Our Marble Alternative Kitchen Counterop Revealed!

Marble Alternative Kitchen Countertop New Superwhite Quartzite | Classy Glam Living

***UPDATE***:  SEE HOW OUR KITCHEN CURRENTLY LOOKS IN THIS POST!

OUR MOST RECENT KITCHEN UPDATE!

As of 3 months ago, we were still very optimistic about using marble as our kitchen countertop, and have decided we're going with statuario marble.  But... this wasn't the first time we again changed our minds...

I forgot how many times we've decided on marble, only to have doubts about it.  Time and time again, we would check out any evidence of etching during our meals at restaurants that use marble tabletops and we would be assured that marble isn't too bad afterall.  We would decide that we can live with some patina from usage.  Even our test of red wine on marble didn't deter us from going forward with the Statuario marble.  

However, while living at the rental, every spill and missed spot from cleaning would remind us of our roughness on countertops.  We wanted what we love, but we're not the best cleaners.  At the rate we go, the marble will be "patina'd" in no time.  

We were both probably waiting for the other to say no first!  

What we chose in the end

We wanted a polished countertop with a white background to match our light grey cabinets.  We looked into Caesarstone's Pure White (we didn't want specks like the Blizzard) but it was just a tad cheaper than Statuario Marble.  We're old fashioned, and don't feel like we're getting the bang for the buck if we're paying that much for manmade "stone".  We then narrowed down to natural stone, and we all know that there aren't a lot of choices of natural stone with a white background!

We could choose from Statuario marble, or a whiter piece of carrara marble that wouldn't be as expensive.  As luck would have it, the stone expert introduced us to the NEW Superwhite quartzite.  The slab we saw was absolutely gorgeous; a white background with grey veining, plus crystalization within the slab that we love.  It's different from Superwhite, which tends to be more grey.  Sadly, the whole block was already sold out.  Well, all's not lost, at least we found a marble alternative that we love.  Patience now...  

And then we got the call from the stone warehouse that a new block of New Superwhite arrived!  It's not as white as the slab we previously saw, but it has more crystallization in the slab.  

NEW SUPERWHITE QUARTZITE | Classy Glam Living
The slab is quartzite, tiny crystals are visible, making the slab sparkly.

The slab is quartzite, tiny crystals are visible, making the slab sparkly.

We're sold!  We get the white background that we wanted, without the pain and fuss of maintenance as with marble.  Nothing beats the beautiful veining of Statuario marble, but the crystals formed in the slabs of New Superwhite quartzite are just as mesmerizing and beautiful.  Not to mention, it's a stronger material compared to the softness of marble.

From ordering the slabs to fabrication, I would say it was a pretty easy and smooth process.  We're so glad we didn't go with the builder's expensive stock upgrades with limited choices!

Here are some photos of the installed countertop:

NEW SUPERWHITE quartzite kitchen counter | New house kitchen | Classy Glam Living
NEW SUPERWHITE quartzite kitchen counter | New house kitchen | Classy Glam Living
NEW SUPERWHITE quartzite kitchen counter | New house kitchen | Classy Glam Living
NEW SUPERWHITE quartzite kitchen counter | New house kitchen | Classy Glam Living
NEW SUPERWHITE quartzite kitchen counter | New house kitchen | Classy Glam Living

The crystallization inside the slabs are difficult to pick up in photos, and the countertop is sparkly in person.  The veins in the stone are actually formed by dark crystals.

NEW SUPERWHITE quartzite kitchen counter | New house kitchen | Classy Glam Living
Zoomed in of the grey veining from the red portion in the photo above, showing dark crystals in veins.

Zoomed in of the grey veining from the red portion in the photo above, showing dark crystals in veins.

More tiny crystals visible at the ogee edge.

More tiny crystals visible at the ogee edge.

