Countertops: Super White, Carrara or Other?

three0h2December 21, 2012

I'm so torn. I've been looking and looking at slabs, and I just can't seem to figure out which to choose. These forums have been so helpful with my kitchen remodel, so I thought perhaps some of you here could help me.

I'm torn between honed carrara, polished super white/brazilian arabescato quartzite (aka marble... as I learned from a very helpful recent post. I did the glass test.), and a satin titanium select granite.

I'd appreciate anyone's opinion on what you would choose. We are going with painted linen cliq studios cabinets with the Dayton (shaker) door style. Stainless apron front sink, slide in range, finer details. It's a small kitchen, with a small amount of counter space and no island. We live in an english cottage/tudor style home in Portland, OR. The floors will be a dark stained (jacobean) oak. This kitchen provided a bit of inspiration for the cabinets:
And I love a million of the kitchens tagged as traditional on houzz.

Carrara: $2300 + 200 to be honed; Simply put, I love marble countertops. I understand the characteristics of marble, and I don't think I would mind the patina, but I can't be completely sure. Really, I think I will like the lived-in look from cooking and baking, but scratches from guests putting tools, etc on the counters could bother me. Also, while I really like Carrara, I prefer the look of Calcutta. But, we aren't spending that much.

Super White: $3400; It is gorgeous! Oh my. Love it. But, while affordable, it's more than we would like to spend. And, we still would have to deal with etching and scratching. However, it doesn't etch or scratch as easily as the Carrara. Also, I much prefer the look of the available polished to the honed. So, I would probably get polished and it will show etching more. Honed would be another 200.

Titanium Select Satin granite: $2000; It's really very interesting looking. Very unique. Nice price. Much darker in color than the other two options, and we're not sure it that's a good thing or a bad thing. It's granite. We wouldn't have to worry about etching, scratching or anything. It has a smooth textured 'satin' finish, seems similar to 'antique' slabs I've seen at other slab warehouses. I find that it's easy for me to imagine the other two in my small version of my dream kitchen, as there are lots of real kitchen photos available of those countertops. But I don't have that with this one. As such, it feels like a big risk.

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the painted linen door is a really creamy opposed to a stark white. there are lots of white counters that pull in almond or cream as opposed to these quite stark white with gray. If these really work for you,and no more "shopping around" is to occur,I'd pick the titanium,and certainly pick the sections you want the cuts offers different amounts of variegation on the slab.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 7:18AM
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Here's how I make a decision: I look at a few options(a few not 100's, too many choices lead to inertia). I pay attention to my reaction to each.Without exception I always go back to my first choice. Whenever I choose what I originally wanted and not a substitute it always turns out to be the best choice. I looked at granites, zodiac, cambria, icestone. I held off buying anything for awhile and used plywood counters until I could research and find a dealer I liked for Soapstone. Soapstone was always my first choice.
This is not to say that for budget reasons I don't make alternate choices, I just try to avoid buying anything that I really don't like. We bought used cabinets, they didn't work in the space so we got rid of them. What a relief. Mistake made, mistake corrected, mistake put out of mind. "just burn the receipt" DH says.
What is your first choice ?
Your house sounds so lovely. Good Luck with everything.

my first choice of the three you posted: Marble. My decision making process: I love all white marbles especially in older buildings, I love "old" marble too. It's the middle priced option so I figure I could spend(or not)the $900 difference elsewhere. All of these things would make me happy. So I personally would choose marble. Also I think super white etches also so etching wouldn't affect my decision making.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 7:46AM
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Oh yes linen is creamy(you see I was fixated on Marble !), ok forget what I said about carrara. The titanium would be best with the linen color.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 7:52AM
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WOW to that Titanium, never seen it before! But, not with Linen cabinets. Not in an older home. It strikes me as contemporary. I would go with the marble.


