Do you ever feel like the 'counter top' police?

lavender_lassMarch 25, 2014

As I think about all the people, who may end up 'helping' in the kitchen, I just can't image anything that isn't super durable and can take just about anything. The one thing I do think I could get them to do is use a pot holder...but do those of you with more sensitive countertops...ever wonder if you've become the 'counter top' police? And if so, do you ever tire of it?

Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like having to constantly say 'don't set that there' or 'not without a towel under it' would make it difficult for others to help in the kitchen. Of course, I know I won't always be there, when they're helping. My mom will be living with us soon, which means even more nieces/nephews visiting...and my husband's friends, too. I want to make sure everyone is welcome in the kitchen and it's pretty, but indestructible. :)

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Yes, and I have a crap laminate counter top that I will be replacing shortly with a much nicer laminate counter top. My 12yo son chops on the counter, next to the cutting board. I lose my mind! I told him he must either be really lazy, or not respect me at all since I've asked him a million times not to do it and I don't want him to do it on our new counters when we get them. I haven't seen him do it since. I know that comment really got to him. I NEVER cut on the countertop. I always use the cutting board. And he knows to use a pot holder to set hot things on (or the cutting board) because he sees me do that all the time or I'll ask him to pass it to me before I set something down.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 7:09PM
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MGMum - your 12yo may well be neither lazy nor disrespectful but profoundly deaf-to-mum. My 13yo suffers from this syndrome too. The only way I know to get her to hear anything I say is to whisper. If she thinks I am talking to dh about her, she can - literally - hear that even if whispered from another floor and across the house away.

To get the attention of an adolescent, I recommend - and it's the only way I know - making them think you don't want them to hear. ;)

This too, like house construction, shall pass...

And BTW - I would, personally, never ever want a countertop I needed to baby like that! Well OK, I don't want to cut on it or use it as a trivet either, but I don't want ever to worry about stains. And when my kids misbehave regarding knives or hot pans, things are always OK anyway. So it's not the end of the world if I forget to whisper ;)

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 8:24PM
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Too funny
Right after putting in my new kitchen - I am trying to relax and came out to see my helpers - who were using the induction cooktop as a cutting board!!!
Yikes - but fortunately no damage.
Hang in there - good to have you back.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 8:28PM
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Lavender, so glad you are back. I hope all is well with you & DH.
We are empty nesters & so far are doing fine with our choice of Danby marble (big change from formica). We usually do the major holidays. My elderly mother has told everyone "you can't even put a glass of water on it, so you'll just have to hold on to your drink." I'm not sure where that came from but my family will be relieved to see Silverwave counter mats all over the counters. We do have another counter surface on our island, where everyone tends to hangout. The problem will be my husband, the "Floor Police."

This post was edited by romy718 on Tue, Mar 25, 14 at 21:57

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 8:57PM
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My current countertop could not be made worse by anything short of a flamethrower, and even that might be an improvement.

Even so, I am still the counter police. I need to be able to use that work surface without having to clean before and after. Get y'all random things off it.

I kind of fear how unreasonable I may become if I get a new counter.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 9:26PM
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My only delicate surface is on the "table". That's the sunflower seed husk board. It does not want water. Any bits that aren't completely enclosed in the substrate will swell up and pop out. So, while it might not be the prettiest, I keep placemats on it at all times, and stack the to be shredded junk mail in the middle for people to use as coasters. :) (Lord knows if they were real coasters, people would probably move them so they wouldn't get wet. Sigh.)

Actually, I have the same surface in the butler's pantry, but the only thing that gets on it is clutter. ;) I guess you'd call it clutter. It's stuff that belongs in the region but might take moving something to put away. :) During parties it looks so nice people don't usually put wet stuff down on it!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 10:33PM
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One of the reasons I love my soapstone so much, is that I can't hurt it. I treat it no more carefully than my garage workbench. Hot pans, sharp utensils, cast iron sliding over it, you name it. My butcher block top is the same way, after 27 years of hard use, it looks great!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 11:06PM
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Nah. But as I mention in every post, I like the rustic (i.e. beat up) look. A big burn on my quartz countertop will definitely upset me, but as I am the person most likely to plop a scalding hot pot down without a trivet, I need only police myself. :)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 10:04AM
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We had a family brunch and my DIL set the hot frying pan on the quartz. Fortunately I was there, but it was kind of embarrassing to tell her she couldn't put a pan on the counter. It made me feel fussy! No way could I handle a delicate counter.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 1:45PM
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I never have people other than my immediate family cooking in my kitchen. I will say when helping in other kitchens I wish.....they would leave trivets on the counter, leave out the paper towels, same for cutting boards, and show where the garbage is.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 2:05PM
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My mom keeps a large tile under her coffeemaker to protect her granite from the heat (?). I didn't think you had to worry about heat (unless it was a cold day and a hot pot) on granite.

