Need help choosing wood countertop to coordinate with wood floors

olympia776April 30, 2014

I want to add an additional countertop on a cabinet that's lower than the rest of my countertop. I was originally thinking butcher block. Then I started to think about walnut in either butcher block or planks. Then I was wondering about some sort of graywashed treatment, etc.

I'm thinking that I should pay more attention to my floors. They are 1.5 in red oak that's rift and quarter sawn with natural treatment that I'm waiting on to amber! It was added to match the rest of the flooring which is from 1939.

So, I'm concerned about the color that I choose. I've also got a dark shiplap treatment in the adjoining dining room that I could coordinate with. I'm also concerned about the width of the boards on the counter to avoid clashing with the floor if that's possible.

Has anyone done or seen a driftwood/grayed wood countertop? Thoughts? The rest of my counter is white macauba which could also coordinate or clash...

I'll attach a photo of my floor. It looks a bit more golden in person.

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Here's a picture of the walnut butcher block I went to see today. I'm not planning on cutting on it. It's made by wood welded and I guess it's got a wood safe finish though, which is a nice thing. I'm wondering if the wood is too narrow for my flooring.

I thought the wood looked beautiful but it was in a protective box and I couldn't quite see it all. It seemed to be mostly dark without any blond streaks in it. Elsewhere I've seen that referred to as character walnut. I think I'm not into character :)

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 9:22PM
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Wow, that walnut is gorgeous. I can only imagine how much more beautiful it'll become with age.

You have a lot of wood going on in your home, it sounds like. Given the age it's not surprising.

I don't have any suggestions for you other than to say I've got a weathered butcher block where I've spilled vinegar on the maple. It's really pretty and dark, but I will definitely be sanding it to lighten it, and perhaps add some stain to brown/soften the gray. And, of course, doing the whole top not just the vinegar container rings.

I have chocolate brown oak floors, reclaimed oak and cherry cabinets. When I have the face frames attached, I'll have a couple maple cabinets that will be given the same treatment I decide upon for the countertop.

Not much help, but I guess where I'm going is perhaps to get the same hue, use the same stain as one of your other elements and gray it?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 7:54AM
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I wouldn't change the color of the walnut to match your floors. That rich walnut will look beautiful with your white cabinets & macaubus. Let it stand on it's own & it will be one of the elements that makes makes your white kitchen yours. I have a walnut cutting board sitting on my white tops. I love it.
You could go out & buy a plank walnut cutting board & a butcherblock walnut cutting board & put them next to your slab of macaubus to get an idea of how they would look together.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 9:07AM
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CEFreeman - thanks for your suggestions. I'm considering whether or not I need to match another element since there are two woods visible from where the walnut would be. If I was trying to get to the same color family as the floor I wonder if maple or beech (I think that the slightly more red one at Ikea) would be better. With the narrow floor boards I don't want it to look like I floored the counter though!

rom718 - thanks! I've seen so many gorgeous white kitchens with walnut accents but it seems not too many of them have light flooring. Just don't want mine to look ridiculous! I LOVE the idea of getting cutting boards to compare. This area of the kitchen had been an eat in area and I had considered adding a banquet but the kitchen is on the small side so I figured I much better appreciate and use more prep and storage space. To try to picture it, I lugged in some of the uppers I'm not reusing, propped them up on the floor and put some of my wood cutting boards on top! Gave me the courage to move on. Like a crazy person I'm building the cabinet. I freaked out at the last minute and hired a friend to help. Ordered doors and drawers to match existing and now I'm dying for it to be done and topped! Maybe this weekend :) One other bonus with this piece of wood is that it's finished and could be installed Saturday. I don't want to rush the decision though. I could always tile too - if I could decide on a tile!

Anyway, sorry for the book! THANK YOU for all help and suggestions, it helps SO much!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 9:24AM
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"I tend to take offence at the statement, >>Like a crazy person I'm building the cabinet.>>Just don't want mine to look ridiculous! Just how would "ridiculous" be defined in the scope of a historic, traditional home where the owner is putting in quality, lovely details?

