Help w/mini makeover-? about counters

greenhavenrdgardenJanuary 17, 2014

I'm usually over in the garden side so I'm sorry if this isn't an appropriate question....
I've decided that my kitchen needs a mini makeover. I've started replacing the old ugly appliances w/new stainless steel (all will be replaced). I also bought new hardware (handles, pulls and hinges) for my hardwood maple cabinets. The cabinets are pretty (a good color and they have crown molding which I like). They unfortunately had brass nobs and hinges. I am deep cleaning the wood, polishing, and doing touch ups in spots that needed it. It's looking great so far but I've realized before I can pick new light fixtures, paint and furniture that I need to pick a counter and back splash.

I have 35 square feet of counters and need one hole cut for an under mount sink (I'm replacing my cast iron sink w/- good quality stainless steel). I had tried to estimate a price by using Home Depots estimator tool. For their granite and instillation I've gotten prices ranging from 2,400-2,800 for their low end to medium granite. BUT, after reading some threads on here I've realized that I probably shouldn't go through Home Depot for granite. I'm such a newbie with home remodel that I'm a little nervous to go to an actual counter place. Maybe intimidated is a better word. As of right now I have 3G put aside for my counters. Will I be laughed at if I walk into a store and attempt to find a solid surface counter for this price? Should I wait until I have another thousand saved? I'm not looking for hi end. I just want quality that is pretty to look at. Also, is there anything I definitely need to know before I walk into a place?

I have a few more questions about counters and kitchen stuff but I'm trying to find a starting point and here it is.
Thanks for any help. Feel free to point me in the direction of sites I can read to help myself. There is so much info out there that it gets overwhelming.

Ps, the sink plumbing is not included in that price. I'm having my plumber do the sink bc he needs to lower my waste pipe (another annoying headache).

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Sophie Wheeler

Post some pics to get suggestions on more specific granites. But, it sounds like your square foot calculation is really low. Average kitchens are around 55 square feet of countertop. That usually works out to between 3-4K for a granite top. But, there are bargains to be had sometimes if a fabricator has an overage of a certain color, or has remnants available.

Do you have a measured drawing of the countertops? We can double check your math so you can be sure that you'll be talking with the fabricators with an apples to apples situation.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 12:06PM
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To add to what Hollysprings wrote, your area of the country can influence your costs. For example, some people in the midwest have reported back high quotes relative to the people on the coasts. And of course, your choice of counter will also swing your costs -- the price range difference between a common granite and a rare quartzite can be $60/sq ft on the slab cost. (The other variables are the edge detail you want and how complicated your countertop layout is -- thus Hollyspring's request above).


    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 12:25PM
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Some places I checked charged extra for smaller amounts of SF. I also suggest you post in exact layout of your counters. Are you sure you have 35 SF? remember your counters are probably 25.5" deep not 24". Some places charge more for edges and cutouts, some do not.

Don't walk into any place and say " I have $3000" to spend". Just go in, look, see what you like, get some estimates. Ask to see low and med priced granites without giving away your budget. Just my 2 cents.

edited to add: some parts of the country granite is sold by the slab and your a granite seller and a separate fabricator. Other areas, like where I live the granite seller fabricates the granite and it is sold by the SF. This can be confusing when you are reading posts from different areas. Call a place or two in your area and ask.

This post was edited by debrak2008 on Fri, Jan 17, 14 at 13:17

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 1:15PM
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Thanks for the replies. It really is 35 square feet. It's a small kitchen right now. In about 5 years we will tear down the wall the the fridge is against and open it to the room behind it. Right now that room is a playroom/library for the kids. When the kids don't need that room we will be able to open it up and make it part of our kitchen. The fridge will be moved and the washer/dryer that is behind the pantry will be moved to the basement. We live in a colonial that has an addition off the back which is what you see through the window above the sink.
I've done my math a few times. My counters are 25 inches wide. The entire stretch of counter that the sink is against is 134 inches. Next to the stove there is 2 inches on either side (also 25 inches deep). The peninsula sticks out an extra 29 inches and that section is actually 27 inches wide. (So the peninsula is 54 inches by 27...25 inches the width of the back counter and the extra 29 inches it sticks out). When I measure the long side it is 54 inches. If you look at the sink, from 45 degree angle to the other 45 degree angle it is 82 inches. Finally, that little section of counter next to the fridge is 25 inches deep and 27 inches wide.
I've also figured that I have 23 ft of finished edges (not counting the sink).
I was curious if you finish the inside edges that are against the stove? That stove will be replaced with a stove the same width. Not sure if this inside edges are finished so I did not add them in.
I'm so overwhelmed w/counter types. I know I need solid surface so I can have an undermount sink (a MUST have). I'm just not sure what type. I also don't want to spend a fortune when there is a chance the counter will be ripped out again in 5 years bc I'm not sure if the new layout will work with a peninsula. I do know that I can't live w/these crappy counters for another 5 years.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 7:11PM
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I don't think you will need that little piece by the stove....Most of the modern ones have a more level top. That will save you a few cents, maybe.... Pretty cabinets!


