Help...Choose Tile then Counters or Counters then Tile?!

rantontooJuly 25, 2014

I got a piece of advice that made sense to me as we began to plan a kitchen remodel: "Find something you love and design around it."

We are now stumped since my husband has found 2 things he loves, but I am not sure we can make them work together.

As we looked at granite to go with our cabinet choice, my husband kept picking slabs that had a lot of movement. Since I was envisioning a light or natural rift-sawn oak problem. However, my husband has never progressed from the "get water all over" stage. It may sound silly, but the man just does not keep water off counters, windows, trim, backsplash, and floors. I do NOT want to discourage Mr. Power-Scrubber's clean-up efforts. This has me concerned about wood floors in the kitchen.

While I can find too many tiles (and granites) that I like, he loves a porcelain tile that has movement and variety. I am having a hard time envisioning any granite with this tile. I can envision a subtle marble, but I prefer a natural stone that I do not have to "baby" which made granite the obvious choice.

Any stone counter suggestions considering Century's Darwin-Seymor tiles that are supposed to replicate Turkish "Picasso" travertine? Am I right to be concerned about granite and this tile?

Will a whole floor visually blend together more so a granite counter with movement will work? Is looking at one sample tile over-emphasizing the movement in the tile? Should we pick counter first and then tile or tile then counter?

This post was edited by Ranton on Fri, Jul 25, 14 at 13:02

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Granite counters have a pattern. Tile has a pattern. Within a tile, there is a pattern if it is stone with movement. Wood cabinets have a pattern. Yes, you are risking a really busy look if you combine all of these, IMO.

Unfortunately, some people have trouble visualizing how things they love will combine to create an overall effect. It may be helpful to discuss together what function/feeling/look you are trying to achieve in the kitchen.

I understand the "water everywhere" problem - my kids do that too.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 3:21PM
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Men always like busy granite and stone backsplashes and wood cabinets. It speaks to their inner caveman. I think you need to show him kitchens, not individual materials. I think it's just that some men haven't been exposed enough to design and are clueless to how materials relate. Usually when the husband wins, the kitchen loses. Never give up too much of your decorating power to your DH! Unless your husband has an artistic side. Fortunately, mine is a photographer so he understands all this stuff.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 5:03PM
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It is really helpful to get an idea of the look of the whole kitchen you want, and then try to put the individual elements together that will work cohesively to bring about the look. Picking "a floor that you love" here and "a counter that you love" there will end in disaster. It is a long shot that all the things you love will work together. Heck, when I try and put all the people I love in a room together, it's usually not smooth sailing either.

If you go with that floor, you will be best avoiding a granite with significant movement. I, personally, would find that floor tile way too limiting. When I was doing my kitchen, my husband and I spent too much time up front looking at random elements and declaring our likes and dislikes re: what we saw. Things moved along much better when we mutually agreed on an inspiration picture, because then he left me alone to figure out how to get there.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 5:36PM
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"Men always like busy granite and stone backsplashes and wood cabinets. It speaks to their inner caveman. I think you need to show him kitchens, not individual materials. I think it's just that some men haven't been exposed enough to design and are clueless to how materials relate. Usually when the husband wins, the kitchen loses. Never give up too much of your decorating power to your DH! Unless your husband has an artistic side. Fortunately, mine is a photographer so he understands all this stuff."

LOL I'm totally showing my husband this post - I'm SO glad someone else is having this issue!! This is exactly why our kitchen looks like it does. It's not terrible but it has a lot going on.

I agree finding inspiration pictures and showing the DH are much more helpful. Also, agree with others that all those things together would probably be too much.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 5:54PM
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I don't know about the wisdom of designing around something you love, but I do know that if you pick items with the fewest choices first (appliances) and go toward the items with the most choices (paint colors), your choices are always expanding instead of narrowing.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 7:04PM
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Thank you all for your responses; I needed to make sure my hesitation was justified.

feisty: On top of his love for granite with movement and that tile, he wants oak cabinets!!!!! I showed him quarter-sawn oak to give him an idea of rift-sawn oak graining...all he could focus on was the raying which he hated even though I told him rift-sawn would not have it. He likes the movemnt in the oak! He gets that he cannot envision things together, but...

My issue may be that I "like" too much and really do not "love" anything I have seen.

may_flowers: LOL...You have described my DH to a tee! There is a lot of wisdom in your post. I like the idea of showing him kitchens that have some of the elements he likes but are close to what I envision. I love the "Reveals" on this site. I chuckled when you wrote "artistic side"...not even close!

sas95: I have shown him pictures of different elements; the idea of showing him insiration kitchens and discussing them is a good one. I have one in my head based on all the research I have done on Houzz and this site. I want to have the counter be the "Star." When I explained what so many have said on this site about counters and backsplashes, he "got" it; but still loves what he loves.

I needed reassurance that my inability to envision a granite with that tile was "spot-on" because I do like the tile on its own. It may work in the bathroom with a "quiet" counter; I think I have seen some quartz that I can pair with it or even sealed marble in the bathroom. find an overall inspiration visual to go with what is in my head...