Me thinks you worry too much about minutiae. Forest for the trees in kitchen reno is a defined pitfall.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 9:38AM
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Crazy in that I have VERY little experience in wood working! And for some reason I thought my kitchen was the perfect place to start :/ We modified an over fridge cabinet to become a fridge surround - that was project #1. Luckily we'd hired a construction guy who is a friend to help with that one (although it wasn't complicated).

Project #2 was deciding to shiplap the whole kitchen. We did this on our own. I planned out all the cuts so there would be no joints. This worked out fine until there were a few warped boards. For the most part though it's all nice, long boards. This project was kind of tough although doable but took much longer than we thought!

Project #3 we did crown molding and framed out all the drywall window boxes (?) with wood and trim and built windowsills (or technically stools I guess). DH says crown molding is the devil's invention although we ended up doing well.

So, Project #4 is building this cabinet. I designed it. Purchased the lumber. Ordered drawer boxes and door and drawer fronts to match the rest. Luckily a cabinet box isn't too challenging but we still hired our friend again to help. I'm not too good with thinking of things like level and square. Oh, I forgot the original project, a prime example of this - a workbenck with sink that looks a little italicized if you get what I mean. So, that's why I think I'm a little crazy. We really don't have too much experience. My original cabinets are custom and I didn't think I could get what I wanted off the shelf anywhere and also worried about custom too. We'll see if all fits together properly this weekend...

As for looking ridiculous - I just don't want walnut to look out of place. I wrote that in reference to the examples I've seen where most of the people with walnut counters have dark floors rather than light like mine. I guess we'll see! I also don't want it to possibly look goofy with narrow floor boards and narrow wood strips in a countertop. Sometimes it's hard to picture how it will all end up!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 9:53AM
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From looking at a couple of cutting boards to building a cabinet yourself-amazing. Please post some pics.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 10:35AM
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Ok, so here's a better picture of the floor for color

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 10:16AM
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Here's another picture of the whole walnut butcher block without flash:
I'm a bit concerned about the narrow strips next to the narrow floor. The figuring in the walnut is amazing though. It's like tiger oak in places which I didn't realize was a characteristic of walnut

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 10:25AM
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here's one with flash:

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 10:28AM
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Ok, Romy718, I hate posting pics of my space but here's the new cabinet not yet finished :) worked on in from 4:30-5:30 yesterday. Trying to talk myself into painting the fronts now... Have to finish the baseboard next to the cabinet and windowsills. We did the shiplap, crown and boxed out and trimmed the windows. I am crazy.

It's three drawers in the middle drawers on the top left and right and it'll be doors on the lower left and right. The right will pullout kind of like a trash drawer and have a middle drawer. Left will be a cabinet for my kitchenaid and cutting boards - the drawer above is for knives. If I get bold I'd love to make a custom insert for my knives that have the shape cut out. Could be perfect for my DH to work on!

This post was edited by browneyes776 on Sun, May 4, 14 at 17:29

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 10:35AM
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The walnut is beautiful!!! Love the shiplap & what a great window. You may focus on the the strips of the wood initially, but the normal eye will be looking at the big picture, the overall look of the walnut, macaubus, shiplap, windows, cabinets, crown, plants on your windowsills, etc.
It's going to look fabulous.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 1:06PM
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Personally I think I'd apply a bit of a brown or brown-red dye to the walnut to make it contrast more with the floors (dye, not stain, so you don't obscure that beautiful grain). But that's just personal taste, it would be beautiful left natural as well.

FYI, all wood finishing products are "food safe" when properly applied and fully dried/cured. The technical FDA term is "Generally Recognized As Safe." So long as you're not spraying your counters with pesticide or arsenic you're fine to use anything from the wood-finishing aisle at Home Depot :D

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 1:08PM
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Romy718, thanks so much :) Today I primed the door and drawer fronts and we built the windowsills and then called it a day. I can't believe all the detail work. I've been saying that it's the "final weekend" for at least a month!

I'm going to keep considering doing a plank top as well. I went to look at wood on Friday but it's kind of hard to picture. Or, more like it's difficult to compare a finished product to a raw material... We shall see. I'm still deciding on tile as well - thanks for your feedback on that too :) So, hopefully by next weekend I'll be installing tile or a top for this.

