Kitchen Remodeling -- Advice Needed

isomerFebruary 4, 2014

Hello, I always enjoy reading this forum.

I'm going to remodel the 18' x 12' kitchen of my 1950s no-style style house, which I plan to sell within 10 years. It's a modest house, but because of its prime location in the San Francisco bay area, its value is likely 700K ~ 800K.

I'll replace all cabinets (seem to be original) and appliances (bought when I moved in 15 years ago). The following are materials I plan to install. Would you please scrutinize if they are appropriate/effective/reasonable for my project?

Liebherr freestanding 36" bottom mount refridgerator, $5,000
ILVE freestanding induction range, $5,000
Kobe 36" under cabinet range hood, $900
Miele Futura Classic 24" dish washer, $1,000
Kohler 36" x 19" x 10" under-mount single-bowl SS sink, $750
Waterstone PLP pulldown faucet with soap dispenser and air switch, $1,550
Cabinets: Canyon Creek Valley Forge Solid, Rustic Alder with Caraway stain; framed top, frameless bottom

My second question is about the countertop. I really like soapstone, but my KD says it's too soft and expensive. My next choice was honed Absolute Black granite, but I've read many horror stories about keeping it clean. Is there some material that looks like soapstone but harder and less expensive?

Thank you very much in advance.

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Soapstone - yes, expensive. Yes, it can chip and scratch. But it is low maintenance - never shows dirt and you can just clean it with dish detergent.
You can put hot pots right off the stove or out of the oven directly on it and it will never crack. Always looks great! Some people oil their soapstone to make it dark and shiny. I keep mine natural. Trust me, you will not regret it and you should get something you love!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 9:44PM
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Pietra Cardosa or slate come to mind. From what I understand, just like soapstone the color can vary and will be lighter or darker depening on the sealant.

Pietra Cardosa:

Contemporary Kitchen by Palo Alto Design-Build Firms Norwell Design Build


Traditional Kitchen by Libertyville General Contractors Century Bay Builders

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 9:52PM
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black pearl granite with leathered finish.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 9:55PM
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I don't think in the context of your appliance choices soapstone would be "expensive". Of course I live on the east coast and when I wanted soapstone I had the choice of several local reputable dealers, and it is genuine soapstone, not something else, which are all issues in other parts of the country. (Availability, cost, and actual species of stone).

What is your particular attraction to the Ilve range?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 10:38PM
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    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 10:51PM
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"You can put hot pots right off the stove or out of the oven directly on it and it will never crack."


Would you please share your substantiation of this statement?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 11:41PM
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Trebuchet, I used to take my grill baskets off of the grill and put them directly on my counters. Never cracked.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 12:32AM
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If your house is modest, I find your allocated budget for the appliances and faucet quite high. I live in an area where a modest house, too, is 800K+, and buyers would not expect these appliances; not sure they would recognize them.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 12:51AM
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Thank you very much for your quick responses.

raynag: OK, I'll keep soapstone as a possibility. When my KD finishes the layout, I'll get a better idea whether I can afford it or not.

magsnj: I searched GW and learned Pietra Cardosa is limestone which is harder than soapstone. I love its look.

detroit_burb: I'll look into leathered granite.

ineffablespace: I want an induction range, but there are not many choices. I like the old-fashioned style of Ilve. My second choice is the GE Profile. I'm not interested in the Electrolux style.

pipdog: What finish is it?

nosoccermom: Do you think so? Most houses in this area sell between 700K ~ 1.3M, and many have Sub-Zero & Wolf. I definitely don't want to go that high. But appliances below my selection are scarce. GE Profile?

I've just found the Silestone Suede finish. My KD loves modern styles, and I love rustic ones. So for every selection, I have to convince her, which requires me to research hard.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 2:01AM
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Whether it is appropriate really depends on what part of the Bay Area you are in; in many parts of the Bay Area, that level of finish is pretty rare at the 700/800K price point, from what I've seen. $1.2M+ is another whole price band, so you really shouldn't be using those homes as a reference if you want to stay within range of your comps, imho.

