Granite and Kitch Remodel Rookie Questions

juliejoyceOctober 25, 2013

We bought our house 2 years ago and I hate the kitchen. The lighting is awful, the laminate countertops are awful and the flooring is awful. The cabinets are okay. They are good quality and are maple with a honey stain. I would prefer white, but they are not old at all and we can't afford to replace them. Our kitchen opens up to a room that we now use as a toy room. Our kitchen is a U with a peninsula (I think - when looking at it - it actually looks like a C, but I think it is called a U in the kitchen world - ha!) One of my biggest goals of replacing the counters is to have an overhang where I can put stools so the kids to eat breakfast and probably most meals as we rarely use the formal dining room. I would LOVE to rip out the peninsula and do a long island into the room that is now a play room - but since that is more than we can afford, I am thinking of making the overhang somewhat circular to make it come into the room as much as possible without a lot of construction. Does this make sense? Has anyone done anything similar? Also, can you show me picks of your light granite with honey stained maple cabinets? Lastly, the man at the stone store tried to talk me out of Quartz. I love Granite, but am nervous because from what I have read (on here), it seems like the lighter colors are harder to care for. I have 3 boys (6, 3 and 1.5) so I can imagine that the counters will be taking a fair amount of abuse. Sorry for the long post - any tips, thoughts, words of wisdom and pics would be much appreciated! I will post a pic of my kitchen as soon as I figure it out :o)

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Why did the guy try to talk you out of quartz?

You're talking a half circle-ish peninsula, right?

Can you post a few pictures of your space? That would be helpful.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 6:54PM
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I don't know. That's what I am wondering. I couldn't figure out if he made more money on granite? He seemed sincere. I asked if the Quartz would be easier maintenance. He said that granite is not high maintenance and that sealing it is as simple as wiping it down with sealer 2 times a year. He said as long as it is properly sealed then it is very easy to maintain and that if I was only buying Quartz because I thought it was easier to maintain that I was wasting my money. I will upload a picture.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 8:58PM
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This is the pic of my kitchen from the listing before we bought it. It gives the general idea. The walls in the adjacent room are now tan, and all the appliances are stainless. The kitchen (cabinets, countertops, flooring and lighting) are all just like this though - yuck.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 9:05PM
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Who knows. Maybe he knows about granite and doesn't know as much about quartz? Will wait for pics...

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 9:12PM
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You know, it's hard to tell from this image, but it seems that having a semi-circle peninsula would really eat into the dining table area once you account for the clearance needed for the peninsula seating.

What are the benefits of a curved peninsula vs. a straight one in your layout?

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 9:31PM
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How long and deep is the peninsula right now? (I'm guessing around 7 or 8 feet long and 27 inches deep, but I'll wait for your reply.)

I think you're saying that you use what is the table space in the picture as a playroom now for your children. Is that correct?

You also state that you don't use your DR much for eating and want to use the peninsula for all meals. Is that also correct?

Personally, I prefer table seating for family meals - it's more conducive to relaxing meals, conversation, and general family bonding. Island and peninsula seating, to me, is for quick/rushed meals.

I am also concerned about your very young children. Even if the 18-month old is still in a highchair, most (safe) highchairs are table-height, not counter-height so he won't be "part of the action" while in a highchair and the counter-height seating may not be very safe for him just yet.

Counter-height seating is usually problematical for young children and older adults. However, your children will grow very quickly (too quickly!!!!), so counter-height seating won't be an issue for them for very long!....:-)

I'm not saying don't do the seating overhang, but I am suggesting you rethink eating at the peninsula as "standard operating procedure". Instead, why not use the peninsula for quick meals and the DR table for family meals? Is the DR too far away? Or, is it being used for something else?

To your question about the counter overhang. I'm not sure how much of a curve you will be able to do without adding additional support. Would you be willing to add a leg or two (or more)? If it's going to be used for all meals, then I recommend an overhang of at least 18" for all seats. 15" is the minimum recommended for counter-height seating, but if it's going to replace a table, I think you want it to be more comfortable for everyone - now and when the young ones starting getting tall and gangly (and need that extra leg room!) You and any other adults will also appreciate it now!

One thing, I'm not sure you have room for 4 or 5 people at the peninsula - even with a curve. While a curve will add more space for seating, I don't know if it will add that much. For each seat, you need 24" of linear space and all seats need their own clear knee/leg space - no sharing with another seat (e.g., two seats at a corner). So, for 4 people, you need 8' (96"); for 5 people, you need 10' (120"). I don't think you can get a big enough curve to gain that much space without just making it a "table" that's attached to your peninsula. I also think it will take a lot of space from the playroom - if you're going to eliminate the playroom altogether, then I think I'd rather see you put another table there. Tables take up less room b/c you have seats on both sides. So for 6 people, you can usually use a table that's 72"x39".

You also need to be careful b/c of that wall on the far right that protrudes into the table/playroom space. You want to keep decent aisles on all sides of the peninsula - especially where there is through traffic.

Have you considered making your DR a playroom and using the table space in the picture your primary eating area (with a table)? [That's what we did while our children were young. Later, when they became tweens/teens, we reclaimed the DR as a DR and eliminated the table space in our kitchen (it was too small anyway).]

Quartz vs may be that the gentleman is a natural stone person and really thinks granite is much nicer/better than quartz. I'll be honest and say that originally I wanted quartz b/c I thought all granite was high maintenance - that it all had to be sealed every couple of months. Thanks to this site, however, I discovered:

(1) that not all granites need to be sealed (any stone with an absorption rate of =(2) if it does need sealing, it's not as laborious as I thought nor does it need to be done that often.

