What color counter with your natural cherry cabinets

mdodJuly 19, 2009

For those of you that have natural cherry cabinets, what color granite/quartz/solid surface/laminate did you


I'm really having a tough time deciding. I've gone through the FKB several times but I've seen many pictures of people's kitchens here that are not in the FKB and I didn't know to clipboard them at the time. I was going to get a sample door from Scherrs but I'm not sure how much good that will do since cherry darkens quite a bit the first year.

Here's a pic of my current kitchen:

The layout will basically be the same but with more base drawers and the island will have cabinets full depth instead of the overhang in the back. I have red oak flooring that needs to be refinished but will still be fairly medium. That's a lot of wood. I now have a SS refrigerator and countertop convection microwave and a black induction cooktop. I'm keeping the black DW and will have a SS/black oven.

The kitchen is interior so I'm worried about the counter being too dark. However, the adjacent nook has three windows facing east, a patio door facing south and two skylights that aim into the kitchen sink area so maybe darker wouldn't be bad. I definitely don't like anything brown or yellow but I'm not keen on the whites or grays either. I'm one of those people that hates white Christmas lights (unless there's a whole bunch of them) and doesn't see the point of white flowers. Generally I like cool colors like blues, bluegreens, and purples but all the countertops are earth tones or wild primary colors. Basically I'm a PITA!

I went to a couple of kitchen galleries and a granite supplier this week. I don't like a lot of movement.

I saw a Cambria Bradford sample that was interesting but I'm afraid it's too blue. I can't find it in an demo counter so I ordered a 12x12 sample to see how it looks in our kitchen and to compare to other options. It has grey and blue quartz bits in it along with taupe and cream bits. Not sure how well that will go with cherry and the cream bits may stand out too much for my taste. The woman at one shop turned up her nose at the idea of that with cherry. The woman at another shop got a sample cherry door and said she liked it. It looked better than I thought it would.

I saw a sample of verde butterfly at one kitchen place and a demo counter in verde butterfly at another shop that I liked but it's so dark if the light isn't shining right down on it. The crystals in both of those looked deep blue but it looked green at the granite supplier. The blue pearl was interesting. I liked the crystals and it seemed lighter than verde butterfly but it's so grey to me and I like color. Of the lighter granites I saw one called Ambrosia White that wasn't bad. Bianco Romano was alright but it's so hard to tell how it will look in my kitchen from a slab. There was a leather one called Marron Cohiba that caught my eye but I doubt that would go with anything else.

Do any of these sound like they would go with Natural Cherry in my kitchen? For what this stuff costs, I'd be miserable if I didn't like it once it was installed. Should I be looking at a stained maple instead? The Kraftmaid Toffee stain caught my eye. I've got a medium hickory now. I don't want the open grain of oak. Painted white and cream look great in magazines but I hate it when the seams open in the winter and they're too hard to keep clean.

Is there any hope for me?

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I am working on our house design and am planning on natural cherry cabinets as well. I've been looking into slate as a countertop. The grey and the green stones don't seem too dark to me. Slate is a very durable countertop. I've gotten a couple of samples from Sheldon Slate (sheldonslate.com) and they look quite nice. Check out the link below for an interesting article.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen Designer Slate Article

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 8:34AM
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Oh my. I went through this thought process for months and once woke up cursing countertops in my sleep. My main advice: "pretend" to decide several times, don't order yet, and see how you feel about your "decision" for a week or so. I found that I was so eager to just decide that I wanted to make a decision too quickly. Luckily, I never ordered, because I changed my mind several times. Take a little time!

I have natural cherry cabinets too. I was restricted (in my mind) to laminate due to cost, so I can only speak to that and to color.

I'll keep it brief. I was set on dark gray/slate-look/or black/oiled soapstone-look laminate--until I brought home a dark slate-look laminate section from Home Depot. Too dark for my kitchen and my taste, although the dark looks sexy in photos online.

So, I knew I wanted to avoid tans/brown-based colors because I think that they deaden the cherry tones.

That left wood-look (no thanks) or gray. I went with a gray soapstone-look laminate.

It's not installed yet. Hope it works.

