This post is long overdue, but I’ve been taking a little time off to spend some quality time with my family over the holidays! Now that the New Year is here, I’m beyond excited to get back to all things Pretty Little Life!
Every time I post about our kitchen, I get asked what material our countertops are. The short answer is Calacutta Caldia Marble. The long answer is that there were many many hours spent researching, visiting stone yards, and talking to experts before we finally came to this decision. I would be lying if I said I didn’t lose sleep over this because it’s such a make or break decision for the look of your kitchen, especially ours, because of our design! We don’t have a ton of perimeter cabinets in our kitchen because of our beautiful breakfast nook, so we wanted a large center island to bring in the drama. Our island is 11 feet long, so we definitely wanted it to be a showstopper. We decided on an all white kitchen, but picking a countertop to complement the white was a little trickier than you would think!
Let’s start with the different countertop materials we looked at. As I mentioned above, I researched this topic at length and went to several different stone yards near and far from our house. The options we chose were: marble, quartz, quartzite, and porcelain.
Undoubtedly the most popular option when it comes to kitchen countertop materials. The biggest pro here, is how durable this man made selection is. It won’t etch or stain and isn’t porous. There is little to no maintenance when it comes to quartz and there are tons of different brands and manufacturers available. There are also “jumbo slabs” in quartz, which was a big plus for us because of the size of our island. When we were shopping for materials, our builder strongly advised us to get quartz, because of how much Ryan cooks and since we have a young growing family. I think the problem with quartz for me was that they are made to imitate marble, and in my opinion, the look didn’t even come close. I couldn’t find anything that looked realistic or brought any pizzazz to our all white kitchen. They are pretty standard across the board, even though there are many different brands of Quartz, so your slabs would match exactly and bookmatch which is great for a large island. My friend Leah, from Our French Modern, once told me that you have to appreciate quartz for what it is and not try to compare it to the look of marble. It’s important to note, because something man made is never going to compare to a natural stone and I think this is really great advice and SO true! Quartz is also very cost efficient which is a big plus!
Porcelain slabs for kitchens are definitely a newer technology that is gaining popularity in terms of countertops. Porcelain slabs are actually screen-printed in a “text-overlay” and can look very similar to a real marble slab since it’s an exact imitation of a marble slab. Porcelain slabs are very affordable and are resistant to heat, staining, and scratches. The cons to porcelain are that it’s paper-thin, so it is a very difficult material to work with. It breaks easily and fabrication tends to be very tricky. Think of how easily a porcelain plate can chip, but now imagine an inch thick slab that’s 7+ feet long! For us, since we needed two slabs for our island alone, our builder and fabricator basically said there was a slim chance of it not breaking during fabrication or install. It’s a big risk to take, as you would be financially responsible for the slab no matter what happens to it. Our fabricator gave us fair warning that he does not work with porcelain because of its fragility, so that was basically enough for us in terms of taking it off the table. Since it’s a newer technology, it’s also very difficult to find a slab that has a pure white background. They are creamier and more yellow in tone, which wouldn’t be as noticeable if you don’t have stark white cabinets. Our cabinets are basically the whitest white you can get, so I knew the color contrast would always bug me and look off. We do have porcelain large format tile in our master shower and I really like it! Porcelain for smaller areas is a totally different ballgame. I think in a few years porcelain technology could really be perfected and become as popular as a quartz option since it’s so realistic and cost effective!
Quartzite was an option I was very interested in! Differing from quartz, it’s a natural stone, so it has that unique beauty while also being very durable just like quartz. It won’t stain or etch and is a great option for someone who wants something with more character than quartz, but still needs that durability factor. The one problem with Quartzite is that there is no such thing as a “white” quartzite. If you’re looking for something that mimics a Calacutta or Carrera, you’re not going to find it here. They have some gorgeous colors and if I had a different look in my kitchen, I would have definitely gone with Quartzite for something more bold. I just couldn’t find anything to fit my aesthetic, but I saw a ton of gorgeous slabs and would still definitely recommend this option!