But after reading this forum, I'm afraid to change my laminate to something nicer. I'm always telling the kids not to put their lunchboxes (that go on the ground at school) on it (b/c of germs, not scratching), I put a paper towel down to make sandwiches on, try not to let any food touch the counter directly, clean up any drips (or even just where the plastic bag and styrofoam meat tray sat) immediately. But DH always drips coffee and leaves it when he pours, I've found sticky day-old (no more, I hope) puddles of OJ on the counter right in front of MW (glasses stored in cabinet above, dark corner) when I went to use it at dinner, DD just drips everything so I try to keep a plastic placemat on the breakfast bar where she eats her cereal and after-school snack. But I can't see to get anyone in this house to clean up the counter after themselves - I do the main prep area once (or more) a day, but have to admit don't clean all the perimeter countertops unless I've been cooking in the area.

The breakfast bar gets piled with DD's school stuff too - sometimes literally have to clear a space on the 9ft long bar for her to eat at. She leaves stuff all over the house - forgot her HW yesterday since one folder was on the floor in her room and another was buried under something else (I don't know what) on the kitchen counter.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 3:08PM
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Fori is not pleased

I almost yelled at my brother-in-law this weekend for using his beautiful handmade cypress counter for a cutting board.

But that's what he made it for and it worked.

I have liked stainless steel counters (unbreakable) and don't mind my current tile counter (don't care if you break it but I betcha you can't) and even had no problems with my Corian counter (because I planned to demo it--had it longer than expected and it stood up to severe abuse). I liked my marble because it didn't stain and etches were so inconspicuous.

I wish people would respect FURNITURE though.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 7:38PM
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Generally no, since I like patina and my soapstone can handle almost anything. However, I keep my stone mortar and pestle hidden on my butcherblock counter and watch like a hawk if anyone tries to use it on my soapstone. I'm sure it won't handle someone pounding a stone pestle in a stone mortar on top of it. But the bamboo butcherblock can handle that fine.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 7:44PM
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I feel more like the sink police. I went with a stainless sink, even though I've always hated cleaning them in the past. I'm told the newer sinks are better, but I'm forever rushing into the kitchen anytime I hear the water run so that I can wipe down the sink after others use it.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 11:19AM
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This reminds me of an article I read in a magazine once. I can't remember who wrote it, but it was someone who was an overnight guest at Martha Stewart's house. On the bed in the guest room was a list of house rules. Things like "Do not open the windows. Do not set drinks on furniture without a coaster. Do not leave wet towels or clothes on the floor. Do not set food directly on the marble countertops."

Anyway, the author thought the room was hot, so he opened the window before he went to sleep. He awoke to a thunderstorm in the middle of the night and rain pouring in the window on to the wood floors. He gathered a bunch of towels out of the bathroom and tried to wipe it all up and hide all the evidence from Martha. He says he left very early the next morning!

I'm all for keeping things clean and looking nice, but I want guests in my home to be comfortable and at ease. I don't think hovering over them in the kitchen or posting house rules will make them feel welcome.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 1:00PM
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I really strive to have a home with "friendly" surfaces that can stand a little abuse. I would hate my family and guests to feel like I am hovering over them fussing over surface care. I try to have patina-friendly surfaces like hardwood floors and granite. Yeah, they might show some wear, but they won't look horrible, IMHO.

Of course, some people just aren't respectful towards other people's homes. My sister once put a really hot pot on my vinyl kitchen floor and ruined it (in a rental a million years ago). The same sister who now is ultra-fussy about her engineered wood floors.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 1:18PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I've had a laminate counter for the past 15 years or so since we remodeled the kitchen. We edged it with wood molding that matched the cabinets and that dressed it up a bit. Right after installation, I bought 'counter savers' to leave on the counter on each side of the stove. And a third counter saver next to the sink. In all this time, I've never seen anyone attempt to put a hot pan down on the counter or the counter saver.