    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 7:59AM
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Marble would be my first choice too. See I'm going back to my first choice. Nancy validated it...but this is your counter.
The titanium looks a little like a "wild" soapstone.
ThreeOh2: It might help you to see the cabinet door next to each selection.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 9:20AM
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Can you find some Danby marble? That might pull in the creaminess and circumvent your etching concerns

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 9:36AM
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What do you want to do with your backsplash? I think the Titanium is too much pattern in a small kitchen, and I agree I don't care for it with cream cabinets. The carrara also reads as light gray and I don't think I like that either with cream. I works better with more of a chalk white cabinet I think. If you love Calacatta you could use Caesarstone Blizzard quartz on the counter and use the Calacatta tile for your backsplash. They work well together. The new Lagoon quartz from Silestone has a soft marble look and pairs well with real carrara for your backsplash. There are whiter and cleaner carrara subway tiles out there that don't have that too gray look. Soapstone with a classic white subway is so pretty and gives more of a period look with a bit deeper grout.

Carrara will scratch and any small gouges will turn whitish. The quartz counter and marble backsplash combo gives you the best of both.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 9:39AM
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remodelfla-Danby is a great idea. so beautiful.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 10:41AM
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Thanks so much for all the help.

I haven't pulled the trigger yet on ordering the cabinets, but I really need to do so very soon. So, I could still switch to white instead of the painted linen. But, my husband says he doesn't like "white, white, white" as he thinks of white melamine kitchens from a few decades ago. Still, this is one of the reasons that I've hesitated on ordering the cabinets.

I know this is my kitchen, and ultimately it's my decision, but I need help! Carrara is my first love as far as kitchen countertops go, and after considering any others, it's where my mind goes right back to.

Would the Carrara look good with the linen? I've put the small cabinet door corner we have up to the marble, but it seems hard to imagine. But I agree that it doesn't seem like a perfect 'match'. But, does it coordinate? I know it would look different than if it was a white cabinet? But, will it look good, or strange?

I can continue to look at slabs. I just don't want to drag this out for too long. I don't like quartz for our house though, so I won't be going that route.

As for the Carrara slab looking too gray, there are whiter ones available. But perhaps grey is better than white with the creamy cabinets? I don't know.

There is something I've seen called Olympian White and another called Mountain White, which I suspect are Danby marble. I didn't love the particular slabs I've seen of these at a glance, but I can perhaps pay more attention and try to imagine them with the linen cabinets. That might be a good option.

Additionally, I don't love the look of most granites. I just can't imagine them in my kitchen.

As for the backsplash, I was planning to decide that after the countertops. I am really drawn to brick joint carrara tiles, or small subway tiles. I definitely don't want anything too busy for the backsplash. But, I also must consider my husband who tends to think a lot of simple, classic looks are 'plain'. To ensure my husband is happy (although he says to go with whatever I want), I was looking at perhaps a small herringhone carrara tile backsplash, or something with a subtle pattern.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 11:49AM
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That titanium is beautiful but may be too much. I agree with the Danby. Any choice will be beautiful.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 11:53AM
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I know what it's like to have a hankering for something you can't get out of your mind/heart. I never even considered marble when I did my kitchen, but I realize I will always long for it. Oh well, maybe next time. :)

I just had an online look at Linen, which I assume means BM Linen. I wouldn't have any problem pairing it with the marble in pic #1. Linen is very creamy, to me leaning towards yellow. But a very nice color. I love creams/yellows and gray/white together. It's a very soothing and comforting palette to me. In my kitchen I have three creamy whites, each slightly different, but getting along just fine. Dark gray counter. I still have my old white-white Kenmore stove and the juxtaposition of white and cream is fine.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 12:22PM
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Why not the calcutta, you said dream kitchen. Is calcutta the best bet with your color cabinets? I'd like to see a cabinet sample with each of these slabs, and for fun a picture with calcutta :) I am not usually one to encourage spending more, but I like the idea of calcutta with creamy white.

