KItchen lessons (and living with Cararra marble worktops)

I promised I’d write a follow up to our kitchen reveal, talking about what I’d do differently and I should first of all say, I’m really happy with our kitchen overall. There are however always things that pop up with the benefit of hindsight and if you are using a space differently to the original layout, then things have changed again for us with the addition of a little one.


But lets get started…

The biggest thing I would change is the handles on the doors and drawers. They are actually a very fancy Italian brand but we just got them with the kitchen as they were the display handles. We could have changed them but I actually like the modern edge they give to what is a very traditional kitchen style. What isn’t good is that they are so long, occasionally when you pull one end, it puts the draw out of line instead of opening it and the drawer catches. They are also very shiny and get finger marks all the time, and lastly they have very sharp pointy corners, which kind of worries me a bit as Bea is now more mobile and pulling up around the kitchen.


The herringbone Karndean floor and long kitchen drawer handles

I also wish we had put a socket in on top of the upper cupboards so we could plug in a sound dock or speaker and keep it off the work surface.

You might have noticed we have no tiles… this isn’t necessarily something I would change, but it’s something I kind of consider unfinished. I don’t feel we need much behind the worktops, but behind the hob is inevitably messy, (we just wipe it with a cloth,) I just can’t decide what I want!

I also wish we had had a bit more flexibility and given a bit more thought to the configuration. Being an ex-display kitchen we were limited to what the cupboard set up was, but we didn’t give enough thought to waste and recycling storage and because we have a lot of drawers and only a few cupboards, which are glass fronted, we have nowhere to put chopping boards and nowhere to store bottles that are taller than a large jar – the hidden cupboards have three shallow shelves in them.


The beautiful veining and natural marking on the island slab.

Living with Marble worktops…
Before we chose marble work surfaces I did some serious research. What I found was a lot of bloggers who had fallen in love with marble and nothing else was going to do. All of them were warned off it by kitchen companies and the majority were still happy with their choice. You can read about the research I did and some of the blog posts I read here. For those of you who don’t know about marble, it’s a natural stone and as such has certain qualities and characteristics that you need to take into account before buying it. Marble can stain, chip, etch (marks to the surface of the stone that don’t change the colour but change the finish, making it matte when the light hits that area,) and stun (bright white dots that appear if it is banged with something heavy and pointed – for example a pan going down flat won’t ‘stun’ marble but the corner of a bottle will,) and scratch. Marble is NOT like granite.

When we got our worktops I was terrified of them. Not in a ‘didn’t want to use them‘ way, but in a ‘very expensive thing I wanted to keep nice‘ kind of way. We babied them, told everyone (read:family,) what not to do on them and tried to keep them perfect. They still etched. Then we had a baby and didn’t have time/the inclination to baby the worktops too and people were in the house ‘helping’ all the time. They etched some more. But they still look almost exactly as they did when we got them unless you get your nose down to the worktop level to inspect them.


Etching on the marble. As you can see, it required a certain viewpoint and particular settings on my camera to capture these. From the same place stood up normally, they aren’t visible.

My main concern with the worktops was staining. I didn’t want (essentially) white worktops with horrible yellow or orange stains on them. I didn’t need to worry at all, I’ve found coffee and blackcurrant cordial on them from goodness knows how many days previously and it simply wipes off with no residue. They have been sealed before and after installation and it works. What has happened a LOT as I said before, is the etching. You can be as careful as you like and etches will appear. They happen when anything acidic hits the worktop so fruit, cleaning products, some drinks and tomatoes to name but a few. It’s pretty instant too and you can even spread the etch by wiping the offending item along with the cloth. But, you can hardly see them. Our worktops are honed (so not shiny,) marble and the etches are still more matte, but less noticeable as a result. You really can’t see them unless light is bouncing off the work surface where the etch is. We have also had a few stun marks (where I keep banging the oil bottle or condiments into the up stand) and scratches have appeared. You can never figure out what caused them, but there they are.

The big question is would I get them again? And the answer is definitely yes. I like things with natural character and the veining in our worktops is stunning. (I actually went to the stone yard to choose the slab and am so glad I did – I thought it might be a bit OCD but the one that was ear marked for us was quite spotty and dotty and not very clean and white looking. I ended up choosing this one from 3 others and I’d recommend making sure you choose yours if you want marble. The variation is huge.) Our house is old, the skirting boards are bashed, the walls aren’t straight and stairs creak. On first glance you would think our house was pretty perfect but look harder and scrutinise the edges and you’ll see the signs of its age. The worktops fit in with that. I got them because I was completely obsessed with grey kitchens and marble worktops, but now I look back and I really can’t see any alternative still. There is nothing else that I wanted. And I should add, many of the issues I have mentioned above can and will happen with other work tops. I have friends with Corian worktops that have chipped and stained and granite that has scratched and has smears on it all the time. Marble does it easier, but I love it and I’m still happy with our decision. If you’re a bit OCD, like everything to look super modern and stay looking like that in your home, they will not be for you, but for me, nothing beats the cool feel of smooth marble and that beautiful, elegant look. They also were the least expensive option, saving us hundreds if not thousands on some other choices.


