That Shiny Top Matters

Texture and Color

Even if you don’t cook, but you are interested in successfully fixing and reselling a home as an investment, you need to develop a passion, or at least an interest, in countertops. It seems to be the first thing everyone wants to change in their house or in one they are looking at to buy. Either it is not the right material, it is not the right color, or there is just not enough of it. When it comes to kitchen countertops, the lumber yard has almost as many choices as the cereal isle in the grocery store. There are the different materials themselves; and then beyond that, there are textures and colors that add to the variety.

Dusting and Resale

I wonder why the kitchen counter has become such a focal point. I have my own ideas. First, I think it has to do with cleanliness. Cracks and porous materials can hide bacteria. But I also think it has to do with visual deprivation, a response to the minimalist approach to decorating.

When I was a child, I loved to walk across the unfenced backyards behind my grandparents’ house to the house of a little old lady who lived on the corner. She always let me in to admire her china dog collection. The house was full of more than dogs from all over the world though. It was filled with beautiful objects in ceramic, plaster, iron, wood, glass, and cotton thread. There were figurines of dogs and birds, glass fronted cabinets of vases, crystal, salt cellars, pitchers, and salt and pepper shakers in all shapes and colors. There were heavy door stops shaped like sheep or bears and small dollied tables.

All these wonderful things needed to be dusted. I think that is why the maximal style of furnishing bit the dust; too much dusting.

A Focal Point in Open Concept

Cleaning is much easier when there is less to work around. But, maybe it is because we have become visually deprived by this turn in furnishing fashion that we focus so much attention on the kitchen counter. In many open-concept homes, the kitchen is the center of the living area. The cook wants to be a part of the action, and so the kitchen is exposed. It is not the couple of added on rooms behind a wall off the dining room like it was in my grandma’s day. As the kitchen counter surely is a useful area, the minimalist can take pleasure in its expanse and beauty and still not have “too many things,” just one beautiful thing in the middle of everything to look at and display.


The kitchen counter even made the Wall Street Journal this week. In an article by Robyn A. Friedman on December 26.

“Quartz is All the Rage”

The variety of countertop materials has grown like the number of cereals in the cereal isle at the grocer since 1960. Formica laminate is not the only choice any longer. There is granite, quartz, agate, glass, wood, and for those with a more industrial taste, stainless steel.

“Quartz is all the rage now,” Bill Feinberg of Allied Kitchen and Bath, tells Ms. Friedman. Quartz is an engineered stone that has the look and feel of natural stone and comes in all colors, even white. It resists scratches and stains and never needs to be sealed because it is nonporous. It costs about $50.0 to $100.00 a square foot, including installation.

Granite is found all over the world and comes in many colors with interesting vein patterns. There are many finishes to choose from including, polished, honed, leathered. It is pre-sealed for durability. The price for granite is $50.00 to $75.00 a square foot installed.

Glass is available in many thicknesses and colors. It is nonporous, can be backlit, and display a work of art between its layers. However, it will chip and crack if you drop the canning pressure cooker on it. Glass costs $200.00 to $300.00 a square foot installed.

Agate slabs are a work of art all by themselves and they are semiprecious. Agate can be backlit as well. An agate countertop will cost you $300.00 to $500.00 a square foot installed.

Butcher Block is also available in many kinds of wood from unfinished European Walnut to Ash and Birch. Wood offers warmth and natural beauty. It can be unfinished, oiled, or stained. For the price of a sheet, see your call hardware store.

Topping it Off

Whether your own tastes follows the minimalist or the maximalist anyone in the business of remodeling a house for resale, needs to keep their ear to the ground about what is the latest in kitchen counter fashion. You need to take an interest in the kitchen counter and the choice of and cost of the materials used to top it.

Reference: Friedman, R. A. Countertops Limited Only by Your Budget and Imagination. WSJ December 26, 2018.


Austin, Texas


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