Babushka_cat has lovely calcutta in her kitchen - it is beautiful. She had posted several threads about the counters and the backsplash within the last year. I tried searching for her kitchen but it won't come up. But I did find a post she had made on another thread, and she says her cabinets are BM Simply White. So she mixed the creamy calcutta with a very white paint. Simply White is not creamy at all, it is a very cool white. I just used it to paint some trim in my bathroom. So her color scheme is like what you might do with your creamy cabinets and white/gray counters.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 12:27PM
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Slightly OT, but it's funny to me that enduring thinks Simply White is not creamy at all. It was my second choice after the Cloud White I chose. I had a devilish time deciding between them. I consider CW creamy and SW only slightly less so. I had two doors painted each color and there wasn't much separating them. Anyway, just funny how we see the same thing a different way in our own spaces.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 12:33PM
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If you love the carrara, then go for it. If you go with SW, you will need to be careful about etching anyway. If you get the carrara and hone it, you won't see the etching as much as if it were polished.

The SW doesn't etch upon impact like carrara does....meaning if it gets lemon juice squirted on it, there is time to clean it up, not sure of how much time, but it doesn't etch it instantly.

Pick your counter, then pick your paint for the cabinets, lots of off white colors that will work perfectly. Or you can always consider doing a gray that goes with the gray in the marble.

Clearly you are really wanting the carrara, I think we can hear it in your voice.....


    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 1:21PM
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Ok. Here is some fun with photoshop. The Danby seems to go quite nicely with the linen. However, as Bee suggested, I could go with a grey cabinet. Hmmm... That would probably make the scared-of-a-white-kitchen-husband happy.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 1:47PM
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I think they all look good. The titanium definitely has the drama, if that's what you're looking for. I prefer cream cabs to gray, at least for uppers.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 1:56PM
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I like how you are doing your research. Yes, I agree that it usually best to go with your gut feelings like Eatreal suggests, however this is not only a visual choice but a practical one. For me, I don't want to worry about every etch or stain, so if I loved marble maybe I would put it in an extra bathroom to get my fix.
But, a kitchen is different. You want to USE your kitchen without worry.
Having read this site for a number of years, the same situations keep popping up over and over. IMHO if you choose the linen white, it will not good right with the white of the marble.
Also just a word of caution about trends. The white, white( meaning white cabinets and white counters) kitchen of Christopher Peacock are winding down. Not saying not to choose it ,if this is your dream. But this might be something to consider.
I always like to to suggest too, that you think about the backsplash. So many of us who did not had such angst when getting to the BS.
I also love Babuska's kitchen (Hi enduring!)
So long story short my take is this: If you want the marble, go with a whiter kitchen. If you want the linen cabinets, go with the creams, beiges etc.
I also agree with linelle about the whites. Depending on how much natural light you get , linen will have strong yellow undertones.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 2:23PM
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I like the Danby one the best. You really need some contrast there though with your medium colored floors. I would use a soapstone on the perimeter cabinets and the marble on the island or a quartz like Caesarstone's Raven. I like the backsplash you show. It's a little too washed out without some darker color in there.

There are many shades of white between a harsh, bluish, appliance white and the Linen. You can use an off white that's a bit deeper, softer and more neutral. More of a chalk white with a touch of cream. Linen does have a lot of yellow in it.

Why not get one of the paint companies to send you a swatch book and you can take it with you and find some whites you both like in kitchen showrooms. You can then match a swatch to it, and then find that color in whatever paint finish you will be using.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 2:40PM
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The cabinets come painted. We are not painting/having them painted ourselves. So, I am limited with color choice. The photoshopped kitchen shows the kitchen cabinets that I currently have selected. It also served as my primary inspiration for my cabinets. Oh, and our floors are to be dark. Here is my current kitchen plan:

And here are the floors (they will match the rest of our house):

This post was edited by three0h2 on Fri, Dec 21, 12 at 15:36

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 3:15PM
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And, thanks so much for the help so far! I'm very open to suggestions, so feel free to tell me what you would do. My goal is a simply beautiful kitchen that fits in our 1920s english cottage home.