Chiefneil - thanks for your thoughts. I kind of would like the color to be a bit deeper too. I'm not a huge fan of the sapwood look. I do find this piece to be pretty beautiful in person though. I'm conflicted because I think I'd like some more contrast and possibly a more uniform color. I'd been researching about covering the look of sapwood earlier and read about dye. The bad thing/good thing about this block is that it's finished. Good for me for less work if I like it as is. Bad if I'd want to dye it.

I've been working on this kitchen for about the length of human gestation and I'm getting weary so finished sounds kind of good. I think it'd be a fair bit cheaper than the quote I got for an unfinished plank top that would still need finishing. Decisions!

Thanks for weighing in!!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 5:40PM
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Browneyes, we have walnut floors & while they were beautiful in the natural state, we stained them (DuraSeal Special Walnut) & have an island with a Walnut top (plank, like the floors) that is stained darker than the floors. It's beautiful with the white cabinets & the floors.
Relax & enjoy the rest of the day.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 5:54PM
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Romy718, thanks for the kind words! Also, I wanted to thank you for the cutting board suggestion. I brought home one with smaller strips of wood and one with wider. One has sapwood and the other doesn't. I've got some leftover beech from ikea from a workbench that I also tested out.

I'm initially freaked out by the dark walnut. I don't want to take away from the stone. On the other hand I don't want it to look too utilitarian which is kind of how the light colored wood feels. I'm a little torn between coordinating and contrasting. I'm really surprised but I really like the look of the sapwood in one of the cutting boards. Somehow it seems to tie in with the floor.

So, I'm still confused! I'm going to see if there would be a restocking fee to return the walnut block. I'd love to see it in my space.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 11:10PM
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Hang in there browneyes. I'm here to tell you that the "last weekend" never arrives!!!!! I've been saying that since February. Regardless, what you've done so far looks great. I'm sure the finish product will look equally as good.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 7:03PM
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Do you think plank would be a better option for me?

Romy718 - are the widths of your floor and counter the same? Do you think butcherblock looks too utilitarian? I saw a gorgeous kitchen that mamadadapaige did that incorporates edgegrain walnut with lighter floors that I thought was awfully pretty (but then again it's a smaller surface than I have in my space in terms of the amount of contrast).

Farmhouse Kitchen by Portland Cabinets & Cabinetry Pennville Custom Cabinetry

Farmhouse Kitchen by Portland Cabinets & Cabinetry Pennville Custom Cabinetry

Farmhouse Kitchen by Portland Cabinets & Cabinetry Pennville Custom Cabinetry

Farmhouse Spaces by Portland Cabinets & Cabinetry Pennville Custom Cabinetry

Has anyone seen a driftwood effect on a countertop before?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 7:06PM
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Oh, you have such a pretty kitchen already!

I'm really into this European product which is safe for counters. It has so many options and DIY looks really feasible. There are sample pots to try out:

Rubio Monocoat Natural Oil Finish

Water resistant (suited for kitchens and baths)
Resistant to heat up to 212 ðF
For all kinds of wood (solid wood, reclaimed wood, veneered wood, MDF, etc.)


Application instructions:

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 8:08PM
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Browneyes, our walnut countertop is stained darker than our floors, so dark that you really can't distinguish the size of the planks. If I had to choose again, I might have gone lighter. I like seeing the color variation of the floors. A darker stain is an option if seeing the planks bothers you. I also really like walnut butcherblock.
Here's a link to a discussion about walnut colors, types of stains & finishes, etc.
I'll try to find some pics of walnut butcherblock counters tomorrow. I am out of town for a couple of weeks (new grandson) or I'd take some pics of my counter & floors.

