Counter, sink, backsplash on a budget?

tammyteOctober 14, 2012

We are building a new home. :) I'm thinking of either white or medium stained maple cabinets. The floor will probably be some type of wood look. We have a vinyl plank that we like in our current home.

I have been looking through all the posts here at such lovely kitchens! It's a bit overwhelming. I don't think we will be able to get any type of special countertop. Probably some sort of formica? I would love a large sink with an apron front(?). Will that type of sink even work with a formica counter? I use my kitchen a LOT so I want it to withstand tons of abuse and be easy to clean.

Is there anything else besides formica that would be affordable? Oh and around the cooktop I am hoping to get a stainless counter. My dh is a toolmaker and I think can get a good deal. Would I want stainless throughout?

What would you suggest to someone on a tight budget?


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I completely understand TammyTE. We are hoping to build a house in another year or two and the builders ideas of our house is about 100k over budget. Yikes.

I have done so much searching (on here and Houzz), and I cook a lot. I'm even hoping to start a small catering business when we move. I am going John Boos Hard Rock Maple on our butcher block (it will be around $900 for roughly a 3'x7' size. Then we will have a gray/black soapstone on the rest of the cabinets (light to mid brown maple shaker). Soapstone is very inexpensive if you DIY. I've read many DIY's on here for it, and it's suppose to cut like wood (so it's pretty easy and cheap if you're buying slabs). It's nonporous and seems pretty easy to take care of. One of the biggest things I like about it is I want a house that looks like it's been there for a while, and I don't think I'm really a 'granite' person.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 7:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Fori is not pleased

If you can manage stainless, I can vouch for it wearing like uhhh steel and being easy to clean.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 7:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with fori--if your situation makes steel feasible, go for it. The cheapest form of butcherblock is probably ikea's. The only thing cheaper than that is grab and go prefab laminate from a big box store. The other butcherblock companies have nicer stuff (can get thicker, end grain, more choice of woods), but the ikea is decent, too.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 7:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you all.

Soapstone - I have 5 small children. Isn't soapstone tempermental?

fori - Thanks for the plug for stainless. Can you set hot pans on it? I know it will scratch, but I'm okay with that.

writersblock- Good to know. I figured that was about our only option but I didn't know about ikea's butcherblock.

So does anyone have any pics of kitchens with stainless countertops throughout and not just around the cooktop? I don't want it to look cold. I do like stainless in general. All our cookware is stainless, all my veggie holders are stainless, all my spatulas and such are stainless. :) Would it seem too cold with white cabinets?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 9:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you go to and search "stainless," you will pull up pictures, and her review, of her stainless island top. It is not the entire kitchen--the perimeter is granite--but it is a big island in a big kitchen.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 9:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Fori is not pleased

I've heard once someone claim to have discolored their stainless with hot stuff but I never did in 2 kitchens' worth of it, even cast iron kettles coming out of the oven for seasoning (ie. hot). Perhaps it's a specific stainless metal content thing.

Anyway, Formica has come a long way and isn't a bad option at all. And remember, you can change it out later if you don't bury it in a tile backsplash.

We did a section in marble along with a backsplash behind the stove but it was mostly stainless. This isn't my kitchen anymore cuz I moved...

Yeah my realtor made me paint over that celery green when I sold. :( I didn't think it was cold. Maybe a little bit too girly with an Easter egg thrown in.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 9:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here's theresse's gorgeous stainless countertop (pic taken from elsewhere on Gardenweb):

There are plenty of others if you want to do a forum search.

I was not able to find a local fabricator who was willing to do one for me (I wanted a stainless sink welded in too) but maybe you will have better luck.

As for other materials, I had laminate counters for years and never had any trouble with them at all. It's a good option, and there are unlimited colors and patterns.

I have Ikea butcherblock now and I really like it. It is crazy inexpensive -- actually the least expensive countertop I looked at -- but I was really wanting a wood top so it was perfect for me. The only shot I have of it at the moment is a photo of my blender. (By the way, if you are looking for examples of budget backsplashes, mine is stock tile from Lowe's.)

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 10:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh thanks!

So...butcherblcock. Is that hard to care for? Does it stain easily? I can totally see red bell peppers being chopped by a certain 10yo and the juice left sitting on the counter. ;-)

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 10:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Depends on how you finish it. I use cutting boards so it isn't much of an issue. However, when I made borscht (an unsuccessful experiment -- we could tell that it would have been delicious if only beets didn't taste like, well, beets) -- anyway, when I made borscht I got beet juice all over the counter, and it wiped right up without any staining. I used Ikea's Behandla oil on mine; it's a linseed-based oil I believe.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 11:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

So you use the linseed-based oil when you first finish it? Do you ever have to treat it again?

I use cutting boards too and so does my daughter but she doesn't quite contain the mess as well as I do. ;-)

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 11:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Do a search here for waterlox. There are two main ways to treat BB: if you want to cut on it, something like beeswax and mineral oil, or if you want to treat it like a regular counter, a curing oil like tung oil or waterlox, or something like poly. If you search the forum, there are many, many threads on finishing butcherblock counters, including some about staining or otherwise coloring it.

If you like soapstone, look at brickmanhouse's beautiful ikea bb with india ink countertops.

