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6 Popular Countertops You Should Consider for Your Kitchen Remodel

6 Popular Countertops You Should Consider for Your Kitchen Remodel

More than just the workhorse of the kitchen, countertops complete the design and style of your kitchen. They must be beautiful, functional and durable!

If you’re ready to match cabinetry and countertops, there are six popular countertops you should consider for your kitchen remodel. (Note: These are popular because of durability, function and style. Pricing will vary based on availability and fabrication costs.)

Traditional kitchen open shelves and glass subway tile in Hudson, Ohio

1. Quartz

Currently the most popular choice in kitchen countertops, homeowners choose quartz surfacing because of its many advantages. Quartz doesn’t need to be sealed, and its seams blend very well. It is easy to clean and is heat, scratch and stain resistant.  Because of its manufacturing process (binding quartz crystals with a resin-based product), quartz is durable and has a seemingly endless choice of colors and patterns available through brands such as Cambria, Silestone and many others.

2. Granite

Granite surfaces are slabs of stone cut from the earth, making each piece unique. It is more porous than quartz and does require a bit more maintenance. You can order granite countertops with a polished, shiny finish; a honed, matte finish; or a specialty finish such as flamed or leather. Because of the many choices in colors and finishes, design flexibility is a significant advantage in choosing granite.

3. Marble

This natural stone countertop is available in 2 cm (3/4”) and 3 cm (1-1/4”) thick slabs at a stone selection warehouse. As a counter surface, marble offers a beautiful, timeless look. It has been a preferred stone in architecture throughout the ages. However we must warn you: marble is softer and more porous than granite. It is susceptible to stains and scratches. You might say it is more of a “living” finish, but be sure you are willing to “live” with it. Even so, some of the most beautiful countertop installations are in marble.

quartzite island countertop

4. Quartzite

Those who love marble should also consider quartzite because it is a natural stone with similar beauty. Quartzite is a solid, crystalline mass of mineral stone cut from the earth in slabs.  It’s harder than most knife blades and is more resistant to etching than marble. The generally lighter, more subtle tones of quartzite give it design versatility.

5. Porcelain

Would you be surprised to hear that porcelains are on the rise? It is becoming a popular trend for kitchen countertops! Although not completely new, porcelain slab countertops have improved greatly. Porcelain is beautiful, durable, and low maintenance. In contrast to solid surface and engineered stone counters, porcelains are rated for exterior use.

wood island countertop

6. Wood

A durable surface for hard-working kitchens, wood countertops are more sanitary than you may think! Wood offers warmth both visually (the color) and tangibly (in contrast to cold stone surfaces).  Often we’ve designed a portion of a client’s kitchen countertops to be a wood species such as cherry, maple, hickory, walnut, teak, sapele or mahogany. If you use a wood countertop as a cutting or chopping surface, be willing to accept cuts and scratches in the surface and simply apply a food- safe oil to the wood.

While we haven’t discussed all the surfacing options that exist, these six countertop options are trending in kitchen design. The lasting beauty and durability make these countertops the most popular choices. There are other good quality surfaces you may want to consider researching as well, such as Durango, Soapstone, semi-precious stone and concrete.

3 Things to Do Before Hiring a Kitchen Remodeler

3 Things to Do Before Hiring a Kitchen Remodeler

Are overwhelmed by the thought of updating your kitchen? Do you wonder… Where do I begin? Should I just get an estimate from a kitchen remodeler? What do I need to have in place before I meet with them? What information do I take to our first meeting? When you don’t have the answers to these questions, it’s easy to put off remodeling your kitchen.

You have probably been dreaming and collecting ideas for your project for quite a while. But before meeting with a kitchen remodeler, there are three things you should consider about the project. You must consider the scope of the project, the budget, and how to proceed in implementing your plan. I will discuss each of these steps and provide some examples for you.

Kitchen remodeler photo before and after

1. Understand the scope of your project

What do you want to have done?

To make it simple, we will categorize kitchen makeovers into three types of projects. While these three (“update,” “replacement,” and “full remodel”) are very generalized, having three simple categories does help you when it comes time to explain the scope of your project. I will explain each of the three categories for you.

The Update

Updating your kitchen may include some or all of the following: replacing countertops, replacing appliances and fixtures, replacing cabinet pulls or knobs, replacing cabinet hinges, adding backsplash tile, replacing flooring, and painting.

Generally, a kitchen update is remodeling the kitchen without replacing cabinets. Since cabinets are usually the most costly item in the kitchen remodel, the “Update” can be accomplished on a more modest budget.

The Replacement

One difference between the “Update” and the “Replacement” is the cabinets. In the “Replacement” you are replacing the cabinets. Generally, a kitchen replacement is replacing most/all of the materials while keeping the existing floorplan, including cabinets, appliances, and fixtures in their same locations.

Variations of the “Replacement” could allow for small changes in the floor plan and some modest electrical and lighting updates. Also common in a replacement kitchen remodel is the possibility of reusing some appliances and fixtures. Primarily, however, the layout will remain the same.

