These days there are countless materials available for kitchen countertops. But instead of giving you the pros and cons of each material, I’m going to break down six popular color styles so you can achieve the look you want with the material that suits your needs.
1. Flecked or Softly Veined White
One of the most common and coveted countertop finishes is a stone or manufactured slab material, such as quartz, in a white or off-white shade with a light fleck or grain to give it subtle natural richness.
This snowy, sparkling look works well in many situations since it is very neutral but also contemporary and fresh. The pale tone brings a sense of cleanness and lightness to the space with a twist of subtle sophistication.
In more traditional kitchens, this is usually a better choice than a true minimalist white countertop, which can be too severe and fight with the elegance of other elements such as knotty woods, Shaker cabinets, or later pendant lights.
Softly flecked or grainy whites also work well paired with brass accents. Again, the subtle richness holds its own without fighting for attention and keeps the countertop from feeling too austere — great for a dining island where you want people to actually feel comfortable dining.
Flecked or softly veined white countertops are good for you if:
2. Pure White
Pure white countertops, generally only available in manufactured materials such as Corian or Caesarstone, bring a contemporary, minimalist freshness that no natural stone can match. Luckily, these materials resist stains well, so they can stay a crisp white for years with just a little care.
This stark look works well in contemporary spaces. As mentioned, the severity of a true white can fight traditional decor, but in a modern space, it feels appropriately crisp. It’s especially effective in small spaces, such as compact condo kitchens, paired with minimalist white cabinets to give the illusion of a bigger space.
Here is another use for white countertops: Spaces that already have a great deal of bold character in the other finishes, such as grainy wood cabinets, can benefit from a super simple counter as a visual break.
This is especially true for modern flat-front cabinets in a wood finish with a yellow-orange undertone. A pure white counter will keep the look feeling fresh and contemporary instead of retro.
Lastly, white and blue is a classic nautical combination, so while off-white would also work a pure white counter looks beautiful paired with blue-painted cabinetry. Despite both being chilly colors, the two together feel welcoming and always stylish.
Pure white countertops are good for you if:
4. Dark or Black
Dark counters, in tones such as black or charcoal, can appear very gothic in some situations and perfectly harmonious in others. If you have dark cabinetry, dark floors or other rich and weighty finishes, a dark countertop will fit right in. In this example, you can see that the white counter is the one that pops, compared with the island counter, which almost blends into the deep wood drawer fronts.
If you’re going for a dark-on-dark palette, it helps to have lots of light sources, natural or added (or both). This will keep the space feeling cozy and sophisticated instead of just cave-like.
Because white can sometimes absorb and dampen nearby colors, a rich, dark countertop can actually be the better choice to bring out subtle colors in painted cabinets, such as the powder blue door units in this kitchen.
Choosing a dark gray rather than pure black will soften the look, so it’s usually preferable to stop at charcoal in most situations.
Here’s a situation where dark countertops are nearly a must. When you’re using a tinted mirror backsplash to subtly open up the space visually, a dark counter will echo the deep, moody surface for a perfect complement.
In this kitchen, the counter picks up on the black elements of the appliances, the dark legs of the furniture and the rich and complex parquet floors, so it feels integrated into the design rather than being a single exclamation point.
Lastly, sometimes you just want that classic black-and-white look. If you have a kitchen with crisp white cabinets and little actual color, or you have just a few small areas of the counter, a dark or black stone brings some instant drama.
Again, it’s never wise to have just one large black element in your design, as it may stand out like a sore thumb, so you’ll want to introduce other sprinklings of black such as elegantly simple black cabinet knobs and pulls.
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