Help me with countertops! (Please?)

Grumpy Nation!  I need your help!

So… we want to have countertops made out of quartz (or granite) that look like marble.

There are… options.

Which one?

Home Depot has two companies that make quartz.  One is Silestone and the other is Viatera.  Here’s the pictures we took at Home Depot and then the one on the right is the two Viatera samples we picked up (they didn’t have any other samples — that third picture shows minuet, a quarter, then rococo, and they’re on top of our current terrible countertop).

The main difference between the different kinds of marble-ish quartz seems to be density and darkness of the grey lines.  Rococo is busier than Minuet.  White Arabesque is busier than Snow Ibiza and so on.

Also there’s two different types of marble that the quartz is trying to imitate.  Calacatta marble is the one with the fat long marbling– it reminds me of bathrooms more than kitchens, and the quartz example counter at Home Depot looked like formica to me (though oddly, there was a great looking formica knockoff– if only you couldn’t see the seams).  I like Carerra style marble instead– that’s the one with the shorter lines.  (I guess there’s also statuary marble, but I haven’t seen any quartz knock-offs for that– probably some of what I think is Calacatta is actually imitating statuary, but without any additional color.)

One problem that I have is that I cannot extrapolate those small samples to an entire counter.  Are the busy ones too busy?  The sparse ones too sparse?

Viatera has a great webpage with lots of pictures of their different options.  When you click on a stone, it shows you a slab and pictures of completed counters.  The Silestone page is a nightmare to navigate.   (I am also really irritated with a half-dressed Cindy Crawford [only wearing a top, for tops on tops, get it?] sitting on a kitchen counter on their first page and if you accidentally click it, you see a guy WEARING SHOES standing on top of another counter.  I MAKE FOOD ON THAT COUNTER.   GET OFF.  Also, WTF, aren’t women making most of these design decisions?  Supermodels are not doing it for me.)

I found a fantastic discussion on a houzz forum with pictures talking about quartz alternatives for marble.

The prices in the first picture are mostly the “non-sale” prices because apparently there’s some kind of sale going on, but it isn’t an easy to explain one, so I don’t actually know how much they cost or even their prices compared to each other.

What should I be thinking about as we decide on a countertop design?  How are we going to decide among all of these different kinds?

How thick?

The internet thinks I should be choosing between 2 cm with 3 cm edging or just straight up 3cm.  But home depot only seems to have 2 cm and 4 cm?  I’m not really sure that’s true though… How should we decide on thickness?


Almost all the kitchen countertops we’ve seen online have either sharp rectangular corners or softer “eased” rectangular corners.  But there’s a huge wealth of different edging options. Should we just do what everyone else is doing or are there benefits to other forms of edging?

Other recommendations?

We have no idea what we’re doing.  Any suggestions on counterops would be highly welcome?

Grumpy nation!  Help a grumpeteer out!

p.s.  Several of my colleagues have built their houses from scratch and that sounds like a nightmare.  I get anxious just imagining it!


44 Responses to “Help me with countertops! (Please?)”

  1. yetanotherpfblog Says:

    I think a lot of these depends on the overall style you’re going for in the new kitchen. For my own kitchen, I’d personally choose something sparse Carerra-esque with thin, long veins for a delicate feel. That plus eased rectangular corners for a clean modern look. But that’s just my aesthetic. I’d start by figuring out your whole-kitchen feel then choosing counters.

    Thickness, as far as I can tell, is a luxury power play (i.e. is this person wealthy enough to buy *twice* as much marble for minimal visual impact). Nice to have if you can afford it though, thicker counters certainly look nice.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I don’t know that we have an aesthetic. One point that may matter– our walls and cabinets are all bright white. (Why? Because that seemed better than the gingham wallpaper the previous owners had, and white seemed to be in for kitchens.)

  2. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    1) Thickness: Look at ‘max deck thickness’ on whatever faucet you want. (See p. 2 here for an example: 2/3/4 cm still needs extra reinforcement on your cabinets (see here:
    2) We have eased edges but they’re rounded at the corners; someone managed to chip them before we moved in. I personally like bullnose.

  3. First Gen American Says:

    What color are your cabinets and flooring?

    If your cabinets are staying white then I’d go for a darker tone with more grey in it otherwise it’ll look too whitewashed and vice versus. General rule is to not have anything all in the same tone because those kitchens look off. All dark colors look similarly strange. My neighbor has an all white kitchen with Carrera that is gorgeous but she has a huge island with a dark colored counter and cabinet in the middle of the kitchen to give it some warmth and to offset all the white. She also has warm colored hardwood floors which helps too.

