Karen Williams, ASID, principal and designer, St. Charles of New York in New York, NY, also notes the growing interest in the use of marble in the kitchen – white marbles in particular. But, she agrees that “marble can show wear, so it is not an ideal surface for everyone.”
Williams has capitalized on the interest in marble by using it in other, less-used applications in the kitchen and coordinating it with Pyrolave countertops – a lavastone – in a platinum shade. “That way, you don’t need to worry about maintenance. Marble can be integrated on the backsplash, and the light gray countertops go so seamlessly with the marble that you don’t even realize that there is a change of materials until you look at it closely,” she remarks. “I then use marble counters in a coffee bar or in a perimeter area so that the main workhorse of the kitchen, such as the island, is the more durable Pyrolave.”
Of course, engineered stone or quartz counters will provide the durability needed for the main areas of the kitchen, and each year the assortment of colors and patterns pushes the envelope.
One of Kassen’s clients “fell in love with a piece of material that was on one of our showroom displays, and the whole kitchen was planned around it,” she reports. Everything was selected to work with the countertop and highlight it.
Kassen wanted to make the piece, made from Caesar-Stone Concetto material, the most special thing in the kitchen. “By raising the top and cantilevering it around the back side of the island space, it became the center of the large room as well as an eating bar for the couple’s three children.”
“This client wanted something unique, something that no one else had and something that would provoke conversation,” Kassen offers.
When it comes to creating countertops as pieces of art, glass is a favorite material for kitchen and bath designers. There’s a nearly endless selection of shapes and colors, and the natural shine and sparkle create a ‘wow factor’ unlike any other.
According to Hannah Niki, designers’ assistant at Studio 3G Glass in Coquitlam, BC, Canada, most clients who come to the showroom are looking for a unique product.
One glass countertop offering that has become very popular with the company’s clients is the “tidal series,” which highlights a very popular sandblasting technique for glass. “It not only adds texture and variability to the glass countertop, but it also makes it a one-of-a-kind art piece,” comments Niki.
The Vadim Project, a home remodel that the company worked on, was very unusual in the sense that the customers incorporated the same pattern used on their glass countertop throughout their home, including the exterior windows. “They lived by the ocean and had an ocean view from their bath,” Niki explains. “They incorporated the Tidal pattern with custom chosen textures.”
A SHOT OF COLOR
While materials and textures are often attractive to customers looking for something different, it is color that influences the leap that many take when incorporating a countertop.
While Williams often gravitates to working with Pyrolave because of its durability, she also capitalizes on the fact that it “gives me the design flexibility to create a great kitchen because I can have custom colors made. I can play it down and have a subtle, beautiful color that will go with the rest of the permanent materials in the room, or I can choose to have a great pop of color on an island or a breakfast area,” she reports. “It’s quarried like granite or marble, but then it’s fireglazed, which is where you get the color. It has a look that resembles porcelain, except that it’s extremely durable,” she reports.
On one project, Williams customized the color blue for the Pyrolave countertop in the kitchen, which was located in a condo on the beach in Miami. “When you looked outside, you had the blue water and, in the kitchen, the blue lavastone. It has that beautiful blue color, rather than just looking like a blue countertop.”
“One project that we did where the client really went outside of the safety zone was a kitchen with a lime green countertop, and lime green backsplash,” reports Kelly. “They were willing to go out on a limb with color and used it very, very effectively. Color always makes a bold statement when you’re willing to go out there and do something special with it.”