Swenstastic: based on what I have read here...we are not the only ones with the issue. Mine has mellowed over the years but "digs in" sometimes. When we were first married, DH KNEW he had excellent design "taste." I admit to making myself cry 34 years ago so I would not be stuck with a horrible green carpet in my main living area and end our "heated" disagreement. The compromise... I saw that awful green carpet everyday in our bedroom for almost a decade but had a nuetral beige in my livingroom. He has come a long way!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 7:56PM
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Trebruchet: I have learned so much from your postings here. Once again, your advice makes sense. With that in mind, counters then tile or wood floor...I think!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 8:07PM
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I agree with Ranton, assuming I understand that you've already decided on the cabinet choice?

If you have and you've got the style and stain/paint picked out, I'd do the counters 2nd. I'd do the floors 3rd. Flooring, unless "it's in your face" attention grabbing, tends to just be the anchor and gets relegated to almost being overlooked.

If you only want the blaring floor to take center stage,(that's your main objective) then highlight that and let everything else just be a supporting role for the floor.

That being said, if you have a lot of movement in the graining of the wood (cabinet), you don't want to fight "movement with movement". So let's say you have a really intense movement in the wood grain that will show through the stain, I'd quiet it down on the granite and/or pick a quartz that is quieter to the degree that the cabinets are already "speaking".
** One thing, are you looking for a certain look or style?
Can you tell us that if you know?
The reason I ask is that depending on what look you want to achieve be it for example, sleek/modern/minimalist, Tuscan/Mediterranean, French country, Craftsman/earthy colors etc., you get the idea.
So write down some basic words that you think of when people say (your) XYZ style. From that, when you are looking at each material or pattern, what is the first word that comes to mind when you see that pattern/color/style in the granite yard or flooring? If what comes to mind belongs to another style/look, you may be about to combine things that don't belong in the same "box".
Something to think about......

Oh, definitely choose the granite then choose the backsplash color/pattern/material after that.

Regarding flooring, ask your DH the one thing that he wants to first be noticed in your kitchen. I.E. if someone where to come for a visit after it's completed and says they love XYZ about it. What element would be choose as the strongest thing that stands out when you walk into your kitchen?
I know on some of these design shows when it comes to pattern be it fabric, upholstery, wallpaper, whatever, they suggest that the "scale" of each element not be the same. Like if you had a large print on a fabric in whatever color you'd want to choose a smaller scale on the other elements in the room so they don't compete.
If you've got several large (busy) 'in your face' patterns in the room, they compete with each other. The result is that the eye bounces around constantly from large pattern (i.e. movement) to the next large/busy/heavy movement pattern. What happens is a feeling of vibration and competition between all the elements that is not restful to the eye or mind.
I know I'm jumping around here. All these things are coming to mind that might help you so I'm just throwing it out there before I think of something else.
Question: Are your and DH's style the same or different? If they are different, there was an HGTV show that integrated the two (sorry, can't think of it or the host's name) but there were some good points in how the host did it.
Good luck and let us know how it goes. I don't know if I've helped here or not, but hopefully it will spark some thought processes that might help you.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 9:19PM
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piper101: You have given me a lot to think about starting with describing what I envison in my brain. My goal in this remodel is to update a 1980 split-level home while dealing with a DH who adamantly stated for years that it's a 1980s house and should look like a 1980s I artistic side, no vision, and hates change.

I want a warm, cozy but not fussy kitchen...not country and not pure craftsman; I think the style is more transitional. I like my grandparents' wooden high chair but only as an accent piece. My Pennsylvania House furniture in the dining and living room will be moved to the basement family room and will be replaced by new pieces with cleaner lines. The 1980s spindles in the dining-living room wall cutouts have to go!

The door style was a compromise but a good one; it is a modified Shaker style with routed edge. It fits a transitional style. DH wants oak again (sigh). I like oak or hickory but have not signed off on 1980s oak graining. Because of his love for granite with movement, I am pushing for rift-sawn white oak cabinets with a medium tone hickory stain. Even with rift-sawn graining, I envision a compromise "medium" movement granite. All the 1980s oak graining in this house needs to be toned down. He cannot embrace totally painted kitchen cabinets, and I can accept that (sigh). Painting or using another stain color for the small island cabinets is a possibility.

My greatest success was making him attend last year's builder's home showings. He was forced to really look at the things that he would never pay attention to if he were visiting someone's home. Since he really "saw" and could thus measure against our home, we made significant progress for a while, I have not heard his 1980s house comment since. Thank goodness that another show is scheduled for this August as we finalize some of our choices.

I am off to find some inspiration pictures to match what is in my brain!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 2:03AM
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Appeal to his frugal self. The most practical solution might be to let him get the busy granite. Those floors will probably go out of style sooner rather than later, and they'd be a mess to replace. Cabinets are the most expensive to replace. Granite is a few thousand and can be updated easily.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 9:24AM
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I posed the question about what he wants people to notice when they first walk in...He said counters so we will proceed from there.

I actually think we can use the tile in the bathroom instead although the picture of the floor that the designer specifies as Century Darwin-Seymor tile looks like less movement than the tile company picts I posted. The counters are Jerusalem Gold Limestone... limestone for a counter?! How good are sealers???

This log cabin shower picture looks more like the pictures from the tile company.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 1:00AM
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