    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 8:19PM
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Just paid $22/sq ft for my carrera marble slab here in Northern California. Not installed, just the material. Depending upon what type of edging you will want, I usually estimate about $40 per foot for fabrication if it's straightforward. You will pay for the cutout and any other special cuts, but I would think you are right in the ballpark with $3k to spend. You will need to pay for the demo/removal of your old counters too, which will add a bit since it's not new cabinets.

There are lots of pretty and affordable granites that will go well with your cabinets. You might visit a large fabricator and see if there are any remnant pieces that might work for you. You might be able to get a deal that way. I agree that the best way to do your homework would be to visit some slabyards and fabricators.

I feel your pain about living with crappy counters for 5 years. I have lived with crazy strange counters at times and if I had to live 5 yrs like that, it would just be my "undoing". I cook a lot and it would drive me nuts every day. I could live that way for a year, but probably not 5 years.

There's a chance you might be able to reuse the slabs when you remodel, to be used in another room or area: pantry, laundry room, etc. That way the purchase price of these might possibly be not completely wasted.

Have fun with the field trip!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 8:42PM
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My counters were just about 35 sq. ft. also. I did not get a backsplash. I ended up with granite (here, there are many fabricators who offer "A" level granites for $35-$39/sf installed) but I was originally going to get "A" level Silestone on sale (10% off, which they are offering now) from HD at $53.10/sf It was going to be just under $2000 installed (depending on whether I did an undermount sink or not).

Entry level Hi-Macs or Corian would have been much less. So I am guessing that you have plenty set aside!
If you are serious about tearing it all up in 5 years, get the Hi-Macs or Corian. It is a nice surface and you will save a couple of hundred $$.

Your cabinets are pretty, btw. I don't usually like arched doors for some reason but I like yours. They will look so good with the new hardware!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 9:31PM
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I just put in 33 sf of granite in a rental property I'm renovating and the cost just over $1,000 installed - I think 1,024. the granite price was $24.95 sf plus $150 for the sink cut out I think. It's possible to find really inexpensive granite if you are flexible on colors. I had about 10 to choose from at that price point or just a bit higher (still under $30).

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 9:57PM
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GHG, not sure where you live, but if you are in larger city I would contact granite yards/fabricators. You should be able to find a place that would sell you what they call remnants, which may actually be slab sized, plenty big enough for your kitchen. The down-side to dealing in remnants, is that you can only choose from what is on hand, but if you are thinking of possible redo in 5 years, and who knows, you may completely redo everything... I wouldn't spend a fortune now.

I would also look at a slide in stove/range, they can come with side pieces that would eliminate the need for that 2" piece on the side, (not even sure if that is doable/practical in granite).

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 10:02PM
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I'd really reconsider taking that 3K from you more extensive redo down the road. If you can't stand the counters until that happens, then do an inexpensive laminate for now and maybe a new silgranite sink and faucet. You can reuse the sink and faucet in your major redo later and you won't be throwing away $2500. You will be addressing that dangerous location for the range then, and probably other layout changes, so don't waste money now that can be better used later. The more extensive redo will cost more than you think, and you will be able to put that money to much better use then.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 10:39PM
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What about off the shelf laminate counters from Lowes/HD... They come in plain and some patterns and are fairly easy to DIY. I don't think I'd spend $2,000-3,000 on granite counters I might rip out in a few years. I'd save that $ for the redo and then get what I really want.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 11:01PM
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I am also doing a "spruce up" and started out thinking new counters were the answer but when getting prices I decided against it and now more of a decorating project.