I feel like the painted linen cabinets would be nice with our home and the wood floor. So, I should probably stick with that, but again I'm open. Counter and backsplash combo recommendation would be wonderful. My head is such a mess with ideas right now. I'm kinda kitchen-ed out, but on a somewhat strict timeline. Things need to be ordered/secured soon.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 3:49PM
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threeOh2-There are other threads like this. I thought you might enjoy looking at the photos. The inspiration photo I used was the unnamed one with Cherry lowers White uppers. Photo #12.
I know you are thinking of all linen colored cabinets but the photos might give you some ideas.

Here is a link that might be useful: two toned

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 4:18PM
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I love the titanium. I looked at a similar granite and loved it. It looks like black italian marble. You don't see it everyday.

I have Danby and it etches. But the imperial danby would go better with cream than the SW or the carrera if you don't mind etching. The SW and carrerra are very cool, tending toward the gray color family. So you have to like that look with cream.

Look at your lifestyle before you settle on any. Do you have kids? How young? Do they use a lot of hot sauce? spaghetti sauce? lemonade/oj? Do you drink a lot of red wine? Do you entertain? If so, do you want to worry about your guest putting things down on the counter. With Marble you really have to be able to give up caring about whether it will etch because it will. One other thing - does your kitchen get a lot of natural light because I think etching shows up more in natural light. You can't go into purchasing marble with the thought that you will be really careful to prevent etching.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 2:43PM
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We have imperial danby. There are many Danbys so you'd have to find the look/colors you're going for. Danby still etches but may be less porous than the Italian marbles. They say it's more kitchen friendly but it will definitely etch no matter what.

Here's a link (you'll have to cut and paste or whatever) to my Imperial Danby...

Here's a link to the Vermont Danby site where it shows sample slabs of each variation and gives a description.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vermont Quarries

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 5:07PM
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If your marble is already etched, and an etching liquid lands on top of the etching, does it look more etched? Or is etching etching?

I've often wondered aloud on this board (but can't recall a response) if you could just paint the entire counter with lemon juice and get it over with, rather than unsightly spots in an otherwise virgin surface.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 5:23PM
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linelle- I've asked the same. I am taking some info from another thread from Stu Rosen who is a stone expert:

Posted by 2LittleFishies on Mon, Nov 21, 11 at 21:18
Hi Stu-
If you look at my post from Fri, Nov 18, 11 at 18:10. I am curious about re-etching. If you etch the whole piece of marble does it not re-etch? Also,
are there any problems with doing this (rubbing lemon over it)? Is it wearing away the stone?
You mentioned remove etches using certain products. Does it make the surface uneven or form divots?

Posted by srosen on Sat, Dec 3, 11 at 9:44
sorry two little fishies didnt see your prior post. You can hone marble using acidic compounds but I think it may be harder to acheive a uniform finish non some surfaces meaning it may streak. . It can also open the pores of the stone and makes it rougher(at a microscopic level) and will soil easier. Also yes it will always etch due to the chemical make up of the stone. Marbles are composed of calcium carbonate and are sensitive to acids. They will always etch unless coated with a topical acid resistant coating(which we never suggest). But then you dont really have marble any more. The coating will look like a coating waxy or plastic like and may cause other issues.
To properly hone marble it should be done with progressive grits of abrasives such as diamonds,aluminum oxcides,silicon carbons or similar. There are different levels of honed finish that a skilled stone refinisher could acheive an a marble surface. More matte,high honed or somewhere in between depending on what the client wanted.
I advise folks with marble in kitchens(if they are having issues) to hone them more matt thereby hiding the etches somewhat and making maintenance easier.
Then tested for porousity and sealed or color enhanced properly.

Stu Rosen

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 8:57PM
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does the cabinet to the right of the sink extend to counter? [that would be a mistake, I'd think] Formica and wilsonart have some marble-y styles now....that's what I'd do and perhaps a thick butcher block top next to fridge for a little feature. Money saved then put into something in the dining's obviously a traditional setup with larger dining room and smaller appears you are keeping the footprint of the small kitchen. I would go for the look you want but keep the product choice at the lower pricepoint[formica and wilsonart are as popular as ever].

