Tops that work
It is a fact that today the kitchen is the hub of the home; the space where family and friends come together to cook, eat, socialise, relax and, often, to work. With so many activities taking place in one space, thoughts as to the general hardiness of finishes carry just as much weight as those relating to more aesthetic values. Kitchen worktops tend to bear the brunt of all this activity; the workhorse of any kitchen space.
However, given its large surface area, the counter top also has a huge influence on the overall design, helping to set the tone for the environment and working in harmony with cabinetry, flooring and appliances, for example.
Make an instant impact with muted white cabinets set against rich charcoals and pewters or go industrial with concrete finishes and raw timber. For traditional kitchens, counter tops in natural materials matched with softer hues work well. Add to this the choice of multiple edge detail options, upstands, splashbacks and waterfall ends and it is easy to understand why so many kitchen designs start with the counter top.
Worktops are often the focal point of a kitchen, offering a large surface area for preparation, cooking and socialising.
A good place is to start is by considering how you will use the space. We use our works tops for everything, from preparing meals to eating off them, or simply leaning over them while chatting with friends. Do you entertain a lot, perhaps necessitating the need for a large preparation area? Do you enjoy eating as a family group, in which case a breakfast bar or large island unit might suit your needs? Maybe a long run for baking with the children, where everyone has the room to spread out. Or perhaps you are simply looking for something that simply adds the wow factor. The worktop needs to be multifunctional, serving all these needs. A place to serve, store, chop, cook, chat and entertain and even mix a cocktail or two. Selecting the right one, therefore, is of paramount importance.
A material choice
There are a multitude of online resources where you can get advice on different kitchen worktop materials, such as Houzz.co.uk. Every worktop material has advantages and disadvantages, and ultimately choice is governed by style, practicality and budget. The perfect worktop material is the one that will give you the blend of attributes most suited to your needs.
Wood counters can look beautiful and are often the perfect material for a traditional kitchen design. Available in a variety of shades, there is a natural warmth to the material, but greater maintenance efforts will be required in order to keep a perfect appearance, as wood countertops can scratch and stain more easily than other materials.
Stainless steel tends to be the preserve of professional kitchens although it can look stunning in the home too. Extremely hardwearing and hygienic it can take a lot of abuse. However, some find it too harsh a surface for domestic settings and it can scratch and dent.
Solid surface. Solid surfaces are available in lots of colours, including primary reds and blues, but more subtle designs options may be more limited. Solid surfaces can be formed to avoid join lines, but can scratch, and whilst heat-resistant, they’re not as durable as a granite or quartz counter so contact with direct heat sources should be avoided. Also, solid surface counters can carry a heavier price tag compared to natural or engineered stone worktop surfaces.
Laminate –Laminate surfaces (essentially formed of a wood composite core with a plastic wrap) can be a good solution for tight budgets but as with most surfaces, quality varies. Laminate isn’t the most durable of surfaces though, with it being damaged easily when chopping, and hot materials, such as pans direct from the hob, can damage both the plastic and the inner core of the surface.
Granite and Marble – long associated with luxury kitchens and both materials offer the wow factor. If considering either material, it’d be worth selecting a specific piece for your kitchen as it is a natural material and patterns are not uniform. Marble is less hard wearing the granite and is prone to watermarks and other staining. Granite can require sealing once a year to stop it staining.
Quartz – stain resistant, heat resistant and scratch resistant, premium quartz surfaces are very heard wearing, although not indestructible. Quartz kitchen worktops are very practical, with easy maintenance and naturally antibacterial. An array of colours and designs, from marble to granite and even concrete, are available covering traditional transitional and contemporary schemes.
There is of course nothing to say that a mixed pallet of materials can’t be used. Why not consider using quartz for the main countertop and splashback, with solid wood for a contrasting island unit.
A combination of quartz worktops and a solid wooden feature storage unit create a dynamic and appealing look
Colour and material trends tend to change from year, with muted tones and emerald greens all the rage right now. These can be applied to walls, cabinet doors – dependent on finish – and furniture. In terms of style trends, think oversized islands combining cooking areas with food prep, sink space and storage. Add a worktop overhang or a raised platform and you have an instant breakfast bar for casual dining. As well as islands and kitchen worktops, why not create your own handy home bar for entertaining, a formal dining table for family get-togethers and even wall and floor coverings, too.
For a contemporary looks that makes a big design statement, the new trend to industrial chic has put concrete in the spotlight. Raw concrete finishes offering different textures and colours allow you to create a kitchen which pushes the boundaries of cutting edge design. Used to create large splashbacks or dramatic heavyweight island units, concrete surfaces provide texture and work well against other materials such as metal or wood finishes. Caesarstone’s Rugged Concrete has the benefit of being very low maintenance with no need for sealing.
Rugged concrete offers a raw, urban look to kitchen worktops in schemes that are aiming for a more industrial aesthetic
Marble and granite remain an alluring material for kitchen worktops and suit both traditional and transitional styles, instantly delivering a luxurious feel. These materials are often used in conjunction with more cost effective cabinetry and appliances, which has the effect of keeping the overall project cost low while still delivering a stunning finish that looks far more expensive than it might have been.
Quartz colours and designs have progressed to the point of being indistinguishable from natural stone, which allows homeowners to select from a wide range of marble or granite styles without any of the concerns of using natural material.
Quartz countertops can replicate the captivating beauty of natural marbles or granite, whilst being easy to maintain
For a little extra inspiration, check out our Visualizer tool and bring your design ideas to life. Whether you prefer a classic, modern or cool, contemporary look, the interactive simulator can help you visualise your kitchen scheme, including the colour and edge profile of your kitchen worktops, and what’s more, you can even share and save your dream designs to reference later on.
For more information on Caesarstone quartz and our design inspiration check out our video here.