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by Abby Sanders
1. If you're getting new cabinets, buy those first. One of the first questions any countertop fabricator will ask is whether your cabinets are already installed.
It’s important that you have your cabinets installed before your countertop fabricator takes any measurements. If the cabinets are replaced between your measure appointment and the installation date, the measurements may be off, and the countertop may not fit the new dimensions.
If you haven’t considered getting new cabinets, consult with your countertop fabricator. They’ll be able to tell you if your existing cabinets are level and stable enough, or if you’ll need to shell out for new ones. (If you do, it’s a worthy investment!). Some stone fabricators like Stone Interiors offer complimentary in-home consultations to answer these types of questions before you even have to make a decision about your countertop.
2. If you're buying new appliances, get those too. Debating a new stove or fridge? Go ahead and buy those larger items before scheduling a measure appointment for your countertop. The fabricator will need to measure the exact dimensions of your existing kitchen layout, including stove, fridge, and dish washer.
Take a good hard look at your stove. If it's seen better days and you think you may need to replace it in the next year, do it now. That way you don't have to worry about a new stove not fitting with your countertops down the line. It's also a good idea to check that the height of your stove will be even with the new countertop; you can find a good guide to checking your stove and countertop height here.
If you’re in the market for a new sink, your countertop fabricator may carry a range of sinks and faucets for you to choose from. If you decide to purchase your sink elsewhere, you’ll need to know the exact dimensions prior to your measure appointment (these are often provided by the manufacturer with your purchase).
3. Research your materials. Picking a color scheme is the fun part. Not so easy is wading through the vast amount of information on different materials, and weighing the various costs and benefits of each. Marble might be your first choice aesthetically, but is it too high maintenance? You were considering Formica, but what other options do you have within your price range?
It can be overwhelming for anyone. Your first step is to partner with an expert in the industry who can help you cut through the lingo and figure out which surface will actually work for you and your lifestyle. Work with a countertop installer who is willing to walk you through your options before pushing you into a sale. Any company worth their salt will gladly schedule an initial consultation at your home before pressuring you to buy, making sure you end up with a material that will serve you well for years to come.
Okay, we can't predict the future. If we could we'd be trading stocks instead of selling countertops. But, we do have some well-reasoned guesses at what to expect in the world of home design in 2018. Let's take a look at what (may) lie ahead.
Grey is fading into beige in 2018. According to Gates Interior Design, 2018 design trends are leaning towards neutrals and browns rather than the stark whites and light greys that have graced kitchens for the last few years. Thanks to this trend, we expect to see growing interest in warm-hued granites like Tanami and beige quartz colors like Oakmoor.
Feeling Earthy & Going Green
Consumers continue to become more environmentally conscious – and they also want to feel closer to nature. Homes to Love predicts that trends in earthy, natural tones and materials will mirror our desire to separate ourselves from technology and feel a little closer to nature, even when we’re relaxing in our homes. This may very well signal a shift from formica and “faux” granite looks to the real deal.
Beauty in Imperfection
Victoria Redshaw, a professional trend forecaster, expects to see more consumers seeking out a “Wabi Sabi” way of life: “the ancient Japanese philosophy of finding beauty in imperfection.” We’ll find ourselves seeking out products and materials that naturally change over time, and embracing the unique ways that these materials age and grow with us. We expect that marble, which is notorious for developing a unique patina over time, will be popping up in even more kitchens in 2018.
Among the many factors to consider when choosing a countertop surface is how well it will withstand the abuse of a busy kitchen. With cooler months upon us and more nights spent inside prepping meals, many of us may be looking at our kitchens and realizing it’s time for an upgrade – in both style and function.
There are two clear leaders in the category of heat resistance and overall durability. These options can be counted on to hold up to a hot pan or crock pot without suffering any cracks or lasting damage.
Granite has remained one of the most popular countertop materials for decades, and for good reason: it’s naturally heat resistant and low maintenance. Unless you plan to try out new steel welding techniques on your kitchen island, your granite counter should withstand normal cooking temperatures, even if it comes in direct contact with a hot frying pan once in a while.
Even so, you should take some measures to protect your counter – mostly so you don’t have to worry about re-applying the sealer that protects your granite from stains. Invest in a trivet to make your granite last. And be careful about placing extremely hot items near cold ones, especially near an overhang. Granite is susceptible to thermal shock, which can be caused be extreme temperature changes.
What About Quartz?
Quartz is growing in popularity, and we're always hearing questions about its durability. How does Quartz, which is technically an engineered product, measure up to granite and marble?
