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Kitchen Renovation

I'm not sure where this belongs but I don't see a better topic...

I'm gutting my kitchen and starting again. It was probably 50 years old so I guess it was time.

My head *hurts* from the amount of information I need to weigh and the number of decisions I need to begin making. I could use some help.

Does anyone have experience with design, materials and appliances they'd care to share? Does someone know of another forum, perhaps, where I could get unbiased information?

The only thing I know is that I want to start with a Kitchen Aid oven that has steam injection for baking bread. That, and I want a seamless surface but think granite and all those polished surfaces are entirely too Las Vegas for the 50s-style-cum-funky-country that I'm aiming at.

Help. Please. And thanks!

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  1. I want to use wood counterops above whitewashed cabinets. I know the wood will be tough to maintain, so we might intersperse some other materials. We have a big slab of marble from a local governtment building that we also want to incorporate. Does anyone have wood countertops? How does it compare in price?

    1 Reply
    1. re: nosey

      I have wooden countertops that the previous owners put in and I love them. The area behind the sink should have been sealed differently and is starting to degrade a bit but that is the only real problem we have had after five years. Some areas are a bit rougher than others, but we don't mind a more rustic look. This is not the surface for someone who wants gleaming, perfect countertops but for real cooking, they are great.

    2. I read an article that someone wrote about using Marble instead of granite as it wasn't as shiny. She said some warned her that it stained more easily, but that she hadn't (at the time) had any problems. Please let me know about the steam injection oven. I plan to renovate in a yr or 2 and am curious.I got a lot of info (pics and advice) about appliances, etc on my new fav spot gardenweb.com .It's not just gardening has everything about home going on. And they don't "moderate" your posts so closely.

      1. There is an excellent, website where you should be able to find answers to all your questions, as well as great information from people who have done renovations, called gardenweb.com(Sorry, but, for some reason I am unable to insert a link)Anyhow, once you get to the site, click on "home forums" and you will see a section for kitchen renovations. It is massive, and has an incredible wealth of useful, practical info from REAL people.
        Good luck, and I hope this helps.

        1. I contracted my kitchen renovation..and it was a worthwhile headache. Learned a lot. Saved a lot. I wouldn't consider any countertop but granite or marble. You will love the surface and can select a granite that skips 'Las Vegas look.' Marble will stain but is a nice look.
          The miele dishwasher I chose is excellent. I priced cabinets all over the place and chose solid maple and think I got an excellent price - with legwork.

          1. I renovated my kitchen about 10 years ago, and am generally happy with the design. I have a large work table with a butcher block top that I love. I used to use cutting boards to keep it looking new, but now I just cut directly on it. Sure, it gets dings, but I think it looks better now than when it was new. I scrub it with salt and lemon, and occasionally use butcher's wax. Every few years, I have it sanded down a bit to smooth the bigger gouges out. It's getting a lovely patina.

            I've also made a few terrible (and costly) mistakes:

            1) The marble-topped pastry workbench. It looked lovely, and was quite useful at first. It's a few inches lower than the counter, for better leverage when kneading dough, and the marble keeps the dough cool, but I wish I had used granite. Over the years, the surface has become pitted from acidic solutions and too much wine. I will replace it with granite one of these days.

            2) Concrete countertops. My husband and the contractor talked me into these monstrosities. I guess it's a man thing, but they look terrible. Even with the sealant, they stain, and are not very smooth. They snag everthing from sponges to my clothes. Hate them! If you don't want shiny, take a look at soapstone. I'm thinking about it to replace my concrete.

            3) Kitchen-Aid built in refrigerator. Had to replace the compressor twice, luckily under warranty. The drawers and door shelves are very flimsy, and very expensive to replace. I'm told that model year was contracted to another manufacturer, but they didn't tell me that when I bought the unit. Now I'll never buy another Kitchen-Aid product.

            Good luck with your renovation.

            15 Replies
            1. re: phofiend

              i chose soapstone when i renovated my kitchen 3 years ago and have not regretted my choice. it does scratch, but surface scratches come out with a bit of sandpaper. deep scratches will not. you need to treat it with mineral oil at first every week [or so] so it turns dark, but once it does, the look is great. i now treat them with mineral oil once every 3 months.

              1. re: ericalloyd

                I've read about the benefits of soapstone, but have only seen it in pictures and a few cookware pieces. Is it always so gray, or is it available in some other shades?

                1. re: phofiend

                  take a look at this website for good pictures of soapstone, untreated [bluish gray] and treated with mineral oil.

                  http://www.soapstones.com

                2. re: ericalloyd

                  Soapstone was my first choice but the designer and all the showroom people say I'm NUTZ because it's soft and stains. I'm in the "bring it on" school when it comes to stain. I'll call it patina and feel like I'm in a real working kitchen. But it's an expensive mistake if they're right. So I'm grateful for your input.