I'm sure you're interested in the price points of these different marbles and alternatives.  Based on the size of our kitchen and quotes that we got:

Price Comparison of Marble & Alternatives | from highest to lowest price points | Classy Glam Living

We absolutely love our new countertop, as much as we would had it been made of statuario marble, if not more.  It's a great alternative to Statuario marble, at a cheaper price and less maintenance hassle.  Not that we would care any less with this New Superwhite quartzite, but It would save us from unnecessary heart attacks if we spill anything on it!

The kitchen is slowly taking shape, and we've finally had the appliances panels installed! We had been going back and forth on using silver or gold hardware, until we saw these pulls at Gingers. 

Panel-ready undercounter fridge and freezer | New house kitchen | Classy Glam Living

So now I guess it's decided we're going with gold. These are actually bronzy-gold, and they go nicely with our bronze Kohler Karbon faucet! Pure fluke on our part! 

New Superwhite Quartzite kitchen counter | Classy Glam Living

Bit by bit our kitchen will take shape and become our dream kitchen that's functional and outfitted in our style.  Here's our view from the living room, as mentioned in our kitchen and living room design boards.

NEW SUPERWHITE quartzite kitchen counter | New house kitchen | Classy Glam Living

Our next to-do's for the kitchen are:

  • Change out cabinet knobs and pulls
  • Install mirror backsplash  
  • Build more drawers in lower cabinets
  • Replace solid doors with glass doors at uppers above the fridge (see kitchen trends post)
  • Install mirror backs + glass shelves for those upper cabinets
  • Install LED rope lighting for under the upper cabinet  
  • Install valence

I hope we've shown you a marble alternative that you can consider if you're having trouble deciding on a marble countertop like we did.  Here's how we use our kitchen:

  • As per the Mr., I have butter fingers, that means a higher chance of spillage  :-(
  • We're rough on the counters, being efficient cooks sometimes means that banging stuff on the counters may be inevitable
  • We may not clean up right after we cook
  • We're not the best cleaners, ie. best if stains on the countertops can be somewhat camouflaged

Do you have butter fingers like me?  Do you love marble enough to live with its patina?

Easy Steps to a Successful Listing and Selling of Your House

Easy Steps to Successful Listing & Selling | Classy Glam Living

This week has been rather gloomy and wet, which means that unfortunately, we couldn't take little man and fur-baby to the park and field across the street after dinner.  I would love to have them both enjoy that convenience while we can, before we move into our rental house.  Did you miss last week's post?  I made a special little announcement!

If you had been following, thank you for your continuous support.  You must know that we're now in the midst of some intense packing!  Rewind several months back, how did we prepare for our listing and home showing?  This week, I'm sharing some easy steps for a successful listing and quick sale of your house.

All homeowners have a common goal when they list their houses for sale - GET IT SOLD AT THE BEST PRICE QUICKLY!  And potential buyers also have a common goal - to get the best bang for their buck for a house they love.  It's a compromise to find a common ground between these two goals.  But first, the seller needs to attract potential buyers to their house.  You want potential buyers coming to your house to feel welcome and wowed, leaving with a feeling that they can see themselves living in your house.  Just like how you would say when looking at model homes, "I can totally see myself living here!"  Here are some simple steps you can take to prepare for a listing.

CURB APPEAL

You've heard it enough times - First impression counts.  Potential buyers and visitors are critical from the point they drive onto your street and arrive at your front door. You want visitors coming to your house to have a pleasant feeling right from the get go, and that starts with your front yard.  During warmer months, ensure that your front lawn and garden are trimmed and neat, rid of weeds and garbage.  Put some HEALTHY greeneries (ie. not wilting) by your front door if you don't have a garden.  In the winter months, your driveway should be cleared of snow, and sidewalk and pathway to your house shovelled and salted.  This is also obviously for safety reasons.  Do you have flyers on your driveway or at your front door?  Get rid of those too.  A welcoming front yard signals to visitors that the homeowners take pride of ownership of the house.   

PURGE AND DECLUTTER!

