Higher End Marble

The Carrara counters we got were far from being super expensive – they’re pretty generic Carrara. If you’re wondering what else is out there that’s better, here’s a few pictures I snapped at HG Stone that show just how beautiful marble can be. If we had a high end European kitchen we might have shelled out the money for one of these…

There was a bluish slab with wavy veins…

bluish marble with wavy veins

And a gray marble with a golden vein running through it…

gray marble with gold veins

And then there was this light colored marble with golden veins – very pretty!

striated marble with gold veins

And then there was this light colored slab with a big dramatic gray vein running through it…

marble slab with a big, dramatic gray vein

And sometimes it’s not about linear veins at all – you get big round patterns in the marble…

marble with round circular patterns

By comparison, our Carrara slabs are rather humble. But they’re perfect for our purposes. 🙂

Picking Carrara Slabs For Kitchen Counter

The last post was about the rental kitchen, but we’ve made progress on our kitchen as well. The cabinets are gray lacquer – Ikea’s Abstrakt Gray. Here’s a picture of the kitchen, but realize that most of the cabinets have a protective blue plastic on them. The only area in the picture that’s the correct color is to the left of the range, on the side of the fridge.

parlor kitchen cabinets

Picking a counter material was tough. Black counters look really good against the gray cabinets, but the stairs and the range hood we picked are all about white – black would have just been wrong. A color would have complicated the design, and a busy grain would have been distracting. So we settled on Carrara since we’re using it as a reoccurring material throughout the house.

The problem with Carrara is that most of the Carrara these days is really gray. And gray Carrara next to gray cabinets would just look muddled. At the same time it doesn’t make sense to spend the big bucks on primo Carrara to go along with Ikea cabinets. Ikea kitchens are decent these days, but not that good. So the challenge was to find Carrara that was at a reasonable price point but still pretty white. Luckily we found some at the second stone yard we went to – but just barely. A new shipment had come in and we picked it while it was still in the shipping container – there was just one block that looked right and we only saw about 18″ of it, but when we saw it two days later it was pretty close to what we were hoping for.

Our fabricator had to buy two slabs to do our kitchen since the slabs are smaller than the granite we bought for the rental. (This afternoon when we saw him he was grumbling a bit about the cost of the slabs). Here’s the one we’ll use for the island…

carrara slab for kitchen island

The template for the island is the big one to the right. The bottom is towards the door, and you can see where the sink will be on the other side. We are a little worried about the cantilever portion breaking since marble isn’t as strong as granite. Since marble is most likely to break along veins, we kept the heaviest area of veins over the dishwasher where the marble will be most supported. The veins are much less in the cantilevered area.

The little template to the left will be the piece that goes under the microwave in an area that’s not too visible.

We almost went with a stainless counter along the wall since stainless is a lot more practical than marble next to a cooktop. But I’m not a big fan of different counter surfaces in the same kitchen (in most cases). And a white counter will look better than a stainless counter, so we went with the Carrara. Plus stainless cost a bit more. This is the slab that will be used along the wall – on either side of the range…

carrara slab for kitchen island

The two slabs are neighboring slices from the same block – so the veining is pretty much the same. But instead of using the bottom of the slab, like on the island, along the wall we’ll use the top part of the slab (where you see the tape). The big template will go to the right of the range, the little template will go to the left.

One other thing – 90% of the time people say Carrara in the kitchen should be honed, not polished. Apparently you can seal honed marble better than polished marble, and polished marble gets scratched up pretty easily in kitchens. But as Dan pointed out, honed marble next to high gloss cabinets would be a bit odd. Since the cabinets are high gloss, the marble needs to be polished (visually). We’ll just have to work harder to keep it looking good. And if we hate it, apparently wiping it down with vinegar and letting the vinegar sit for 20 minutes or so will dull the polish and make it look more or less honed.

Believe it or not, the fabricator is working over the weekend on the counters and they’ll be installed on Tuesday. It will be great to see that final piece really come together – the kitchens will look so complete.

