Countertops- light vs dark

marvelousmarvinAugust 3, 2013

What's the pros and cons with picking a light colored countertop vs a dark colored countertop?

I'm a bit confused because I've read different sources where one source claimed a light countertop would make the kitchen look bigger while the other source claimed that it was a dark horizontal countertop that would make the room look bigger.

And, I'm also confused about which countertop would show more wear and tear, water stains, etc..? It seems like I've read different accounts where one person complained how their dark granite countertop showed off everything, but then I've also read another person complain that their light granite countertops showed off everything.

To further confuse things, it seems half of the people who own light colored quartzite countertops say how their countertops suffer from etching and stains but then the other owners of light colored quarzite say that they have no such issues.

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IMO light countertops make the kitchen look bigger but that is perception. You really can't make an objective argument for one side or the other. But white makes the room look bigger is conventional wisdom.

Solid white(or almost white) or solid black (or almost black) will show off everything. You need speckles, veining or some other colors to hide dust and debris.

Whereas man made quartz is consistent granite, quartzite and other natural materials are not. Each slab might be different, You can find a picture of a natural slab you like, go to the stoneyard ask to see the stone you saw on the internet, like a sample, order it then dislike the actual piece you get.

Then again some people get a beautiful kitchen to drink coffee and read the Sunday Times while others get a kitchen to cook from scratch almost every day. How it holds up to wear may be different for each type of user. Some will say they seal their granite every six months others that they have never sealed it in six years and it looks great.

Then there could be dishonest stoneyards substituting a cheaper stone and selling it for a more desirable stone. This can be a problem if you go bargain hunting instead of going to the more reputable stone yards.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 5:12AM
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the counters and cabs/backsplash/wall color/floor all in differing tones/colors or textures will make things pop because the eye moves around at all the interruptions between the elements. This can be useful in a very large space or the desire for an eclectic look. This is in essence "making the kitchen look smaller". It is not so desirable if in reality the kitchen IS small to begin with...In a small space, where presumably the goal would be to "expand the visual look" or "not feel closed in" then choosing the elements with minimal breaks between the tones/textures/colors from floor to cabs to counters backsplash and wall colors [and appliances] is a fairly reliable approach. It isn't that you need an all white kitchen to make a small space expand, in fact, dark hardwood floor with medium to dark cabs and that darker granite will work....but then at the walls do glass doors or open shelves so that at eye level you have a little more expansive visual line by reducing the dark wood. You must start with cabinets really, because they are the biggest cost-what do you like?-in your smaller space you can work with your desired look by using care in choosing the layers of elements that have similarity as opposed to contrast.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 6:44AM
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I have a small kitchen (10x10) with mottled dark gray quartz counters. They show virtually nothing. A good thing, right? I dunno. I like really clean, clean counters, so I have to run my hands along them to find little drips or crumbs that my eye doesn't see. Others may prefer their dust and debris hidden for a spell. :)

I have white cabs in a G-shape, so that's a fair amount of vertical brightness for my kitchen's footprint. Coupled with good natural light, the dark counter does not darken or decrease the perceived size of the space. It does provide a nice contrast/interest on that horizontal plane, akin to eyeliner.

For a third major color, I have red oak floors. I don't know what that means in terms of design theory, but I'm grateful for that fire down below warming the otherwise monochromatic and neutral space.

I used to have an upper cabinet over my peninsula so removing that had a greater effect of opening the space than any of my other color choices.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 11:10AM
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I decided to select one finish to be the star in the kitchen and it was the counters. I played down the other finishes so there wouldn't be competition. I was planning my kitchen at the same time a friend was renovating and our choices were interesting to compare.

I used azul aran granite which is very patterned and she used quartz with a very subtle pattern. My counter shows no dirt - it is sometimes hard to find small items on it - and her husband commented that everything shows on hers.

I used white cabinetry on the perimeter of the U shape and a chocolate brown island. I like the contrast and both work with the counter.

I have one flooring running throughout the space in the kitchen which is open to the hall and great room. I think the common flooring expands the space and has a greater impact than the counter color.

Just as a side note, there seems to be a lot of focus on making spaces feel larger. I'm not sure that is always the best option. Sometimes a cozier feeling room is more comfortable than a larger cavernous airy space.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 11:44AM
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cheryleb reminded me of some other things. My kitchen is open to my dining room, which is open to my living room, i.e., it's not one single great room. However, my wood floors are the same in all three spaces and through the halls, so it provides a good flow and continuity.

Also, as a single person, I like the coziness of my kitchen. It's like a roomy cockpit, nothing more than a few steps away. While I envy the options available in large kitchens (multiple work zones, appliances for everything you can possibly think of, dedicated drawers for subcategories), in reality I have all the space I need.

Before I came to GW, yet after my kitchen was complete, I didn't understand the concept of avoiding competing elements and letting one be the star. As I was looking at backsplash tiles, people told me the ones I liked competed with my counter and to let it be the star. I do not consider my counter a star, but I understand that, while its mottling feels neutral to me overall, it has a definite pattern to it.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 11:59AM
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My kitchen is a bit on the small side, with not enough space to put in an island so I guess a lighter colored countertop would be the better choice.

But, I'm not concerned with dust and debris being noticeable with the countertops. Instead, what nervouses me is something like one of those wine stains on a granite countertop that doesn't get wiped away immediately.

If I sealed the granite every 6 months, would the granite countertops still be vulnerable to something like wine?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't a wine stain be less noticeable on a dark countertop vs a light countertop? Or, would a wine stain be noticeable, regardless if the countertop is light or dark colored?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 12:51AM
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"I've read different sources where one source claimed a light countertop would make the kitchen look bigger while the other source claimed that it was a dark horizontal countertop that would make the room look bigger. "

they are both right, and both wrong ... the size-altering effect of the counters depends on the floor, walls, and cabinet colors too.

As for crumb-hiding ability, any patterning helps hide things. Ideally you would have irregular splotching in light and dark colors. Camouflage!

1 Like    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 6:17AM
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In my current kitchen I have a black speckled formica and it does kind of hide mess... a little. Maybe a toast-crumb colored counter would be best for that...j/k.

In my new... now gutted kitchen, I'm going with a white or very nearly white solid surface as there isn't a ton of natural light in this kitchen (unless I can talk the 'committee' into putting in a solatube!) and the cabs will be stained white oak. It seems that if it's messy on the counter, then it is and only cleaning will cure that, no matter the color. There is good advice up above this post.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 9:18AM
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I'm not a clean freak by a long stretch. However, the one exception to my laxity is the kitchen counter. I don't know where that came from, probably horrible slovenliness in college, but I consider myself rather OCD with counters. My main regret with a dark mottled counter is it shows pretty much nothing: spills, crumbs, etc. go undetected unless I run my hands over the surface.

On the other hand, it's actually a food prep zone and one may strive for cleanliness without being considered a weirdo. Also, I don't know of a much easier item to keep clean than a counter with little more than a few intentional swipes.

My next counter will be something that shows everything. :)

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 2:45PM
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