    I have Carrera in all 3 of my bathrooms for flooring. It’s gorgeous and timeless as there is some here original marble in my house from 200 years ago too that I matched.

    From an engineering standpoint the 1/2 bullnose is pretty bombproof. I liked some of the fancy edges but was afraid of chipping them. Anything with sharp corners is less robust. I am sure they are plenty strong with any edge but I wasn’t taking any chances.

    If you are going with grey walls I have a color I really like with the marble. Sherwin Williams aloof. Sw6197.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Cabinets and flooring are both white and staying white. Our kitchen doesn’t really get any natural light (but we do have new LED fixtures).

      One of my friends suggested painting the sides of the island to add some color, which in theory we could do (I would paint it a dark blue to match the one hint of color on the trim.) But we would probably only do that if we were unhappy post renovation.

      Great things for us to think about!

      • First Gen American Says:

        With all that white, I’d paint the walls a different color but that can be done anytime. You can also add some darker runner and rugs to the floor to add some color and paint is cheap.

        I have a similar issue with light as I have attached porches everywhere and they block direct sunlight from getting into the house. The grey I sent you is still pretty light and would probably look like a very light color in a sunny room but is just right for a darker space. Adds some warmth without darkening the space which is what I needed. It could also be in the blue tones but I find those colors very hard to pick the “right” shade. They always seem to look too purple or Easter eggy and can never quite match what I envision in my head.

        You could theoretically pick a different island color for the island which is quite popular right now as well but not sure it will hold the test of time as all of a sudden everyone was doing it. If it’s just the cabinet you can always paint it back if it’s no longer on trend. (My island IS a different color from my cabinets and so is the island countertop. It is cherry wood from our yard, not that it is the most practical choice but it is gorgeous.)

        Grey was super trendy a couple of years ago too and maybe it’s not as hip anymore but I really don’t care as many of my colors are from historical palettes.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        We lived with that hideous gingham wallpaper for >8 years and only painted over it when we had to rent out the house… (And for those years, the island sides were a sea green which didn’t quite match)

        Rugs are a non-starter– to difficult to keep clean and way too dangerous given our children’s inability to not run in the house even with stuff underneath to try to get them to stay down.

        So… basically we’re really lazy?

  4. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    My taste leans toward minimal color in a countertop and bullnosed edges. A bullnose looks best on a thicker countertop.

    Of course, my opinion hardly matters—we are still using 1960s-era white Formica countertops that are getting a bit chipped. I’ve talked about doing a kitchen remodel with my wife a few times over the past decade, because she is not really happy with the current kitchen, but doesn’t want the disruption that a remodel would entail. Perhaps when we retire …

  5. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    p.p.s. Here’s what our kitchen looks like except with white walls and white island instead of green gingham, and the microwave is white and on the other side of the kitchen now (the hutch is functioning as a tea hutch).

  6. countingpinklines Says:

    Joining the discussion here from Mel’s comments – Having never done/been around a house remodel and still renting, I had no idea that there were this many options! Also, I’m now starting to understand how Home Depot/Lowe’s/etc survive.
    For what it’s worth, I’d go with the most practical choices – which edging option will cause the least damage when you bang against it (hip/leg as you navigate a turn or head when you are looking in the cabinets)?

    Also, blegh – I did check out the silestone site and her feet are on the counter! Near the wine glasses! And who cooks without pants?!

  7. accm Says:

    I always think simple and non-busy is good. But that’s me. :-) Re thickness: for tall people, every extra cm of counter height helps. If the chefs in your house aren’t tall, then there’s less incentive to go extra-thick.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The worry about going too simple in this case is that we end up with a kitchen that goes overboard on the color white.

      I’m short and DH is tall… if we were super wealthy we’d get someone out from the city and spend a fortune dealing with our height differences in the design of everything. Which would also hurt resale value…

  8. chacha1 Says:

    fwiw I suspect if you are staying with bright-white painted walls and cabinetry, any kind of ‘white’ stone is highly likely to look gray. The more veining in the quartz, the more gray it will be. Also, the white base is highly UN likely to really match your white paint, so at best you have two shades of white + one or more shades of gray.