Good luck with your decision. Try not to compete with the cherry! :-)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 8:50AM
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Caiquemom: slate is nice but I'm surprised to hear it used as a countertop. Maybe they use a different type for countertops but that stuff is soft. I put up some slate tiles on the wall in my office and I literally shaved a little off one tile with the emery drum on a mini dremel tool that I use to trim my dog's nails. I guess one good thing is that if it scratched you can just sand it out.

naan: LOL...I guess that's like when you flip a coin to decide something and you want to go 2 out of 3 once you see the answer.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 11:54AM
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Mdod: I'm not an expert because I haven't done my kitchen yet, but I've been doing some research. The slate that's used for countertops comes from New England and it's very hard; it doesn't flake. Read the Kitchen Designer article that I gave the link to in my previous post. Very interesting.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 12:02PM
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It sounds as if you lean toward lighter stones without alot of movement. You've probably heard this before but I'd suggest going to several granite yards and see what strikes you. Many many stones go with cherry and I agree that with all the wood I'd stay away from earth tones. Since you prefer more uniformity; engineered stone is a very good option if you don't see any granites you love. Costa Esmeralda is one granite that comes to mind that looks gorgeous with cherry and is a cooler tone without being white. I happen to love Bianco Romano and other "whiteish" granites, and therein lies the "go with what grabs you" notion.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 1:07PM
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collins design

New England slate from Sheldon is beautiful. Call and ask them to send you some honed samples. It comes in black, grey, "green" (really a slightly greenish grey) and some mottled purply-brown-greys.

I have natural cherry shaker cabs and really agonzied about the counters. I chose Carrara marble, which you won't like if you don't like whites and greys.... but I also looked at the following granites and stones which all looked lovely with the natural cherry. (By the way, my kitchen is fairly dark so I quickly ruled out the darker colors and looked mostly at medium tones)

Costa Esmerelda granite (the more grey-green, neutral slabs)
Costa Smerelda Rosa (grey green with pinkish)

Azul Aran- Absolutely GORGEOUS blue-grey granite. really stunning and perfect with the cherry, but I needed something lighter and less expensive!

dark grey soapstone


    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 1:31PM
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Thanks for the suggestions.

caiquemom: I did read the article. It said NE slate is stronger and doesn't split like some but it later said that you could sand out scratches. That's why I was concerned about the softness.

Where do you find NE slate? I'm in NC and I didn't see any at the one granite supplier I went to and I haven't noticed it in the few showrooms I've looked at which, based on the article, isn't surprising. There's a big stone place fairly close that I know has slate for exterior use and flooring. Is that the type of place I'd buy it or do you just have to pick a color based on samples and order it direct from NE? It says the slabs are smaller. Any idea what a typical size is?

I haven't seen the Azul Aran in person but the photo looks interesting. Any idea how it compares in darkness to the Blue Pearl? I must have confused the Costa Esmerelda with something else. I was thinking it was a really dark emerald green but the picture I just found doesn't look that dark.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 12:54AM
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There is some color variation in the Costa Esmerelda (and in many other stones). I really liked a sample of one green stone I saw, but the slabs had too much yellow for me. Green does look very good with the cherry and that is what we started out looking for but we came across a blue stone, Azul Do Mar, and chose that. It has a lot of movement so it may not be to your taste. Our stone also has some small dark reddish brown flecks that are like the color in the dark part of the cherry grain. The problem with the stones with a lot of blue is that they are usually expensive. We do like that our stone is bullet-proof - it is so easy to keep clean.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 11:49AM
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Cloud swift: I'm so glad you responded. I've seen several pictures of your kitchen in various posts and your counters caught my eye but I couldn't find your kitchen in the FKB. I don't necessarily mind movement but I like fairly even movement. I don't like it when one section of the stone looks totally different than another. I'm afraid that would be too busy, especially since I'll have the main L counter with a narrow top behind the sink, an island and a desk.

BTW, I see that your drawer base (far right above) has 5 drawers in it. What's that little one at the bottom for?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 12:55PM
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Yes, I mean to put my kitchen in the FKB but I never seem to have time to take the pictures. We added the granite switch plates and had a change to our hood that required a custom duct cover to be made so that wasn't done until about 3 months after most of the kitchen was done and it changed the look so most of my pictures before it don't represent the finished kitchen.

We were worried about matching the movement in our granite when we layed out the templates on the slabs with the fabricator, but we did find that the movement being kind of swirly in places actually helped in the spots where we couldn't place the pieces for a perfect match. Both the large backsplash pieces were cut from the area adjoining their counters so they have a near perfect match, but the small piece to the left of the window wasn't but the eye isn't drawn to the difference because the lines aren't straight. When the movement is more straight, it can be jarring when they don't match it from one piece to another.

We do have a little window sill piece behind our sink and a counter outside that for the pass through which might give you an idea what your narrow top behind the sink might look like with some movement. There is also a seam in about the middle of our sink. That is one of the places where we weren't able to position for a perfect match, but we put the two ends in a swirly parts of the grain on the stone to hide the mismatch. The sill and outside counter also weren't positioned for a perfect match because we wanted to take the backsplash piece out of that area but I think they still flow pretty nicely.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 2:15PM
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Just realized that I forgot to answer your question about the drawer. We have frameless cabinets so the drawers hold more than you would think if you are use to framed. That bottom drawer holds two Maglite D-cell flashlights, spare D-cells and some phone books. The drawer above it holds BBQ tools. We wanted to match the top of that drawer to the one to the left of it which is deep to hold flours and sugars, but we didn't need it to be quite as deep so we split the space to make the drawer for D-cells and phone books. The other drawers on the right from the top down are miscellaneous (aka junk), teas, and coffee (including the tools needed for the expresso machine, sugar packets, etc). The left hand drawers are for baking stuff - flat stuff (dry measure cups and spoons, bench scrapers, spatulas), less flat stuff including the rolling pins, shorter baking supplies (like baking powder, cocoa, baking soda, corn starch) and taller baking supplies (flour and sugar).

