Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stone Countertops - Yes, Please!

I'm almost embarrassed to even write about this, because we're currently in the middle of some pretty big projects. It's way more than I bargained for. That's for sure! This was NOT a planned expense, but it was one I couldn't refuse. I.E.: when your husband encourages you to pick out some solid surface counter tops, you don't argue ;-)

Yup. We're getting solid surface counter tops for all three of our powder rooms!

I still think I might be dreaming. Nope. It's true!

Here's what happened...

In case you didn't know, my husband is a professional contractor. That means we almost always have zero labor costs on our own home improvements and we get first dibs on sale products from our suppliers.

 It just so happened that we became privy to some granite and quartz remnants, which are perfect for vanity tops. Vanities are also small enough that Justin and I can pick them up from the fabricator and do the install ourselves. Sweet! We'll still have to save up for those full slabs for the kitchen though! Rats.

Now, there was no knowing what colors they would have, so I had to go in with an open mind. To save time, I let the owner know that I was looking for anything with white or black. Trying to keep it classic. I thought these remnants might be some hideous colors, but most of them were actually really pretty.

I totally hit the jackpot! Or, at least I think so. I ended up finding a remnant big enough for the two smaller vanities in a "Leather" finished Black Galaxy granite. Basically, that just means the stone isn't shiny and creates more of a soapstone look. It's not as textured as an "Antique" finish and shows less finger smudges and water spots than a "Honed" finish. This photo isn't Black Galaxy (which has sparkly flecks in it), but the finish is similar.


For the master bath, I was drawn to a pretty white quartz that had flecks of silver in it that sparkled like glitter. Glitter! I didn't see the name on it, however. I think it's Sparkle White or something. Maybe too blingy for some, but I kept on going back to it, so I just went with my gut reaction. Trust me, it's so pretty! Here's an example of a plain white quartz countertop. I can't find a photo of the  quartz we bought.



I think I made some really great choices, not just aesthetically, but also in terms of functionality and durability.

Here are some things to consider when picking out granite and quartz:

I'd like to think of myself as person who balances Form and Function in the way I decorate my home. I want pretty, of course, but it also needs to make sense for the way we live.

The leathered finish on the black granite is supposed to reduce fingerprints and smears. The dark color will minimize the appearance of any possible stains. No, we don't live like pigs or anything, but I do color my own (dark brown) hair at home and even with towels spread out all over the bathroom, accidents can and do happen (like on my vanity cabinet! Meh. I had plans to paint it anyway). I'm definitely going to be extra extra EXTRA careful from now on though!

That being said, I still liked the idea of having a white vanity top in the master bath. I love the look of marble, I really do, it's so timeless, but marble is extremely porous and the pretty gray (iron) veins can, over time, oxidize, and turn rusty, especially if exposed to a lot of moisture. Slowing this process down takes a lot of maintenance (like bi-annual sealing and making sure the marble is kept as dry as a bone). Granted, a vanity top doesn't see too much moisture, but I'd rather stay on the safe side. I like a clean home, so cleaning is a regular activity around here, but I don't enjoy cleaning, least of all babying all the surfaces in my home. The dust that accumulates on my black coffee tables right after I've dusted them is already enough to drive me completely bonkers!

So when I saw that white quartz, I knew it was the perfect solution to this problem. Quartz is made of natural crystals, held together by a super strong binding agent. It is actually more durable and sanitary than solid stone, and it won't turn yellow or brown. If we're going to put money into something like this (a 73" long vanity top), then I certainly want it to last for a long time. Marble, my dear, I love you, but you are just too high maintenance for me.

If you're having the same internal conversation with yourself, think about quartz. It's more expensive, but doesn't need to be pampered as much. Bonus: it comes in variations that mimic marble.  I know, I know! I used to hate quartz because it wasn't "natural" like granite and marble. When it comes to picking out a white surface, however, I think it's much more practical.

I better start taking the "BEFORE" photos, because these beauties will be here in no time. I also have to get my faucets ordered. Eek! One project always leads into another.


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