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?

Laundry Room Wish List and Our Design Options

Laundry room design board & accessories | Classy Glam Living

You know the feeling of something so close, yet so far?  That's how I'm feeling right now about our upcoming move.  I've shared all of our new house's decor and design plans except for one very important room - the laundry room.  I've never really given much thought about a laundry room until I realized how much of a pain it's been with a basement laundry here at the rental.  Had this been a bungalow, it wouldn't have mattered.  But our rental is a 3-storey townhouse + basement, and that makes putting away our clean laundry back up 3 flights of stairs quite the workout.  Needless to say, I've just gotten worse in falling behind in this department constantly.

We had a great sized laundry room at our old house, and spoiled that it was upstairs with our bedrooms.  Most people prefer the laundry with the mudroom downstairs, but I may be the exception.  It's so convenient to have it upstairs, and makes laundry less of a chore... and a workout.  Though admittedly, I didn't think of it that way.

Our laundry room at the old house

Our laundry room at the old house

Luckily, the laundry room at the new house is also on the bedroom floor!  It is probably 2/3 the size of our old laundry room, so I'm determined to make it as functional as possible.

Builder's layout of our new house laundry room

Builder's layout of our new house laundry room

No upgrades were made with the builder for this laundry room.  We just couldn't justify the prices they charge for the optional upper cabinets and to have their favourite plastic utility sink fitted in a cabinet.  Plus, we didn't want to be limited by their cabinet selections nor the positioning for what I have in mind.

I have a simple wishlist...  but after having done laundry in the basement, these seem like luxuries:

  • lots of task lighting

  • countertop as folding station

  • ample storage

  • drying area - hang drying and lay-flat drying

Nice and bright lighting

The smell of fresh laundry would be more enjoyable in a brightly lit laundry room. Back at our old house, the laundry room lacked natural light and was dark, lit only by the builder's dome light fixture that we never switched out.  At the new house, my first priority for this laundry room would be installing task lighting.  This photo from Rambling Renovators below is my inspiration for bright task lighting.  Even though this laundry is in the basement, it's nice and bright with the pot lights.

Folding station countertop

We had a long folding space at our old house's laundry room, but it was under-utilized since it was another dumping spot for miscellaneous household items.  I'm paying for that now, as I miss that dearly and would love to have a folding counter at our new house!  

A popular trend is to build the laundry room to function like a small kitchen, minus the cooking part. Pull-out hampers, built-in ironing boards in cabinets used for kitchens, and of course, a countertop as the folding station, just to name a few.

This photo below is my all time favourite.  It's such an elegant space to do laundry!  I also love how the countertop above the washers/ dryers is beautifully equipped with laundry supplies.  

Hampton Design

Hampton Design

My plan is to run a countertop from the laundry sink and across onto the washer and dryer as the folding station.  That should provide lots of space for folding and decorating :-)

Storage and lots of it

To avoid another dump site at the new laundry room, I need to designate a place for everything from the get go.  You know, the usual suspects of light bulbs, extra cleaning supplies, vases, containers, etc.  Don't know how they always found their way onto my laundry counter back at the old house.

I love this combination of closed storage and open shelves with baskets.  The open shelves make the backsplash area look higher than it is, and in turn make the ceiling look taller.  Open shelves would be an ideal spot to store frequently accessed items, such as towels and other linens.

The Block Glasshouse by Darren & Dee

The Block Glasshouse by Darren & Dee

This set of closed storage with frosted glass labels is super cute!  The glass doors also help to reflect light in a small space, making the laundry room appear brighter.

Source unknown

Source unknown

Drying areas

There just never seem to be enough room to hang dry our delicates here at the rental.  I'm just drooling over the hanging space above the counter in these photos:

I was back and forth on the location of the hanging space.  If we do install the hanging rod above the counter, our hanging garments will face the entrance of the laundry room,  I'm not sure how well that'll go with the clean and uncluttered look I'm after.  

My best option is to leave the wall above the machines only for storage cabinets, facing the entrance, and install the hang drying racks on the wall beside the doorway, like so:

This way, the hanging garments are "hidden" from sight when you look in.  I've already gotten this collapsible hanging rod to go on that wall.  It'll be folded in when not in use to minimize the space it takes up.

And these foldable drying racks from IKEA can go under the rod, collapsed when not in use also:

Design options

While the wall with the drying racks won't be too attractive, my plan for the opposite storage wall will hopefully make up for that.  My dilemma is whether to match the base sink cabinet fronts to our graphite set of machines, or to choose a wood toned front to add warmth.  These are currently my coveted choices from IKEA's SEKTION kitchen series:

Glossy grey

Glossy grey

Walnut effect light grey

Walnut effect light grey

These horizontal wall cabinets, also from IKEA's SEKTION series, would be great for the upper storage.  We can run them along the length of the wall, leaving out the bottom door for the combination of open and closed storage options mentioned above.

IKEA SEKTION horizontal wall cabinet | Laundry room design board | Classy Glam Living

As for the countertop, this slab of Caesarstone in White Shimmer with pieces of mirror chips in it would pick up the white shimmery lines of our builder's floor tiles.

To add visual interest, the curvy lines of these moroccan lantern backsplash tiles create an interesting juxtaposition against all the flat surfaces in the laundry room.

