If you live in an older home, you may have noticed that the countertops in your kitchen are different than those in the more modern homes you visit. This is because countertops in kitchens are actually a 20th-century concept. In 19th century homes, marble, wood or the occasional metal countertop were found in pantries. If there was a food preparation surface in the kitchen, it usually had a dry sink included or it was a large wooden table in the center of the room. These are some of the inspirations for the retro-farm kitchen look of today. If you are looking for the perfect counter for your older home, these tips can help you choose one that will keep that old-fashioned feel but provide you with today’s convenience.
Stone is one of the oldest surfaces used in kitchens. Many early settlers ground grain on stone in the kitchen, making that surface a great choice for a work surface. Soapstone, which is quarried in the Northeast, has been used for surfaces as well as wet and dry sinks for centuries. If you remember your old, black stone lab counters in high school, you remember soapstone. It is extremely durable, noncombustible and doesn’t interact with chemicals, another reason it was used in school labs. You can find soapstone in traditional matte finishes or honed to a gleaming surface.
Slate is another popular choice for countertops and has been quarried in the northeast for more than 150 years. Imported slate is usually too soft for counters, but the options available from Maine, Vermont and New York are much denser and more nonporous. Slate resists staining and can handle spills of wine and fruit juice better than other natural stones. Because it does not need sealing, it is also almost maintenance-free. In the early 20th century, laundry sinks made of slate were extremely popular and there are examples of those for sale in early plumbing catalogs. Slate is also available in a wide range of colors, including purple, green, red, gray and charcoal as well as purple-streaked grays and greens.
There is no question that marble has been the top choice for countertops in older kitchens for centuries. Marble is a much softer stone than soapstone or slate which means it does stain and etch more easily. It is more commonly used now as a backsplash and has been found as a pantry counter in homes built around the 19th century. One option is to create an inset of marble for rolling out dough. The coolness of marble is the perfect choice for pastry and a marble inset could look stunning in an older kitchen. If you really want the look of marble, consider an engineered quartz blend countertop which is much more durable.
Although granite is a relatively new option in kitchen counters, it is very versatile, available in a wide range of colors and patterns. Granite is nonporous which gives it an advantage over marble or soapstone. If you choose a lighter granite, it can mimic the look of marble. Black or dark gray granite can give your counter the look of traditional stone like slate as well. If you hone the granite, it will blend well in a turn-of-the-century kitchen.
Mix and Match
One of the best things about an older home is that you can mix-and-match surfaces easily. Instead of choosing one countertop surface, you can combine several. Create a marble inset for working with pastry, granite near the stove where heat could be an issue and wood for dry food preparation and pantries. Add metal trim for a mid-century kitchen as well. You can even add drainboard grooves to counters made of wood, stone, quartz, and concrete. Choose an integral sink and backsplash of the same material as your counter for a smooth, sleek look.
If you are looking for the perfect counter for your older home, contact us today by filling out the easy online form or giving us a call. We can help you choose the perfect counter that not only creates the look you want but meets the needs of your family.