    My personal choice would be to go with one of the quartz products that is closer to granite in appearance, which is to say a grainier distribution of colors without obvious veining. But also I don’t care if it looks natural, so if that’s a thing, ignore me. I like the ones that look like terrazzo. :-)

    As to thickness, if you are a satisficer on this as I suspect from the long tenure of the gingham wallpaper, just go with the standard 2 cm products from HD or Lowe’s because there is no added utility in extra thickness (I am guessing that 4 cm refers to the wrapover? the actual edging? 4 cm might well make it impossible to open a top drawer!) unless you have a situation like ours where your gas cooktop’s high burner is 2 cm away from the edge of your countertop and inclined to set it on fire. Then some extra depth of stone might be advisable.

    btw it is legit to use one product for wraparound counters and a different product for an island. If you really want a marble look, use it where it will have the most impact AND fight least with your paint: on the island.

    also fwiw I like a beveled edge rather than rectangular, but if it’s not advised for a given product the truth is nobody will notice after a week. Plain ol’ rectangular is going to work fine. :-)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I wouldn’t say it’s bright white– we basically told them to use the white they were using in other people’s kitchens. (And the walls in the main area are the beige that they put on new builds, which is less peach than the original beige. We thought about doing the master bath in grey, but most of the fixtures are still gold, so we stuck with peach walls and white cabinets.)

      At this point I think DH and I would shoot ourselves if we had to start the quartz color picking process over again. We are almost to the F-it-all stage just with the options that home depot carries for marble look-alikes.

      Definitely a satisficer! Though DH is all, we’re spending lots of thousands of dollars on this and we will live with it forever so we should do some due diligence or we will feel REGRET. And he’s not wrong… (And so far he’s spend less time on countertops than he did on stovetops, which is good, I guess.)

  9. teresa Says:

    I like the one on the left personally, but the right side one might contrast better with everything else all white? Or if you are getting stainless appliances maybe that is enough contrast?

    We got quartz counters a little over year ago. No idea what manufacturer but they look like the viatera clarino so could totally be that. I’m not sure I even realized there were thickness options. Looking at them I think they are 2cm with 3cm edge. Possibly 2cm with 4cm edge if that’s a thing. Eased edges. They look good and nobody has damaged them or damaged themselves on them, plus they are easy to clean (we previously had tile counters, which, gross) and I can put hot stuff on them which is what we mostly cared about.

    Faucets were definitely separate from sinks (most of the sinks we looked at actually required the faucet holes to be drilled in the counter, not the sink itself at all). We ended up getting a touch-activated faucet which I looooove (this: , even though I made fun of it (a lot) when my husband wanted to order it.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      DH has been explaining to me that we may have to purchase the sink and faucet and cooktop before they will measure for countertop. What’s the point of going with one contractor if you have to do things piecemeal?

      DH is currently leaning towards a silestone called white arabesque, which is apparently the cheapest of the four we narrowed it down to. But it’s only the cheapest because of the current sale—another might be cheapest on the next sale. I’m like I just want to lock down price now and stop deciding things.

      • teresa Says:

        Hah the whole time we were doing this renovation my husband kept asking what we were paying the contractor for if we kept having to buy all kinds of stuff individually from a million different places. Somehow we managed to pick a countertop and cabinets in about 3 minutes but had to drive all over LA on multiple days to decide on tile for the backsplash (and bathroom). By the end I just wanted to pick something to stop thinking about it.

        The white arabesque is pretty. Just go for it before they change the sale!

        Pretty sure you need to be committed to sink/faucet/cooktop and anything else that involves a cutout from the countertop before they’ll order (and probably before they’ll bother measuring or anything since it could change). Our contractor also required us to have all the appliances at our house before they’d start.

  10. CG Says:

    If you have an independent stone and quartz store in your area you may be able to go and see larger slabs you’re considering. I would strongly recommend doing that if you can. You’ll get a much better idea of what it will look like in your kitchen. You can likely keep your old faucet if you like it. They will have to drill a hole for a faucet anyway. And, yes, they want all the variables sorted out before they will measure for countertops.

  11. jjiraffe Says:

    Picking a design aesthetic is a good idea before you embark on kitchen updates. Sounds pretentious I know. Based on the pictures, your kitchen has kind of a “Country Living” vibe going on. I like your island’s color—reminds me of my grandmother’s farm-style kitchen, in a really pleasant nostalgic way :)

    I think you could either go Carrera marble quartz, or: what about slate grey?