This is possibly the most important thing to do if you don't do anything else on the list.  Declutter as much as possible to give the impression of spaciousness in the house.  Potential buyers are not visiting your house to see your possessions, they're there to see the house and imagine how they can live in it.  If they're distracted by all your collection of trinkets, buyers won't be able to see beyond them.  You don't want potential buyers to feel turned-off by all the stuff around the house and thinking your house doesn't have enough space.  If you don't have space for your stuff, how could they fit theirs?

STUFF - We'll start right at the entrance.  Lots of families love to display their shoes collection at the front door out of convenience.  That's great and all, but when you're showing your house, you want visitors to see the house right when they walk in, not your shoes.  No matter how neatly you put them on a nice shoe rack, they take away space in your foyer, and especially so if you have a narrow doorway.  The less distraction, the less critical the visitors would be.

Declutter and clear surfaces | House Listing Tips | Classy Glam Living

Shelves, tabletops and counters should be as decluttered as possible. As much as you think that blender on your kitchen counter is an essential daily use item, potential buyers may not agree.  Try to keep your kitchen counter as clear as possible of small appliances and other knick knacks until your house is sold.  It may be a bit extreme, but take note that the state of your kitchen make or break a first impression.  A spacious countertop gives the illusion of a spacious kitchen, even if your kitchen is small.  Most cooks of the house would take a wide open countertop over one that's cluttered with no space to stretch.  It only add points in the visitors' mind, and every little bit helps to get your house sold!  The Mr. even hid our countertop microwave on Open House days!

REMOVE YOUR PERSONAL PHOTOS - Visitors don't need to know how the homeowners look like.  They want to imagine how they can live in your house.  Let your house do the talking, not how you looked in your photos.  To replace our personal photos, we simply printed stock photos from online sources and placed them on top of ours.  You don't need to hide your beautiful photo frames, unless you have too many of them out in the open.  Use the frames to enhance your decor, but not too over-powering that there's all to look at.  Limit them to 1 per shelf or 3 to a space.

FURNITURE - If you've been to builders' model homes, you would notice that they keep their furniture pieces to a minimal.  Each room should only have the basic pieces of furniture, especially if the room is on the smaller side.  If you can't walk into a room without hitting some furniture, then you should probably remove some non-essential pieces from the room.  Maximize traffic flow, as most viewers flow through the house as a group, you don't want a visiting family feeling squished in the room.  Visitors hate the feeling of overcrowding and stumbling in and out of rooms.  You may also want to move your furniture pieces around so that the path into the room is not blocked.  You can purge, donate, or put them in storage while your house is being listed.  The choice is yours, but remember your goal - you want people to love your house, and you want it sold ASAP at the highest price. 

GARAGE - If you use your garage as storage, rent an indepenent storage unit elsewhere and free up your garage.  Potential buyers need to ensure they can park their cars in your garage, or use it as storage space themselves.  Also, during showing appointments, never park a car on the driveway, as it signals that you don't have enough space to park it in your garage since it's full of stuff (and that goes to say that your house doesn't have enough space for your stuff).  Remember, potential buyers are always looking for space!

A LITTLE FACE LIFT

It's only until after you purge that you can finally see the years of dust collected behind furnitures, scuff marks on the walls, knicks on baseboards, etc.  It's time for some renewal and repair.  Most buyers want a MOVE-IN READY house, as most listings would emphasize if they are.  Deep clean your house from top to bottom.  Get rid of that huge and growing dust web that you've been ignoring, sparkle your shower stalls and bathtubs, DEEP CLEAN YOUR KITCHEN, etc.  If your walls and baseboards show signs of wear and age, give them a coat of new paint.  You may be able to ignore them, but potential buyers see these little things when they walk through your house.  Don't skimp on a fresh coat of paint if you have a room in barbie pink, neon yellow, or whatever sharp colours you might have customized - repaint in a neutral tone.  Neutral colours are more pleasing to the eyes, and allow the potential buyers to have a "ready to move in" feel about your house.  

