Catalyst Cooks

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Design a Kitchen: a Cook’s Countertop February 2, 2012

This is the first post in the “you help me design my kitchen” series — today’s installment: COUNTERTOP.

You’ve seen my countertop.

oh, that’s right, no you haven’t.  Because I’m always hiding it with my cool butcher block cutting board or taking pictures in the dining room on the table or sideboard.

Well let me just tell you.  It’s plain jane blah off-white ugly.  And tough to clean too.

Probably some sort of laminate that also functions as a backsplash.. yay!

Makes me miss my old house, where I replaced the laminate with some beautiful limestone tile.

Oh wait.  While that was really pretty, I found out the hard way that coffee, ketchup or any other acidic food/juice/condiment would leave a permanent mark on my countertop.  Not exactly the budding cook’s dream.  No amount of stone sealer could combat the juice of a lemon.

What countertop or work surface (s) do you have in your kitchen?

Do you like, love, or hate them?  Why?

What would you love to see in a house you purchased?

Some things I’m thinking are important in the decision:

  • Cost.  Looking for something not out-of-this-world expensive (where are some good places to shop???)
  • Practicality.  No plate-breaking, oops-don’t-put-your-lemon-there countertop.
  • Beauty.  But by gosh let’s not have the countertop be so ugly that I don’t even want to be in the kitchen.
  • Function.  Can I put my hot pasta water right on the countertop without fear?  Can I use it as a cutting surface?
  • Cleanability.  I don’t want to have to invest in some obscure, expensive counter cleaner to keep ‘er clean.

What say you?  What should I put on my short list, and what should I avoid???


3/8/12: Colette linked a great article on her FB page:


5 Responses to “Design a Kitchen: a Cook’s Countertop”

  1. tvossen Says:

    Marble and granite are among the most durable, but they are also relatively costly. They can chip easily, and stain, so expect a “patina” to develop over the years.
    Similarly, stainless steel counter-tops are also extremely durable and lends a decidedly upscale look. However, it is also expensive and, thus, mostly reserved for professional kitchens. The surface is also the choice of restaurants for a reason: Stainless steel is nonporous (which limits the growth of bacteria), doesn’t chip and requires minimal maintenance. Though stainless steel shows scratches and fingerprints, new non-directional finishes limits their visibility.

    Soapstone and engineered stone counter-tops are another option. Both materials require minimal maintenance, as they are stain and heat-resistant. Soapstone is one of the more expensive stones, usually in the 65 to 80 dollar range. It scratches quite easily, but the scratches can be sanded out. Soapstone is truly heat resistant, but quartz counter-tops are not heat resistant.
    In addition, engineered stone is uniform in color, pattern, and texture. And, both material are considerably cheaper than marble, granite, and stainless steel.

    • Jen Antila Says:

      Tammy- thanks for that! What do you have in your kitchen, and what do you think about it? What would you choose in the future?

      • tvossen Says:

        We have granite…noticed that it does chip (under the counter while loading dishes into the dishwasher.). Depends on what your goals are. Are you concerned with scratches? Are you focused on nonporous for the antibacterial effect? Marble…have had that…stains readily (would not purchase again…although, it is beautiful).

        Good luck!!! Can’t wait to hear what you decide upon!

  2. Cathy P Says:

    Don’t forget concrete which can come in a huge variety of colors and it is also both heat and scratch resistant. Cost is close to the same as granite and concrete can be very eco/green since it comes from local quarries and/or recyclers. Once it’s set you can coat it with a sealer and be good to go for a long time. You can even add some swirls or a pre-cast stamp for some added texture. And as far as I know it requires no fancy cleaners… My dream kitchen has carera marble because I absolutely love the way it looks and don’t care if I have to make guests use coasters and plate trivets in the kitchen, but for folks who cook often and like to have unique furnishings, concrete may be the way to go!

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