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 7:45AM
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I have been looking at Cliq cabinets as well. If you're really torn I would definitely suggest ordering a sample door (I think there's a charge, as opposed to the corner samples) so that you can really get the sense of the countertop options with the cabinet colors. My corner sample of the linen was very cream in tone - much more creamy (even yellowy) than the trim in my house which is all painted BM White Dove even though that it is one of the creamier whites I think. There are a couple of really nice finished kitchens that have been posted here recently using the Cliq cabs in Linen - if you search you should be able to check those out as well. One had the green (tea leaf?) color on the lower cabinets

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 8:14AM
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Hello 2littlefishies,
Thats a great question-calcareous stones or any stone that has calcium in its makeup will always etch. It is just a chemical reaction.The calcium neutralizes the acid resulting in a dull spot.
However if you compare etching on a highly polished surface to a very matte surface depending on the stone their will be a difference in the look.
Also if you knew at what level your surface was finished or honed to or at. It would be possible to use a series of abrasives to remove the etch and match the finish of the existing surface.
There are some companies or folks who will use acids to etch stone. In some cases they are going after a particular look.In other cases they are taking a shortcut to produce a honed finsh or reverse a slab that was delivered incorrectly(such as polished and should have been honed). Or a customer changed their mind after the polished slab was delivered and installed.
First their are many different types of acids having various strength's and properties. From weaker citric acids up to hydrocholoric acids and beyond.
I have seen these types of finishes (using acids)done and they never seem as uniform(blotchy) as when abrasives are used.
Because stone will contain various mineral components and depending on the acid used some minerals may be adversely affected . I have seen veins become pitted and or eroded though the use of acids.
Acids seem to leave the surface rough and the pores open attracting and holding soils. An example of this would be an etch on your white or light marble countertop or around a commode will if not refinished will turn dark or black overtime as it holds soils.
Using progressive grits of diamond abrasives and finishing with an aluminum oxide wet slurry produces one of the most uniform matte finishes I have seen.
While honing to a matte finish may make the etching less pronounced it can make the surface more susceptible to staining agents.
Using the proper impregnating sealers applied correctly and maintaining with ph neutral no rinse cleaners will extend the life of the sealers and protect the suface from staining. Impregnating sealers will do nothing to protect the surface from etching however.
There are some new products on the market to protect marble from etching and staining. They are coatings something I have never felt was appropriate for stone surfaces. In the past these coatings made the stone look like plastic and phony. Have a look at clearstoneusa and drytreat. We all know dry treat as they have been making stone sealers for a long time. They now have a product called vitremela for marble.Both these products are quite different. Because they are new there are pro and cons to each. These type of coatings may not be for everyone.
At this time dry treat offers no warranty on their product as it has a life of under 5 years. Clearstone offers a warranty with their product. Both products can be polished or honed.
I hope my answer wasnt too long.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 8:50AM
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Thank you Fishies and Stu for providing such a thorough answer to my etching question. I really appreciate it. :)

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 9:25AM
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Thanks for the continued help.

Herbflavor: In that image, yes, that cabinet does extend to the counter. We have been going back and forth on this. While I don't think it would be a mistake (it would be removable if we changed our mind), we are considering it because I hate having the toaster and coffee machine on my countertop. This is the only way we could hide them. (My husband will not go through a large effort to pull them out and put them away every single day, and I don't blame him.) We currently have that space open and never use it for anything important. A fruit bowl and the knife block live there. Even if we do this we are gaining counter space with this remodel. I'm open to suggestions.

As for the formica; nah. I don't care for 'marble look'. I like marble, and I'm now sure that I will like the personalty it develops over time.

As for keeping the footprint of the kitchen: We're opening a wall between the living room and kitchen, but there is no room to expand. The dining room is also small. On a positive note, we are walkable to lots of wonderful restaurants.