If the 35-year old 18"-wide trash compactor someday breaks badly enough that it can't be fixed, we may replace it with a 12" model and a 6" pull out for more baking supplies. I thought it had done so and got as far as calling a cabinet guy, but my husband and son got the motor unjammed.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 3:20PM
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LOL...cloud swift, it sounds like you need to take a piece off that 18 yo compactor and take a sledge hammer to it so your husband and son can't keep fixing it. My husband is the same way. After repairing the turntable on my Sharp convection microwave several times (and having it not turn for months while waiting for him to fix it) I finally told him I was buying a new one.

Thanks for all the information on your kitchen. Now cut and paste it to the FKB. ;-) I've seen lots of gorgeous pics of your kitchen in various posts. Think of all the time you'd save if you upload them to the FKB.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 5:15PM
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In a previous kitchen I had natural cherry cabinets and used a gorgeous dark green/gray honed granite, Verde Fontaine. Loved the look.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 7:27PM
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mdod, if I really cared, I would have replaced the thing when we remodeled. It has lasted 35 years and I'm a bit leary about the reliability of the newer smaller ones. I hear some people saying they got one and it broke after a few years. I'm also not sure whether to replace it with another trash compactor or one of the multi-bin trash pullouts and if we did that we might still need 18".

We even converted it from black to stainless in the remodel. The one thing that bothered me was that it was missing the cover of the toekick area and, when I recently reminded him about that, my husband improvised one that looks good.

Our son, DIL and granddaughter were living with us the last time it broke and with 5 of us it was handy to be able to compact but when it is just the two of us, we rarely push the compact button.

So for now, I'm content to keep the old beast (not to mention the white refrigerator) and wait to figure out what to do when it fails permanently some day.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 9:17PM
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caquiemom: I'm really not trying to pick on your slate counter suggestion (I actually want to investigate it further) but I was going through old posts and noticed this comment from edlakin on Mon, Jun 16, 08: "my thing i wouldn't recommend is slate counters. we did them in our last kitchen, and while they gave us the look we wanted, they scratched so easily that we never quite got comfortable putting things on our counters, even after a few years. we'd always place things very. slow. ly. on. the. counter."

He doesn't mention what type of slate he had but I just thought I'd point that out if you're still in the research stage.

Here is a link that might be useful: Things I wouldn't do again thread

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 12:49AM
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We, too, were worried about our kitchen being too dark, but we fell too in love with soapstone to care. I think it's the perfect counter to go with natural cherry cabinets and, as it turned out, it wasn't too dark after all!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 8:52AM
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mdod: It was suggested to me by my stone fabricator that I take a sample of the cupboard with me to the stone yard and put it next to the granite slab to see how well the two go together. We just finished our new house (not in it yet) but we chose a cherry stain for our kitchen cabinets and chose New Venetian Gold granite for the countertops.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 11:27PM
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Our kitchen is mostly interior walls. We have a pass-through to our mudroom which lets in some light and windows by our table. I have black granite and I love the look with our natural cherry cabinets. I like the contrast. I think it enhances the richness of the wood. I only looked at dark countertops, but spent a lot of time agonizing over which one. All the choices can be overwhelming. Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 2:19PM
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Oooh...nice pics everyone.

Alexamd, your kitchen probably is the closest to mine as far as lighting goes and that granite doesn't look too dark at all. I like your backsplash too. Is that slate?

I received my 12x12 sample of Cambria Bradford on Thu. My daughter (who never likes the same thing as me) actually liked it too. I took it with me to 2 more granite suppliers Fri so I could compare granites to it. All the ones I've liked are pretty dark. I gave my layout to a fabricator to get a quote on sapphire brown just to get an idea on the granite.

Unfortunately, there aren't many places here that handle Cambria anymore because the company won't allow anyone in NC to fabricate it but them (in their facility in Charlotte). Presumably there's not enough money in just measuring, templating and installation to make it worth the local guys' time.

I ordered a sample door from Scherr's yesterday. I should have done that a long time ago. I'm hoping it will darken up faster if I set it in the sun.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 3:13PM
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From Harper Kitchen Remodel

clearcoat natural cherry (knotty) with sun ray granite. I love it.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 8:25PM
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Thank you. Yes, it is copper slate. My cabinets darkened pretty quickly, so hopefully the sample you get will darken fast. Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 2:25PM
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