Quartz is harder than both granite and marble, and therefore often referred to as more durable. However, it is not as heat resistant as granite or marble. When weighing your options, be sure to ask your countertop fabricator about the specific pros and cons of each product.
Home owners who cook frequently and spend substantial time in their kitchen may be looking for a surface material that’s not only aesthetically beautiful, but can also hold up to the occasional crock pot or pizza stone. When planning an overhaul of your kitchen, consider how often you’ll be actively using your cooking space. If a reliable surface that is naturally heat-resistant is your top priority, then granite and marble are two safe bets.
Marble fireplace surround by Stone Interiors Alabama
Creating a “waterfall effect” by extending the edge of a kitchen island all the way to the floor is becoming increasingly popular thanks to the clean, modern shape it creates. When done right, these edges make the slab look thicker and lend a high-end feel. It also serves as the perfect way to show off the stone you so carefully selected, while transforming your kitchen island into a work of art in its own right. The precise, geometric edges make this countertop edge the perfect complement for any modern kitchen.
But while waterfall edges are gorgeous, they don’t come easy. Creating the perfect waterfall effect while continuing the natural grain of the stone poses its own special challenge for countertop fabricators. The corner angle needs to be perfectly cut in order to achieve a seamless look and continuous pattern. Even the slightest miscalculation could compromise the overall look of the piece and take away from the visual impact.
So if you're considering a waterfall effect (or any other premium edge option, for that matter), carefully consider the fabrication shop you're working with. Here are a few key indicators that you're working with a quality fabricator that can get the job done right:
Getting a new countertop is an investment of your time and money, so familiarize yourself with the fabrication company responsible for delivering the countertop you envision. And if you crave a modern kitchen, a waterfall effect may be just what you're looking for.
Photo courtesy of Nordic Kitchens and Baths Inc.
One sign of a successful home design is not necessarily how beautiful the structure itself is, but how well it complements the surrounding landscape. We had the pleasure of working on a home that perfect accentuates its outdoor space, and incorporates the sunny backdrop of Gulfport, Mississippi into the living space.
When viewed from the front, it would be hard to believe that more than half of this home’s total volume is an outdoor space. Even within the indoor rooms and atriums, rustic Cleopatra stone flooring and big, open windows blend the surrounding landscape into the home.
When the sun is shining, the sliding wooden door on the far wall of the foyer open up to expose the home's gorgeous pool. The pool area is one of the most impressive uses of outdoor space we've seen, in terms of both its structure and the variety of stone applications. The surrounding patio includes multiple sitting areas, a grill, bar, and a cozy fireplace, making this space more than just a pool, but an extension of the living space. The stone floor tiles transition seamlessly from the indoor space to the patio, making the space feel cohesive with the rest of the home. Colonial Gold granite makes for a durable grill workspace and bar. But as beautiful as the design is, it's hard not to look up. A ceiling of windows allows for a panoramic vista of the skies and back bays of Gulfport, Mississippi.
In the master bathroom, Calacatta Gold extends the natural glow provided by the large windows adjacent to the tub. The granite is tinted very slightly with a creamy gold, as the name suggests.
The kitchen countertops are Colonial Gold, finished with a teak wood eating bar that adds warmth and texture to the contrast the industrial-style kitchen.
Thanks to its structure and design, this breathtaking home invites the blissful Southern landscape right into the living space. The materials used highlight the warmth and natural light typical of the Southeast, and make for a home that simply would not be the same anywhere else.
This master bath would be stunning enough with the soft Cappuccino Onyx vanity and crystal sink bowls. But this home owner decided to incorporate a unique twist that's both eye-catching and surprisingly functional.
This bathroom vanity can be independently lit from beneath the stone surface. A number of LED lights line the interior of each cabinet, underneath the vanity. Thanks to the translucency of the Cappuccino Onyx, the bright light emitted by the LEDs shines through. The result is a unique, unexpected glow that lights the room, without being so bright as to shock drowsy eyes at night.
The crystal sink bowls at each vanity enhance the glow of the backlit stone with a vibrant sparkle. The warm hues of beige and gold create a cohesive look and make for a bathroom that is both luxurious, and also warm and inviting.
The bathroom's dual beauty and functionality is carried out even in the fine details. A small stone pillar, matching the shades of the vanity, functions as both a lamp and a toothbrush cover, while blending in with the rest of the space.
We admire any room with original features that serve a purpose. This backlit stone vanity is certainly memorable, and had us wondering why home owners don't incorporate lighting features like this more often.