The Full Remodel

Fully remodeling your kitchen is replacing all materials, but also allowing for rearrangements in the floor plan and locations of appliances and fixtures. Generally, a “Full Remodel” of a kitchen includes removing everything including the drywall and flooring down to the rough framing members and subfloor.

Often in a full remodel, walls are being moved or eliminated and a new electrical and lighting plan is implemented, in addition to all the changes listed in the “Update” and the “Replacement” type of projects.

So, what are looking to do: update, replace or complete a full remodel? Once you understand where your project fits within these three categories, you can move on to developing a budget.

2. Develop a budget

Decide how much you are willing to spend

Within each of the three project categories, there is a wide range of costs. I’ll give you a few examples to help clarify.

In “The Update,” you are choosing specific aspects of your kitchen to update. Usually the goal is to keep the budget as low as possible. You can control costs by choosing which materials to replace and whether you want a high-end replacement or low-end. Let’s say you’d like to replace your countertops. The material you choose for the countertop will drastically affect the budget. For example, you may choose granite countertops, but there is a wide range of material costs within the choice of granite. The same is true for backsplash materials, appliances, and even the types of sinks and faucets.

When you are ready to replace your cabinets, you are most likely moving into the “Replacement” or “Full Remodel” categories. Since we’re now talking about cabinets, you should know that your budget will be greatly affected by the quality of construction and finish of the cabinets. Once again, you’ll have choices along the lines of basic and high-end finishes.

If you are asking a kitchen remodeler to tear down walls, move plumbing, and change flooring in a full remodel, be ready for a five- to six-figure remodeling budget.

Choose your minimum and maximum spending limits, but hold off on any final decisions until a remodeling professional builds a budget.

Ask a kitchen remodeler to develop a realistic budget

The most effective way to know if what you are willing to invest lines up with how much work you want done is to have a kitchen design professional develop a budget for you. This is more than a free consultation or estimate. One or two meetings should be enough to talk through your project requirements and develop a budget. But having a professional draw up a budget will show you if your ideal budget is realistic for the type of project you desire.

By now you have thought about the scope of the project and the budget for the project. Now it is time to hire a professional to get the job done. Your task is to pick the best professional for your kitchen remodeling project!

3. Choose who will implement the project

A kitchen design professional will spend the time to develop a plan and drawings. With these CAD drawings, he will be able to communicate the details of the project. He will also specify and review all the tasks that are necessary to complete the project. That’s when he can give you a fixed price for labor, materials and everything from demo to completion. Be careful to hire a professional that will provide this kind of detail and not just ask you to sign a contract based on a free estimate or a simple budget.

Also, you would be wise to check reviews and credentials as well as talk to past clients of each professional you are considering.


You now have a simple step-by-step list to help you prepare for your consultation with a kitchen designer or remodeler. Consider the type of remodel you wish to pursue. Consider the options available to develop a realistic budget. And consider carefully who will implement the project.

How to Design a Kitchen Like a Pro

How to Design a Kitchen Like a Pro

Are you ready to remodel your kitchen? We are excited to share with you how to design a kitchen like a pro!

Although HGTV calls the kitchen “one of the most complicated remodeling projects,” kitchen design can be just as daunting for those of you who are building new!

These tips from our Studio 76 Kitchens & Baths design professionals will help you through the design process. Whether you are building new or remodeling your old kitchen, the best place to start is with these five design principles to guide you in how to design a kitchen like a pro.

1. Kitchen Priorities

Setting priorities will help you achieve your goals while maintaining a budget. Without priorities, you may not get the value you would expect from your new build or remodeled kitchen.

What is most important to you: An enlarged space? Granite or quartz countertops? All-wood cabinets? Professional appliances? New windows? A deeper sink? Better storage? Stone flooring?  If, for example, enlarging your space by removing a wall is your top priority, then adjust your next priorities to maintain your budget.

If you are just getting started, you may not know what your priorities are yet. Do some research to see what you like. Try to focus on your style and keep an open mind when looking at different products. When the pricing list is compiled, you may have to adjust to a second choice for those items lower on your priority list. Here are some ways to begin your research:

  • Get online. Go to Houzz.com and search styles such as “traditional” or “transitional” or “contemporary.” Look at cabinet styles, flooring materials, special storage features. Get specific about a picture and save it to your “ideabook” noting what you like and dislike about that particular kitchen. While you are on Houzz, read reviews of products and professionals. Finally, don’t forget to check Pinterest and HGTV for more kitchen products, styles, and design ideas.
  • Visit kitchen showrooms. It is great when a homeowner calls and asks about touring our showroom! Seeing and touching samples of kitchen products in person can be pivotal for the decision-making process.
  • Make a consultation appointment with a kitchen designer. Just talking with a professional for an hour will give you great insights on how to proceed, what pitfalls to avoid, and what a realistic budget is for the scope of work you want done.

In the photo below, a client had a wall removed between the kitchen and eating area creating an enlarged open floor plan.

White Kitchen Before-After Collage

2. Kitchen Space Planning

Think about your kitchen habits and how you and your family “live” in your kitchen. Space planning incorporates the way you and your family work and live in your kitchen.