Here is a link that might be useful: brickmanhouse kitchen

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 12:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I will certainly do a search for waterlox! I didn't think about using butcherblock as a regular counter. Off to search. :)

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 12:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have the Ikea butcher block on my island. It was $200-300. I was getting cross eyed from all the decision making and couldn't decide on marble or quartz for the island. I read here that a lot of people put the Ike's butcher block in as a place holder for a year and so did that. And then I fell in love with it and have decided its a keeper. I was deathly afraid of maintenance cause I can be lax on upkeep and my husband r en moreso but it's been breezy even w/ a six yo in the house. Because we expected to cut food on it we only use mineral oil on it. I applied every other day for like the first week or two and now do once a month or every 45 days if I've gotten busy. Rule is when water no longer beads up but I prefer my loose schedule. My husband sometimes cuts on it and makes a daily breakfast shake on it. There are are two dark rings on it at present but whenever that's happened I just sand that area and apply mineral oil. I just didn't jump on it this time cause I have contractors coming in to do backsplash and other kitchen work but it's a three minute process to sand, rinse, oil.

I also agree re. Lowes subway tiles. Were my cabinets white I would have done them as a backsplash.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 2:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I also agree re. Lowes subway tiles.

Except they are not subways! They are my current favorite choice, viz., 4.25x4.25's in a brick pattern.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 11:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Fori is not pleased

I have a bit of Ikea butcherblock (in oak) on a freestanding cabinet I used pre-remodel for a few years. (Still use it, but not in kitchen.) I didn't use it for cutting but rolled dough on it and used it for serving and miscellaneous not-by-the-sink stuff. It's beautiful and resisted stains pretty well (like red wine overnight). I used mineral oil on it.

I'm too sloppy to use it in a wet area without polyurethaning the heck out of it which wouldn't be as pretty but many people manage. NCarolina has a good sink choice for it I think. I really worry when the faucet holes are in the wood!

Find Trailrunner's kitchen for wood in the cooking area. You'll gain 5 pounds looking at any of her photos but it's worth it.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 12:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Some ideas of how different bb can look (all are the same ikea to start with).

Jenswrens (just waterloxed):

Brickmanhouse (stained black with india ink, then waterloxed):

reshal (walnut stain, waterlox):

Of course real black walnut BB is even nicer if it fits in the budget, but while cheaper than many other countertops, even DIY craft-art black walnut BB is significantly more expensive than the ikea BB. Worth it if you like the look and have the budget, though.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 12:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh wow! Those are all nice. :) I didn't think these decisions would be that difficult....overwhelmed sigh. I am thankful that this is a good problem to have though!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 1:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Drooling over some of those wood countertops! That's what I wanted more than anything else... well, what happened starting 2 or 3 years ago was in this order:

- I want "absolute black" honed granite. Oh - it's been a trend for too long now, you say? (true - we're a little behind the times here in Portland). Ok fine - what else is there?

- Oooh I want soapstone! Nothing they would have had in the NW a hundred years ago? (I was sorta period-appropriate-obsessed)...

- Ooooh - I wANT WOOD! I wanted wood like crazy. So warm and inviting and rich and VERY period-appropriate here in the N.W.! Oh - there will be water damage if I'm not super picky and clean and orderly, always drying it up and conditioning the wood, etc. DANG IT! There goes that.

- Then somehow I decided to go for stainless. Way too modern, right? Well not if you squint your eyes and pretend it's zinc, which they had a hundred years ago! ;) Hehee. I do love it - it's easy. If you pay for an extra strong one, it won't dent. Knock on wood! So I compromised by having a butcher block island - though it's super small compared to most. I think I wouldn't have wanted a stainless counter if it were a big kitchen. But with all the old-fashioned surroundings and broken up with a farm sink in the middle (the ubiquitous Shaws), it's not too much.

I love the idea of getting an Ikea wooden countertop because you can mistreat it without all the anxiety you'd have if it had cost a lot more! That's actually one of the reasons we ended up with a stainless counter: cause our last island that had a cheap stainless top took a TON of abuse and still looked great. But if you want to avoid the cold look you definitely need to have some wood in there somewhere, IMO. Either in floor or island or...?

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 3:51AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
RH Aubrey pulls anyone? Measurements?
The space between our smaller drawers for pulls is...
Barker cabinets?
So who has Barker cabinets and would be willing to...
Need blackish paint suggestions
We have assembled most of our Barker cabs. The wall...
Prep sink location
After a lot of talking on another thread, I took sena01...
Jennifer Weinman
Just got my kitchen remodel photographed by a prof. What a difference!
For some reason a couple of the pics double posted....
Tamara Hadji
Sponsored Products
Vases Outdoor Bar Stool, Patio Furniture
$285.00 | FRONTGATE
Grass and Mini Cattails Silk Plant
Tablet Cradle by Legrand
$19.98 | Lumens
Watson Leather Bar Stool - Brighton Lemon Grass Yellow
Joybird Furniture
C.R. Plastic St. Tropez Recycled Plastic 28 Square Counter Table
$419.99 | LuxeDecor
Sunset Outdoor Barstool - MULTI COLORS
$895.00 | Horchow
Plum Velvet Paige Backless Counter Stool
Cost Plus World Market
George Kovacs Light Rain Collection 3" Wide Mini-Pendant
Euro Style Lighting
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™