Let’s chat kitchen countertops today. Specifically, quartz countertops that look like carrara marble. Warning: this is a seriously long post and if you have no interest in countertops and kitchen reno’s, I suggest you just close’r down now. Or take a shot for every time you read the word “quartz”. That’ll make things a whole lot more exciting for sure. Just don’t play a blog post drinking game and drive.
Some of the decisions with our house reno have been made quickly, and others have been laboured over for a long while. This was the latter.
Here we are, countertop-less…
First step in any kitchen counter decision is material choice. There are so many options these days when it comes to counters – laminate, granite, quartz, quartzite, corian, marble, butcher block, concrete, soapstone, etc – and each have their advantages and disadvantages. We were constantly weighing looks vs price vs longevity and maintenance. Depending on your budget, needs of your household, and your style preference, your choice here is going to vary. I don’t think there are any “bad” choices – just different options to suit different needs. Our criteria came down to the following:
Looks: I wanted something that was light – largely white with a bit of grey – to tie the two colours in the cabinetry together. I like the veining that you find in stone, but didn’t want it to be overly busy.
Longevity & Maintenance: We are a young family and only just in the beginning of likely several decades of fairly major wear and tear on our house. We wanted something that would stand up to kids in the kitchen and would be as maintenance free as possible. I didn’t want to be having to wipe down a spill a split second after it happened because I was worried about staining, or have to seal the counters every year. I’m a low maintenance kind of gal.
Price: To get what we wanted in a) and b) above, we knew we would have to shell out some serious coin. In our overall kitchen scheme, we decided to save on cabinetry (IKEA) and backsplash (more on that in another post) in order to spend more of our budget on countertops.
After considering all of that, the choice to go with a quartz was pretty clear. It is an engineered stone, so you can get that look of veining as you would in a natural stone, but it is super durable and maintenance free. No having to seal it annually like granite, or worry about spills and staining like a marble. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those choices – we were just trying to choose what would work best FOR US. Here is an article on Remodelista more about the pros and cons of engineered quartz.
Once you get into the world of quartz manufacturers, there are tons of choices. Maybe too many, as it makes the decision process hard! I knew I wanted something that had white and grey in it like a marble, so I went out and started collecting samples and looking at slabs in person where possible.
If I even moderately liked what I saw, I brought samples home with me so that I could hold them up to my cabinetry in the light of my kitchen. There is nothing better than seeing something in your own space – way different than in a showroom under fluorescent lighting. FYI that sometimes it wasn’t super easy to get the sample pieces – it took some persuading and promises of bringing them back to the show room, so be firm if you go out looking. If possible have some sample pieces of your cabinetry and other finishes with you, so that you can see everything together in one place, if you aren’t able to bring home a sample.
If you are looking for a quartz that has grey and white in it and looks similar to carrara marble, these are the ones you might want to check out (this list is current as of March 2015 – manufacturers are always adding new colours). Please also know that these were just the ones I came across, I’m sure there are others out there!
Here are bigger screenshots of each countertop option, with links to the manufacturer.
Caesarstone – Calcatta Nuvo:
Caesarstone – Frosty Carrina:
Caesarstone – Misty Carrera:
Silestone – Lyra:
Silestone – Lagoon:
Santa margherita – victoria:
Santa margherita – lyskamm:
Cambria – Torquay:
Belenco – Fairy White:
Hanstone – Tranquility:
Zodiaq – Coarse Carrara:
Zodiaq – Snow Drift:
After checking each one of those out in person, I narrowed it down to 6 for our kitchen. They all had a fair bit of white in them, and didn’t have the flecks or speckled look that you often find in quartz. It’s totally a personal preference thing – I just don’t like the little flecks and prefer a smooth look with grey veining.
At this point, I got detailed quotes for each one of these materials. All of these manufacturers are reputable, so price would definitely help us narrow it down. To be honest, I could have been persuaded to go for any of these.
Definitely the front runner for me initially was the Calcatta Nuvo as I thought the veining was just so striking and the grey and white were perfect in our kitchen. And of course, it was the one that was by far the most expensive. Isn’t that always how it is? Cut.
The Frosty Carrina was second most expensive and I wasn’t thrilled by how little veining there was in it, and it was predominantly grey rather than white, so it was nixed.
The last four came in at very comparable prices, so it was just a matter of looks: Tranquility was very white with quite dark, dramatic veining and lots of white space (I thought this one was going to be my favourite, but it just didn’t feel right in our kitchen); Coarse Carrara had some ever so slight flecks/speckles that I didn’t love; and Snow Drift ended up feeling just too busy. So left standing? Santa Margherita Victoria. Winner winner chicken dinner. I should also mention that I went out and saw a big slab of it in person before putting in my order. It’s such a major decision that seeing it on a small scale and on the computer wasn’t enough. I often found that I saw an option on the computer that looked ahhh-mazing, and then in person it looked so different from what I had imagined. So word of warning — always go in person!
Basically as soon as the installers were bringing the slab through the door, I knew it was exactly the right decision. The counters are bright and read like a nice white from a distance.
But when you get close up, the veining detail adds so much interest, without overtaking the whole counter.
I went with a squared edge profile. Simple and clean.
They feel solid, smooth, and seriously lovely. Oh, and the seams (we have 3 in our corners) are barely noticeable. I’m totally in love. Bigtime.
You got some sneak peaks at other elements in the kitchen there… it’s coming together, hey? Things sort of happened quickly all of a sudden. Probably because I was feeling the pressure of getting it close to completion for my last Globe & Mail article (coming out in tomorrow’s paper – my last in the 5 article series I have written). Anyway, more details on those finishing details soon!
For local folks who might be interested, we purchased our countertops through Kemptville Interiors, supplied by Hiltz Marble & Granite. They were all an absolute pleasure to work with!
Find more posts on the kitchen reno here: designing the kitchen + installing IKEA kitchen cabinetry.
What sort of countertops do you guys have in your kitchen? Do you love ’em? We did butcher block in the basement kitchen, and I loved the look of those. So warm. Oh and I know some folks who poured their own concrete counter – and it looks amaaaazing. My parents have quite a stunning granite in their kitchen too, which has tons of veining and interest. It’s fun to have so many options, hey?