Colonial Gold Won For Counter In Rental

[UPDATE: I’ve swapped out the pictures of the slab we got with a new better one that shows how the pieces will be cut…]

After my post the other day we decided against Rosewood granite for the rental – it just competed too much with the brick wall. Yesterday we went back to the stone yards and looked for other options. This time we took samples of the cabinets with us and it really helped. Some of the granite slabs just went better with the color of the cabinets. The one we chose was “Colonial Gold” granite.

On the slab below the peninsula will use the lower half of the slab. It’s reversed from the picture of the kitchen below… So the darker side will be next to the sheetrocked wall and the lighter side will be next to the hallway and brick wall.

granite slab for rental apartment

Since it’s a light colored granite, it’s going to be a pretty light/bright kitchen – almost white on white. The good part is the Colonial Gold won’t compete with the brick wall, but the dark bits are still strong enough to stand up to it (hopefully). Here’s the picture of the cabinets and and the wall again…

rental kitchen cabinets

There’s a slightly darker more yellow version of Colonial Gold called Colonial Creme. When we went to a different stone yard earlier in the morning they had slabs marked Colonial Creme that were as light or lighter than the Colonial Gold we bought – so the naming seems to depend on the source.

Here are few other slabs we saw that were either contenders or generally interesting. I gotta say, there’s so much cool granite out there – but of course there are a lot of factors that make each one best for a particular use…

Here’s one Dan really liked and wanted to use in the rental kitchen. It’s cool, but I’m not sure if it would have been as successful as the Colonial Gold…

varigated granite

Here’s one that looks like wood – it would be pretty overpowering as a kitchen counter, but I think it would make a great coffee table…

wood like granite

This was another that might have worked as the counter in the rental – light color with dark rust-like spots. But it didn’t work quite as well as the Colonial Gold.

granite with rust-like spots

Today we’re off to meet the architect at the house, then we’ll go see the stone fabricator and discuss cuts so we get the most interesting bits of the slabs in most visible location. Then after that it’s back to the house for a meeting with the ironworker about the rear deck/pergola.

Lots Of Choices Picking Countertops

A fair amount has gotten done since my last blog post, but once again some of it isn’t all that photogenic… We passed our plumbing inspection – so we can finally get water and gas working properly. They’ve continued working on the stairs. They’ve painted the bathrooms, but until the protective wrappings are off everything and the fixtures fully installed the pictures don’t make complete sense.

One thing we struggled with today was picking the countertops for the two kitchens. Our kitchen still has blue plastic wrap on most of the cabinets, so the color in the pictures is all off – so more on that later. But in the rental kitchen we first started with this demo kitchen being our concept…

Ikea Adel white cabinets with dark gray counter

That’s Ikea’s Adel white with a dark gray counter. That was pretty much my vision of the kitchen color scheme complete with a Carrara backsplash. That counter isn’t quite as dark as you might think – here’s a close up picture…

dark gray counter

But then Dan didn’t want to go so dark since the room doesn’t have a whole lot of natural light. So he started thinking outside the box, but a light color counter with white cabinets would look anemic – there had to be some darkness to it. Dan also didn’t want anything too uniform in color. The stuff you get at places like Ikea & Home Depot is really uniform because they want the sample to match what you get. When you go with a stone that has more variation you sorta have to pick a particular slab – which the big stores can never accommodate.

Here’s the slab we found today that we liked – it’s rosewood granite…

rosewood granite slab

It’s got a lot going on and when we got home we seriously started double guessing our choice. Was it too pink? Was it too busy? It didn’t look contemporary enough. And so on… But what got us back to thinking it was a good choice was looking at a picture of the kitchen…

rental kitchen cabinets

The biggest issue is the brick wall. It’s got pinks and oranges in it like the slab. And as I looked at the picture of the kitchen, while an almost black might work, a more medium gray just seemed wrong given the color of the wall.

I’m still not 100% convinced, so we’ll see… I think we’ll look a little more before making a final decision.

