The Day – Balance between form and function


One of the most creative rooms to redesign is a home’s kitchen. The dimensions, proportions and layout of the space will dictate some of the design choices, but beyond these the possibilities are seemingly endless – from cabinetry to hardware, appliances, backsplashes, types of sinks, types of lighting and even types of flooring.

One of the choices a homeowner will have to weigh when redesigning or remodeling a kitchen is what type of countertop surface to choose. There is a growing list of options, from natural stone to engineered substrates, in a range of colors, textures and levels of durability. The choice should not be decided solely on aesthetic preferences, unless the goal is to have a kitchen that is more of a showcase than a workspace. Instead, it’s best to strike a balance between the look you hope to achieve and the wear and tear you expect from your countertops.

Take marble, for example. A marble clad kitchen makes a distinctive and regal statement, but it can be an impractical choice for work kitchens as it is prone to staining. It is also one of the most expensive options available to homeowners.

Granite is the most popular kitchen counter surface today. No two granite slabs are the same, so every kitchen it is laid in is unique in this regard. A natural stone, granite requires some maintenance to prolong its life – periodic sealing to smooth out marks and stains.

Granite countertops give a splash of color and character to the kitchen at 2-4 Bank Road in Old Lyme. The natural stone color palette complements the hardwood floors and creamy white cabinetry, for a warm and inviting ambiance. This is a unique home in that it comes with an integrated business opportunity – a working marina. The updated main house has four bedrooms and three bathrooms, and it’s connected to the property by a currently rented two-bedroom ranch, according to the listing. Kim Casey and Tyler Gracey of Seaport Real Estate Services are representing the seller of the 2.41-acre property.

Quartz and quartzite may look like geological relatives, but quartzite is a natural stone, while quartz countertops require human ingenuity to manufacture. Of the two, quartz is more forgiving and durable by design, and it requires no additional sealants or routine maintenance beyond regular cleaning.

The kitchen at 15 Novelty Lane, a directly waterfront property in Essex Village, features polished quartz countertops and backsplashes. The modern three-bedroom single storey house is currently up for sale. Colette Harron, a realtor with William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in Essex, is representing the seller, who is asking $1.995million for the property.

The quartz countertops at 15 Novelty Lane are the perfect complement to the custom cabinetry, complete with under cabinet lighting, and the farmhouse sink and faucet in a stainless finish. They blend visually with the stainless steel appliances, including a Jenn-Air refrigerator and a Samsung-branded dishwasher and electric range.

Laminate countertops are made by layering an artificial substrate over a wooden formwork. These are the most cost-effective options for countertops, and improvements to substrates in recent years allow installers to mimic the look of stone without the maintenance challenges or risk of heat damage. scratches, etching or stains. For a kitchen that experiences high traffic and demanding daily use, laminate may be a good option, with one caveat: laminate has a limited lifespan and may crack and peel as it approaches of its end.

Butcher block has long been a prime surface for cutting and chopping applications, but today it also serves as a striking countertop option for kitchens. And, of course, depending on the kitchen design, a homeowner may choose to combine several of these options – butcher block for work surfaces and granite for an island, for example.

For the homeowner, choosing the best surfaces for the kitchen depends on three factors: budget, aesthetics and functionality. A local dealer or kitchen designer can help sort through the options and help find the materials.

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