    Here are some pictures of white modern country kitchens that are pretty nice:

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The island and walls are now white. Previous owner was the country living person. The only items currently remaining are the gingham knobs and the gingham shelf lining. My friend is pushing heavily for replacing the knobs with nickel, which is easier to do than finding an affordable way to match the blue in the backsplash detail (same blue as the kitchen aid, which is a coincidence)

      • jjiraffe Says:

        Got it, lots of white. A white kitchen is never going to go out of style, which is nice. If you do the nickel knobs, those would go nicely with the Carrera marble quartz. If I lived nearby, I would totally help you pick all this stuff. I learned a ton from my remodel (including lots and lots of what NOT to do).

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        It’s all so hard!!!! *whiiiiine* I would so let you pick out all this stuff.

        I guess one good thing about DH and I having no taste is that we’re pretty good at just saying, “do what the generic new builds are asking for” when it comes to aesthetics. (Which isn’t to say we have *bad* taste, we just don’t have any particular taste. We would never willingly *choose* gingham wallpaper, but we also lived with it for nearly a decade without being too irked by it. Heck, we still have vertical blinds in the great room. I’m really big into form follows function and only replace things when they break. I’m still weirded out by replacing the stovetop given it’s only a little bit rusty, even if we both prefer gas.) (DH is still a maximizer when it comes to picking out functional stuff, whereas I would totally just get whatever is highest rated or most popular. And he gives special points to things that have fancy engineering. Hence the crazy new faucet choice. And the Honda Clarity.)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        though a big part of me is like, there’s nothing wrong with the green gingham knobs now… so what if they no longer will go with the kitchen, they’re not like broken or anything…
        This is why we still have some gold fixtures in our master bath even though the faucets are all burnished nickel now.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        (this is #2 here) New plan for our dream home where we live with our families in a 3-story house and share the middle floor: I get to pick out all finishes and fixtures in the common area.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:


        I have strong opinions about libraries, mostly involving bookcases and comfortable places to lounge. I think we’re probably on the same page there. So… I am fine with you picking stuff out. I like aubergine just fine. And I think we already agreed on one of those sliding bookcase ladders that I’ve always wanted.

        I do recall we have a major disagreement about fireplaces, as you see them as necessary and I see them as evil things that make my allergies unhappy and cause drafts.

  12. ellie Says:

    I’m talking as someone with a toddler and a husband who tends to leave things on counters, so take this for what it’s worth:

    If it were me, I would go with something that looks like dumb everyday messiness won’t stand out a whole ton. So that it wouldn’t bother your eye if, say, a drink was left on a counter and it left a ring or someone spilled milk and didn’t clean it up all the way. Because it is nice to be cleaning a counter and to realize that you had no idea that a particular spot was there until you were really looking closely.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I think for us, anything will be an improvement from what we currently have, which is straight-up white, difficult to clean, and turns yellow if you use bleach on it. It is the worst!

  13. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Speaking of sinks and faucets, here’s what DH has decided (as of this morning) he wants.
    Sink (my requirement: metal and double sink):
    I have to say I don’t really understand the faucet choice, but if it makes him happy, I’m fine with it. The video claims that the spring is functional, so whatevs.

  14. Kelly Says:

    Check out Amazon for things like faucets and knobs. Their prices tend to be less expensive for the exact same items as Home Depot (DH’s faucet is $12 cheaper there than the HD link). Thicker countertops are more modern and thicker more traditional. Thin countertops look out of scale with cabinets with chunky details. Either will look great with your cabinets. Ask your contractor if they can do hidden or floating brackets under your peninsula overhang. It will buy you a little leg room, look cleaner, and save the edges of your chairs (and knees). Once you get the countertops in, if it feels too white, a soft grey subway tile, particularly a more handmade looking one, would look fabulous in here and would add just the bit of color you need to give it some depth. You’re going to love how easy these counters are to clean! However, the faucet that DH picked out is a royal pain to clean. My in-laws have a similar one and all the nooks of the spring drive me crazy when I work in their kitchen!

  15. Getting rid of the ice maker and replacing it with a new cabinet: Step 1 (after initial payment) of the kitchen process | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] measurement, pick out a countertop, and lock in a price, which we did.  We chose from among many marblish looking quartz options, going with white arabesque, bullnose, 4cm, in the end.  That was the end of January/beginning of […]

  16. Grumpy Rumblings 2019 year in Blogging | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] Help me with countertops! (Please?) January 2019 (I should probably post completed pictures […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: