We’re Back On! (A Group Remodeling Project: Part 7)

Alrighty, folks; it’s been a little while since we’ve discussed this, so for those of you who’d like a refresher, feel free to check out the first 6 installments our Group Remodeling Project:

In short, we were TOTALLY UNDERWAY for our kitchen remodel in April/May before we fell rather dramatically apart and basically are just now, 4 months later, getting our crap together enough to dive back in.

We ARE, however, diving ALL the way back in, as we’re wont to do, and so we’ll commence torturing Greg together again STAT.

To date, we’ve agreed the old, crappy stove we start with the ice pick has to go, along with the orange counters. We’ve agreed I cannot be trusted to make ANY kitchen decisions without you (reference: orange counters). We’ve decided we’ll put subway tile up the walls in the kitchen area. We’ve met Betty, our new old stove and the Hero of this Tale, and we’ve decided to put her against the wall between the fridge and the sink where she’ll shine without blocking the window.


We left you hanging when it came to the range hood, but we’d previously agreed either a stainless hood against a tiled wall…


…or a hood mounted under a cabinet…


…would be fine, so Greg and I left the decision up to the expense.

The contractors tell us the former option (stainless steel hood against tiled wall) is cheapest, so SOLD.


Are you ready??

CONSTRUCTION HAS BEGUN, and Betty’s new home is being prepared.


Please note, for those of you not yet convinced of my inability to decorate in any way that resembles a grown-up with, say, taste, that mint green wall you see with the cabinets removed is, in fact, the original wall color I picked on purpose… wait for it… to go with the orange counters. DO YOU SEE WHY I NEED YOU?

Yes. Yes, I need you to the moon.

Which brings me to the latest.

We, um, have started construction without all our decisions made. Like counters. NO IDEA WHAT TO DO ABOUT COUNTERS. And Not Knowing will hold up construction since they can’t tile ’til the counters are in place. But the construction guys were ready to roll, and I’ve been procrastinating the heck out of this project, so I told them to go ahead and start, and I’d try to catch up.

That’s what I said.

Go ahead and start, and I’ll try to catch up. After all, if we don’t start by doing something, we might end up doing nothing, and I CAN’T START MY STOVE WITH AN ICE PICK FOREVER.

Guys, this is totally like life. Because Oh My WORD, friends; oh my word. Sometimes we just have to START ANYWAY, you know? Even without knowing the end goal. And even if we’re fully aware others will outpace us. Sometimes we have to just GO AHEAD and say all the Hail Marys and hope we can catch up. Amen? AMEN.

Which is why today’s subject is Belated Counters. Specifically, what type of material to use and what color.

Here are the factors for type of countertop material:

  1. We can’t take care of stuff. <– We can’t. We’re terrible at maintaining things and treating them gently, so if there’s a type of counter top has to be handled carefully or must be babied, polished, sealed, oiled or sanded, it’s out, friends. It will die a horrible, terrible death at my house, and no one wants that.
  2. Due to #1, we’ve ruled out granite, soapstone, wood and tile.
  3. Confession: I’ve loved our orange countertops. All except the color. They’re laminate countertops, and they are so easy to clean and maintain! They don’t stain. You can’t break them by sitting on them. They’re easy to wash with soap and water. And we never have to polish, seal or oil them.
  4. So we’re considering laminate again… I hear laminate’s gotten better. Prettier? Less plasticky? With lovely edges now? So I want to seriously consider laminate unless you all are, like, NO WAY, BETH; WE ARE HERE TO SAVE YOU FROM YOURSELF. Check out these pics at Decor Chick, though, before you yell at me, K? I think you’ll see what I mean.
  5. …or maybe stainless steel? Now, I’m not actually sure we can afford these, but I like the idea in theory — countertops that can take what a lab dishes out can surely take what my kids dish, right? Plus they don’t stain. I have heard I won’t like all the fingerprints on them before the years it takes to develop a nice patina, and my friend, Emily, who’s weighed in, says they’re too cold for the space. Emily is good people with a pretty house, so I tend to believe her. Added to the possible high cost (we did rule out whether the steel shop in town was willing to make them — they’re not 🙁 ), and I’m not certain this is high enough on the list but wanted to throw it out there.

So, Question #1 is countertop type. Can I go ahead with laminate? Or must I consider other options?

Next, we have to discuss color. I do like high contrast looks like our dark wood floor with our white cabinets, but I’m wondering if the counter should also be a contrast to the cabinets (dark brown? dark grey?) or if it should blend in with the cabinets (lighter gray, maybe?). I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING, FRIENDS. HELP ME.

On the one hand, I’m a short, round woman, and I’ve always been told not to break things up too much — do not wear a skirt of one color and a top of a totally different color, Beth; it chops you up! — but on the other hand, I’ve never actually heeded that advice, BECAUSE IT’S CRAP, and I’ll defend to the death my kitchen’s right to wear whatever she darn well pleases.

Glad we had this chat.

Nevertheless, my kitchen can’t change her counters as frequently as I change my skirt, so I want to do well by her.

Like, take a look at this photo is from HGTV’s Fixer Upper


The color scheme and farmhouse industrial feel above closely match the vibe in our kitchen, from the darker wood floors and the reclaimed wood table top to the subway tile walls and white cabinets. Their counters have that light/medium gray thing going on, which makes me think we’d be on the right track with something similar. Yay or nay??

So Question #2 is countertop color. Light grey? Dark grey? Something else entirely??

In conclusion, help a girl out. You’re my only hope.





P.S. In other news, I do not have to murder Greg, after all! Which is, frankly, hours of planning and premeditation wasted. However, because it DID turn out to be a handsaw he let the 9-year-old use and NOT the power saw AND because he didn’t let that child purchase or build a forge for melting metal and also inevitably his own flesh, now Greg thinks I owe him cake.

