Design Inspiration

Countertops: Out With the Old in With the New!

by Sarah Cooper

Gone are the days of granite! (Please hold your gasps for the end). My new homebuyers are sick of the same old granite they’ve seen as an option in every house built over the last decade. New home buyers are choosing to forgo the now-traditional granite in their kitchen. It used to be, “Did you see the granite on the bar in that restaurant down the street? I have to have that!” Now it’s, “What can I put in my kitchen that is going to be chic and unique?” (Note to self: I may have a catch phrase there: “Chic and unique.”) Anyway, I agree with them. At The Studio by Ashton Woods we always encourage personalization, choosing elements that inspire and speak to your unique style. It’s hard to do that with the same old black granite. Let me give a little more detail on what’s the new buzz in The Studio.

Source: Ashton Woods

Ever since the 1920s, our poor American kitchens have been simply laminated to mimic a natural countertop. However, actual natural stones started turning up in many remodels throughout the early 2000’s. Granite, marble, limestone, and even concrete spiked in popularity. But most recently, and the most modern go -to has been engineered quartz. It combines the look of a natural material with stronger durability and can meet every buyer’s needs. I called one of our countertop vendors to help better explain this material (have I mentioned we have the best vendors at AW?!)

If you’re looking for a white top: Jamie, my local sales rep, explained that granite is made up of only 20% of hard quartz. The rest consists of many different materials, including but not limited to garnet, microcline, plagioclase, and mica. Since there are so many different minerals making up one slab, the pattern comes out very busy and varied when pulled from the quarries. Finding a pure, clear white granite is difficult because of the many components. This is important to note for all you “White Kitcheners” out there.

If you were looking for low maintenance, many people for a time were drawn to a man-made material: Corian. This material gave a solid look, but didn’t hold up well against heat or scratches. With Corian, there’s minimal movement but a variety of solid bold colors.

Source: Ashton Woods

If you’re looking for dramatic veining and timeless color variations, you might like the random and exotic movement that granite offers. Granite is a natural material and comes from the earth. As such, consistent color is never a guarantee. Because it’s a natural stone, that also means it’s porous. Although you can’t always see what the top is absorbing, granite can absorb and hold many of the bacteria that come with cooking. Natural marble may also seem like the right fit. However, it’s important to note it has similar qualities. Marble, Jamie explained, is mainly composed of calcium. That’s what gives it its beautiful (often unpredictable) pure white color, but also the ability to scratch and absorb. Therefore, marble will start out pure white, but like an old staircase, it will wear down and change colors.

Source: Ashton Woods

Enter Quartz! It fits everything you could be looking for, whether it’s white, bold, or dramatic. All the while being low-maintenance. It’s the perfect option if you’re looking for a pure white because it’s made up of about 95% of solid quartz material so there are no competing materials. The result is super hard, super low-maintenance, and comes in super colors! Now, maybe you’re not one of my “White Kitcheners”. So guess what? Drum roll please…You got it, bring on the Quartz! Quartz—like Cambria and Silestone, the brands we carry at The Studio—have many new movements that mimic exotic granite or marble but without the knife scratches and red wine rings. They even have some funky (and consistent) colors that you just can’t find with a granite.

Countertops are important. They go through a lot in a kitchen so the material needs to hold up to the ardors of life: the multitude of stains, scratches, and stresses, all the while bringing style to a new home. And quartz does just that! And have I mentioned you never have to seal it? This is where you can gasp. It’s no wonder that our AW customers have made this their favorite countertop product! Whatever you’re looking for to tie into your style, The AW Studio team, along with some of our amazing vendors like Jamie, will help guide and educate you on what material will mesh with the functionality and style of your brand new kitchen.