit: "Baltic Brown", and the other similar members of their brown and beige crew. Even the name sounds bland. To top it off, in this photo, the owner has gone with the "poor mans backsplash", running the stone remnant up the wall, adding insult to injury.

Try suggesting to your contractor or stone fabricator that you would like to use a stone other than granite, and they will give you a blank and confused stare. I have seen it on more than one occasion. This is because they, like most people, always go to granite because we have been trained to think that granite is the "end all be all" of style. Wrong...there are endless options, that are much better than the standard Home Depot look.

Engineered Quartz- This was a bathroom I remodeled down the street from my house. We went with the "Lagos" Caesarstone. This product has a modern look, and is as durable, or more so than granite. Goes great with the custom vanity. Blotchy granite would have taken it down 2 notches.

Another project where I specified Caeserstone. Here we went with the "Rosemary" color, giving a polished concrete look. You can drag a hot metal pan around on it with no problems, and it does not need to be sealed or treated.

My personal favorite: Carrera marble. Timeless, classic and works with fully traditional styles, and ultra modern. One of the most historically used stones, architecturally and artistically for a reason. It is now moderately priced, and easy to source. Be selective when picking your slab, as the colors and patterns change dramatically. I had an installer bring his own slab for a dual vanity installation, and after seeing his selection, decided that it had to be ripped out and replaced. Not a happy day for anybody.

Crema Marfil (marble): Another personal favorite. This was for a good friends master bath. A soft texture and mild color option. Well priced, and widely available. It is tougher for the installer to work with, as it can break easier in handling, but one installed, is no problem. It does etch and stain easier, but if sealed properly, and cleaned, is fine for a bathroom, and fine for mild kitchen use.

Emperador Dark: Another great option. Dark, with great texture, but with a nice veined pattern, as opposed to the splatter pattern granite. Once again, well priced and easy to find. There are a lot of color/pattern variations with this stone.

Emperador Light: Same family as the above stone, just a lighter option

Granite: What? I thought you said no? Granite does have it's place in the countertop world. I hate to compliment it now, but granite is cheap, and durable. It would be the option (rather than the above options) for a commercial kitchen, or a kitchen that gets heavy use.

This is from the same house I worked on as the Crema Marfil above. Here the granite looks great with the surrounding materials. The name of this stone is "Lagos Azul" a great blue/green/gray option for a modern room. Click to enlarge the photo, and see the little irridescent blue accents in the stone.

Another great granite: "Bianco Romano". I found this little gem recently. I am doing a very large conference table in this material, a bit higer priced compared to other granites, but a sleek look.

The moral of the story: don't just settle for the standard beige or brown granite because that is what the salesman is saying you need to go with.


  1. I hate granite.

    But I'm putting it into my condo because so many buyers seem programed to look for granite and stainless steel.

    My new place will NOT have granite!

  2. Thanks for the comment Jeannine. Join the revolution!!

  3. Great post! I love Bianco Romano!!! Was one of the pics from our friend in the Wood Canyon Ward? Their kitchen looks beautiful - great work!

  4. we are living in a rental right now and we have those same EXACT UGLY brown granite countertops. blech. i hate them. next, can you rant about ugly tile floors?

  5. Are all your posts going to be directed at us? ;)

  6. well i just walked out to kitchen and i must say i still love my *Baltic Brown/Black/Cream* counter top.....but it fit our budget has held up well. If i ever do my kitchen over again or move and have options i will look beyond the horizon

  7. I've been pining after soapstone for my kitchen remodel. I think it will fit into my circa-1905 home much better than a shiny granite. The veining is far more appealing to me than the splatter of granite. Quartz would be my second choice, but only if I can get it honed!

  8. I am an Interior Designer in the Mid-West where we are stuck in time. I am so happy to hear how you feel about Granite!! Because it is soooo TRUE! OVER USED! THANK YOU!
    Ps Love the blog.

  9. Your design thoughts are absolutely a breath of fresh air! I have needed to replace my 80's corion counters but never fell in love with any new look--well Emperador light my NEW LOVE-You do great work for a surfer boy!!

  10. I know I'm a couple of years late on the post but was just doing some research on Caesarstone. I can't stand granite and like the CS because its not as shiny even when polished!! I love the Rosemary but hear it's been discontinued. I'm curious, how has the Lagos Bue held up? Thanks!!!!!