HELP!!! White/light or black countertops with white cabinets?

tblmomJanuary 1, 2013

I will be renovating the small kitchen in our new home (1940's brick colonial) and my husband and I can not decide on a countertop color for our pue white, shaker style cabinets. We are knocking down the dining room wall and adding a peninsula. The dining room is currently a light olive/avocado green, which we are okay with and don't feel like re-painting. So that same color will be extended into the kitchen. Our trim is white, floors are a medium brown wood, I think it's oak.

We like the look of both the white carrara marble and the dark/black countertops. But we wouldn't actually use the marble due to the maintenance (2 young kids and grandparents over the house all the time who use the kitchen a lot).

We've decided that we would be fine with either color. Whenever we see a white kitchen we like, we're set on the all white...but as soon as we see a kitchen we like with black countertops, we go back to the black. Now it's a matter of choosing one and sticking with it!!!

Is a white quartz/quartzite/granite pretty much the same in terms of maintenance when compared with a black/dark granite? Which color would be more "universal" in terms of re-sale?

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If there isn't a lot of light in the kitchen I would use a lighter counter. If you don't want the maintenance issues of marble there are several nice quartz look alikes now. A dark counter will make the room seem darker and will show smudges, dust and fingerprints if it's shiny black granite. The contrast will also make the room look smaller. It's also too harsh with pure white. I also don't care for glossy black counters in an older home. Here's a kitchen using one of the new quartz marble looks. It's the Cambria Tarquay (sp.?). So pretty!

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 10:59AM
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What about a dark gray like honed Virginia Mist granite? Low maintenance, a little contrast, and a soapstone look. It would also look good with the green you describe, I'd think.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 11:15AM
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I have a small, G-shaped kitchen that is blessed with good light throughout the day. My cabs are creamy white and floors are red oak. I picked a dark gray quartz counter without giving it much thought. I really do like the look of a dark counter with white cabs and/or backsplash. For me, the whiteness was overwhelming at first and I was glad for dark on the horizontal plane to ground and mitigate all the whiteness.

I still like the look, in theory. However, I have one of those dark counters that hides streaks or dust motes to plague me. But it also hides gunk and I'm often dismayed to run my hand over the surface and find dried bits of stuff that I missed. I would rather have a counter that shows everything so I can indulge my OCD clean counter analness.

So, I love the look of a dark counter, but kinda long for a light one. If you have good light, I don't think a dark counter will darken or make your kitchen seem smaller. It's like having nicely done eyeliner.

My kitchen used to have soft sage walls and I liked it, but they're now antique white like the rest of the adjacent open space.

Colors not real accurate in photo:

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 11:58AM
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I used both in my old kitchen and loved the look of them together. My dark counter was soapstone and I had very little maintenance issues with it on my buffet.

I used white quartzite counters in the adjacent kitchen:

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 12:55PM
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We have a really small kitchen too. About 11'4" x 9' 3". We are doing white cabinets too. We have opened it up to the new dining room and the great room. We are also doing black and white marble foors.

We decided to go with marble. We have been abusing our Veneto marble since Christmas eve and love it more every day. The veneto is more white than Cararra, which we also considered. It also has a really nice taupey vein that runs though it and we thought it would be very nice with our arabesquato marble for the floors.

What other colors are you doing in your kitchen? What color are your appliances? Are you paneling any of them? How will your countertops look with the other rooms visible from the kitchen? We are painting the walls a deep orange color, and our tile is going to be white arabesque tiles with black grout.

We did look at a beautiful honed absolute black granite, but in the end, we thought that would be very stark, and didn't want the kitchen to appear too stark.

I think if you use the quartz look alike, it would be lovely. A cream granite could be very lovely too. If you have two different areas, mixing is also lovely. We just don't have the room to use both. We only need 30 sq feet!

Good luck on your decision. It will be lovely whatever you choose.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 1:37PM
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Love the looks posted here. Really, in a small kitchen you can do either and do it well. Pick a picture from here or houzz that speaks to you. What color are the counters? Do what you want in your heart. I tossed about both options and in the end love my low-maintenance soapstone. Like another poster said, it grounds it all together so it's not a sea of white for me. But I have friends with all white and it's equally as lovely. Good luck! (Here's my dark & white small kitchen linked)

Here is a link that might be useful: Dusty's kitchen

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 11:49AM
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I put dark in our last kitchen and lived to regret it. It showed every fingerprint, crumb and streak. I have two small kids and it was pretty difficult to keep it looking clean. Ours was polished, but I think honed might be better.

I'm doing light counters in this kitchen.

I like the look of both, but find lighter easier to keep clean.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 12:23PM
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I too keep wavering back and forth, not just on the counters but on the shade of white in the cabs even! Started at first wanting an yellow toned off-white like some of the samples I have gotten (Cliq for example), but my whole house is pretty much painted in that and now wonder if I want to continue that in the kitchen cabs or go with white white.
With the off white cabs I really thought that a more chocolate brown would strike the right balance between wanting a contrast and the drawbacks of a really dark counter.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 12:58PM
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We have a charcoal granite in our kitchen that has lots of colors, waves of grays, creams, in it. We have 3 kids - all teens. My issue with lighter granites was that all samples we brought home that were lighter we managed to stain or destroy. I did not want to get into having to seal or worry about being careful since the kids won't be.

I think dark counters and white cabinets is a classic look and won't go out of style - it's been around for years. Yes, we do deal with streaks, but I've been using an alcohol/water mix mentioned here and it works beautifully on the dark granite. I think crumbs are an issue on any counter, I'd rather see them to clean them than to have them be there and have the counter dirty and not realize it. You have to clean any counter. I don't find our dark granite any more or less forgiving than the cheap laminate it replaced; both have to be cleaned after they are used.

