As with selecting your appliances and determining the overall layout for your kitchen remodel, it is important to think about the style of cook you are (or aspire to be) when deciding on the type of countertop you want to install.
Countertops have to endure an intense amount of abuse from water, hot pots, abrasive cleaning solvents, knives and all types of foods and drinks, as well as non-cooking- related damage. And depending on the material you have selected, your countertop may or may not be able to withstand the continuous wear and tear from the kitchen’s elements.
To ensure you select the right materials to satisfy you and your family’s needs, you should determine the primary reason for the countertop. Are you looking for something that is inexpensive, resilient, easy to maintain, or purely for aesthetic appeal?
There are a variety of materials available, which differ greatly in price, style and durability and, if necessary, you can include more than one type of countertop materialin the kitchen. For example, you can install a high-gloss stone in a beautiful pattern for an island or entertainment area and opt for chip- and heat-resistant stainless steel for fish or meat prep stations.
This is exactly what Amy Finley, president and CEO of Del Mar, Calif.-based Finley Design decided when remodeling Malaga, her home in Rancho Santa Fe. She wanted to create a space that would blend the exterior and interior to create a feeling of outdoor living throughout, and among the spacious living areas and state-of-the-art entertainment room, Finley designed a remarkable kitchen, recently showcased on HGTV’s Top 10 Amazing Kitchens, which features a countertop that is as functional as it is a work of art.
“With our large family, it seemed we always end up hanging out in the kitchen, so I wanted to create a large, open, simplistic space that accommodated everyone,” explained Finley. The kitchen needed to allow space for Finley, her husband and five children to cook and play, while remaining true to the home’s minimalist look, and the countertops were integral to the design.
Selected for their durability and strength, Cappuccino onyx and stainless steel countertops line the edge of the kitchen, creating multiple workstations. To enhance the kitchen’s appearance, Finley took advantage of the onyx stone’s natural beauty and resilience to design a dramatic center island that, with the flip of a switch, illuminates from over 1,600 LEDs from below the surface.
“At night, the island functions as a source of light and artwork, yet is extremely functional to either prepare or present food.”
Finley chose materials that complimented her lifestyle, selecting “natural materials that create elegant and clean lines and helped create an inviting, warm atmosphere,” but were also durable enough to withstand the demands of a large family.
These are the same concerns that all homeowners and designers should keep in mind when deciding on which countertop materials will best fit the kitchen. Examine your kitchen lifestyle and research the pros and cons of the various materials to find the material that will enhance life in the kitchen.
Additionally, the countertops should be considered when reviewing the overall kitchen design and not at the very end.
While many homeowners and designers may think of countertops last, Finley believes that all of the elements of a kitchen must be considered simultaneously. “Countertops are a function of the cabinetry and must compliment the overall design direction of the overall kitchen and home.”
Designer Amy N. Finley – Finley Design. Manufacturers: Custom cabinetry: Stan Jacobs, Jacobs Woodworks; Countertops (onyx): Stone Works; Appliance: Dacor Epicure Classic Double Wall Oven. Photo credit: Glenn Cormier
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