• Danielle

A Long-Awaited Stone Expedition

And why we chose marble and soapstone for our new kitchen counters.

On the first day of our kitchen demolition, Bri and I finally got to take a trip to Marble & Granite to look at countertop slabs. I've been anxiously awaiting this particular kitchen design errand for soooo long! It's one of those things that needs to wait until a certain point in the process, when it makes sense to "tag your slabs" since they only hold your selection for a week or so. Between this AND the official kickoff of the demolition, I was beyond excited when the time finally came!

I’ve disliked the counters in every single kitchen I’ve ever occupied. From tile to granite, to linoleum, and even butcher block - they’ve all driven me batty in one way or another. Through all of it, I've been dreaming of finally selecting my own counters. When we got to the slab gallery at Marble & Granite in Westwood I was like a kid in a candy store. Dream. Come. True. Here’s what I was looking for:

The only surface I’ve consistently loved to work on is my marble-topped table from Crate & Barrel. So when I dream about new kitchen counters, I dream in marble. My table is probably about 10 years old now so I know all the downsides of marble in the kitchen. For a while I thought we’d try to go with a composite that looks like marble, but when I touched it in person I immediately knew it wasn’t right for my kitchen. The feel was more like Gram’s old Pyrex bowls, and as much as I love those bowls, that’s not what I want for my everyday work surface. I immediately shifted my focus back to tried-and-true marble. One touch and I knew THAT was definitely the feel I wanted. In fact, this slab of Bianco Carrara gave me all the feels.

My slab of Bianco Carrara marble. The color variations remind me of brushstrokes on a painting.

Yes, marble etches. But the most obvious spot on my table happened when someone left o.j. on it after our impromptu engagement breakfast the morning Brian proposed. I can’t be mad about that spot. It tells a story. And I’m honestly probably the only one who notices it. We decided to go with a brushed marble surface for the new counter, partially because it will reduce etching and staining, but mostly because it goes with the overall aesthetic of the new space. Will it stay perfect for all eternity? No. But I‘m a firm believer in the concept of wabi-sabi - beauty in imperfection. (It's actually way more complex than that, but here's a wonderful article that explains it.) Who knows what stories my new counters will tell.

I want the surfaces and materials in my kitchen to be durable, to stand the test of time, and to look loved and lived in. I had the pleasure of returning to Dorset, VT last summer for a friend’s wedding. (I used to stay there for a week at a time working on Cook’s Country TV filming and it’s one of my favorite areas of New England.) The town was once home to a large marble quarry and there is still marble everywhere you look. Even the sidewalks are marble, and they’re beautiful! It reminds me of places in Europe where the marble is literally ancient, and still gorgeous. I figure, if it can stand the test of time as floors and sidewalks and statues, it can last in my kitchen for the next 20 to 100 years.

“The marble not yet carved can hold the form of every thought the greatest artist has.” —Michelangelo

We’re going for two contrasting counter materials in the new kitchen, and soapstone is the other surface I’ve always dreamed of. I love the dark, rich, subtly veined look of soapstone and am so excited to pair it with natural wood cabinets. Here's a photo of the slab I chose. We still have to decide if we'll leave it natural, or seal it to the darker color shown in the wet circle. Both ways are so beautiful!

My Black Soapstone slab. The dark spot is water but represents what the color will look like if we seal the counters after installation.

The new space will be pretty open and large, so the layering of multiple cabinet and counter colors and materials will add visual interest and necessary breaks for the eye. Here are two inspiration images that contributed greatly to our color selections (the island and pantry cabinets will be Sherwin Williams Repose Grey). The warm neutral pallet also gives center stage to the statement backsplash I’m planning. (More about that in the next post!)

An inspiring Studio McGee kitchen and the impeccably renovated kitchen of Finding Lovely.

Studio McGee and Finding Lovely have been two consummate inspiration resources and I am SO grateful for all of the images and information they supply! Stay tuned for more inspiration images and design selections.

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