The counters deserve their own post simply because they’re marble. I can’t tell you how many contractors, fabricators, designers, (family!), etc. have said “now, you know about marble, right?” when I’ve told them our countertop decision. Yes, I know about marble. But you should, too: Marble, while used for centuries in Italian (and I’m sure many other countries) kitchens, it is extremely porous and susceptible to staining and etching.
Choosing marble means you need to seal often and be aware that nothing should be left on our countertop for more than a couple of minutes. Things like tomato sauce, wine and grease will stain it. Lemon juice and vinegar will etch it. Mr. S&P and I are pretty “type A”, so I have no problem playing countertop police at my own house parties. We’ll invest in a lot of dishtowels and coasters. To choose marble, you really have to want it. If you have no interest in crazy maintenance, simple choose a quartz, granite, laminate, etc.
I even did some experiments with sample pieces of marble to test out different substances to see how badly they stained and etched. I found that a properly sealed piece won’t let tomato sauce or wine penetrate too badly, and what stain was left softened over time. Etching is unavoidable and no sealer will prevent it, thus we’re going with a “honed” finish that will mask etching better than a polished finish.
Picking out the slab is, of course the best part of a project. We visited several showrooms around the Phoenix area to get ideas for materials and pricing. I found Arizona Tile to have a really wide variety of not only marble, but granite as well. We debated different varieties. Carrara is the most commonly found and is the least expensive (retail about $12/sq ft.) The Crate and Barrel French Bistro Kitchen Island we have is topped with a piece of Carrara. Here is an example of a Carrara slab:
While that was always a potential option, we wanted something that was a bit more unique and interesting. I salivated over Calacutta Classico and Calacutta Gold, but at $45-$50 a square foot, it’s the Ferrari of marble and we just could not justify the cost for the type of house we own and the market in Phoenix. Maybe for the next house ;)
Then we discovered Statuary Vein, which had much more movement and depth than Carrara, but not the price tag of the Calacutta, running at approximately $35-$40 a square foot.
We had looked at these materials last July, anticipating redoing the kitchen in February. When we returned to the slab showroom and looked at options again, we noticed they had slabs of Bianco Venatino that had a similar look as Statuary Vein, but were even less (approximately $21 a square foot retail). This was the Venatino batch they had in July, which looked very similar to Carrara:
This is the Venatino batch they had in January:
The batch they had this month looks far more like Statuary, so we decided this was the type we would go with. Above is the actual slab going in our kitchen. It has incredible veining, a ton of visual interest and I know it will look gorgeous in its satiny honed finish. We can’t wait to see this slab in place as our countertop!