Based on this "new" information, I expanded my horizons and ended up with a granite that does not need sealing (Absolute Black). Quartz can also be very nice. I think it's more a matter of what you prefer. If you want a light granite and don't want to have to seal and don't want a "patina" to develop, then probably quartz is best for you. (I think most light granites do need sealing.)

He may also not be very familiar with quartz. If that's the case, then I would see if I could find someone else to deal with - someone who knows quartz....either at the same stoneyard or a different one. Familiarity with both would be ideal.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 1:55AM
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I'm wondering what kind of a "store" you're shopping for quartz/granite in. The job you're envisioning is to replace the floor and counters and do something about the lighting. You could go to a kitchen/bath store and do it all through them, or you could hire by the individual job. For instance, we knew we wanted a bamboo floor, so we looked online for who sold it locally. There were two places, one whose Yelp (or whoever) reviews all said, "These people are beyond horrible," and the other who whose reviews all said, "These people are fantastic!" We went with fantastic and were not disappointed. For lighting, I was out to sea, so I went to Ferguson's and they came up with a lighting plan that worked for our space, which is similar to yours. They didn't provide an electrician to carry it out, but finding one isn't difficult. Be prepared, lighting costs more than you think, particularly if you want to do some recessed ceiling lights, which would be good in your combined kitchen/dining space. I'm not sure where is a good place to go looking for quartz. Granite is easier as there are lots of granite yards to choose from, but I'm sure people here know where to look for quartz - Home Depot and Lowe's for sure, but maybe there are better choices?

As for DR vs playroom, I agree with Buehl that eating at least dinner together is important as the kids grow up. In addition to developing the art of conversation (and finding out what's up with them), they also learn basic table manners. As a teacher who used to take kids to 6th grade camp for a week, you would be surprised how many 12 year olds had clearly had very little practice eating like civilized human beings - and these were kids from privileged backgrounds. For now a play table that doubles as a breakfast/lunch table will work fine. When the youngest gets a little bigger, you might be comfortable banishing the boys to the dining room for play and returning the current playroom to a dining space.

As for adding an eating area to your peninsula, sure it can be done, but I don't think it will be comfortable as a whole family eating area. This is ours which looks to be a similar size to yours:

Even with an arc, this would be a limited space. We only have 2 stools, but we could probably squish in 3, or even 4 if no one needed to get into the kitchen past the end of the counter. 5 people are never going to fit comfortably. And then there's the age appropriate thing. For size comparison, my 5-1/2 year old grandson isn't big enough to sit here without someone sitting right next to him, and he needs to be helped up and down. It will be a number of years before your entire crew is big enough to sit there without someone pitching off, and that's even without the little darlings poking at each other. We tend to use our peninsula seating most often for chatting with whoever is in the kitchen, using the computer while eating breakfast, and working on crafts. Last week I used it as a sewing table to make a Halloween costume for a son who's probably older than you!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 7:43AM
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Sorry, I am not looking to cut out our dining room altogether. We have a separate formal dining room that we eat dinner together at. My husband is a firefighter however and one of my children is on a special extremely time consuming diet for epilepsy, another has an egg allergy and then another still just eats whatever, so I am basically always cooking different meals and when my husband isn't home at night we are usually just eating together in the kitchen - but since there is now just a playroom off the kitchen, I am basically standing up at the counter eating while the kids are eating various meals at their play table in the play room. It is just so much more work for me to set the table and clean up from the separate formal dining room when my husband isn't home. I think for me especially, breakfast and snacks are what I envision to be the main staples being served long term on the peninsula. The dining table pictured is no longer here. It is a play room. The room itself is about 22 feet long, so there is actually plenty of room for a round peninsula to come into the room toward play area - it just isn't that wide. What I would LOVE to do is get rid of the peninsula altogether and do an island in the opposite direction, but our budget doesn't allow it. I am Italian and my family tends to flock to the kitchen. Currently because my peninsula has no overhang it just means a lot of people standing up in and around my kitchen.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 9:29PM
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PS - thank you for your thoughtful responses!

I do want a lighter granite - not white, but more of a beige tone. I don't understand where do I find information the absorption rates? One color I love for example is Crema Bordeaux

As far as switching the formal dining room with the playroom - that is how we had the house when we first moved in, but because of the set up of my house I was unable to see the boys when I was cooking which in my life is OFTEN because of my son's diet. The play room is there so I can see them. The room is much longer than it appears in the picture - there would be tons of room for it to come into the room, but not a lot of width as you can see in the picture because of the wall that juts into the room. The peninsula will never be used instead of the table, just instead of me standing and the kids sitting either at their small play table or standing and eating at the train table lol!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 9:38PM
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My sympathies on the dietary restrictions thing. When my kids were the ages of yours, they also had food allergies, except for the oldest who just lost it after eating some (mostly still unknown) artificial colors and flavors - artificial smoke flavor for sure. Because they all had different things that couldn't be tolerated, I made almost everything from scratch including bread and marshmallows. The good news is the one allergic to nuts, eggs, and corn outgrew it when he was about 6 or 7. The one who couldn't do milk or chocolate mostly outgrew it. The one who reacted to colors/flavors benefited from puberty. We have a grandchild, though, whose peanut allergy looks to be a lifetime issue. To save my sanity, I wrote a cookbook for allergies (mostly at 4 am when I had some peace and quiet) which was actually published. Don't ask, it's way outdated at this point and the majority of the remaining library copies were stolen long ago.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 7:56AM
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Here is the link for absorption rates and other info about granites. There is a similar table on this site for marbles too. Very useful!

Here is a link that might be useful: World's Most Popular Granites

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 11:20PM
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