Our kitchen is a whole other story – but that’s for another day. The short version is that we’re going to go with polished Carrara marble counters with gray lacquer cabinets. Yes, most people say to do honed Carrara in kitchens, but Dan’s emphatic about polished. And we were thinking about just having Carrara on the island and having stainless along with wall, but I think ultimately it will look better with Carrara everywhere – even if it’s not quite as practical.


We’re now thinking the rosewood granite isn’t right for the rental… We’ll go Friday morning to pick something else. I’ll update this post when we pick the new slab…

Eggersmann Gives Lower Price Option For Kitchen

A while back we discovered Eggersmann at the A&D building and really liked them. In fact we liked them better than Poliform which is saying a lot – our last kitchen was by Poliform and Poliform’s sense of design resonates with us, but Eggersman is even better (in our opinion). When we first talked to them, Eggersmann was nice enough to mock up a kitchen for our space and quote us a price, but the price didn’t really work with our budget.

Well, months passed and then someone at Eggersmann found my previous blog post mentioning them. They contacted us and asked if we had made a choice yet. Thanks to problems with DOB, we hadn’t. They noticed that I had mentioned that their last price was too high, and offered to design a lower cost kitchen. Our kitchen design and layout had changed somewhat since their last proposal. The biggest change was moving the coat closet further into the building – across from the stairs rather than across from the kitchen. The other change was getting rid of the upper cabinets and taking the cabinets at each end to the ceiling (which is 10.5′ tall). The net result was a 1/3rd savings in cost. We need to see where the other numbers come in, but we’re thinking we just might be able to afford an Eggersmann kitchen, which is quite exciting…

Dan and I had gone through several rounds of kitchen designs but hadn’t been 100% happy with anything we came up with. Many of the designs reminded us of our last kitchen and we really wanted this one to be different. Finally I proposed a layout one day and Dan liked it. That’s the layout Eggersmann laid out (and improved slightly). Here are some 3D renderings Eggersmann did for us…

3D Rendering of Harlem brownstone kitchen

Instead of having coat closets across from the kitchen, we’re going to have a bench where people can sit and talk. This will essentially be the view from the bench. The door to the right is the front door. The upper panels in that door will be glass. The column to the left will house a Sub Zero 736 TCI fridge. At over $6,000 it’s our one huge extravagance in the kitchen, but we loved the 700 TCI we had in our last kitchen… The shelves in the center island will be used for wine and cookbooks. Dog leashes and the like will go in the cabinets below.

3D Rendering of Harlem brownstone kitchen

This shows a few of the details more clearly. We’re envisioning Corian (white) counter tops, a stainless back splash. The range is a compromise. We’re going with a 30″ Electrolux when Dan would really love a 36″ Wolf, but it costs nearly $4,000 more. The range hood was one of our challenges. The shape of it will probably be a bit different than what you see, but luckily we can exhaust directly out the wall, so no chimney is needed. We’re also thinking of put lighting on the top of the shelf as well as the bottom so the wall isn’t so dark.

3D Rendering of Harlem brownstone kitchen

Seen from a different perspective… The wall to the right will be exposed brick, and the front doors will have glass in the top panels. The window looks huge as it is, but looking at it now I realize it wasn’t drawn big enough. It’s 4 feet wide, 7 1/2 feet tall, so it will be another foot higher (at least). It won’t be one huge piece of glass. Instead it will look a bit like a french door (two vertical casement windows).

3D Rendering of Harlem brownstone kitchen

This last one shows how we’re hiding the microwave in a nook with additional cabinets. Up by the ceiling, above the cabinets, will be the A/C. We’re going with a “mini-spit ductless” system and that location gives us a nice place to hide the unit. (Not going with concealed units is another budgetary concession). The large wall will be exposed brick, so while the cabinets will be white / off-white, there will be plenty of color and warmth in the kitchen.

The other thing I’ve realized looking at these renderings is that the radiator we were going to put under the window will conflict with opening the cabinets. Dan and I are debating where the radiator should go.

So we’re crossing our fingers hoping we can get the Eggersmann kitchen. It’ll be really wonderful. Their sense of design is really special and their fit and finish is incredible.