Welcome to the first Top 5 Friday! We’ll bring you our favourite picks in interior design and home decor. Feel free to add any resources and as usual, we’d love to hear what you think about our picks!
Our 5 Favourite Kitchen Countertops
You may think it looks like all other composite stone surfaces, but once you lay your eyes on this newest addition to composite countertops, few composites will compare. IceStone is a unique mixture of concrete and glass, and is one of the greenest choices you can make in manufactured surfaces. It’s VOC-free (volatile organic compounds), cradle-to-grave certified and contains 70 – 75% recycled material. Green, super durable and exceptionally good looking doesn’t come cheap, however – imported from NY, IceStone is one of the priciest options out there. (See Canadian distribution of IceStone)
Photo: Vermont Soapstone
This is truly a noble material, which possesses a natural beauty that transforms over time. With regular oiling, soapstone will continue to darken. Unlike other natural stone this one is very durable and stain-resistant, and because of its chemical neutrality it’s not affected by lemon juice and other abrasive substance. A warning: there’s soapstone and then there’s soapstone. Mostly originating in Brazil, issues plaguing international trade agreements lead to some lesser quality product mislabeled as soapstone. The nicest soapstone is slate or gunmetal in colour, with a relatively evenly distributed, fine spec pattern. There are some striations, but not many, and in my opinion, the less striation the better. Vermont Soapstone is one company that supplies Canadian contractors and has some of the best quality soapstone I’ve seen.
The advantage of poured concrete is its versatility, in shape, finish and colour. You can do virtually anything with poured concrete, short of turning it into glass. You can add colour, polish it to a shine or leave it rustic for a more industrial look. It can be costly if you’re looking for labour-intensive detail, but if you keep it pretty standard, concrete is comparable to midrange composites and has a unique warmth all its own. A warning: unless you’ve got experience, do not attempt this as a DIY. The dust can be very harmful in both mixing and sanding concrete, and there are many companies across Canada who’ll do a great job for you.
Stainless countertops have been coming in and out of vogue for decades, but are now on the upswing again. Aside from its well-know attributes of being hygienic, heat-resistant and virtually indestructible, people are finding stainless steel to be quite an elegant material when contrasted with the warmth of wood and other natural materials. It goes with virtually anything, and advancements in its manufacturing have helped with its tendency to scratch easily. At approximately $50 a square foot, it’s comparable to the cost of granite.
Some things like a thick butcher block countertop will never go out of style. If you’re careful of what type of wood you choose, this is also an environmentally sound choice as much of the wood now used in manufacturing is sustainable. Just like the stainless, wood countertops have a natural elegance that contrasts beautifully with certain materials – particularly glass, metal and lacquered cabinetry – for a feel both timeless and contemporary. Although it does wear with use, a good sanding and oiling with bring it right back to its original shape. Price-wise it can vary vastly, but it’s one of the least expensive natural materials you can choose for a countertop, especially if you’re shopping at IKEA (see NUMERÄR countertop above.)
Top 5 Fridays is a new feature appearing twice a month on Style Sheet