Personally, I do not care for the look of marble on white cabinets; I feel it looks blah, sterile, cold. However, I do like the look if it is mixed with a dark counter as well. Some love the monotone look. Only you can decide which is the look you prefer.

We have red oak wood floors stained in 'Provincial', creamy white cabinets, dark counters and green walls.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 1:02PM
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This might sound stupid, but have you brought samples home to see in your space? That is what helped me decide in my last kitchen. Went to the stoneyard convinced I wanted a dark counter. They looked soooo dark in my kitchen when I got them home. Ended up with Bianco Antico in that kitchen and could not have been happier. So, like paint samples, you really need to see it in your space. And ask to borrow several pieces of the samples in the colors. One 6x6 square is not going to do a lot for you. They are happy to lend out samples.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 1:18PM
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Firsthouse Hello, I saw your kitchen online and was wondering what your kitchen floor is called? I am in love with it. I have been looking for a light color engineered or vinyl for a long time. Do you like it and if you have more photos that would be great.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 2:12PM
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beekeeperswife. No we haven't brought samples home. I didn't know that was an option! We went to 2 different showrooms and no one ever mentioned that to us. I'll go back and ask...that's a great idea.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 3:19PM
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No one offered you samples? They must not have taken you seriously enough, or they're incredibly cheap. Just keep in mind that the samples you get (if not from the actual lot) may vary, but it'll be good enough for what you're doing at this phase.

Check out my link below because I have off white cabinets with both white marble and black absolute granite.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 9:56PM
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KevinMP. I see that you're in Philly. Where did you get your countertops from? We're just outside Philly and are randomly just going to places nearby, but we don't have any recommendations do go by.

They may have not taken us seriously. I guess we seemed like we were just browsing.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 10:19PM
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If you go across the Ben Franklin Bridge there's a place called All Marble & Granite. They have a huge selection and good prices, and a ton of samples pre-cut and alphabetized. Colonial Marble & Granite also has a lot, but it's kind of a pain in the neck. I prefer walking outside in natural light, and that's what you get across the river. Alpha Stone Gallery down by the airport also has a large selection, but it's a wholesaler not a fabricator like the other two. There are a bunch of other good yards, too, but the first one is my favorite. But if you want to spend some big bucks, check out the leathered titanium at Colonial Marble. It's awesome and would be a contender with your color scheme.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 10:55PM
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Beware of All Marble if they are tied into We have one of their sites here in my town, all I can say is eeewww, sceezy experience there. Eeeewww, can't tell you how bad it was to shop there, can't describe.

Shop around, find a REAL granite place. wanted almost 3 times what we paid and it was the yuckiest experience of my very long shopping career - won't give you actual names of granite unless you really push, have to fill out a form and sit through a VERY long sales pitch before they will take you into their granite 'showroom', can't just walk around, need a salesperson who shows you the samples that you pick out along their wall, and this of course, only after you have signed their sales agreement outlining payments which are out of line versus other places. They have lots of granite available, but all as a number and a colored price - you have to know your granite to price-shop there since most don't have their granties numbered instead of named. Yes, tehy can get granite in your house incredibly fast, but at a HUGE mark-up! Sceevy, sceevy, sceevy if it is the same company that has places in NJ, NY, and, CT.... We visited a location in CT - a true buyer beware situtation if it is....

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 11:34PM
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That's not the same place and the fact that you'd spend the time writing that is bizarre. It's not a chop shop. They have expensive stone, and experienced sales staff, but their prices are not more expensive than anyone else. It is a huge yard with good customer service, not a sample board on the wall. Know what you're talking about before writing a message like that. And perhaps try Google.

Otherwise, you just look like a troll shilling for whatever company you have an interest in as opposed to me, offering honest assessments of companies from personal experience.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 12:47AM
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We have honed Uba Tuba. It used to be polished and we honed it when we did our demi-remodel. HIGHLY recommend. The polished dark was impossible to keep looking good with little kids--I think I wiped it down a dozen times a day.

I used black and rubbed bronze hardware to give the white a pop.

Island is butcher block (which we use, hard) and I think also warms it up.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 12:14PM
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FWIW we went to a Marble dot com in Jersey, and it is the same, sleezy type of operation. They heavily advertise on the internet. I would avoid them also. And I am not trolling and I wish someone had warned me off them before I wasted my time driving there. Online they also go by "All Granite and Marble Corp" which links you to the website.

I think KevinMP is talking about All Marble & Granite. Seems like it is a different place.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 12:31PM
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hollylh - any pics of your honed ubatuba? I have polished and would love to see it honed (and with white cabs). Do the different colors show up more individually with honed (if that makes sense)?

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 1:03PM
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I am responding to your request about my is called DuChateau Lugano (White Oak) and it is engineered wood. I bought it through my local flooring company and runs about $11/ft un-installed. It has a definite "gray" cast to it.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 12:10AM
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@KevinMP - not trolling, simply trying to warn someone away from a place which is heavily advertised in the tri-state area and is quite close in name to one you posted.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 10:51AM
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Try this: clear off your existing countertops, take a photo, use paint program on your computer, and paint in the counter tops black :) I think this helps you visualize your space from "afar". If you have some black construction paper you can also lay several sheets out on your counter tops to give you a general idea how much light will get absorbed. If you house is older classic style then "honed" black might be a nice look for a large kitchen. If you have a small kitchen then I'd stick with lighter colors to keep it airy and bright. I think future buyers would prefer a bright vs dark smaller kitchen. Just my thoughts :) hth

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 11:18PM
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Get some black garbage bags and fold them to replicate a counter. Live with them a day or two and see if that's the look you want. That should quickly help you decide if you want to go dark or light.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 9:39AM
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