What if as other suggested you save the money for the total redo and for change the paint color, new cabinet hardware, maybe a backsplash on your existing counters, new ceiling fan etc. Counters are neutral and appear and good shape and a backsplash with a new color would really spruce it up.

Your floors are pretty and a colorful throw rug, and accessories for the counter could really make a difference.

Maybe someone could do a photoshop or decorating board for you.

Good luck with whatever you choose and sure you will get great advise here to help you achieve that new look.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 7:32AM
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Hi all, thanks for the responses. I'm at work right now and can't respond fully but I had to log on to ask...live_wire_oak, we do plan on moving the range later. This layout came with the house when we bought it. But I am curious as to why it is dangerous. Im not doubting your comment. I'm just curious what is making it dangerous. I'm nervous now TBH.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 11:50AM
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Ranges should always have an emergency landing space on both sides (9" on one side and 12" on the other.) to be able to safely pull off a hot pot when you need to. In addition , ranges should always have a cabinet and counter between them and a traffic path. (That 9" minimum.) If the handle of a pot projects into that path, a passerby can knock it off and have to take a trip to the local burn unit.

Putting in granite now would assuredly be a waste of money as there should be enough changes to the layout that it wouldn't be salvageable for the future kitchen.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 12:20PM
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The cost of granite countertops varies with the area of the country you live in. I'm in Dallas, TX. I just got about 44 sf of White Spring granite (which is a nice I think mid-level or slightly high granite?), leathered (a tiny extra cost), for $2,650 installed. I saved money by not getting a backsplash, going with a standard edging, not doing an undermount (extra plumbing costs, and also expensive to remove and replace it in the future, adding to cost).

But if you'll be re-doing it in 5 years...if it were me, I would leave it as is for now. 5 years is not long to me. Alternatively, I agree with other posters to go with an inexpensive one for now. Formica maybe. Formicas these days (or alternate brands) are nicer than they used to be. Some have specialized patterns and the patterns go deeper into the countertop.

I've always like the translucence of solid surfaces like Corian, but it's not "in" these days, so your kitchen might end up looking dated when it's not. I don't know how much it costs, but it's not as inexpensive as formica.

How I decided on where to get the granite: I used Angie's List. Is that active in your city? It is very active in Dallas. I selected three highly rated granite fabricators/installers and got three estimates. Be careful to ask if you can select your slab. Two of the estimates I got didn't allow they. They buy slabs beforehand, and that's what they use. The third (the one I went with), goes to the stone yard with you after you select some slabs you like, and provides more detailed estimates for those slabs, and tells you which ones are better for your layout.

Having said all that, I wouldn't necessarily rule out Home Depot (Lowes in my area doesn't carry real granite any more). You might be able to save $ that way. But note that you probably can't select what you get. You choose a name of a granite, then they use what they have of it and fabricate it. If you're not picky about the exact pattern you get, or where the seams are, that might be a way to save. But a fabricator you choose yourself will, I think, be more careful about the seams and the pattern for your layout. Mine did a great job in selecting the part of the slab to put on the most visible part of my counter, and was excellent in placement of the seams.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 1:09PM
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Would you mind telling me what brand and size of fridge you have? I noticed that it fits in your space perfectly! I have been looking at fridges and am having a heck of a time finding one that doesn't stick out too much. If I go smaller, it either doesn't have enough space, or it is also narrow and looks funny in the cutout.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 1:11PM
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Interesting about the two landing areas. I never put hot items on my granite. When I remove something from the oven it goes directly on top of the stove.

We have rental properties and they have the set up similar to GreenHaven's.

I agree that if you are planning a major Reno, just make due for now.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 1:17PM
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You can esaily do granite countertops well within your budget. Use a granite yard. You will get competitive prices and a great selection. I think if you want to swap out your counters and itt will make you happier with hyour kitchen, do it. While 2K is nothing to sneeze at, one does not know what 5 years will bring in terms of finances, health etc. Whatever you choose, good luck.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 1:22PM
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Ellendi, I could be wrong, but I understood her to mean the spaces on the sides are needed in case you have a pan on fire and need to get it off the stovetop quickly--not for use when taking things out of the oven, although it could serve that purpose as well, with a hot pad underneath, of course. I don't set hot dishes on my granite either.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 5:49PM
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I did a spruce up about a year ago we also have a small kitchen with about 35 sq.ft. Here in So Cal, it's typical to buy the slab from a yard, and then have a fabricator cut, edge and install. You must buy full slab, so I had to buy a 42 sq.ft. soapstone slab for $1200. Then the fabrication and install was about $700.
Edit to add: my range sits on an end as well, sometimes in these small kitchens there is no other choice. Our previous cooktop sat in the same place for 27 years, and we raised two active boys with no accidents. I do have 30" on the other side of the range for "landing" space...

