Thursday, 22 May 2008

Countertop Controversies - Carrying the Weight of Your Heaviest Kitchen Decision on Your Overburdene

Are you thinking about enrolling in a 12 Step Granite Recovery program? Know every granite pattern by first and last name? Memorized every vein? Color? Distributor? Froze your way through "slab walks" in unheated warehouses searching for one that spoke to you? Toured kitchen showrooms, city-wide house tours and realtor open houses looking for the very best the earth's quarries have to offer?

You're not alone. We have become a nation addicted to granite for our kitchen countertops. Real estate ads will boast of "stainless appliances and granite counters"; shelter magazines will give descriptions of the granite's exact name (in a language we do not recognize); and designers will talk about it ad nauseam as if the very integrity of your kitchen depended on a heavily-granited presence.

Whatever happened to old-fashioned soapstone? Or limestone? Marble? And how does those humblest of countertop materials-tile and wood-work? Where does concrete fit into the countertop controversy? Or silestone? And where did the name Caesar Stone come from? (Could that be Caesar Augustus?) And what's with Zodiaq with a "q"?

If you are in the middle of a kitchen remodeling job, you will undoubtedly find yourself smack dab in the middle of the countertop controversy for at least a few weeks before you make your final decision. You'll be frantically calling every slab dealer in your state; have nightmares of spilt red wine on the Carrera marble you envision; toss and turn over the image of toddler's climbing to snitch forbidden cookies onto your newly-installed limestone; and whig out at the thought of trying-to-be-helpful dinner guests chopping vegetables-without that necessary bamboo cutting board resting comfortably underneath those organic carrots-which set on top of your easily-scratched soapstone.

Selecting countertops for your kitchen will be the heaviest decision you'll make for this room. And you'll carry it on your overburdened shoulders until installation day...and beyond. Here's the skinny on what you really need to consider:

Who will be working the room? You? Your spouse? Housekeeper? Teenage football player son? Grandmother? Personal chef? How much does this person know about the proper care and feeding of countertops?

Are you-or that special someone managing your kitchen-careful about chopping? Or do you generally forget to pull out the cutting board? Will those accidental scratches make you insanev Do you enjoy rolling out homemade dough? Like the idea of pressing butter-laden phyllo onto your countertop surface? Or will that oily stain drive you nuts?

Do you enjoy maintenance projects? Find the weekend ritual of cleaning and oiling your countertops to be particularly soothing? Or does the thought of adding mineral oil to preserve your soapstone inspire you to jog to the nearest laminate dealer?

Are you a color bug? Gotta have grey limestone to coordinate with that luscious Provence gold? Or cannot live without the thought of green?

Are you accident prone? Always breaking a glass full of red wine on the way to the sink? Like to catch falling knives for the thrill of it?

Your countertops will take a beating. They will support stuff and help you organize stuff. They will give you a surface on which to chop, wrap, measure and serve food. Think about your daily routines in your kitchen. And how you want to best nourish the stomachs and souls of those whom you serve there. And then release the weight of this decision onto the cabinets that will support them. Controversy over.

An author and artist--and financial advisor by day--Carolina Fernandez brings her creativity and design insights, along with experiences garnered through eight renovations, to her second book Country French Kitchens (Gibbs Smith, March 2008). Her writing has appeared in over one hundred published articles and stories, including her first book ROCKET MOM! Her weekly newsletter spins to readers across the globe. She has been quoted in dozens of magazines, columns, blogs and articles, and has appeared in radio and television programs across the country, including the FOX News program "Your World with Neil Cavuto." She lives in Connecticut with her husband and their four children. Please visit: where you can get kitchen and design news as well as sign up for her free weekly newsletter "gleaux." Learn how to incorporate the warmth, beauty, comfort, charm, and joie de vivre--the art of living--so many of us desire into our kitchens, our homes...and our lives!

Article Source: