As I mentioned in an earlier post, the only things that has gone smoothly with this kitchen renovation project has been the marble. Despite a hiccup the day of the installation – they accidentally brought me polished marble pieces instead of honed – dealing with marble folks was a pretty great experience and I can’t recommend them enough (sources: below). As for the polished marble, it was taken away, honed, and returned to me the following day for installation. Once installed, we kept the marble covered with flattened cardboard boxes until Frank from Granite Shield came over to do a special impenetrable seal on the stone.
Before I get into the nitty gritty of it, I want to explain why I went with marble counters as opposed to granite, Caesarstone, wood, and so on. I’ve given this a lot of thought, and by “a lot” I mean “for years”. Close to a decade but who’s keeping track?
To be honest, I also very much like the look of the butcher block but given that even with expansion our kitchen is still pretty small, I had to go for what I thought would be most useful to me.
I have nothing against stainless steel or Caesarstone or granite; I prefer the look (and feel) of marble, but that wasn’t the only reason that I went with it.
Our narrow galley kitchen, despite what the pictures might suggest, is pretty low on natural light. It also boasts low ceilings (so we had to rule out pendant lights, but more on that another time). There’s has one small window by the sink that overlooks the “courtyard”, which is a fancy name I gave that thing that is basically the roof of our building’s garage. A yard it is not. Because the kitchen is dim au naturel, what I wanted to do is to create the illusion of light and space, and let the kitchen feel more expansive than it actually is. Taking all the above factors into account, I decided to go with white cabinets and light countertops; so no black honed granite – a material and look I also love.
I didn’t like Caesarstone for two reasons: it looked/felt far too modern for my slightly vintage tastes and it was way too glossy – much like polished marble or granite is. I’m not big on that shiny look, so it was a deal breaker, but I have friends who’ve remodeled their kitchens using Caesarstone and they couldn’t be happier.
In an ideal world, I’d have a part of the kitchen where with a butcher block, but in the real world, the one where I have a narrow galley kitchen, there wasn’t room for variety, so I just focused on one singular material – marble.
Marble, if you go and visit any showroom or slab yard, comes in many colors and shades, ranging from white/creamy to dark green, terra-cotta colored, and so on, but since I was looking for a light colored material that would look right in our kitchen, I pretty much stuck to white or off-white colors. This helped to narrow my choices down to White Carrara marble (what we went with) and Callacatta marble, which is often whiter with more dramatic veining (and much more expensive because it’s more rare). White Carrara is relatively cheap because it’s relatively common, and lucky for us (and our wallet), I preferred the soft grey veining to the dramatic one goldish/brownish one. I figured that it would give just enough contrast for the kitchen not to look washed out, and not enough for it to feel too geometric.
We figured that when we do our backsplash of white subway tile and light grey grout, the grout will work beautifully with the grey veining in the marble. I always envisioned myself as a black grout girl, but in this particular kitchen, grey just works better. I still like the black more, but not in this instance.
When I’d tell people I’m choosing marble countertops, I would get a lot of pushback from people. Many tried to dissuade me from going with marble because it’s considered to be a soft, porous surface that is prone to staining and etching. I’ve been aware of these issues for a long time, and I’ve also cooked in many marble kitchens and it’s more durable than people think. Also, I love the look of aging marble and don’t mind the wear and tear that happens over time. To me, a kitchen is a place of work and creation – I don’t want it to look the same in ten years; I want to see its journey. Since I spend a lot of time in that part of our home, I want it to make me happy every time I set my foot in there.
What I did do, however, is place an additional protective seal on the counters in order to preserve their beauty as much as I could. More to care for the stone than worry about aesthetics. It’s not a notable additional expense (in my case it as a couple hundred bucks and change) and is a one-time thing. After that, your marble becomes pretty much stain resistant; the seal is invisible to the eye. But you still need to be mindful of the etching, so when you clean your marble, avoid things like vinegar/water solution or other things containing corrosive ingredients like acid. Warm water and a sponge are probably your best allies. If you notice some etching developing, there are honing powders you can use to take care of the issue.
I don’t think there are right or wrong choices when it comes to your counters. I have strong aesthetic (and practical) preferences but the important thing is your kitchen should work for you. Yes, there are things to consider like “resale value” and what people might like if you ever sell your place, but you should, first and foremost, love the kitchen you are in. And if polished granite (aka my arch nemesis) is your favorite counter surface, you go ahead and do what makes you happy.