My Granite Drinks More Than Me.
It’s sleek. Smooth. Luminescent and lightly reflective. Seductive. Natural. It moves.
And, while I try not to take the beauty of my granite for granted, I’m just going to say it — that thing that will most likely put me on the combined hit list of decorators, kitchen designers, Realtors, and people who make their living carving away the earth one layer at a time — if I had it to do over, granite is not the material I would choose for my countertops.
From my post, The Biggest Rock I Ever Bought
Actually, if I’m going to be really honest, I wouldn’t be picking counter tops at all. Because I’d be living in a grass hut in Fiji. Where our counters would be made of shells and sand. Or something. Which totally isn’t practical, but it would be Fiji, so practicality would be like… the last thing I care about. Because I wouldn’t cook. I’d subsist off a diet of tropical fruit, Nutella, and cocktails made from coconuts and rum.
Do they have Nutella in Fiji?
I hope so. Otherwise I might have to re-think this whole thing.
For the last 5 or 6 years, anyone who’s even thought about remodeling a kitchen — even if they don’t own kitchens but just like to watch HGTV — knows that granite has been like THE counter material of choice. In fact, if you recently remodeled your kitchen and used a material other than granite (or marble, but the idea is natural stone), you’ve likely been told that you better love it because you will never be able to resell your home ever again.
It’s gotten so bad that I’ve seen people stick slabs of this gorgeous rock across the tops of old, rickety base cabinets from the ’70’s — original hardware still intact — and call it complete.
Now please don’t get me wrong. I love the look of our granite (though I still wish we’d gone with something a bit more neutral). I mean, I minored in Geology and had a very impressive rock collection as a kid (seriously — I had a geology reference book when I was 12), so if anyone can appreciate the beauty of this stone, it’s me.
So if there was a way to say… hang a huge slab of it on my wall, or better yet, make a whole wall out of this stuff cheaply and without tearing massive scars into the earth’s crust, I’d be all for it. It’s like art — truly.
But for a countertop? Just. Not. Practical. Why? Here goes.
1) As proven by the fact that I’m not sure I want kids because it will cut into my “me” time, I am inherently lazy. Well, that’s not exactly true. I’m always up and doing something — it’s just that I like that something to be something I like doing. And that something has never — ever — included granite upkeep.
See, I’m not sure if you know this, but granite is a natural stone. Nothing in nature is constant over time, meaning its state can always change. Our particular slab of granite happens to be grainy. In fact, the fabricators had to come back several times to scrub it down with steel wool before it felt smooth — not grainy — to the touch. And still, every now and then, I need to go over it with the wool to get it back to that glassy, mirrored surface we all know and love.
Also, it’s porous. This means that unless it’s sealed really well — a process you should repeat over the course of your granite ownership — it will absorb anything that sits on its surface for too long. Especially oils. Oils are its drink of choice. I’ve learned that you can “suck” them out using a combination of flour and dish soap spread over the stain and covered by a piece of plastic wrap (yes, I’ve had to do this — several times), but it’s probably best to get used to the fact that your granite may not stay pristine forever.
2) One thing people love about granite is how hard and durable it is. Well, just remember that means it’s hard and durable. If you use it as a cutting board, it will turn your knives dull faster than Ben Stein can cause a roomful of students’ eyes to glaze over.
If, say… it decides to do battle with something you love, like a wine glass for example, the granite will win.
Every. Damn. Time.
And not necessarily just when a glass tips over onto the granite, but even if you set its fragile stem down just a little too zealously. Wine enthusiasm is not a wise move in granite covered kitchens, my friends.
The same applies to glass bottles, fragile dishware, and your face. Really. If you ever dance while you cook, trip over your own feet, and find yourself plummeting all-too-quickly towards that expensive slab of rock you so painstakingly picked out, you will know what it’s like to come close to death.
3) Sure, granite is heat-resistant. But because you’re so afraid of doing anything else that might damage it (like leaving an unnoticed puddle of olive oil sit overnight), it takes you a full 2 years to muster the courage to set down a hot pan. And, when you finally do, it’s not nearly as satisfying as you’d hoped.
I guess all I’m really sayin’ is, installing granite is like having a baby. You shouldn’t do it unless you’re willing to commit the time and energy it takes to make it the best granite it can possibly be. You have to accept the flaws you can not change, smooth over the flaws you can, and have the wisdom to know that in the end, you’ll end up spending a significant chunk of your savings on an ungrateful slab that absorbs all of your resources without ever giving back.
And it breaks wine glasses.
Still set on granite? Check out how my friend Alaina went about buying her slab, and here’s my own granite pickin’ fiasco from back in the day.
AOoh Nutella! I just had to read this post while I’m on the bus and craving hot chocolate. Now I want a bagel too. And nutella :)
Yeah, I’m kicking myself for not getting some while we were in Spain! I mean, I know you can buy it here, but it’s just not the same. :)
Wishing this was about Quartz! I am getting mine installed TOMORROW, so lets hope that I don’t regret it. It was not an easy decision, and so damn expensive. JOY!