Since the Mr. is a visual person, I've put together this design board to help him visualize what's in my head.

faucet    /    1    /    2    /    3    /    4

faucet / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Designing the laundry room to function efficiently is a must, making it pretty is a bonus.  Don't know about you, but laundry is my most dreaded chore.  I'm hopeful that beautifying this utility room will help me get back on track with our ever growing mountain of laundry.  The logic is simple:  happy laundry room --> happy wife --> happy life  ;-)

Which base cabinet option would you choose?

Marble Testing with Household Staple - Red Wine

MARBLE ETCHING TEST RED WINE | CLASSY GLAM LIVING

*****  SEE OUR KITCHEN COUNTERTOP REVEALED HERE!  ******

CLICK TO SEE OUR MARBLE COUNTERTOP ALTERNATIVES

Using marble for kitchen countertop and backsplash is ever more popular nowadays.  We see the most beautiful kitchens on Houzz and Pinterest clad in some kind of marble, and without a second thought we would put that on our kitchen wish list.  But how practical is marble for a real kitchen that gets a fair deal of daily usage (and without an immediate wipe down)?  That's why we looked at marble alternatives in this post, and it actually became our blog's most repinned topic... 900+ and counting!

Us marble owners wannabe's are most likely concerned with the three main cons of marble:  cost, maintenance, and etching.  The nicest piece of marble is most likely double+ the price of manmade quartz stones, not to mention the extra care that natural stones need.  Proper sealing of the stone gives it some extra time to avoid severe etching.  So, what is etching?

Etching is the dulling effect caused by the chemical reaction of acidic spills on the calcium based marble.  Basically, any red wine, citrus juice, tomato sauce, etc that come into contact with the marble would "eat away" at the stone upon contact, and make it feel rough to the touch if left for a long time.  Is there an "appropriate" length of time that we can ignore these acidic spills?  We did a little experiment to test that out.  

BIANCO NEVE | CLASSY GLAM LIVING | MARBLE ETCHING TEST

We were given a sample of Bianco Neve at our appointment with the stone fabricator.  It is a white marble with beautiful depth and crystalization that sparkles as it catches the light.  As lovely as it is, we had to subject it to our household staple and etching culprit - red wine.

This piece of sample has a polished finish but is not protected by any sealant.  We separated the sample piece into quadrants...

MARBLE ETCHING TEST | CLASSY GLAM LIVING

Applied a teaspoon of red wine on each quadrant...

HERE WE GO!

HERE WE GO!

and did a time lapse test of 30 seconds, 5 minutes, 30 minutes, and 4 hours.

WAITING FOR THE MOMENT OF TRUTH

WAITING FOR THE MOMENT OF TRUTH

30 seconds is easily the time of a splash of tomato sauce on the counter while the Mr. is at the stove, before he notices the splash to wipe it up in time.  

30 SECONDS OF RED WINE STAIN | MARBLE ETCHING TEST | CLASSY GLAM LIVING

Don't know which of red wine or tomato sauce is worse, but even the 30-second rule yields a slight etched mark.

A SLIGHT OVAL DULL MARK IS SOMEWHAT VISIBLE 

A SLIGHT OVAL DULL MARK IS SOMEWHAT VISIBLE 

Next is the 5 minute mark, the dulling is a lot more visible now.

5 MINUTE RED WINE STAIN | MARBLE ETCHING TEST | CLASSY GLAM LIVING

Sometimes we wouldn't notice a splash at the stove until after a meal, which may be around 30 minutes.  If that's the case, the polish is gone.  I would consider this moderate etching.

30 MINUTES RED WINE STAIN | MARBLE ETCHING TEST | CLASSY GLAM LIVING

Under the reflection, here's how the sample looks like with the time lapse red wine test.  The 30 seconds, as expected, has the least visible etched mark.  The 5 and 30 minutes etching are comparable in person.

MARBLE ETCHES UNDER REFLECTION | RED WINE MARBLE ETCHING TEST | CLASSY GLAM LIVING

4 hours after the red wine spill...  oh that can easily be the time that we notice a spill after a gathering.  What will happen then?

4 HOURS RED WINE MARBLE ETCHING TEST | CLASSY GLAM LIVING

After 4 hours, the red wine darkened the spot it occupied on the marble.  The spot was clearly dull and also felt rough to the touch.

4 HOURS RED WINE MARBLE ETCHING TEST | DULL SPOT ROUGH TOUCH DISCOLORATION | CLASSY GLAM LIVING

In comparison to the other three quadrants, the 4 hour red wine stain has completely dulled the polish, even though they were all dulled to some extent.

4 HOURS RED WINE MARBLE ETCHING TEST | CLASSY GLAM LIVING

In this view, the discoloration of the 4 hour red wine stain has created a dark spot at the lower right quadrant.

DISCOLORATION OF MARBLE | 4 HOURS RED WINE MARBLE ETCHING TEST | CLASSY GLAM LIVING

And that concludes our test.  Looks like the 30 second rule also applies to spills on marble!

Did I just make your head spin even more, or did this test help to make your decision process much easier?  Will you be able to live with the etched marks on your beloved piece of marble and tell the story behind each mark?  Or does your kitchen countertop have to be perfectly polished even with serious daily usage?  Our decision may surprise ourselves either way.