I went back to look at slabs and there was one slab of Danby in my price tier that was not on hold. I really like it. I think that its version of white is much more subtle than carrara and goes much better with the linen cabinets. It's definitely not creamy like the cabinets, but as I continue the kitchen design process, I have begun to think that is a good thing.

I have begun to see how the cliq linen cabinets are definitely very creamy, almost a yellow. As such, I think this kitchen will not at all be a white, white kitchen. And, because these cabinets are so creamy, a Danby (soft white) marble counter will keep the kitchen from seeming too creamy.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 11:18PM
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I think the super white slab is stunning, but of course I am biased!!

Otherwise I say save up your pennies and go with the Calcutta - that seems to be what you really want! : )

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 6:12PM
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a marble owner here. some suggestions:

test a sample in your house in the finish you plan to be sure you can tolerate etches. look at in your light. some folks do this and are assured marble is the right choice, others freak and say no way.

a few pics of my calacatta crema delicata marble. will be posting finished kitchen pics soon. really - i know i keep saying that but i am close! just finished final coat of paint last night, nook light installed, just need to figure out window coverings....

would i order marble again? yes, i love it. mine is honed. i pet it daily.

babushka cat with his matching marble and backsplash tile:

i purchased a cutting board cut to size for the key landing and prep area. i get many compliments on it and it works great! cutting boards placed strategically can minimize etches.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 5:05PM
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Wonderful kitchen, babushka_cat, wonderful! Thank you for the pictures. You have a lovely kitchen. I love the marble.

I've decided I definitely want marble. I'm sold on it now. And, I think I may do the custom size cutting board when the time comes (in a darker wood to match the floor might be nice). This forum has been so helpful! If nothing else, it's helped me to determine what I feel strongly about. ie, the marble, and I think now changing the cabinet company to one I feel really good about.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 10:41PM
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thanks. have you priced out custom cabinetry? the cost was not much more and you can get exactly what you want, along with whatever color you choose. local cabinetmakers need the work so you could get a good price. something you may want to consider.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 11:59PM
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I went through similar considerations. I wouldn't shy away from using the last granite option, and I think in that finish it could work well in a tudor application without looking too modern. It reminds me of marble. But if that granite is in the running, you should also consider antique brown (a.k.a. marron cohiba) in a leathered finish because it's a similar non-granitey look but is in the brown/black family and may work better with your off-white cabinetry. I used in my bathroom below.

As to the marbles, I just used calacatta gold honed in my kitchen remodel for the backsplash and for the counter in the new wall unit. I used a stock antique white painted cabinet (i.e., not a custom color or SW/BM color), and I eventually had to persuade myself that the gray undertones of most of the other marbles wouldn't work for me. The off-white I used is definitely creamy and even reads a little yellow in dark lighting. I have posted a bunch of pictures for you to see what it looks like and what it would've looked like with the carrara.

With the old carrara backsplash I had installed myself (crapily) two years before:

The bathroom granite, which is, again, antique brown leathered (a.k.a. marron cohiba). It's not inexpensive, and, just so you know, the fissures are a natural part of the stone. Some people hate them; I like them. The rest of the stone in there is honed calacatta gold.

(with flash):

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 9:36AM
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hi KevinMP...
love your colors and your home. very beautiful.
would you mind sharing your BS/counter materials and sizes that you used in your kitchen? also, love your cabinets! can you pls share mfg and type?
Happy New Year!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 8:43PM
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I put the materials in the posting, but here they are. The kitchen has absolute black granite (polished) on the main counter/peninsula and honed calacatta gold on the wall unit (the wall unit is 93" and the counter area there is about 56". The bathroom vanity is leathered antique brown granite (also called marron cohiba). The vanity top is 62" on a 60" vanity.

The kitchen cabinets are inexpensive because when I added the wall unit, I didn't want to spend the money to replace all of the original cabinets, so I just used the same company and ordered replacement doors for the originals on the other side of the kitchen. They are Aristokraft in Landen maple with antique white paint. I used upgraded construction (dovetailed, soft close, etc.).

    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 9:33AM
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