Beautiful kitchen countertops in hues reminiscent of nature and with an eye toward ‘green’ are in high demand, while value-priced products get an upscale makeover.
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Dealers Note Growing Interest in Quartz, While ‘Green’ Choices Gain Ground
Dealers agree that granite and engineered stone or quartz continue to be popular choices for kitchen countertops, both for their natural appearance and durability. But while granite has long been viewed as king in the kitchen, some designers now see engineered stone gaining ground, as consumers become more familiar with the product and intrigued by its low maintenance and variety of color and pattern options.
Eric Lehmann, CKD, of Elegant Interiors in Commack, NY, explains that while granite sales continue to be “pretty strong,” the demand for engineered stone has surpassed it among his clients. Lehmann points out that many consumers worry about potentially staining granite if it’s not sealed properly, despite the fact that most agree the sealing process is minimal and a fairly simple task. Additionally, he notes that recent news reports about the possibility of radon emissions, while still being contested heavily, may be putting some consumers off the product.
Lehmann also has found that many of his clients do not enjoy the experience of choosing a slab of granite, preferring to see and choose a finished quartz product.
On the other hand, Tiffany Williams, AKBD, a designer with Kitchen Createur in Omaha, NE, maintains that her clients love choosing their own granite slab. She believes this is because having a unique look in the kitchen is a priority with her clients, and choosing their own one-of-a-kind granite slab helps to give them that sense of having something no one else has.
While she’s done some concrete, wood and recycled glass tops, she says granite and quartz are still the hottest choices. Engineered stone, in particular, seems to be growing in her market. As she sees it, “Consumers are sick of solid surface, they already know all about granite, so now there is more interest in quartz.”
Andre Pronin, owner of Arcos Kitchen Design in Los Angeles, CA, is currently selling only granite and quartz counters. His business, he says, has actually shifted away from granite with more than half of his clients choosing quartz. Pronin explains that customers find the prices more affordable and the product easier to maintain.
Another California designer, Loriann Savarese, AKBD, kitchen designer for South Bay Design Center in Lomita, is seeing an even split in demand between quartz and granite, noting that both products appeal to her clients for different reasons.
As for color preferences, natural is still the choice du jour among most consumers, dealers say. Pronin, for example, notes that the most popular hues in his market are those in the beige family, tying into the nature-inspired trend.
Lehmann also sees shades of brown and dark beige as the most dominant colors among his Northeast clients, with green coming in second. “Black,” Lehmann states, “is dead.”
Savarese, on the other hand, says she’s seeing a lot of interest in color. “Greens and blues” are popular in granite, for example, while blue has also been in demand in quartz, she notes.
The green trend, too, is gaining ground with consumers, and all of the designers surveyed agreed that an increasing number of clients are inquiring about so-called “green products.” But while many are curious about the possibilities, not only for their countertops but for their kitchens in general, most do not actually make the purchase. Pronin says that his clients ask about green products but find the choices are often cost prohibitive. Williams’ clients are showing interest in “anything recycled” she states, but they are focusing their green efforts more on other areas of the kitchen.
However, most agree that the trend toward green is not going away, so it’s important to offer green countertop options, as these products will likely gain in popularity over the next few years.