The secret cupboard as it was…

I should probably list the things I am really happy with too, while we’re at it!

I love my hidden cupboard. Someone commented on the last post that I either didn’t have a kettle or it was tidied away. We did plan to get a boiling water tap but cut it from the budget so I do indeed have a kettle, and a toaster and a coffee machine, none of which are on show, and thats not blogger behaviour styling the room! This is how it always looks (with the exception of a few stray papers and toys cluttering things up,) because they are hidden in my secret cupboard. 😉


…and as it is now – the toaster broke and we changed the coffee machine!

We love the floor – it was a great option, is wearing really well, (actually people told us Karndean was bullet proof and it hasn’t bean at all, it scratched really quickly but they seem to have disappeared!) and look so good in the parquet style.

I’m glad we kept the old tap – it actually looks great and saved us loads of money! I’m also glad I pushed for a 1.5 bowl sink, its so useful. The only think I didn’t anticipate with the sink was that the square shape means the edges get a bit dirty, which I hadn’t anticipated.


The square edged sink

And thats it I think. I’d love to hear your thoughts on anything you wish you had done differently if you have recently re-done a kitchen (or other room) and if you have any questions about the marble, feel free to ask!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS Our marble was sourced from Manchester Marble, honed at the stone merchants and templates and installed by Manchester Marble.

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7 thoughts on “KItchen lessons (and living with Cararra marble worktops)

  1. I loved reading this! Even though I’ve heard you say most of these things whilst standing in your kitchen.

    You know that there are things I would change about my kitchen too – the dishwasher we went for the cheapest one instead of doing any actual research and the stainless steel sink, which is very similar to yours, but I cannot stand the scratches! – but I love how we use the room and the memories we have made there already and at the end of the day that’s what matters 😀

    Roz x

  2. Your kitchen is lovely, and the hidden cupboard is inspired!

    We went for a composite type worktop, and while it looked lovely, it showed the scratches easily. We had to put a tea towel under the chopping board to protect it! It was possible to have it re-polished, but we moved so never did. It made me realise however that, while unfashionable laminate worktops can be really practical – they are cheap, don’t show up the marks, are easy to clean. The one in my current house is ten years old, and looks in better condition than my year old composite one did.

    Regarding the flooring, we had Amtico (similar to Karndean), and we loved it. I also like that facts that if a tile does get damaged, they are easy to lift and replace (unlike “proper” tiles). One useful tip that the man fitting ours told me was to take care that the hoover doesn’t scratch the floor. Apparently hoovers can collect little bits of grit etc that rub against the tiles and can cause small scratches over time.

    • When you say composite, do you mean Quartz Rebecca or did you go with something called Maia? Em had the latte in our old kitchen and it was a nightmare for scratching.

  3. This couldn’t be more timely. I have a meeting with the electrician first thing in the morning to plan where all the new sockets etc are going in our extension. I am dreading the realisation that I forgot something or dislike my choices. There’s just too much choice out there now!

    Still keep going back to the marble, particularly tonight after googling quartz this evening. Would be interested to hear from anyone who has a quartz worktop……do they really scratch & chip too?

    • Hi Becky we have quartz – I wrote a blog post on our finished kitchen here http://olivedragonfly.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/the-forever-house-our-finished-kitchen.html

      We love the quartz, I picked it for the uniform colour and find it really tough wearing. It was fitted in December and we have had countless tradesmen in our house and it has no scratches or chips. To be honest we don’t treat it will much care at all – hot dishes from the oven are sat down on it etc. and it still looks perfect. Are there any specific questions you have?

      One piece of advice is definitely go direct to a marble / stone yard and buy the stone you do choose from them. Kitchen companies etc. mark the stone up by crazy amounts!

      Roz x

      • Thanks Roz, that’s really helpful. We’ve been to a few yards already and we’re going with the same place Rebecca & Pete got their marble from. I was just about to order it and did a quick Google to double check and I found lots of negative comments on US blogs. Mainly about chipping but also scaremongering (I hope) about the Microban in silestone. I’m wondering if the chips are mainly in Quartz with the larger particles through it (not what we want) which I imagine are easier to chip at the edges if knocked.

  4. Pingback: What Granite And Marble For Luxury Kitchen Worktops? | The Counters Blog

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