This post was edited by ctycdm on Sat, Jan 18, 14 at 19:17

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 7:00PM
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I'd like to put my two cents in about the process of picking your slab(s). I live in NJ. I went to 5 different stone yards and then ended up picking out a piece that was in the fabricators warehouse. I loved it. The sq ft price was the lowest I'd been given. They said that they only stock stone from the stoneyard that they do the most business with b/c they can get the best price from them.

Also, at the stoneyards, it's not intimidating at all. I'd go to one of the busier ones first, b/c I was able to walk alone on my own and see EVERYTHING. It's hard when you're not sure what you want. I'd try to pick several colors that I thought I liked (probably with the knowledge that I was going to fall in love with something completely different).

If I'm remembering correctly, they don't even ask you how many square feet it is. They just ask you who your fabricator is and send the quote to them, who then calls you to tell you the price.

Long story short, don't be intimidated. Have fun!!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 8:43PM
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For the people suggesting laminate: She wants an undermount sink. Can you do that with laminate?

If you have any interest in DIY you could put in soapstone for probably half your budget.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 11:26AM
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After reading your original post again I would say to wait, save, and start planning now for the remodel in 5 years. Do you have to wait five years if you don't spend any money on the kitchen now?

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 11:53AM
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Wow, Thank you everyone for taking the time and responding. I appreciate all of the advice (even if it isn't exactly what I was hoping to hear). I'm going to try and respond to all that I read but if I miss something, I apologize now.

~The placement of the stove: I looked at slide-in stoves online last night. I do like the look of them and think its GREAT that the crumbs wont be able to fall on the side of my stove. I didn't even know they existed tbh. It would also eliminate the need to finish the inside edges of the counters (a question I had asked earlier). I think I will purchase one. Sadly, I do not think it will stretch over enough to eliminate the 2 inches of counter on either side. Those 2 inches add a lot of expense. It creates another 45* angle and that small piece to the left just seems wasteful but if I was to pull that part out it would look lopsided compared to the cabinet above it. I thought about doing a wider stove and microwave but even if they had the right size it would make that corner REALLY unsafe.The placement/safety of the stove...I wish I could move the stove now. I would like to have an island eventually with a stove and a proper vent above it. That would be my ultimate plan when we tear down the wall but for now it has to stay where it is. I didn't know it was "unsafe" but that does make sense. I am not sure what qualifies as a landing next to it but for now if I needed to use the side counter I do have space to the right of the stove. I use that area often when cooking. It's more useful than the pictures represent. Also, if there was a pan on fire that I needed to move I would probably just throw it in the sink which is so close and use the fire extinguisher that is nearby. I have 2 young kids and I am very cautious with pans. I remember commercials from my childhood that told parents to keep pan handles turned in. I usually only put long handled pans on the inside burners and they are always turned in. Thank you for informing me about the safety concerns. It is something to consider as we plan for future renovations.

~~Many of you are encouraging me to live with the counters and save the money for the bigger reno. I do understand that thought and I have tried to tolerate it. In the pictures they don't look that bad but the laminate goes up the walls and the seems are starting to look crappy. I want a backsplash (that isn't laminate) but I just cant see doing that with the current counters. The sink I hate. I want a large-1 bowl-undermount sink. My hubby never wipes the counters when the water splashes so the caulk frequently looks dirty/stained. I want the new sink so badly that I'm going to have my plumber lower my waste pipe so it can fit. I figure that the counter will be off and the cabinet can be moved so now would be the time to do it. I can't have an undermount sink with my current cabinets bc they aren't solid surface. I did decide to think about it a little more though and I am trying to vision my kitchen with the current counters and a new backsplash but (despite the money I would save) I don't think I will be able to change my own mind.