Here is a link that might be useful: Walnut Countertops

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 3:39AM
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GW kitchen with walnut butcherblock.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 3:41AM
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Light floors, dark top.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 3:42AM
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Fiesty68, thanks so much :) I hope you weren't mistaking the beautiful kitchen designed by mamadadapaige for mine though! Thanks for the recommendation too. If I end up finishing something myself I'll look into it. The beauty of the block I saw is that it's finished now... And so am I! I'm SO tired of this project! But, I need to add a little bit of baseboard, crown on my cabinets and finish the windowsills, and tile, and paint. Yeah, that's it. *silently screams*

Romy718 - thanks so much for sharing your experience and also posting some pics for me. I've actually been a crazy woman and I've been saving every wood counter (almost) that I see on houzz to see different combinations. I kind of wonder if I might like mahogany or cherry... I have excellent news though about the current slab in question - DH called and said he wanted to surprise me with it and asked if I changed my mind if they'd waive the restocking fee (the surprise clearly being a fib - sometimes romance can buy a little compassion) and they said yes! So, he'll bring it home today and we'll see how the real deal will look. I'm pretty non-committal so this has me both terrified and excited. Thanks again and congrats on the occasion for your trip!!!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 10:47AM
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No, I meant *your* kitchen with the beautiful windows, cabinets and shiplap :) . It's more beautiful to me than the other kitchens posted in this thread, lovely as they are.

I'm silently screaming too because all of my pantry is on the living room floor and I can't put anything IN my cabinets and I don't have counters ;)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 11:58AM
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Aw, fiesty68, you are too sweet! It's been a labor of love (and hate)! Sadly it all started in August!! I'm REALLY hoping to wrap it all up soon. Need to pick tile too... (I just have one small area between the range and breakfast bar since the rest is shiplap).

Are you doing a complete reno or what is the scope of your project? My upper cabinets are empty and my pantry is crammed with dishes and food, etc. I have another room that is filled with all the kitchen overflow and regular pantry stuff (and it has been for months). I can definitely feel your pain! For me though I still don't know what I'm doing with this bonus room so it's not really taking away from anything else. No counters is ROUGH!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 1:11PM
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Ok, so my DH brought it home and..... I don't like it :( Sometimes things have a way of growing on me but I don't think that this will. And, of course, the cabinet isn't finished yet so it's a bit hard to see it and judge with the cabinet looking the way it does above rather than the rest of the cabinets.

My complaints - I think it'll be too dark. It's the darkest thing in the kitchen and it's basically the longest uninterrupted stretch of counter (the area next to it is 112 but that includes the sink) so it seems very visually prominent. I'm not a huge fan of the strips of wood next to the strips of wood in the floor. The finish on it is pretty shiny and somehow it appears very lifeless and flat - DH commented that it looks like laminate! I realize that this could be changed with a different finish on it.

The positives - it looks really nice with the dark wainscotting in the dining room. It's not in the dining room of course but the view through is nice. The wood itself is pretty gorgeous. The colors and patterns are SO pretty.

I'm thinking now that I need a different wood species. I think I'd prefer something that's more in keeping with the colors in the floor. Anyone have any recommendations? I'm thinking about sapele, mahogany, cherry, teak and maple. I think I'd probably prefer a plank style so that it's not as visually similar to the floor. Any thoughts or recommendations are appreciated!!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 10:55AM
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Did you take any pics of the walnut? It might help to post them in your other thread to figure out why the walnut didn't work & what species would blend in.
How nice that you got to see it before making a commitment - my kind of shopping.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 10:56PM
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Well, indecision is one of my specialties! I'm kind of reconsidering it.The wood is really beautiful and I do have lots of darker accents throughout the house. I am worried about it looking too heavy in the kitchen but it's also hard to tell with the new cabinet unfinished and made of plywood that's about the same color as the floor. After all this hard work on the kitchen I just don't want to choose something too lopsided.

I'm not sure where else to go for options though because I wonder about introducing another color or wood into the mix.

A secondary problem to all of this is that I don't really love the lights in the kitchen and hope there is another kind of bulb I could buy. I love the kitchen in morning light and I really like the under counter lights but the inset lights (pot lights? not sure what they're called) seem to make things look a little greenish and are fairly harsh.

Anyway, I'm posting a picture for you to see (I'm feeling like it's you and me here! And let me say I'm really grateful for your insight and help!!)

To put it into perspective the kitchen is 16ft wide and this cabinet is 6 ft so it's got presence in the room.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 10:43AM
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