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Renovation: Kitchen Counters.

What did we pick? The Granite:


Or The Marble?


Well… I think I’ll skip the details of the story when I chose the granite… Paid for the granite… Freaked out… Changed my mind… Drove back… Got the marble instead. Yes, I’m a hot mess. But in the end I really wanted the marble.

Lady Onyx Countertops



Lady Onyx is a mix of marble and onyx. Which means it is can be treated the same way marble can be, but the green and gray veins/rocks throughout it are quite translucent and reflective instead of opaque. In fact, if we wanted to “showcase” this feature we could back-light them.  But since my kitchen is not a nightclub, so no lights will be added under the island, so sorry. Even without the disco lights they are far more visually interesting than anything else I had seen.


You might be wondering if this is a practical choice for the kitchen. It’s a matter of opinion.  Compared to granite it’s softer, no hot pans can be set on it, and if a spill of red wine goes undetected then yes, it will stain. But when have I ever, in my life, been practical about anything? Especially when I comes to esthetics- heck, I’m wearing 4″ heels while typing this.  And at the end of the day- I like it better than granite.


So how will they hold up with an avid cook?

It will be my responsibility to keep them sealed on a bi-annual basis.

They will, inevitably, get a stain or two… Or thirty. I am actually okay with that (shocking, right?). I have been in the kitchens of cooks with well loved, heavily used marble countertops- and they have a beautiful, rustic patina.


But what if they get really, really ugly?

Lets say 10 years down the line I decide I’m no longer digging the “rustic patina” and I want them to be pristine again. I can get someone back in here to re-hone them, and that will restore them to exactly the way they are now.


I considered all those maintenance-related things, and I still arrived at the same choice to opt for the marble.  Every time I walk by them I run my hand over them and I know I made the right decision. I’m in love.


Next up is the backsplash… Just when I thought my tiling days were over, I will be elbows deep in glass tiles this time next week.

Countertop Options.

Did you know New Hampshire is the granite state? These are the interesting tidbits one learns when one is trying to pick the perfect countertop.


Our countertop choice was, by far, the hardest decision of the whole project. When I was first designing our kitchen renovation, before we closed on the house even, I was uncertain what material to use for countertops. I remained uncertain as the weeks went on, and by the time we moved in I hadn’t gotten any closer to picking something. This is odd for me- I’m usually pretty quick to pull the trigger.


The only thing I knew was that I did not want granite and I did not want Carrera marble. Why not? Well granite slabs seem so cold and uninviting to me, plus I’ve yet to see one I actually like enough to want to see it every day. And as for Carrera, I have nothing against it, but it’s just so played out lately. Every time I open a design magazine or peruse a blog they are showcasing another kitchen with Carrera marble countertops. So I researched alternative options, made a list of my top contenders, and scouted out the lowest prices I could.


Alkemi– Made of 96% recycled aluminum, and LEED Certified, these are still a relatively new alternative. They are shiny, beautiful, and impermeable to damage making it the perfect surface for a kitchen. (my quote $4000/50 sqft installed).


Soapstone– This was an interesting option because any DIY’er can install soapstone, no special skills or tools required. The maintenance is pretty low- you just have to slather it up occasionally with mineral oil. (my quote $3000/50 sqft prefab slabs)


Danby Marble-  This is a beautiful, local marble from Vermont, supplied by a company that cares about their carbon footprint. It’s gorgeous, requires an annual sealing like all marbles do, and comes in eight distinct varieties from subtle to ultra dramatic. (my quote $4800/50 sqft installed)


Slate- Super durable and incredibly sophisticated looking, slate is an attractive option. It needs occasional oiling like Soapstone, and like the Danby marble it’s also found locally in Vermont. I think the honed variation is to die for. (my quote $3250/50 sqft installed)


But, I had a budget.


Frankly speaking, since this house is not our “forever house” I don’t need to break the bank on countertops.  Getting a quote under $4000 was like pulling teeth, but the prices were still coming in over budget.  I needed to be in the sub $2500 for countertops.


Because of that, I was thrilled to find Universal Stone in New Hampshire. They are a family business that supply, fabricate, and install stone countertops. I started talking with the owner Adriano, and if I could find a stone I wanted amongst his existing slabs/remnants onsite he would work with me on the price.


I went there a few times and to check out his stock. I wasn’t really digging anything, and but I was running out of time.  By the fourth time I went back we had already moved into the house; cabinets were installed, appliances arrived, and still no countertops. This time I found a few things that would work.


One was granite, and one was marble.  Since these were slabs in Adriano’s existing inventory, he (finally) agreed to give me the same price for both, without blowing my budget, I just needed to pick one.


So… Which one did I pick?


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