Disclaimer: This post contains endless pictures of white kitchens and a longwinded debate on the pros and cons of different countertop surfaces. Just wanted to warn you in advance. :-)
When I first began pulling aside inspiration pictures for ideas of how to remodel our kitchen, I was drawn to the following images:
|Colour Me Happy|
|Cote de Texas|
|The Cottage Chick|
|The Cottage Chick|
To me, the most obvious similarities in most of these pictures include all white cabinets, dark wood floors, stainless appliances, light walls, white subway tiles, great lighting and my favorite part - carrara marble somewhere in the space. I also seem to gravitate towards white kitchens with butcher block countertops, as well as white kitchens with a dark granite or soapstone countertop.
Before we even actually moved into our home, we purchased all new stainless appliances. It was kind of a necessity, seeing as the previous owners walked with all appliances. Since we were buying them, we knew we wanted to do it right the first time around and go for SS. Read more about that experience here. The next phase in achieving our dream kitchen (painting our existing cabinets a creamy white) involved a little more time and debate; read about that experience here. I am happy to say that both my hubs and I are really happy with everything we've done to the kitchen thus far.
So...we've begun researching the next phase of our kitchen remodel - replacing the countertops. My first instinct all along has been to go the Ikea butcher block route and apply a dark stain to the wood so it looks just like this:
These countertops are solid wood and gorgeous, especially when stained a deep, rich hue like above. Best part? They are inexpensive - it would cost under $1k to replace our countertops (which are pretty spacious at over 50 SF - not including our breakfast bar). Because they are such a great price, we could replace the countertops and still have $$$ left over to put in a honed carrara marble breakfast bar along with a few other upgrades (such as crown molding above the cabinets, puck lighting under the cabinets, etc.) If we went the granite route, we'd be saving for months just to afford the granite, let alone any other updates. We'd have to install the Ikea countertops ourselves, which could be tricky but definitely not impossible. To us, the only real downside is that not everyone is a fan of butcher block, and when we resell our home we know that granite will most likely be the majority of buyers' first choice.
So we began researching granite to replace the counters and breakfast bar and bid farewell to the idea of a butcher block/carrara combo. I tried to find granite that mimicked the color and look of carrara so it'd still resemble the look I was going for while at the same time being a smart investment. Here were my top contenders:
Kashmire Ville Granite:
Kashmir White Granite:
Ivory Fantasy Granite:
During my search, I also found a few other countertop surfaces that resembled carrara, but weren't marble or granite. Even though we were looking for granite, I figured these were at least worth saving in my files.
Here is Bianca Quartzite:
And Rain Cloud Corian:
If we were going to spend all this $$$ on granite, I knew that I wanted to find something that we
liked loved and would help our inspiration pictures come to life...but I just wasn't getting that feeling with my granite selections.
When I still hadn't found our granite, my husband suggested we drop in at a local granite quarry to see some slabs in person, vs. online. So we went and I am happily surprised to admit that I loved one of the granite selections there....and my husband had picked it out, no less!
With all the hours I spent searching online, I had never come across honed Jet Mist granite...it's a beautiful dark gray with subtle white veining. It resembles the look of classic soapstone, yet was granite (making the hubs and future buyers happy, too!) And (picture me happy dancing right now) - it would compliment very nicely with carrara, meaning we could bring back the marble for our breakfast bar!!!! Woo to the hoo!!!!! It had everything going for it in both our books!!!!
So we met with the manager to get an estimate for honed jet mist granite with a standard edge for our countertops and honed carrara marble with a waterfall edge for our breakfast bar. We were quoted just over $6K for all of this. To us, that seemed like a fair price for what we were asking for, but it's still a lot of mulah. Truthfully, what shocked me more was learning that the granite would actually cost us $30 more per SF than my beloved carrara!!??!!
The visit to the quarry happened about a month ago, and we've been pretty happy and secure with planning to save for the granite/marble combo....that is until last night. I came across more pictures of white kitchens with a butcher block/marble combo and I truthfully think this is just as pretty, if not more beautiful, than a kitchen with granite/marble. And we'd save a pretty penny going the butcher block route, which would enable us to take on other home improvement projects that would also increase the value of our home. Plus, we could even just get the butcher block as a short-term fix and replace the butcher block with granite in a few years, right? So I revived the debate once again to my patient husband, and we talked in-depth about the pros and cons of both choices. Again.
Because this is our starter home, I find that it's especially hard making expensive home improvement choices because it requires a balance between what you want versus what potential buyers might want in a few years. I'm back to square one feeling torn as to what to do. Should we make the decision based on what we think looks best, or should we make the decision based on resale? I'd love to hear your comments and advice on this one!