While natural stone has long been a favorite when discussing the latest in countertop designs, today the options are far broader, with each offering its own unique benefits.
Concrete, for instance, offers the ultra personalization factor, while cork offers a tactile sensuality. Glass provides an exquisite simplicity, solid surface offers tremendous creative freedom and even laminate offers a new-found versatility that is changing the game – particularly of interest in a more budget-conscious society where personalization is still in high demand.
Following, KBDN offers a collection of interesting countertop projects that maximize the aesthetic and functional benefits of a variety of different surfacing materials.
In the countertop world, Gene McDonald of Refresh Interiors is a leading champion for zero-waste fabrication, and he is also known for his creative ability to mix and match materials. For example, a recent project he completed for Clark and Barbara Cridland of Treasure Island, FL utilizes no less than eight different decorative materials for countertops, backsplashes, cabinet doors and a fireplace surround.
Mocha Paperstone countertops, with an oversized 3" edge inlaid with zebrawood, line the perimeter of the kitchen and constitute the main work areas of the space. To add interest, a 2" band of Amber Avonite is joined to the backside of the countertops, which is illuminated from inside the cabinets to accentuate the full backsplash – also made of Avonite in the same color.
Coffee beans and mirror chips are inlaid into the deck of the countertops for additional interest.
The island and high bar are made of Vetrazzo Charisma Blue and feature translucent Avonite Amber and bamboo butcher block inlays, respectively.
Arketique Solid Surface, located in Sefton, New South Wales, Australia, is no stranger to innovation. Originally a fabricator of fiberglass architectural products, Arketique has evolved into a custom manufacturer of solid surface materials, with a heavy emphasis on custom projects. Where the firm once consumed its entire production of solid surface for its own projects, Arketique now has expanded its operations to offer sheet goods to other fabricators.
An example of Arketique’s creativity is the renovation of a New South Wales residence utilizing the company’s Opalescent White polished solid surface for both countertops and cladding on the island.
What makes this project unique is the indoor/outdoor quality of the design. While the majority of the kitchen is an extension of the family’s living quarters, the smaller section is actually an outdoor barbecue that can be sealed off from the rest of the house at night or during inclement weather by sliding glass doors concealed in the wall panels. A full glass backsplash behind the main counter brings even more of the outside in.
Anyone who has designed a kitchen with concrete countertops already knows to expect the unexpected. Part chemistry, part mad science and all artisan craftsmanship, a custom-made concrete countertop can be the ultimate in personalization.
Whether the client wants a faux granite look, a monochromatic slab, the appearance of a river running through it or baby’s bronzed shoes embedded in the surface for posterity, it’s all possible with concrete.
This environment of concrete’s almost out-of-control possibilities prompted Meld USA, based in Raleigh, NC, to attempt to “tame the creative beast” by coming out with a line of precast products that can be shipped to a fabricator’s shop for transformation into a finished countertop installation. Although the company will create custom shapes and colors for the right project, most of its output is in the form of precast slabs, and nearly all of those slabs contain post-consumer recycled glass.