~~In the future, when we tear down that wall I would like to change my complete layout. We have a wide but narrow kitchen. I live in a typical 4 bedroom colonial with an addition off the back that is our family room. The back 2 rooms of the 4 rooms original to the 1st floor are the kitchen (with a small area for a kitchen table) and the dining room. Both room are long and narrow. The front 2 rooms are also long but wider. I want to open up the left front room to the left back room (kitchen). The stairs and front door are in the middle. BUT, even if $ doesn't allow a full remodel/layout change, I can tear down the wall, move the washer and dryer downstairs (into what will be my dream laundry room), add a few tall cabinets on the right of the fridge for my pantry and garbage/broom closet that is currently near the washer/dryer, and move the new cabinets, fridge and current cabinet that is to the left of the fridge down. The rest of the wall and the wall that is perpendicular to will be removed. Then when you walk through my front door (that is in the center of my colonial) the entire left side will be an open sitting room/kitchen. It might sound wrong but it is exactly what my next door neighbors just did. We have the same layout. Her contractor did it for a fantastic price. I could do that now but because my kids are young my husband and I want to keep a toy room on the first floor that has a door we can close. In about 5 years we will be ready. Our basement will be finished off and the kids could move down there.
That was a long winded explanation but ultimately if I can afford all new cabinets when that reno happens (and I'm planning to) I like the suggestion that someone gave that I could reuse the new counters. It might work out perfect for the new laundry room with some adjustments.

~~Someone else suggested just doing a "spruce-up". That is exactly what I am doing :-) The photos show the 'before". I just replaced the fridge (the one in the photo is the new one) and you can see in the 1st photo that I started taking down the cabinet doors to touch them up and replace the hinges/pulls. The front of the peninsula area is missing the doors in the 1st photo. I finished those the other day and put them back on. They look brand new again. The hinges fit perfect and are now brushed nickel (instead of brass). The pulls looked good also but after putting them on I found pulls I like better last night and ordered all new ones. That mistake made me realize I need to plan better. As far as the rest of the "spruce up" goes...I'm doing appliances, backsplash, hardware, paint on walls and molding/trim/doors, new kitchen table/chairs, kitchen cart, light fixtures, fan, window treatments, and accessories. But in order to start picking out anything else I need to decide on a counter and backsplash. I'm thinking I will ask for help when it's time to make the other decisions because I am not ashamed to admit--I need the advice!

~~Someone asked about the brand of fridge...oh boy was what a pain in the a** that was-lol. Every fridge I wanted and that was rated good enough in Consumers Reports was also too big for that space. I wanted a bottom freezer w/french door which didn't help. My husband wanted to know that it wasn't a lemon. I also didn't want water in the door because we have Poland Spring delivery (which we LOVE). After weeks of measuring and searching we finally purchased an LG Model #LFC25765ST 33inch 24.9 cu. ft. from Home Depot for about 1800 although its on sale right now for 1596. I am very happy with it. The fridge is the biggest headache for for the future reno though bc I cant figure out a proper place to put it if I do change my layout completey (but that's a future thread though-lol)

~~Ok, Now that I've written a novel, I want to thank everyone for all the encouragement and advice. I am going to start calling places in my area to get an idea of what the process is locally. I didn't know it varies from place to place. I live in CT, in Fairfield County. I am also going to go look at different solid surface counters in person. I am not 100% sold on granite. I think I should see all of the available surfaces and then go from there. Once I make some decisions I will check back in and let anyone who is curious (Or reading this in the future) know how it turned out. I am also sure I will have a million more questions about the rest of this kitchen.
Thank you gain, GHG

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 1:02PM
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please do let us know (and show us: pictures!) what you decide, and why!

About the different ways of shopping for (granite) counters; here I found that every way mentioned was available. I could buy it from one yard which would do the cutting, and have an installer put it in; or I could go through a fabricator/installer that gave me his price lists for the various large yards where I would go to pick out the slab; or I could use a fabricator that had his own slabs; or there was also a low cost option of an installer who had pre-fabricated slabs-- if you wanted a different edge or had a complex installation additional charges would apply.

I could also just go to any of the large yards to pre-shop before I picked a fabricator, one even had a list of the fabricators that worked with them. These large yards also had slabs of quartz (like Samsung Staron, for one) which was nice to see what a large piece looked like.

It was hardest to shop for solid surface. Even the local businesses (not big box) that specialized in counters mostly had just little samples which really didn't convey what the real thing full size would be like. One store did have 8"x8" samples which made a huge difference.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 2:38PM
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