MARKET YOUR HOUSE IN THE BEST LIGHT

Market in the Best Light | House Listing Tips | Classy Glam Living

Now that your house is ready to be on the market, check with your agent if you can take the photos for their marketing materials (eg. on the realtor's website, feature sheets, etc.).  We opted to take the photos ourselves, same ones that are on our gallery.  We knew the best angles of each room, and we were able to take advantage of taking photos throughout the day to get the best natural light for each room.  For example, our entrance faces east, so photos of the entrance were taken in the morning.  Our family room faces west, so photos for that room were taken in the late afternoon.  The same goes for the rest of the house.  You want to attract potential buyers browsing on realtors' websites by showcasing photos of your house under the best lighting.  Just like how interior design magazines always photograph beautiful rooms in broad daylight, never at night with artificial lighting.  If, however, you're not comfortable about taking on this task yourself, then of course enlist your agent to do so.

THE PRICING GAME

"SOLD ABOVE ASKING!" realtors' ads abound, but how often are they relevant?  Is "sold above asking" all that great if the house was priced below average market price of similar homes in the area?  Then that "sold above asking" gimmick is more likely just "sold below market".  Potential buyers are now very informative, doing their own research online to find out the going market prices of the homes in the area they're interested in.  It's more important to price the house around the comparables in the area, so it would not raise a flag with potential buyers and deter them from looking at your house any further.

INCORPORATE SOME WOW FACTORS

Incorporate Wow Factors | House Listing Tips | Classy Glam Living

With your house now in public domain, hopefully it's getting some great marketing exposure.  Potential buyers browse numerous online listings and may schedule multiple viewing appointments a day.  How are they suppose to remember all the different houses? Just like a store front's window dressing, you want to wow your potential buyers with some lasting positive memories. When we had showing appointments, we set our dining table as if we were having a dinner party, as seen in this post.  It's the easiest extra step to do!  "Oh, that house with the set table in the dining room" would be all that was needed for a potential buyer to remember the flow of our house.  

BRING IN THE FRESHNESS

Something Fresh | House LIsting Tips | Classy Glam Living

A basket of fresh fruits in the kitchen or a vase of fresh flowers in the living area makes your house more lived in and inviting.  We had a basket of lemons in the kitchen and a vase of flowers for showings.  Little touches like these let visitors know that you care to make a good impression of your house.  

How about some fresh air?  Open up the windows to air out the house before a showing appointment.  It helps get rid of trapped odours that you've grown nose-blind to.  You may also add a SUBTLE, FRESH and PLEASANT scent with plug-ins or diffuser oils.  The key is subtle, and not using it to mask any existing odours!  I had my wall plug-in oil diffuser turned to the lowest to ensure that only a light scent was released.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST...  MAINTAIN IT ALL!

The above tasks are not to be only done once and for all.  Ensuring your house is always in top-notch showing condition is key to a fast and successful sale!  These to-do's may seem like all the fuss about nothing and create so much inconvenience.  That's true, but you want to keep the time of being inconvenienced to a minimal.  You definitely don't want to have your property sitting idle for weeks, or worse, months.  Imagine if there're several houses on your street that are also for sale!  It happened to us, 2 out of the 2 times when we listed our house for sale.  Having a great layout definitely helped us in both of these cases, but making sure that our house showed to wow allowed us to sell in record time on our streets (sold 1st home in 2 days and sold current home in 11 days; only our builder's model home beat us to it, being sold in 8 days). 


Throughout your listing process, keep in mind your goal as a seller - GET YOUR HOUSE SOLD AT THE BEST PRICE QUICKLY!  The longer your house sits idle on the market, the less buyers would be interested as it gives the impression of a problematic house.  Do all you can to attract potential buyers and wow them so you can get a quick sale.  Yup, it's just that simple!  And you know what?  Since you've already decluttered and purged before you listed your house, packing won't be too dreadful afterall!

We wish you the best of luck on your listing!  Let us know how it went!

SHERINA SO (sherina.so@century21.ca)