We did a big kitchen update recently, specifically new countertops and adding a back splash. The transformation is pretty unbelievable! But man, can I just say trying to figure out what kitchen countertops to get is an extremely hard process? Not only are there so many options, but the samples are small and it’s hard to make a decision off a microscopic piece of sample board. For a visual person this is not ideal.
This is going to be a long post going over countertop options, what we chose why we did, and before and after pictures at the end! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
To begin, I think we spent over half a year going over what type of countertop to get (laminate, stone, butcher block) and then there’s all the styles/colors you can get too (white, black, veiny look). I even took to my Instagram and started a poll to see if other people could decide for me (was around 50/50…thanks guys ;).
We were considering many places for countertops: Menards, Ikea, and some local places. I really just wanted to see what I was getting. We checked out Ikea (who is known for their butcher block) to look at their showrooms to get a better idea of what to get. Sadly, the only countertops they had on display were Quartz. These started at 3k+ for even the smallest kitchen. It makes sense that they only have their expensive items on display as that’s what they want people to buy, but it didn’t help us any. After getting back a pretty hefty rebate from Menards for doing our floors, it became a no-brainer to get our countertops here as well and save half the cost.
If life was a fairy tale marble would have been my dream choice, but spending thousands and thousands of dollars on countertops that are really hard to maintain wasn’t even an option for me. Same with other stone options too. Especially since this is our first home and we’re relatively young (depending on who you ask…I think I’m wise beyond my years). It just didn’t make sense to choose that to invest in right now (especially since we have a baby on the way!) If money was no option I still don’t think I’d do marble though just because of the staining and chipping (lots of bloggers say it’s not worth the $$$), but yes I do love stone (quartz might be my fav) and it may be a “forever home” type thing, but right now I wanted something that would look good, last, and be easy to maintain.
With that being said, we eventually got our options down to two choices: butcher block or laminate/formica. And this is why we were considering each:
Pro: I love the look of butcher block. It is warm, natural, goes great with many different elements, and would perfectly match my french country style. It’s also inexpensive and if stains do happen you can just sand it down. I also think wood just gets better and better with age.
Con: After much research, every person pretty much had the same thing to say: butcher block looks great, but it’s a lot of work. Now I know the plus side of wood is that you can always sand down and reseal, but I really didn’t want to do that. I don’t want to baby my countertops and always worry about maintenance and keeping them clean at all times. Because of this, butcher block lost the running lead for countertops, but I knew I wanted to still incorporate wood elements.
Faux Marble Laminate
Pro: Laminate is inexpensive, easy to install, easy to take care of (no maintenance, sanding, or sealing) and as long as you are decent to it (don’t stick a hot pan directly on it-but I never did that anyways), it can last for a really long time. Laminate styles have come a long way and they’re not your “grandma’s kitchen” anymore.
Con: When people think of laminate they don’t think high end and luxurious. Depending on the style, some people think “ugly”. If you are remodeling to sell, it doesn’t up resale value (but neighborhood, location, and style of house should all be considered on deciding what’s worth an upgrade. For instance, if you live in a mid-level price home, then marble might not make sense unless you were going to enjoy it for a long time.)
Considering all of this, the pros outweighed the cons for me and because I think I have a pretty good knack for making things look good, formica became the winner! It felt good to finally have that decided, but I still had to rack my brain to figure out how to involve all 3 textures I liked (brick, butcher block, and marble).
Because I love the look of marble so much, I knew that’s what I wanted my countertop style to be. Now I’m not trying to convince people I got real marble. I didn’t even want it to look exactly like marble, because let’s be real…if you put laminate and marble next to each other, marble will always win. They had a couple options at Menards that were marble look-a-likes, but I bypassed those and chose a white countertop with a subtle veiny look, because I wanted it to have that marble-esque look.
I chose Carrara Bianco (left) over Calacatta marble (right).
*Note: The Carrara Bianco did end up looking busier than what I wanted, but I just decided it would hide dirt better so it doesn’t bother me as much.*
Some obvious clues that your countertops are laminate are the roller backsplash, seams, and rounded edging. When customizing our countertops at Menards, I picked the ogee full wrap edge because it looked fancier and would not have front seams and asked for no included backsplash. Order placed! Menards ended up getting our order wrong the first time and that was really frustrating trying to get it all figured out. But they eventually did so that’s what matters I guess.
Okay, explanation done! On to the transformation.
Here are the original listing photos for the kitchen…
Here are some small changes we made shortly after we moved in…
Turns out I’ve been a neutral girl all along. The red & yellow theme just wasn’t doing it for me and I made a couple more changes later by painting the walls beige, switching out the curtains, and pairing down some of the decor.
A couple more close ups. I promise you the kitchen is clean…try not to be disgusted by the sink 😉 It looked this way when we got it.
Oh and if you’re wondering why the countertops looked chipped, it’s because it was a DIY project gone wrong. Painting your countertops is a real thing, just learn from my mistakes. Though I think I need to update that post because I said I loved the way it turned out, and after just looking at it now-ew, I did not haha. Definitely better than before, but I’d hardly call that chic. Even though I hated it there was really no point in trying to fix it until we decided what we actually wanted to do.
I didn’t do much for decorating or styling either because I didn’t see a point in putting nice things in a not-so-nice kitchen, so instead I just let people think I was bad at decorating haha.
Okay, now finally on to the after!
Here are some deets:
The backsplash is thin brick that we grouted white. Then I white washed it with the same method I did to the fireplace to tone down some of the vibrant red.
We made this little bookcase to hold extra dishes and add some decor. I did a custom stain on top to get a medium brown to add some wood elements. We made this with leftover wood and posts we had. I love reusing things!
We extended the countertop to add more working space and some seating. We already use this little peninsula so much to eat and drink our coffee and we love it!
Look! A new sink with a working sprayer! So this is how the other half lives…
Is this a kitchen update or what?
We lived with the “before picture” kitchen for over 3 years. Even though it’s not completely finished (new appliances, some caulking and touchups, maybe a range hood, planking the ceiling one day), getting to the stage we’re at now feels so nice. I don’t think we’ll be in our house forever, but I can be enjoying our kitchen until that day comes.