KITCHEN COUNTERS & THE HUNT FOR QUARTZ

While I may be getting a bit ahead of myself, I simply can’t help it.  All of the decisions that are being made about things that no one will ever see (I’ve learned a lot about plumbing supplies the last week) have gotten me missing shopping for pretty things.  As a result, I found myself shopping for kitchen counter tops again and I thought I would share my experience with you so far.

I, much like many other home-renovators out there, am on the hunt for the perfect Quartz alternative to Carrara marble.  I know, I know, everyone has Carrara or something of a similar look these days, but there’s just something so beautiful and clean looking about it that I think will balance the look I’m going for in the kitchen perfectly. Real Carrara was out for 2 reasons, (1) price point – we’re on a budget here! (2) I am a very messy cook, and I don’t see that changing any time soon, and I am just not willing to live with crazy etching and stains that won’t come out on my counters.

So when looking at different quartz options, I have come up with some qualifications to help me narrow down since there are so many options.  Here’s what I have so far:

  • Base color should be on the brighter side of white – no yellow/beige or grey tinge.  I really want the veining to pop.
  • Grey veining that should be visible but not TOO prominent or busy.  I know, that’s pretty vague but when you look at the different samples there’s so much variation!
  • Should not look “pixelated.”  Now I know these are man-made stones but for some reason, some brands seem to take on a piexelated/computer printed look when you look at them closely which makes them look fake.
  • The stone should be somewhat translucent.  Real marble allows some light to shine through it and this look is hard to achieve when creating a man-made quartz alternative.

Now I’m sure you can guess that I’ve spent countless hours on Google, Houzz, Instagram and Pinterest searching different brands of quartz and looking for example pictures, but to be honest, it’s so hard to tell what they’re going to look like in person due to the subtle-ness of the patterns I’m looking for so nothing compares to visiting showrooms.  Equally as difficult is staring at giant slabs of white quartz in the bright sun outside trying to see the differences.

I’ve done a good bit of searching through show rooms and have most recently started looking at stone warehouses.  The whole process is a bit overwhelming but I think I’ve narrowed down my choices to a few brands and colors, each with some pro’s and con’s.

Below are the four top contenders:

  • ColorQuartz in Bianco Gioia – This stone was a top contender after finding out the price point was a good chunk less expensive than others we had seen.  It has a slightly warmer tone to it, but only when compared to the cooler tones of the other samples I was looking at.  This one also has an ever so slight pixelated look, but it was much less prominent than some of the other brands I had looked at.  The downside to this option was that it is very opaque so in that way it doesn’t look like a natural stone.  All in all, I think I would give this one a 7 out of 10.
  • European Alleanza in Carrara Polished – This quartz was a pretty comparable price to the ColorQuartz option but a bit more on the cool and grey end of the spectrum making it look a slightly closer to real Carrara marble.  The base color of the stone was much more grey than it was white, and depending on the Carrara you look at sometimes that is what it looks like but for our kitchen I’m looking for something with that brighter white background.  This one really didn’t look very pixelated but once again, it was pretty darn opaque.  I would probably give this an 8 out of 10.
  • Aurea Stone in Paragon – This brand is by far the closest to real marble.  The stone itself is a bright, cool white tone with light grey veining.  The veins in the Paragon are more subtle, so much so that they somewhat disappear.  The stone also has a bit of that translucency that real marble has which was really exciting to see.  This makes the stone feel lighter and brighter, and much more natural of course.  This one gets a 9 out of 10.
  • Aurea Stone in Sfumato – Similar to the Paragon, the Venitian Sfumato has a base of a cool, bright white.  The veining on this one is more swirly and prominent than the Paragon which, in my opinion, made it a bit closer to real Carrara in my opinion.  This stone is currently the front runner with a 10 out of 10 for me 🙂

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Here is the Sfumato again at a different store next to a piece of natural Carrara.  Lincoln was another option I liked but I decided the lines were too linear for our kitchen.  Since I’ll be doing a very linear back splash with contrasting grout lines, I decided that despite the colors being right in this one, it just was not the stone for us.

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After seeing samples in a few different tile stores, and realizing that the sample pieces definitely are not consistent enough to make a decision based on, I decided it would be smart to go look at the actual slab to see what the full stone looked like.  Walking into the warehouse was amazing if you ask me…I could have spent all day there.

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Stone warehouse…talk about too many choices!  Marble on the left, granite on the right!

I found the Aurea section and quickly found a slab of Venetian Sfumato and fell in love.  It’s JUST what I’m looking for.  The perfect balance of tones and veining.  Now it’s time to find a fabricator (any recommendations?) and get some prices!  Oh, and actually building that kitchen that the counter sits on top of 😀

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Our (almost) soon to be kitchen!

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