  • Leave space for doorways, entryways, walkways: 36”-48” makes for good entry widths and walking space.
  • Think work zones: cooking, cleaning, storage, entertaining, and multitasking. Maybe you are a two-cook family. Space planning can handle that.
  • Pair the sink and dishwasher: flank your sink with at least 24” of countertop on one side (install the dishwasher under that countertop) then balance it with 15”-18” or more of countertop on the other side.
  • Consider seating: If your countertop is going to double as a seating area, you’ll need 24”-30” of space per person for comfort. The depth of the overhang should be a minimum of 12”. Be sure the overhang is supported properly.


3. Kitchen Design Safety

Important, but often overlooked, is safety in design.

  • For small children, consider safety locks on certain doors and drawers.
  • Instead of knives on the counters, consider knife storage in a drawer–and consider locking it.
  • “Soften” countertop corners by rounding or clipping those corners. Save your hips!
  • Good ventilation can free the air of fumes, odors, steam, and grease. Best Range Hoods has a variety of sizes and styles that look gorgeous while getting the job done.
  • When the hood takes air out, the make-up air is coming from somewhere. It is best to plan and redirect that make-up air instead of it coming from a path of least resistance, such as your fireplace chimney.

Knife storage in kitchen design

4. Kitchen Organization and Storage

With all the latest cabinetry and drawer storage solutions, you probably won’t regret splurging on a few modern accessories.

Accessories like swing-out pantry shelves, corner cabinet with pull-out shelves, or extra-deep drawers to store pots and pans, help keep your kitchen organized and can double your storage capacity. If you love an organized kitchen, then perhaps storage should be on the top of your priority list! (If you haven’t started your priority list yet, scroll back up to #1)

This homeowner’s farmhouse kitchen was a rustic remodel; however, rustic didn’t mean she needed to live in the past! She chose to splurge on open shelving, pull-out spice racks, and extra-wide drawers for utensils.

Pull-out spice storage

5. Create your Design Board

During this time of planning, HGTV may seem like your best friend. But they don’t do the work for you. You have to get out there and create your design boards! Don’t worry, it’ll be easier than you think. Wherever you visit a store, ask if there are small samples you could purchase to begin collecting items for your overall kitchen design. Pull together a collection of paint samples, fabric scrap samples, finish and flooring samples, photos of lighting, and of course small chunks of countertop. This board you create will help you tell your “design story” to the kitchen designer you choose to work with.

Free whitepaper: Why Retain a Kitchen Designer

Every time you look at your design board, it will remind you of what you truly love about your color pattern and kitchen décor.

Kitchen Design board turquoise blue


With all the details involved in kitchen design, it truly can feel like a complicated process! But if you keep in mind these five principles, you will be well prepared when it comes time to retain a kitchen remodeling professional. Planning for priorities, space, safety and organization (plus creating a design board) is how to design a kitchen like a pro.


Traditional vs Transitional Kitchen Design

Traditional vs Transitional Kitchen Design

Often when homeowners are browsing Houzz.com, they add dozens of kitchen photos into ideabooks without knowing which style of kitchen those photos represent. There’s nothing wrong with that. But when you’re a homeowner ready to start making decisions on your kitchen remodel, knowing what style and trends you like will help narrow your design options and direct your focus.

When you have hundreds of options before you and a limited budget, knowing your personal style will help make the decision process easier for you and your kitchen designer. (more…)

Where Do I Start with my Kitchen Remodel?

Where Do I Start with my Kitchen Remodel?

The plethora of choices when remodeling your kitchen can become overwhelming for homeowners. You may be searching online, reading articles, saving photos from Pinterest and Houzz , and asking yourself: “How do I start my kitchen remodel?”

To make the “big” selections a bit easier to understand, I divide them into 4 areas:

  • appliances that update the kitchen’s functionality
  • cabinetry that becomes the “WOW” factor
  • counters that are unbelievably durable
  • flooring that holds up for years to come

But even when you have a handle on these four areas, your kitchen remodel will not be successful without a detailed plan.

It’s all about the plan.

From the smallest galley kitchen to the large kitchen with multiple door entries, you always need a plan. A “red flag” will always go up for me as a designer when a homeowner thinks they can start a remodel without a detailed space plan.

A successful kitchen remodel plan will include cabinet manufacturer and specifications, countertop templating, sink and fixture specifications and placements, installation and mechanical layouts, and a lighting plan.

Buried in the nitty-gritty, space planning is exactly how a kitchen designer can keep homeowners from spending unnecessary time and money. From this detailed plan, an affordable budget and clear schedule can be established. And believe me, the design details can be amazing, even for modest kitchen renovations!

Don’t lose time wondering, “where do I start with my kitchen remodel?” Get help with a kitchen designer’s plan! If you’re looking for more advice on kitchen design, see our post “How to Design your Kitchen Like a Pro.” If you’d like to consider kitchen remodeling yourself, see our blog post “Hire a Professional or Do it Yourself?