Now onto our countertops….
Marble is undoubtedly the most gorgeous and luxurious stone you can find. The beauty is unparalleled, and every slab is unique, which is why it can take so long to find the perfect one. Marble can range in pricing depending on what type you are looking at. One of the most beautiful and popular types of marble is Calacutta gold – holy moly is this beautiful! Every time we visited a stone yard, Calacutta gold would stop me dead in my tracks. The only problem was the steep price tag that seemed to be significantly more than every other marble slab. I remember when I was first shopping for countertop options and I asked about marble vs. quartz. Someone told me that you have to think of countertops as “Fashion over function”. I honestly think this is such a good way to put it, because there are lots of pros and cons to marble.
The obvious pro is that it’s gorgeous – you will never find any man made option that stacks up to marble. Every slab is unique and there are SO many different options to choose from. The negative, and the big reason why people are more hesitant to go with marble, is the upkeep. Marble is a very porous material, meaning it soaks up and absorbs any type of moisture you put on top of it. It can stain easily and it will also etch easily. Anything that is acidic will etch the stone and dull it in some spots.
When we were shopping for our kitchen slabs, I went back and forth for a long time on what the right decision was for us. My husband loves to cook and makes us amazing dinners every night – he isn’t the neatest cook ever. We also have a young growing family, and kids can be very messy! I would say, the decision became much easier for me as I actually started shopping and seeing my options. Nothing compared to marble and I started researching more about the maintenance and reaching out to people I knew who had marble kitchens. The overwhelming majority of people told me what I already knew – yes it’s porous, but no it’s not impossible to keep in good condition. I decided that since our island is 11 feet and really the showpiece of our kitchen, I wanted to go for it!
We searched all over for the perfect Calacutta slab, since I knew I wanted to incorporate brass and gold into our kitchen. I finally found my dream slabs, (Calacutta Caldia) at PMI in Marlboro, NJ. We needed two slabs just for our island alone and ended up purchasing a third for the perimeter. After doing some research about marble upkeep, I learned that the biggest issue you can run into with marble is the etching. If you seal your marble, you really shouldn’t have much of an issue with stains unless you let spilt red wine sit on your counter all night! We decided that we would hone our marble to take away the possibility of our marble etching with time. Honing is basically making the marble matte with no shine. I absolutely LOVE this look and think it’s so fresh and contemporary. Sometimes really shiny countertops feel a little dated to me and honed marble is so soft and chic. I’m really happy with our choice!
Our marble upkeep:
Like I mentioned above, our marble is honed which takes a lot of the pressure off in terms of maintenance. When the countertops were installed, our fabricator sealed them and instructed us to continue to do so every month. The seal is just something you wipe on from time to time and is fool proof – you really should do this for ANY marble you have in your house, not just your kitchen.
We have now been in our house for 3 months, and as I mentioned, we are pretty hard on our kitchen. I am pleasantly surprised with how easy it’s been to upkeep our marble. Is it something you have to pay a little more attention to? Absolutely. Is it impossible to keep it looking beautiful? NO! If anyone is considering this option for your kitchen, I say go for it! Marble gets a bad rep for being incredibly hard to keep up with and I’m here to say that it definitely doesn’t live up to its reputation! It’s such a beautiful and show stopping addition to any home and very much worth the extra few minutes a day to clean it off!
Some quick bullet points from this post on our slabs, since I know it was information overload!
- Our countertops are Calacutta Caldia marble
- We have an 11 foot island
- We do have a seam, but it’s virtually invisible
- Our marble is honed which means not shiny
- Our marble is from PMI in Marlboro, NJ
- SHOP SHOP SHOP and do your research to find which option best suits you!
I hope this post was helpful and informative for anyone who is struggling with countertop materials! Remember to weigh out your options to best determine which one works for your family. I will also post all the things we use to maintain and care for our Calacutta in a later post, so come back soon!