My Home Remodel, Part 10: Celebrating Countertops

I agonized about countertops as I was choosing finishes for my kitchen. Last summer, my husband Bart and I decided to browse a stone center to figure out what I liked. I stopped dead in my tracks when I spotted Shadow Storm marble. I knew a marble would be softer than granite or quartz but this stone just spoke to me. I’m pretty sure I actually got teary when I saw it! I wanted to put a down payment on the two slabs of Shadow Storm they had left in the center right then, but the rep we talked to told me they work with fabricators only and my fabricator would have to contact them for the stone. However, he’d put my name on the two slabs and I’d have 60 days to have my fabricator retrieve them before they’d promise the marble to someone else.

BEFORE: Our countertops were a dark laminate meant to resemble granite.

The reviews for fabricators/installers in my area aren’t great. My cabinetmaker said he used one of them for his own home and everything turned out “fine” but that’s not the vote of confidence I wanted. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I wanted those slabs! After about 32 days with my name on the marble, my gut told me to call the stone center and just make sure the slabs were still there. They weren’t. I think my gut knew this would happen, so I wasn’t surprised but I was upset.

I made a silent wish that these guys would have no accidents as they were bringing my granite and quartz inside.

I’ve never seen stone more beautiful than that marble, but I had my concerns about it. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m a perfectionist so I knew I would freak constantly about those countertops. I thought about my future margarita parties—I like to make my own sweet and sour mix—and wine nights with the girls and knew the marble would etch and stain. What good is having a big island on which to entertain if you’re worried the entire time that someone is going to spill?

I guess there was a reason the stone center sold the marble out from under me, and it was for the best.

The Perla White quartz will be the perfect perimeter countertop for the bold backsplash I’ve chosen.

A few weeks later I was having Behr paint mixed at Home Depot for the kitchen, living room, hallway and front porch; my kitchen remodel was quickly becoming an entire upstairs refresh. While I waited, I decided to check out the big box store’s countertop samples. Natalie, the kitchen designer on duty that day, was very helpful. I showed her the backsplash I was planning (it’s the bold pop of color I wanted in the kitchen and can tie into the colors I planned to bring into the rest of the open floor plan) and explained that I wanted to go bolder with my island countertop but keep the perimeter countertop near the backsplash more muted so it doesn’t compete with the backsplash. The island countertop also needs to complement the backsplash. Natalie gave me several samples of quartz and marble to take home. What she didn’t have samples of was the granite that was on special that month. It was MSI’s Silver Falls. At first glance, I thought it may be perfect—a little black, several shades of gray on a white base with crystals and sparkles when the light hits the granite just right.

However, without a sample, I quickly forgot whether the grays were true grays or whether there was brown intermingled in it and I didn’t want any brown in the counter. I was fairly certain I was going quartz all around my kitchen because the samples I took home really were wonderful. But I still thought I wanted natural stone on the island. I had granite in my condo in Chicago, the sale of which was making my new kitchen possible. I wanted to pay tribute to that space—my first venture in homebuying and an integral part of my life as I became who I am today.

Our kitchen was gutted exactly five months before the new countertops were installed.

I ended up ordering through Home Depot, and I purchased Perla White quartz for my perimeter countertops. It’s white with brighter white swirls within it so it has some movement and is quite beautiful. And then I ordered another quartz with more colors for the island; in fact, I thought some of the swirls in the sample looked dark blue, which would bring out the blues in the backsplash I had chosen. I won’t mention which quartz I chose for the island because I didn’t ultimately purchase it.

What changed my mind was a visit to a friend’s home. She and her husband had just gut-rehabbed a house on the other side of the lake from us. They invited us over to see the completed project and their house is stunning. In an odd coincidence, they had chosen the MSI Silver Falls granite for countertops and installed it throughout their kitchen, in their bathrooms and in their laundry room. It was gorgeous! Seeing it up close in so many installations convinced me it was the perfect choice for our island, too.

The Silver Falls granite is gorgeous with crystals and sparkles only nature can create.

Natalie at Home Depot was very accommodating with my change. We moved forward then with the Perla White quartz for the perimeter cabinets and Silver Falls granite for the island.

This past Friday, exactly five months after our existing kitchen was demolished, my new counters were installed. It truly was a joyous day! After five months without a kitchen, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is finally visible.

The moment my new countertops were hauled into my home, I knew I made the right decision. The granite is gorgeous and unique. Its streaks of crystals and intermittent sparkles are features only nature can create. I could not stop smiling as the installers did their job. My backsplash is scheduled to arrive today, March 22, and the Perla White quartz is going to be so perfect with it. I cannot wait for the backsplash to be installed (more about that later)!

Although I believe my ultimate countertop choices are perfect, I could not stop thinking about that Shadow Storm marble. I called Stone Concepts, the independent stone source that subcontracts with Home Depot, and asked if they can get Shadow Storm. They can. I’ll be replacing our upstairs bathroom countertop with Shadow Storm very soon!

Read the previous posts in my home-remodeling series:

About the Author

Christina A. Koch
Christina A. Koch is editorial director and associate publisher of retrofit.

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