Haven't seen anyone try to cut on the counter. We have two wood cutting boards standing up under a cabinet and very accessible and everyone uses them. Other than that, haven't had to worry about drinks or anything else I can remember.

The ONLY spot on my counter was made by hired cleaners who made a spot the size of a dime by using some product that was too strong I guess and it bleached out the pattern in a dime size or less shape. Otherwise, they look great and I haven't had to fuss.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 1:40PM
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No, not counters as DH is good at using a cutting board all the time now, but I am the white bedroom carpet nutjob police. I must have been a nutjob to have even thought it was a good idea in the first place.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 2:15PM
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We recently had house guests that ended up living with us for 2 months. I certainly wanted them to feel at home, but it totally annoyed me when I came home to find several new deep scratches in my cooktop and ss sink. Then I'd notice them cutting on the granite. Certainly didn't hurt the granite, but one entire end of the island is butcher block just for this purpose. Then I started noticing little dings in the floor that weren't there before, or the lint screen in the dryer hadn't been cleaned out at all, etc, etc. I realized I was causing myself undue grief and I was actually looking for other things to fuss about. I'm definitely a fussbudget, but I'm trying to make myself relax and not sweat this stuff. No one would damage someone else's new kitchen on purpose, so I'm trying really hard to keep that in mind.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 3:18PM
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I think perhaps by definition we TKO are disproportionately fussbudgety.

What's it all for anyway? You can't take those perfectly unscratched cabinets with you. Maybe have yourself buried with them like pharaohs? Nah..... Dings Happen. And as for dh's who can't refrain from cutting on granite - well, that's why we just need to teach (or have taught) our children well.... :) And in the absence of that, this is why we have MIL jokes... ;)

FWIW -- I drive around in a minivan that has a cracked bumper; you can see its innards, the metal "I-beam"-like thingymabob in there. It is very out of place in LA where so much is just-so. I attract a lot of attention. But it is not worth it to me to spend the money (thousands; more than the car's worth) to fix it. And in all honesty, I don't care, though I recognize it gives many the willies. Thing is, it reminds me of an interlude in French Canada where the ding was inflicted by a snowplow. They have a very different relationship with snowplows, snow removal and those who perform said operations there. The previous winter there had been several individuals killed by errant snowplows. But subsequent inquiries had determined the individuals were simply "in the wrong place at the wrong time" -- like my car and its bumper (parked, on the side of the road with many others just like it). Things happen, and just about all that changes is our reactions to it. Seems a life's lesson I rather value leaving visible on my bumper. But of course that's way too long a story to explain to the guys trolling parking lots looking to "fix" it (not) for a few $$.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 8:39PM
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Elraes Miller

People "don't" because they live another lifestyle. You can't change them, they just don't see it or understand the way of life in another's home if it is far different from theirs. And I don't think they mean any harm. Although I would hope most would respect others and ask for a bit of direction. Being respectful is the important side. We can probably deal with all and hope it isn't damaging to something we really care about.

Joyce...I had the same experience. The first time he fried eggs in an inch of oil I couldn't help myself from saying not in this house. The smell and mess it was making was awful. Along with so many things broken and he never apologized or thought anything about anything. I became a nag and even felt guilty about it.

Which I think is part of what Lavender is posting. How not to be a nag, but how to kindly remind. If you don't say anything it stresses and yet we do have a place to ask for respect of our home. I don't have an answer to policing. But did have a friend which I spent a lot of time with, she wouldn't let me in her kitchen to do anything. When in her home it was her honor to cook and clean. When at mine, it was my honor to do the same. Tough call on large family visits, but perhaps delegate specific jobs with a bit of direction. Then hope.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 8:27AM
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Yes, I have felt like the countertop, cabinet, and appliance police since we moved here decades ago. I had babied my kitchen cabinet faces, tenderly treating them like fine furniture. Where did it get me? I now have a 37 year old kitchen with functioning cracked obsolete hinges, deteriorating cabinet boxes and drawers, and a lousy layout. But the fronts looked great...until I said "no more" about six months ago. I'm not babying the old kitchen any longer. I've had to justify to everyone I know why it's time for this kitchen to go. Sure the appliances are newer, but the rest is O-L-D. It will be another two years before we can swing it, and it will be nearly 40 years old by then. Sure, I'll baby the new one, but that's because it's new.

Be careful about how finicky you are; you just might end up with a 40 year old kitchen.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 10:38PM
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I think policing artifacts of our life is very related to expectations. Yes, I police the things that I intend to enjoy for a long period of time. The very light wool carpeting in my master bedroom, for instance. The effort of replacing that makes me shudder. My rule about no outside shoes on that carpet has helped maintain an excellent appearance for 7 years, so far.

I am not interested in repeating the Herculean effort of a kitchen remodel or redo any time in the next 20 years, so I would like to enjoy my over priced kitchen while using it but keeping it stain and major scratch-free for as long as I can. Why? Because those stains, scratches would bother me. Maybe in a few years, not so much. As for my new kitchen table, I don't mind the scratches that appear because the effort of replacing that (and cost) won't kill me.

It's a long post but my point is....maybe it is the 'effort' of replacing/repairing that keeps us policing.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 10:36AM
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I do tend to police the kitchen surfaces, sink, my Grandmother's beautiful china, etc. If something is really valuable or sentimental I can't help it.

But I accidentally discovered something that is REALLY reducing my need to police as much:

I am teaching my 4 kids to cook, and part of that education is learning how to utilize everything in the kitchen the right way. So one night I will be the head chef and one kid will be sous chef. The non-cooking kids set the table and clean up afterwards. The next time we reverse the role and I am the sous chef. Part of this is teaching them how to shop, how to use all the applicances, clean up a bit as you go, utilize the surfaces and fixtures correctly. It takes a long time to make a meal this way, so we only do it about once or twice a week. The other days I just have to cook fast and I need to do it myself.

I noticed that as they learn they are all starting to treat the kitchen with more care. I didn't plan it, but this has been a happy unintended consequence of teaching them to cook.

The next step is that I will step out of it and 2 kids will do a meal all on their own (without fighting I hope!). The 2 older kids are ready to do that now, maybe tonight!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 11:34AM
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Strayer, that exactly how I did it with my sons! They are grown now, and both excellent cooks. They were also taught how to clean at a young age, and were always very respectful of our home (and others') because they understood the work involved in keeping a home.

I don't think I ever truly appreciated how respectful they were, until they were grown and out and I essentially started over with a new batch of kids (who were not taught by me). Having four step-children in my home who thought nothing of smearing their dirty hands/feet/faces over walls/windows/mirrors/furniture/window treatments was a rude awakening.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 12:02PM
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I have never had anyone else damage my countertops. I have gotten food coloring on butcher block and stained it. I tried sanding it out, but it had penetrated too deeply. That's the only damage I have ever done to countertops. I did cut on my butcher block and that left knife marks, but i didn't consider that damage. I have had laminate, granite tile, ceramic tile, granite and butcher block in my various abodes.

I am pretty sure I am the person most likely to damage any part of my kitchen. Partly because I don't want to have to baby my stuff. But mostly because I am by far the most frequent user.

So, no I haven't ever felt like the countertop police. But I'm not likely to put in a material that is easily damaged either, mostly for my sake.

I also just wouldn't want to be constantly policing guests like that. We once went to a big party where the bartenders would warn you that if you chose red wine you had to stay outside by the pool. I felt rather unwelcome and uncomfortable knowing that the hosts were so worried about their stuff. I actually refused the red wine AND did not set foot in the house because I felt so uncomfortable.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 12:15PM
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Aliris, too funny about whispering and teenagers!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 1:01PM
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Aliris, I think you might be right about my son! I know he sees his dad chopping on his counters, so he feels free to do it here.

And AJsMama, he does the same thing leaving everything all over. I try to tell them it's so much easier on themselves to keep all their school work together!

I want people to enjoy themselves here but I want people to respect my things, the way I respect theirs.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 6:46PM
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Your post is timely LL. Yesterday a friend told me she wished that I did not have to "baby" my kitchen material choices. I am far from someone that baby's a countertop or my hardwood floors. They are there for a purpose and they get used. The first day we moved in someone scratched the floor and the walnut island counter. Neither have bothered me for more than 5 seconds. It is what it is.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 9:55PM
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