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On The Surface



Many of my interior design clients are opting to update their homes instead of moving. Frequently, the kitchen is the first room on the list. New cabinets, backsplash, and appliances can take a space from eyesore to exquisite. Surprisingly, almost all kitchen renovators (91% according to recent research from agree that countertop changes are in order. Updated countertops can change the entire look and functionality of the space and are a worthwhile investment to elevate a kitchen design.

Not sure where to start? These are some of my preferred options.


For a high-end kitchen, hearty quartz is the optimal choice. Almost half of new renovations include this engineered stone for its ease and varied color selection. Like the Energizer Bunny of countertops, it does not need to be sealed and can withstand heat, scratches, or stains. With various finishes to replicate natural stone, this is a low-maintenance option with a clean appearance. It is comparable in price to granite.


On the other hand, one of the most popular and beautiful stones, marble, is also the highest maintenance. When I hunted for kitchen countertops in my last home, I longed for the delicate veining of Carrera Marble. Still, I hesitated to purchase it because of its reputation for being high maintenance.

Thus, many contractors will steer you away from sensitive stone because it can “etch” if an acidic substance spills on it and shows imperfections plainly. My best friend had just installed this marble in her kitchen, so I consulted her advice. “We have decided that we will embrace the limitations of marble. I am fine if it etches because it is part of the character. I am not going to live my life worrying about my kitchen countertop.” This healthy outlook suddenly empowered me with newfound freedom. I moved forward with the marble choice, loved the look, and hardly noticed when there were imperfections.


Several years ago, granite was the go-to option for high-end homes. While other materials have become popular, granite is still a solid contender when choosing a countertop. It is second to the most used behind quartz. Granite has the beauty of a natural stone and, when sealed correctly, can be durable against heat, stains, or scratches.

My advice when using granite is to consider the markings and choose a backsplash that compliments it. For instance, if your granite has a lot of movement, choose a simple, solid tile for the backsplash, so it complements, not competes, with the busy look of the slab.


When I chose marble for my kitchen, I opted for a butcher block on my oversized island. I love the rustic undertones that wood introduces. And from a practical standpoint, it is a very sturdy workspace. I used the wood countertop just as I would a cutting board and allowed the scuffs and wear to contribute to the patina of the home. Behind quartz and granite, butcher block is the third most popular choice by home renovators.


Courtney Warren is a Rockwall interior designer whose awardwinning design work has been featured in numerous national magazines and media and whose clients span the North Texas area.


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