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43 responses to “We’re Back On! (A Group Remodeling Project: Part 7)”

  1. Quartz, nuff said.

    Oh, and because there is never enuff – we are going with the same color scheme as you and have decided on the Quartz that looks a bit like marble, whitish with grayish lines running through.

  2. So, since we are both Oregonians I can tell you that you should check out Keystone Granite in Salem. We are in the process of remodeling our kitchen and when we started the “we should be making decisions if this will ever happen” process last spring, we were pretty sure we would go with laminate for all the reasons you stated. But then when we started getting actual quotes, it wasn’t that much more to go with Quartz. We drove from Eugene up to Salem to see the big slabs in person (because there’s no way you can truly get an idea of what something will look like from a little slab. What we got was $49/sq ft (included installation costs) and it sort of looks like concrete with little flicks of white and black specks and small natural looking stone lines. When my grandma came over she glanced at it and said, “oh no, your boys already took a pen to your new counters!” Which is not something outside the realm of possibility because I have four boys ages 7 and under. I was able to reply that nope, those lines are part of the design, and shall conveniently hide the evidence when they do inevitably write on the counter. Just while typing this I had to snatch a pen out of the one year old’s hand who was trying to go Picaso on my walls. The Quartz doesn’t have to be sealed, doesn’t need special treatment and as long as your overhangs aren’t too long they will be (because I asked) strong enough to hold four boys at once who decide to stand and jump off it. Seriously, our family should get paid endorsements from them as well as Pergo and Magic Erasers too.

  3. I know you’ve already made the cute little circle graph with the results, but I’m shocked that laminate won, and I think that proves that every vote counts, so here’s mine: NOT LAMINATE. I hated mine with a passion. Hot pans on laminate… permanent burns. Water left near the sink from a small leak we didn’t notice… warped surface. And the seams… dirty and gross. I ended up with granite, but wanted quartz. At the time, quartz was more $$$, but wish I had spent that little difference ($2-5 a foot maybe?). Love quartz!

  4. Concrete. Love mine! They were sealed & never have to be done again. You can put hot pans directly on them. I had mine tinted a lovely gray.

  5. Definitely low-maintenance laminate. I used to think I was quite good at this housewife thing but I really can’t be bothered to polish the granite worktops all the time and they have water marks. Also, they are incredibly hard so it’s easy to shatter a plate or glass when you are not concentrating, just a little bump on the way out of the dishwasher. I wouldn’t go with steel either. My parents had a steel splashback (ie behind the cooker) in their old house and it showed every single fingerprint. Maybe it was to do with the finish. Also, not sure that the edgy-loft-living look is going to go well with your lifestyle or Betty.
    I would go for the contrasting worktops so you don’t risk your kitchen looking blah. Also, will hide stains:) Don’t go for very very dark as it turns out that can show up every single bread crumb.
    I am glad you are feeling so much better that you can contemplate getting the work done. A nice kitchen will also be a mood-lifter. xo

    • My wife wants those. They are actually above average in cost, $70-140 per square foot, and they have to be poured and polished IN YOUR HOUSE.

      I personally like quartz, but laminate is one of the cheapest options, so if you change your mind someday and want to change the color or upgrade, you can. If you want a pan-proof section, can they inlay a patch of tiles or slate?

  6. I’ve got the laminate with wood edge and like the look. But I think I have your durability and contrasting color solved. I don’t know the official name, but it’s Science lab table material! I’ve known several people who have sections of this and love it. One said she wished she did the whole kitchen with it. Best of luck, Beth!

    • Beth, I have 5 kids. May I suggest a dark gray solid surface quartz countertop (Silestone or Cambria). It doesn’t stain, requires no maintenance and is anti-microbial. It’s so durable you can cut on it but don’t do that or you’ll dull your knives. The dark gray hides a lot. A quick Windexing removes grease, fingerprints, wine, etc.

  7. We did the laminate countertop. It’s been 9 years (they came the day I came home from the hospital with my first). It’s a laminate that looks like granite, and we got a fancy edging. It’s soooo durable. We mainly picked it because we couldn’t afford anything else, but we’ve been thrilled with how well it’s lasted. It’s easy to maintain, you don’t break things when you drop them on it (which happens all the time in our house), and they were cheap enough that in a few years, we can easily change it up without feeling terribly guilty. I’d be tempted toward something a little fancier, perhaps, but I have to admit we’ve been content with these. They’ve withstood a lot, they look really nice, and again, easy to maintain. The granite-look also means they hide stains and crumbs exceptionally well. So, if you decide on laminate, I can vouch that it doesn’t have to look tacky and that it can be worth the lower cost for a low-maintenance countertop.

  8. I adore your blog (it makes me feel like my life is a semblance of normal!), and while I’m not normally a commenter, we just finished building our house, so I have A LOT of experience with kitchen decision anxiety! Here’s the scoop from my experience:
    Quartz. Full stop. Beautiful but more importantly, impossible to wreck. You can slam it (done), drop things on it (done), leave messy berry juice spills on it overnight(done, and done), and if a toddler decides to jump on it, you’re all good! (Done, by a hefty toddler). This is one purchase I am grateful for everytime I use, and abuse, my kitchen.
    As other commenters have said, under mount your sink! You can brush things right off the counter and down the drain, and when the excitement of the new kitchen wears off, and you forget to wipe down the edges for a week (or two), the grunge is hidden underneath. Perfect on all fronts.
    Sink – whatever size you think is right, go one bigger. You can thank me later 😉

    All the very best of luck with your reno, no matter what you pick, I’m sure you will love it, and so will Betty – she’s beautiful!
    p.s. Good call on the exposed hoodfan, easier to clean and very “farmhouse elegant”

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