Per pipdog, I also was going to suggest Jet Mist. I've seen it at IRG in Brisbane. I believe they had it both in polished and honed, but this was some time ago. I was warned away from Pietra Cardosa by the stoneyard for counters, although many people here have used it. It is harder, but it is porous and etches. It is beautiful, though.

If you are near the City, go to M. Texeira to check out the soapstone for yourself. Some of the varieties you can dent with your fingernail, others are much tougher. Pricewise, I think most of it falls in the moderate range for stone.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 3:35AM
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Dear gooster,

Thank you for your advice. Now I think I may not upgrade the current GE Profile fridge and Maytag DW. I nevertheless want to replace the KA electric range. I really want an induction one. I can then save a lot of money.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 4:44AM
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The OP doesn't plan to sell for 10 years. Resale really shouldn't be a consideration in this remodel.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 11:23AM
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Soapstone is no more expensive here in So Cal than most granite and the fabrication is less expensive. No seal needed. It is low maintenance and will never crack with hot pans from 500 degree oven. It does not feel cold to touch as granite.
I would never have another counter.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 11:31AM
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OP wrote "within 10 years", which I took it to mean at any time between 2 and 10 years. But I still agree that if it is something you really want, you should go ahead and do it (but being aware that your future comps may not be as nicely equipped)

I would replace the DW with either the Miele or a Bosch; 15 years is beginning to push it with a DW in terms of expected life.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 11:36AM
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Oh, I missed that - you're right, I thought it said "in" 10 years.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 11:44AM
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I think this might substantiate the heat properties of soapstone.

Here is a link that might be useful: soapstone page

This post was edited by itsallaboutthefood on Wed, Feb 5, 14 at 13:11

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 1:06PM
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Annette Holbrook

What about paperstone/richlite for the countertops. May be a good "green" option for the SFO area.
On a side note, by best friend put soapstone in her kitchen about 5 years ago. She and her husband are avid cooks so her kitchen really gets used. I was at her house on Monday and mentioned to her that the countertops still looked amazing. The only thing that looked a bit worse for wear was the sink (yes she did a soapstone sink as well). I have been to her house for Thanksgiving with 30+ people and the bar height section counters were lined with casserole dishes and crock pots from all the stuff everyone brought. She does have a handful of cork trivets she puts out for the really hot stuff, but heck I do that on my quartz countertops, too.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 1:34PM
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They make fireplaces and stove lining of true soapstone. It's very heat resistant.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 1:38PM
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While I appreciate the links, according to them soapstone is heat resistant, not heat proof. While some can give anecdotal evidence of the heat resistance of soapstone, I can give anecdotal evidence of other countertop stones that have failed from the heat of a dishwasher, heat lamp, or pot. The Marble Institute of America, the trade association of the natural stone industry, does not recommend using natural stone countertops without trivets to protect from heat damage.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 8:13PM
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Soapstone Woodstove:

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 8:52PM
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I would look at and analyze the kitchens in the 700-800K price range, or maybe 900K i your area. You can also search for sold houses, and if you read the descriptions, you'll see what the asking price was and the closing price (and maybe even how long they were on the market).

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 8:56PM
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Used as a baking / grilling surface Inside the above oven:

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 9:01PM
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Thank you very much for sharing your wisdom. I've learned that upgrading appliances is a foolish idea. During the past 15 yeas, I used my DW only several times and my oven only 2-3 times. They are in good condition functionally as well as cosmetically. And yet, even the Habitat for Humanity doesn't want them.

I'll spend the saved money on those that can last much longer. I've been doing a lot of research, and my current selections for the countertop are (i) soapstone and (ii) leathered Ubatuba. For the leather finish, Ubatuba seems more interesting than Absolute Black or Jet/Verginia Mist.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 9:15PM
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You've gotten lots of great advice.

