Tuesday, July 19, 2011


My house was "move in ready" after I had the interior painted, some rooms wallpapered, electrical outlets and some lightswitches added or moved, and bought new appliances. I'd prefer not to have gold/brass doorknobs everywhere, clashing with the oil rubbed bronze and brushed nickel fixtures and faucets...but...I'll live.

The one thing that gnawed at me after 10 months in the house, was the kitchen. It's very spacious, it has great storage space (though I need a ladder to get to the top shelves of the 42" cabinets) and I love, love, love the hardwood floors. I had the room painted a lighter color and switched out 8 yr old black appliances for stainless steel. I moved the black fridge to the garage...and it's great to have that extra storage space for parties, baking, and bevvies. What I couldn't embrace was the granite countertop. America is having a love affair with granite...and it seems to be an important selling point. My "kitchen must" when looking at homes, was a gas cooktop rather than electric. I've seen some nice granite in other people's kitchens...black can look really sharp, I've seen deep red, and some pleasant mottled patterns and colors.

My house, built just 8 years ago, came with Baltic Brown granite. Blah~~it looks like mold in a petri dish. Brown, green, tan, rust and gray. When I drove back to NY for Christmas, I saw Baltic Brown granite in the restroom at a McDonald's on I-95...and I sighed, audibly. McDonalds? Really?

The granite was cold to the touch, very hard and too dark. I cook a lot, and some errant grease was splattering onto the flat paint behind the stove, so I slapped up a faux metal "backsplash" for $25.00 but it didn't take long for that "solution" to gnaw at me, too. Despite my appliance upgrade, the kitchen was so blahhhh.

The other downer was the deep double sink, because both sides were too small to fit my roasting pans, dutch oven and cutting boards. The faucet...too space-shippy. The sprayer leaked and the built in soap dispenser had a plastic bottle underneath with stripped threads. It kept falling off under the sink, spilling liquid soap.

I lived in my last house for almost 21 years. For the first 10 years, the basement level kitchen had brown appliances, a boiler hidden behind a canvas curtain and a concrete floor painted hunter green. A renovation was so sorely needed, and after it was done, I enjoyed being in my bright yellow kitchen with white cabinets, light wood flooring and stainless steel appliances. Dark brown and hunter green as kitchen colors could well be the problem for me.

I cook and entertain a fair amount and I want a happy kitchen. I'm not waiting 10 years. I can't imagine that Baltic Brown will look any more modern in coming years, and granite or not, I don't think it would have wooed potential buyers. Not that I'm moving.

I researched solid surface countertops and lo and behold I came upon Martha Stewart's collection for DuPont Corian. I chose the Shoreline pattern for it's calm shades of gray/white/with a touch of cherry that complements the cabinets. It is warm to the touch and has a cottage-y marble look.

It was tough to get an idea of how 73 sq feet would look, as I held the 2" square sample tile. Home Depot made a call, and arranged for me to visit the fabricator. Great customer focus! I drove 25 miles north and was able to see large pieces, how the grain runs and how the seams look (seamless!), so that I could make an informed decision. Home Depot also recommended that I donate the granite, sink and faucet set to Habitat ReStore for a tax writeoff. That saved me $700.00 in demolition charges that the Corian installers would have tacked on to the project, and Habitat was thrilled to get 1200 lbs of granite, and a sink and faucet to sell. The proceeds will fund a Habitat for Humanity home...and that is a win-win!!

It took 5 men 3 hours to grapple with 1200 lbs of granite. I had the electrician come in to move an outlet and a phone jack (I still have a landline!) to lessen the # of holes in the tile backsplash.

Wow, what a difference! The space looks so much bigger.

The single sink with center drain/disposal works better for my big pots and cutting boards and I really like the style of the faucet and cross hatch handles with enamel "H" and "C."  I prefer to keep the soap up top, too.

The backsplash is stock glass tile/stone mosaic from Home Depot, and the colors fully complement the kitchen. I was surprised to find such a perfect fit, off the shelf.

I'm really very pleased with the kitchen and how the project took shape. From Home Depot to DuPont, to Habitat ReStore, it all fell into place. It's a happy, welcoming room. It might seem counterintuitive to switch out granite for Corian...but I'm not afraid to buck a trend now and again. Neither is Martha.

Life is good. Level & Plumb!


  1. Bold move on your part to scrap out the granite. It's definitely lighter and brighter, so you accomplished your goals. As a pie, bread, biscuit and fudge maker, I've enjoyed the coldness of granite as a work surface-'course mine is black, so you'd approve.

  2. Rita--I hear you regarding baking! My LIC buyers wanted my 6 foot long stainless steel topped kitchen table, but I let them know I needed it (kneaded it!) for baking ;-) I never got to see your kitchen~~I bet the black granite looks great!