As my husband and I begin to discuss and research for our “great migration to the ‘burbs” from our New York City apartment, we’ve discovered an alarming trend while at open houses: using contact paper in kitchens to give it a faux high-end finish — and not just in the fixer upper price range. Look, I’m all for using hacks throughout the home to add style without breaking the bank, but I just can’t get behind this papering.
Kitchens are not only one of the most lived in areas of any home, but updates in this room (as well as bathrooms) yield the highest return on investment in the long run. Natural stone counter tops can be expensive, especially for larger kitchens, but marble and granite aren’t the only options out there.
Check out my four recommended options that are easy on the wallet and the eyes.
You know how the saying goes: “everything old is new again.” The thought of tiled counters may give you flashbacks to your grandma’s house, but modern takes on tiled counters are making a comeback. Subway tiles are heavily used these days, but my favorite tiled countertops use penny tiles. These small tiles make a big statement and are beautiful in neutrals or bold colors. A bonus? They come in marble, making for an intriguing alternative for those with their heart set on a natural stone.
Tiled countertops will run approximately $35-$50 per square foot, however the price is heavily dependent on the tile used. Like the idea, but the fear of scrubbing grout holding you back? Pick a dark grout to add contrast, especially in more modern spaces.
Butcher block countertops add a warmth to kitchens that stone is often unable to achieve and is far more cost-effective than most stone options. The wood stains and cuts vary (I’m a sucker for the end-grain cuts), which enables the perfect pairing to any cabinetry. This option won’t break the bank, with the average cost per square foot ranging from approximately $40-$60. It should be noted that the maintenance of the wood is a bit more involved than the simple wipe down other countertop options require. That said, the look doesn’t disappoint and the little elbow grease required is well-worth the statement it will make.
Engineered stone gives the look of high-end natural stones, but it’s actually a composite of quartz crystals that are bound together with a resin. Its composition makes it more durable (acid-resistant) and hygienic (non-absorptive) than the natural alternatives — perfect for high-wear areas like the kitchen. The stones come in slabs that are engineered to mimic the patterns found in marble (Silestone quartz) and limestone.
An engineered stone countertop will run you approximately $60-$100 per square foot. It’s definitely a mid-range option, but it’s a worthwhile investment when you consider the lifetime of the stone. Want some insurance with this upgrade? Most companies provide warranties on engineered stone ranging from 10 years to lifetime.
Concrete is extremely versatile and can take on a variety of finishes and textures. While it can be paired with a number of different woods and metals, it lends itself best in more contemporary homes. A noteworthy aspect of concrete is that it takes years to fully cure. This means that the countertops will continue to wear over time, which gives the counters a very unique (often uneven) look.
A concrete countertop will run you approximately $65-$135 per square foot. It is important to find a contractor familiar with concrete counters to handle the install, as the material is temperamental. Concrete might not be for everyone, but it’s a unique touch for contemporary homes.
Mix and Match
Want the best of each option? Mix and match your kitchen surfaces using various materials. A penny tile backsplash, engineered stone countertop and butcher block island work together to add a modern twist to a traditional kitchen. The world (rather the kitchen) is your oyster and the options are endless.