Just wanted to say that I dreamed of soapstone, but my husband was thoroughly unimpressed and very concerned about issues with softness. We compromised with leathered black pearl. I have no complaints and feel I got that matte charcoal color I was looking for. Good luck in your final decision.

And Trebuchet - soapstone is often used as a cooking vessel. They make casserole dishes and pizza stones out of it, so I hardly think putting a hot pan on it would be a problem. It is the only stone that fabricators have said you can do it. Trivets used to protect other counters are made out of it.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 8:03AM
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Scary but true: Many buyers have no clue about Miele, Liebherr, etc. As long as the appliances are SS, they are happy, never mind it's Frigidaire (just using a lower end brand here for illustration).
I also would not spend 1150.00 on a faucet unless YOU really want it. Check out the Costco Hansgrohe faucets. They work and look great.
Costco also sells sinks and hoods at great prices and has a really good return policy, just in case.

Here is a link that might be useful: Costco faucet

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 10:05AM
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We just moved into the new kitchen a few months ago and put about an acre of soapstone in the kitchen and master bath. Ours is the Cruz Azul (greenish) sourced and installed by Sierra Soapstone in Rockland, CA. Excellent fabrication and installation. The boss and I both think it is terrific. I've only oiled it once about 3 months ago. I'll get around to doing it again one of these days, or maybe not. No big deal. We live in our house. Things may get dinged. The SS may get scratched and I'll wrinkle up some more. So what! It is a great material and looks terrific. We couldn't be happier. Also, a suggestion on the sink. We went with the Kohler Whitehaven Apron front sink. We have stainless appliances. With the soapstone the whitehaven looks great. I went with the 36". It is enormous, but a great sink. The 30" might have been a better choice. I have to figure out how to post pictures!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 12:34PM
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I went to a slab yard today for the first time in my life. It's a small one carrying only one soapstone, two leathered granite, and several honed slabs. All others were polished. I didn't find anything interesting, but it was nevertheless worth visiting because it became very clear that I don't want polished stone for my kitchen countertop.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 9:44PM
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Consider what you want for your kitchen and what works for you. Go with the best layout possible. Appliances can always be changed out later to what the going sale market requires at sale time.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 8:20AM
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My KD has convinced me to go for quartz countertops. Like many wise advisers here regarding the appliances, she says most buyers don't know what soapstone is. Furthermore, it is necessarily 3cm thick (i.e. heavy), whereas other materials can be 2cm. I prefer lighter countertops. I can live with honed quarts, that is Silestone Suede. I'll have alder cabinets with medium stain with some glazing. I now have to decide between marble-like Silestone Lyra or Lagoon and soapstone-like Itsmo, Dreis, Doradus, Merope, Altair, and Cygnus. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 1:55AM
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While I appreciate the photographs, they aren't relevant.

The soapstone is obviously a cladding on the stove. That and the soapstone baking pan both share the luxury of consistent even heating. You could stick a Corian top in an oven and as long as the heat was even, no harm would come.

The hot pot/stone problem comes from the dissimilar temperatures created when the heat of a pan is transferred to a small area while the rest of the stone remains cool.

Are you going to crack soapstone with a hot pot? Probably not, but if I just plunked down 5 large or so for a countertop, it's not a gamble I'd be willing to take.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 6:41AM
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My kitchen remodel will start on June 6. These are what I've ordered so far:

GC: $13,100 (not paid yet)
Cabinets: Cannyon Creek frameless base + framed upper, $14,595
Floor: Forna Glue-Down Cork Flooring, $465
Sink: Blanco BL441024 18 x 28 x 9" SS Single Bowl Undermount, $251
Faucet: Moen S7208CSL Woodmere Stainless, $426
Soap Dispenser: Moen 3944CSL Stainless, $77
Garbage Disposal: InSinkErator Evolution Compact 3/4 HP, $202

My contractor recommends MORRIS PRODUCTS:

Does anyone know about their UC LED lights?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 8:31PM
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