                  How does the cost of soapstone compare to Corian and granite?

                  1. re: rainey

                    i think that by complying with the recommended number of mineral oil treatments when it was first installed it darkened enough so i have had no problems with staining. i think i paid $80 a square, 3 years ago, which was cost comparable with granite. because i'm not the most careful person in a kitchen, i have scratched it lightly. but, like you, i like the patina.

                    1. re: rainey

                      Soapstone really shouldn't stain--it's non-porous. That and it's heat resistance made it one of the original surfaces for lab worktops.

                      It's not cheap, though--here in New England, it seems to run $100 a square foot or so, installed. That's probably more expensive than all but the most costly granites, and more expensive than Corian, too.

                      I'm looking into going with phenolic resin lab worktops for my kitchen--they're resin like Corian, but phenolic also includes layers of kraft paper, which provides alot of strength for things like big undermount sinks. You can screw into it, and work it with carbide tipped wood tools. You can rout in things like an intetgrated drain board. It is resistant to scratching, bacteria, acids, bases, and temps up to 350 degrees. Cost for the fabricated material is around $25-$30 sq ft.

                      The bad news--no matter what pattern you get on the top layer, the core of the material is black. And it's not common for home use, so you'd have to find a lab furniture fabricator who would do it for you, and find somebody who was willing to install it.

                      But if you want matte black, and something that's pretty much impervious to anything, it could work for you.

                      1. re: rainey

                        I have friends with a soapstone kitchen and all I can say is that its REALLY a fussy surface (I have marble and its a picnic by comparison) They always have pieces of paper towel scattered over the surface to deal with various issues, and the particular sort of variability the surface has looks like its marred. not recommended.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          My wife and I didn't want granite originally, and looked at soapstone but also were worried about its softness. Kinda by accident, we discovered a granite called Pietra Cardoza, which looks a lot like soapstone, has the hardness of granite, and can be finished matte so it looks very unassuming and nice. We have absolutely loved this stuff-- it doesn't look like granite, no "vegas-y" feel to it--more country kitchen.

                          1. re: newhound

                            Dear newhound, I am interested in your experience with honed granite worktops. How do you care for it? Does it need special cleaners or sealers? I'm looking for something simple and plain that will weather and look natural, but soapstone seems too soft.

                            1. re: dingamagoo

                              Hi Dinga-- So far (18 months plus) we've found it pretty easy. Every six months we have a rub on/wipe off sealant to apply, but that's no big deal. A water glass can leave a temporary ring, but you put a damp sponge or folded paper towel on it for a few hours and the ring is gone. We are really happy with the Pietra Cardoza-- we love the natural and low-key honed look and the durability. I'm a pan-banging, clang-around the kitchen, klutzy-type cook, and the counter has taken it well. A few chips from falling glasses, but the solution to that is simple-- don't drop any heavy jelly-jar type glasses when retrieving them from the top shelf! Happy to answer any more questions you have--

                              1. re: newhound

                                Today my husband and "flipped" over Pietra Cardoza (honed). But I am reading some real horror stories. I love to cook. If I drop some olive oil and wipe it up immediately, what will happen? LesleyK

                                1. re: LesleyK

                                  If you wipe it up immediately, nothing. If it sits a little, a wet paper towel resting on the spot overnight gets it out. We have one little spot that is slightly darker because we missed a wipe-up, but one thing to keep in mind is that the honed surface, in my opinion, is more forgiving of blemishes.

                                  We love it, and I'm a messy cook. Be sure to seal it per installer's instructions.

                                  1. re: newhound

                                    We are loving the honed look of the "granite" (? verde karzai) sample we had, and it has passed the lemon/oil/wine tests. My concern revolves around baking - specifically getting dried flour pastes/dough off of the slightly bumpy surface. Will the bench scraper scratch the granite? Who here bakes with granite? Do you love it?

                      2. re: ericalloyd

                        It is so nice to hear positve feedback on soapstone. We are interested in it and do not like granite. We are happy to deal with it for the first year. How hard can it be to put mineral oil on it. does it inhance the look of your home? We realize it scratches and they can be removed with sandpaper. But Staining? We were told it was nonporus( sp) and didn't stain. Is this true?

                        1. re: ericalloyd

                          Hello,

                          First time on chowhound... Saw your post on the soapstone counters.... Having a tough time deciding between granite and soapstone. I love the look of soapstone, but wondering if my 3 teen boys would be too hard on it. I do not have much in countertop space so the maintenance would be easy. Your post is from 2006 and am hoping you still like them. Any other posts would be welcome also.