Well you are one smart cookie because I do personally believe that quartz is one of the smartest materials you can pick for your counters. While it’s “green factor” is highly debatable, it’s very low upkeep (as far as I know), you can get tons of different looks, and it just makes a really nice surface overall. Quartz is a natural mineral (it’s actually one of the 2 main minerals in granite), but those counters have tons of man-made materials mixed in to make them ultra practical and usable. :)
I found a really good spread at World Market this weekend. A Chocolate/Something (which I’ll get next time I go), and a Vanilla/Hazelnut (which I bought and have had with some pancakes already).
YUM! I might have to try that vanilla/hazelnut one next time I’m in the vicinity of a World Market. :)
Granite (just felt like it should be mentioned since it is the focus of the post).
You know, I don’t blame people for focusing on the Nutella. In fact, I could probably dedicate an entire post to the warm Nutella crepes I bought from a street vendor on a cold, rainy day in Paris 6 or 7 years ago that I still dream about to this day. Or maybe it’s just Paris.
OMG those crepes sound amazing….
Okay back to the granite, I went through a similar search a few years ago, w/everyone saying I should choose granite, well, I’m like you I don’t want to “maintain” one more thing, and although everyone assured me that it wasn’t that much work, I could see through these assurances, so I went w/ the practical corian type counter, NO SEAMS, and its pretty. I also have one full section of butcher block, which I highly recommend, good for hot pots, you can cut on it, etc. And if wine gets spilled, no problem, which in our house is a good thing.
In all fairness, it’s not tons of work, and some granites *cough*mine*cough* are more work than others. That said, any work beyond wiping down after food prep is too much work for a counter top, in my humble little opinion. :) I wanted Corian or, even better, Quartz, but that is one battle I lost. And I loooove butcher block, but I was under the impression you had to oil that occasionally. Does that depend on what kind you get?
Soapstone for me- no fuss, no muss! Scratches and dents make it look well worn. Can oil every 3 months for dark charcoal look or not for light natural color. Love it
Now that is one natural choice we didn’t look into — I’m thinking because we assumed it was a higher price point (but never even asked, so we wouldn’t know!). It does look absolutely stunning in your kitchen!
You’ve made me even happier we didn’t choose granite. It just didn’t seem that great to me, which at the time, was definitely fightin’ words on the forum. (A Wolf appliance and laminate in the same room?!! It actually made people angry.) Anyway……… to find that a huge piece of verrrrrry expensive stone needed all that time and attention would’ve been a huge downer for me. Love my laminate, stainless, and Waterloxed wood-from-the-yard island top.
By the way, babies quickly become kids who can eventually help out. I rarely do dishes or my own laundry… It’s a perk. When they’re all grown and gone, I will be in shock when these things don’t just happen per the chore chart. :-)
That is hilARious! I’m going to go ahead and guess that you chose a wolf appliance because you wanted a top brand known to be high quality and make it easier for you to cook. But the countertop? Won’t really affect your cooking. I fail to see their logic, unless they’re talking strictly aesthetics, which is silly because a) function is more important than looks, and b) they make some really beautiful laminates nowadays. Anyway, I love the mix of materials in your kitchen — it’s not just like every other kitchen, and that’s a great thing!
Good point on the kids. ;)
The durability of the quartz made us pick it. And I had a really hard time with the “green factor”, which hubs laughed at! I wanted the Eco countertops they have at Lowe’s. They are GORGEOUS. But, alas, they are a bazillion dollars. So, we will do those for our “forever home” not our few years in L.A. home :) PS, it’s your fault that I have a bunch of new projects thanks to “A Charming Nest” which is one of the blogs featured on your Re-Nest website. So excited for your gig!
Thank you!! And you’re welcome. :)
Soapstone and butcher block in my kitchen, and the maintenance on the soapstone is way easier than the butcher block. I mostly ignore them both, but the wood needs the oil/wax whereas the soapstone can go very, very long times between waxing. I’m also a little nutsy about people spilling on the wood.
And I agree with Rhome410, I haven’t mowed my lawn in 6 yrs. Kids can be put to work when they’re older to make up for the work when they’re younger.
Both gorgeous choices! I’m kind of bummed we didn’t even look into soapstone…
Also, it’s good to know some people still put their kids to work for them. ;)
It’s funny how much we have in common. I, too, love the hell out of Nutella. Best stuff on earth. I’m kind of annoyed that they are marketing it as a hazelnut spread…because really, it’s creamy chocolate. Let’s just be honest with ourselves. It’s delicious spreadable chocolate with a hint of hazelnut. Wonderful on bananas, toast, pancakes, cereal…. lol. Everything.
Onto the granite commonality – I haven’t really gotten the granite craze. I mean, it’s pretty, but why is it like REQUIRED for any new house? My apartment has it, and to be honest, I had no idea how to keep it up until I saw this article. I wonder how long before granite is SO last season. I mean, olive green appliances were the it thing to have at one point too. Just interesting to watch – especially from a renter who doesn’t really have to worry about resale value :)
Great post, learned so much!
YES! It’s like the peanut butter of chocolate. I realize that makes no sense, but I’m pretty sure you probably know what I mean.
I think I may have done an injustice by making it sound like more work than it really is, but yeah… coming from laminate, any work to keep up a counter top seems like too much work. Ahh… renting. I miss it! :)
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