We are finally getting somewhere with this kitchen renovation! I swear some days I can’t tell if we’re making progress or if I’ve just inhaled so much drywall dust that I’m starting to hallucinate. This weekend, we actually ate a meal at the kitchen peninsula. (At least, I think we did.)
Note: We did not partner with, nor we were given discounted/free counter-tops from any of the companies mentioned in this post. Any companies mentioned are for the sole purpose of narrating how we picked counters or because we just really liked the company (in the case of the winning installer).
I consider myself a fairly decisive person, but choosing counters was the most difficult decision ever.
We started at Lowe’s about two months ago. We decided to meet with their kitchen designer to learn more about our counter material options and get some quotes for the work we wanted done.
I initially wanted a carrera marble look, so we spent about an hour at Lowe’s with the designer picking out flooring, counters and matching back-splash. We decided we wanted quartz a counter-top because it’s non-porous (no germs), durable and maintenance free. We saw a lot of great granite options, but the durability factor of quartz sold us. John loves that he won’t be in the doghouse if he forgets to put down a trivet, and I love that it doesn’t require any kind of special cleaner or sealer.
It’s an off-white, slightly muted quartz with greyish veins and flecks running through it. It also happens to be one of the most expensive options (of course) at $90 a square foot. The only downside of getting prices through Lowe’s is that their prices on the floor do not include installation. Including installation the price was $105 a square foot. Holy moly.
I spent hours researching different brands of quartz, trying to find out if there were other suppliers who made a similar pattern. Silestone makes a pattern called Lagoon that is very similar, but has darker veining (more blackish than grey) and less flecks. It’s also $87 a square foot (without installation from Lowe’s) so it wouldn’t help much on the budget side. John was drawn to the solid white option- Silestone White Zeus Extreme, but I shut him down immediately since it resembled the laminate we already had.
Funny, since we ended up going with solid white which I love.
I had my heart set on that faux carrera marble look that is so popular right now. We very fortunately found Timeless Stone Fabrication (in Dublin, PA for anyone in the area). I
moved in spent some time there going through slabs at their stone yard, which was great because I could actually see what the whole kitchen might look like instead of trying to visualize from a 4×4 sample at Lowe’s. I was so sad that the faux carrera quartz they had available was $95 a square foot. Although this included installation and ultimately would have been cheaper than Lowe’s, it was still more than what I was comfortable spending on counters.
This particular slab caught my eye and was within budget. It’s Iced White by MSI. It’s pure white with large silver flecks in it. I think I was attracted to the price more than the actual slab ($75 a square foot installed), but I wasn’t totally against flecks at that point.
The bigger problem was that now I was totally turned around with what I wanted.
Did I want a marble look? Did I want flecks? Should I just spend more money and get what I initially wanted from Lowe’s? Would marble look outdated in 10 years? I wonder what a flecked quartz would cost at Lowe’s?
I posted a few of my counter options to Facebook to try and get some opinions. Notice how I followed my own advice from 10 Tips for Surviving a Kitchen Renovation? This always works for me when I get stuck!
My Aunt and Uncle, who recently renovated their home, both recommended (in separate messages even) that we stay clear of anything with flecks or patterns and told me to check out solid white counters (such as Silestone White Zeus Extreme that John already picked) for a clean, timeless look. Since I was at an impasse, so to speak, with the patterned options, I immediately started browsing Pinterest for inspiration pictures of solid white quartz.
When I saw how clean the plain white quartz looked against dark cabinets, I completely abandoned my idea of faux carrera marble and jumped on board the SS White Quartz. The counter here is Silestone White Zeus Extreme and I found this image from One Source Stone. (Notice, again, we are back to the one John originally picked? Someone just kick me.)
A week later John and I went back to Timeless Stone for the third time to find out what plain, white quartz slabs they had available. Although they only had a few full slabs on site, they had lot more sample options than Lowe’s. When we saw the sample of Silestone White Zeus Extreme in person it was was very bright (hence the ‘extreme’?) We determined it was just a little to medicinal for us. I didn’t even take a picture because I instantly did not like it.
