When Life Goes In A Different Direction: Updating Your Countertops

Carrara Marble is the perfect compliment to this Kohler Whitehaven® sink Photo: Kohler  

Carrara Marble is the perfect compliment to this Kohler Whitehaven® sink Photo: Kohler

 

As a Lifestylist, I’m thinking that I might have to do a series of posts using “When Life Goes in a Different Direction” as the topic.

Capital Distributing chose natural stone for their new live Thermador kitchen Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

Capital Distributing chose natural stone for their new live Thermador kitchen Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

Our article about natural stone products was so popular we decided to do an update, but while we were doing our research my sister decided to do some major updating to her kitchen. This is something lots of us consider doing even more often than moving into a new home, so this is a perfect time to share what I’ve discovered.

My sister is living in her dream home, and when she and her husband built it over a decade ago the kids were young and her life revolved around carpools. Now the baby is headed off to college and she’s going to be an empty nester. This lifestyle change led her to rethink her kitchen and how they cook and entertain.  As most remodeling decisions go, changing out one product in her kitchen led to rethinking something else. She wanted to add a Galley Sink (I’m so jealous!) so while she was doing that she decided to go ahead and change out her countertops as well. The granite she had originally chosen was still in perfect shape, but since it was now just her and Dan she was leaning towards lightening up her countertops and space.

She did what most of us do - she started going online, talking to her friends, and looking for a place she could get the look she wanted for a great price. She then reached out to me to get my opinion, and what I saw was that she was dealing with a lot of incorrect facts. There was a lot of confusion about what was a truly natural stone product, what kind of stone it was and what was a modified or engineered material.  Here are some suggestions that we would like to share that can hopefully make your shopping and decision making a little bit easier.

Cost Should Never Be The Main Deciding Factor: I’ve learned more often than not, you get what you pay for. When buying a product like natural stone, you need to consider reputation, installation, fabrication, and warranty as well as cost. Natural stone is a natural product - each slab is different and needs to be fabricated and installed by someone who understands this. If a slab is cut with a sink cutout that is 1/2” too big, or the cutout for the cooktop is in the wrong place there is no going back. Precision is everything.

Take Advantage of The Resources That Are Available: We started our research by using resources that are available to everyone - MIA+BSI: The Natural Stone Institute and their website www.usenaturalstone.com They are a great resource to help you sort out fact vs myth, and they also can help guide you to a stone professional in your area.

References and Referrals: Every builder, consumer, and trade partner I have ever spoken with has raved about Allied Stone which fortunately for me is nearby. Their professionalism and knowledge is unsurpassed, and I totally changed my mind about what will be the right product and design for my sister. Their help and knowledge will be saving us thousands of dollars, plus we’ll be able to now get the right products for her saving costly mistakes and a lot of headaches.

Spending time with MIA+BSI: The Natural Stone Institute members has been an invaluable experience, and I can’t thank Stacy Garcia and KBTribeChat enough for the introduction.

MIA+BSI: The Natural Stone Institute staff answers questions and shares resources at Coverings Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

MIA+BSI: The Natural Stone Institute staff answers questions and shares resources at Coverings Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

At Coverings, I was able to meet even more of their team and members, and I now have a wealth of knowledge to share and a notebook of professional that I can call to get answers from. 

Behind Closed Doors: Learning about Antolini's new Zero Care at Coverings Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

Behind Closed Doors: Learning about Antolini's new Zero Care at Coverings Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

Antolini is a company that I’ve fallen madly in love with- their marketing and treatment of stone as a precious work of art has won my heart and soul. It’s not only about beauty, but brawn as well - I got a sneak preview of their new Azerocare, that is truly going to be a game changer for the natural stone industry. Azerocare protects marbles, onyxes, and soft quartzites from etching and staining, which these surfaces are particularly susceptible to.

Allied Stone  has over 110 slabs on display in their climate controlled showroom Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

Allied Stone  has over 110 slabs on display in their climate controlled showroom Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

My natural stone journey hasn’t been just about learning about the product; it has also ended up being about new relationships. My time with Matthew Collins and Sarah Marek at Allied Stone yesterday was insightful. They were so patient with me, and even my crazy questions were answered with respect and thoughtfulness. I have been dreading making changes to my kitchen in The Home Idea Factory, but after meeting with Matthew and Sarah it may be time - I’m excited about having a great partner and informed choices to work with.

A spectacular display of book matched Ice Pearl Quartzite and Bianco Lasa Macchia Vecchia at Allied Stone Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

A spectacular display of book matched Ice Pearl Quartzite and Bianco Lasa Macchia Vecchia at Allied Stone Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography