Have you ever walked into a store and spent $3,000 on an item of clothing without trying it on? Of course you haven’t. You’re not Corinne. If you’re any type of regular person at all then you have the god fearing decency to perseverate over any decision that costs more than $20. Buyers remorse is a hell of a lot more expensive when your not rich to begin with. With this whole process I’ve struggled with the price tags attached to our decision making. Our floors cost the same amount as our wedding if that tells you anything. What can I say, I’m pretty confident in my decision making as long as I’m at the dollar store. After that we’re off the map. Here there be monsters. With the cabinets and appliances coming in at a totally reasonable but eye twitching amount of $8,000 we were definitely outside of our comfort zone. Good thing that we still had to select countertops and that the internet had told us to budget about 30% of the total price of our kitchen for that. We meet again, 💸. Im going to need a paper bag and/or an Ativan for this post.
When I first started thinking (read: obsessing) about our kitchen countertop options I was torn in two very different directions:
WOOD VS. MARBLE
Both beautiful, historic, and notoriously difficult to upkeep. The main difference? The price tags of course. Only I would be attracted to the cheapest and most expensive. This is why I’m awful to buy presents for. However, this was a case where money really was no object- both materials take a lot of care to maintain and I’m generally not a person who cares a lot about maintaining my materials. It may as well have been Drew Barrymore vs. Cate Blanchett. Both classic and perfect but too good and complicated in different ways. I needed something easier and more accommodating to my destructive kitchen habits. I needed a Ronda Rousey.
IKEA actually has a good amount of in-house options when it comes to countertops. They offer butcher-block, laminate, acrylic, and quartz (contracting with Caesarstone for these options). So we had those options to consider but of course we were in no way confined to using IKEA for our countertops. We could have gone anywhere- but let’s be honest, at this point in the process we were both struggling with decision fatigue and opening up our options to ALL MATERIALS AND FABRICATORS EVERYWHERE just felt gluttonous. So we focused our our IKEA options. Like my mother always said, K.I.S.S.
I immediately nixed the laminate because well, it’s laminate. Not in my fabulous nonrental kitchen. I’d love to do the butcher block, but as I said before I’m too much of a mess. So we’re down to acrylic and quartz. Acrylic looked great but had minimal options and I gravitated towards things that looked more like one big piece of stone rather than many little pieces of stone. Only the most technical of terminology for you fine folks. So quartz it is! Luckily people have had some pretty great things to say about quartz these days. I didn’t know much about quartz beforehand but from the research I’ve done it sounds pretty perfect for a couple of walking disasters. Let’s look at some of our options.
Caesarstone had tons of colors and different styles. At this point we could have gone in a ton of different directions. A daredevil would have gone with Vanilla Noir, which I think would have looked super sleek and sexy but I also feared that an all black kitchen would look a little too goth Julia Child for me. Don’t get me wrong. I definitely want my kitchen to have seen The Craft, but I don’t want it to be faking sick to get out of school to spend it’s time at home writing fanfic. We needed some balance.
So we quickly narrowed in on white/grey faux-marbles because well, I’m predictable. Shoot me. Marble is beautiful, and if I can’t have the real thing than I’ll find a damn good proximity. I was a little worried about the uncanny valley and I knew that I didn’t want a white white faux marble style, such as Statuario Nuvo or Frosty Carrina. We wanted something with a grey background so that the contrast wouldn’t be so jarring with the dark cabinets and it would work well with a white backsplash (thinking subway tile, BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE A CREATIVE BONE IN MY BODY).
We considered the Nobel Grey but there was no larger slab to take a look at. The kitchen in the IKEA showroom that we modeled ours after used London Grey. So we just decided to go along with that. Classic. Simple. Easy.
Staff ball parked the square footage and we paid up front ($2,500, or $77/per square foot) before our official measuring. We already saw it and it worked- why make it harder? Well, the answer to that is because it’s in my nature. My anxious, overthinking, googling for hours, nature. I had two weeks before the official templating. Two weeks to think and think and think and think. I started getting down on myself for basically “designing” an IKEA replica kitchen. Sure no one would know, EXCEPT ME… and you guys. I began to second guess myself. My second favorite hobby behind eating while watching TV.
I went back IKEA several times and compared and contrasted the London Grey and Nobel Grey. I went to other kitchen stores in the city to look at different slabs of London Grey and continued to drive Danny crazy with my nonstop quartz talk. Some of the differences were easy to see, London Grey was warmer, had softer veining, and was lighter- Nobel Grey was cooler, darker, and more dramatic. However all of these assessments were made off a sample piece of Nobel Grey the size of a toaster. The entire city of New York had no large slab of Nobel Grey to look at. I continued to google google google and kept coming up with the same sample images of Nobel Grey I might as well have set my desktop wallpaper too.
I needed to see a larger slab.
There was a Caesarstone supplier in NJ. I called to see if they had a showroom. They didn’t. However, they could arrange with 24 hours notice to make an appointment for me to look at a slab in the factory. The folks at Caesarstone were exceedingly nice but I definitely got the feeling that the average person does not schelp to Jersey to take a look at a slab of quartz. This is what samples are for. They mainly deal with contractors and designers- not Tiinas. I made an appointment and begged Danny to drive me there. How can we spend so much money without seeing it I pleaded. What if we didn’t like the way it looked?! Wouldn’t that just me the same thing as being a Corinne prepared to spend $$$ on items without accurately assessing and trying the damned thing on!!?? I was relentless.
We jumped into the car on Presidents Day for our drive out to NJ. We gave ourself ample time to get there (anxiety remember?) and grabbed bagels and coffee for the ride. Traffic was good given we were going the wrong direction on a holiday weekend. We drove over the Verrazano into Staten Island without issue. Driving along the highway we scarfed down our bagels while doing our best to not argue about the fact that I was dragging us out to NJ on a supposed holiday weekend. Suddenly Danny turned to me and said “the gas isn’t working” as if gas was a thing that could suddenly stop working. Danny pushed the pedal harder and we continued to slow down. On the highway. In Staten Island. With limited options and even less momentum we got into the right hand lane to pull off at the next exit. The car slowed to a crawl just as we had gotten to the bottom of the exit ramp. The car simply had no more juice.
That was it. We were definitely going to be late to our appointment.
EDIT: The journey is continued over here, with the dramatic conclusion to our February Sweeps (is it March? Dammit) two parter. I promise to never do this again.