We grabbed a few other white samples and had a pow-wow outside so we could see everything in natural light.
Eventually, we decided on Arctic White by MSI because it felt like the perfect mix of textured white and stark white, if that makes sense at all. In a nutshell, we wanted white, but not too white, a plain surface, but not too plain, and some texture, but not too much texture.
This is why no one wants to hang out with me.
Although it’s hard to tell, Arctic White has a very slight cream texture to it. MSI has really great reviews from what I could find online, and the price with installation came to $75 a square foot. Needless to say, I was ecstatic.
We decided to upgrade our sink to a big double bowl, which was an additional $250 cost, but completely worth it in my opinion. While I love having a garbage disposal, I would be too grossed out if it wasn’t in a separate bowl for sanitary purposes. We also opted to go with a 1/2 bevel cut. I liked the square (eased) cut a little better, but John wanted to get the bevel and the owners at Timeless Stone recommended a bevel for safety and to reduce the risk of injury to people/future kids walking into sharp corners.
Real talk: any kid of mine is going to need all the help they can get not smacking into things.
I found this nifty chart for those of you unfamiliar with bevel cuts.
We also decided to add a 12″ overhang on the peninsula so that it could actually function as comfortable place to sit and eat.
On template day I was so excited that I hid in the living room and snapped this creepy picture while jumping up and down.
My creepy picture taking continued all the way through installation this past weekend. I don’t really know what all the steps were in terms of installing the counters… I know there was some lifting, some leveling, some glueing and some seaming going on, but any more than that was lost on me. Here are some of my pictures from the day:
One thing to note- when the template was initially done I was told the seam would most likely be in the middle of the sink. My initial reaction was ‘No, it’s not’.
The sink is directly below the window where the natural light would surely highlight it. We decided to run the seam between the main counter slab and the peninsula slab which, now that it’s installed, was definitely the best choice. The guys installing it did an amazing job with the seam and it’s almost unnoticeable unless you’re looking for it. For anyone about to get new counters- think about where you want the seam! The industry standard is to do it at the sink so there’s less to actually seam. I know myself and something like that on a non-patterned surface would drive me nuts. Since this is our maybe-not-forever-but-probably-a-really-really-long-time counter, I’m so happy I made the choice to run the seam in the corner!
Notice how there are no holes for the faucet? Fun fact: they cut those holes on site! It was terrifying. Just ignore the dirty spot in the bottom of that picture- obviously my photo editor skills are progressing at the same pace as this project.
So that’s the story about how we made the choice to go with white quartz counters. It was a long process with a lot of ups and a lot of never mind I don’t even want counters just get me a puppy moments.
The big question of the hour: “How much did it all cost?”
It’s a pretty simple breakdown. As I mentioned above it was $75 a square foot including installation. We had 56 square feet which came to $4,200 plus the $250 upgrade for the double sink. So all in $4,450 which was money well spent considering I actually look forward to doing dishes now.
Now that’s everything is said and done, I definitely think we made all the right choices. The only hiccup so far is that the faucet in the after picture is going straight back to Amazon because it doesn’t get tight enough to hold onto the counter without swiveling every time you pull down the faucet. I am super disappointed because it’s just stunning, but for the amount I paid I can go to Lowe’s and grab a better brand. Oh well.
If you follow me on Instagram @thehappyhouseproject you’ve already seen the before and after collage. If not, please head on over to check out more kitchen pictures! I’m hoping to get some better pictures once we get this project done!
Thanks for reading and happy renovating!
Edit 5/1/2016: Here are some updated kitchen pics. No, we are sill not done- slow and steady!
You can read about the open shelving we installed here.
You can read about installing the backsplash using the Mussel Bound Tile mat here and about grouting here.