On practically every HGTV show, the hosts, designers and house hunters all seem to reel at the sight of a laminate or Corian kitchen countertop, as if it’s something as obsolete as a coal furnace, outhouse or icebox. The message these various home hunter and curb appeal-themed programs send in practically every episode is “granite countertops are the norm, even in low-end houses.”
So, is that really the case? Are laminate and Corian countertops really considered ghetto now?
Oh, and the other thing to consider is that people have been told to sink as much money as possible now into kitchens and bathrooms. They are currently the biggest selling point of your house, and have been for several years.
There have been a lot of “knock-downs” in our neighborhood over the last few years. Whenever we visit them during an open house, you can always tick off the items that the house will have:
Granite countertops - check
Travertine entryway - check
Kitchen Island - check
Walk-in shower - check
I think that a backlash is coming. I suspect that Concrete, Zinc, wood, or tile countertops will start making a comeback.
These things run in cycles… additionally, one of the most expensive things about stone countertops is the transportation cost… You want to bring that in from India, Italy, Wales… sheesh, its gonna cost you more for shipping than the product.
Aditionally, Corian and other synthetic countertops are producing products that rival granite, and other stone type “looks” in many ways. The plus side is that if you manage to mar or damage a corian (or other synthetic) counter top, repairs can be made invisibly, although not always cheaply. Not so with granite, which is somewhat less durable than corian (or other quality synthetics)… Consumers “think” that stone is tough… not so… it scratches, stains and wears (if it didn’t all mountains would still be as sharp as the day they were thrust from the faults that created them).
Final;ly there is the “Harvest gold” effect. Certain design styles do chainge with time… 15 yrs from now, a granite kitchen with stainless steel appliances is gonna scream “early 2000’s”… Corian is not immune to this either, and this brings back laminates… cheaper anmd easier to change, although still a major undertaking…
Essentially there is no “safe bet” with kitchen, bathroom design except for timeless classics (Plain colour countertops (you choose type, make it nuetral), and white fixtures/appliances. Also, subway style tile in nuetrals…
I’m in the process of having a house built. The kitchen surfaces will be laminate because: a) that’s what the builder specified in the tender, and b) I couldn’t be arsed shelling out more for granite when I think laminate looks fine. I reckon all the magazines and lifestyle programs are only pimping granite because it’s more expensive and trendy. Do we really need it, probably not.
Beowulf details the recipe for the McMansion. Of course, all of this has to be put into a massive structure that just barely meets building standards.
As for transportation, I remodeled a kitchen awhile back and put in a marble counter top. I had to pick out the slab. I asked the guy where it came from. He said that the stone came out of quarry in Central America and it was shipped to Italy to be cut and polished. Then it was shipped to the U.S.
It was a pretty piece of marble and now I know why it was so expensive.
Maybe the whole granite thing just hasn’t made its way to Cleveland yet. While the HGTV-type programs show granite countertops as a makeover to low-end townhouses, when I was househunting in middle-class sections of eastern suburban Cleveland – the middle-class areas of a normally upper-income part of the region – none of the 15+ houses I saw had granite.
I’ve got Corian and undermount sinks, but when I had some kitchen work done, I was told that even undermount sinks are unusual in the area.
We did a reno on our kitchen last winter. Put in Staron countertops, undermount sinks, cherry cabs up to the ceiling, vinyl floor, under-cabinet lighting. It looks fabulous, and in fact is featured on the designer’s website. It’s the one on the left. Granite looks nice, but is overrated and overpriced. We did, however, put a granite top in one of the bathrooms and a vessel sink. I like the vessel sink because bathroom counters are typically very low, and this raised the sink up to adult height.
I was house-hunting in April & May, and I saw a great number of houses that had barnd-new granite countertops, all of which I walked out of as soon as I saw the granite countertops. These just screamed at me, “Hey, I’ve been flipped!” Besides which, I hate it, I find it too cold and too hard, and I don’t want to spend money to have it ripped out and hauled away.
The first thing I noticed about the house I actually bought was that the countertops were good old mid-century FORMICA. They are going to stay that way until I can afford tile, not that there’s anything wrong with formica.
Oddly enough, just for grins I went through a few open houses I had no hope of affording, ever. I’m talking mansion, not McMansion. A couple of them.
One of them: No granite at all. The other: Granite only on the island. Tile elsewhere.
So I’ve concluded that granite is a middle-class McMansion flip-my-house thing, not that it matters because I personally do not like it and I’m not paying for it, either directly or indirectly.
I didn’t see these in any houses I looked at, but I hate those vessel sinks, too. Oh, I think they look nice. It just looks like a cleaning hassle. (I wipe bathroom countertops a lot. I like a nice straight dropoff into the sink.)
I put granite into my kitchen when I remodeled it last year. I had put Corian into my previous house when I remodeled its kitchen. I loved the Corian at the time, but it still has no comparison with the granite. It just doesn’t scratch or get scuffed and maintains its shine. Note, I put in “cheap” granite; it was actually comparable in price to Corian and other composites, and comparable in price to some of the super high end laminates. Yeah, there are super high end laminates; you’re not necessarily going to get yucky Formica unless that’s all you’re willing to pay for.
I designed my kitchen as working kitchen, which means I was so bold as to do things like remove the peninsula. Yeah, the granite is gorgeous, but it’s also extremely practical.
This seems to be a common trend. Something new appears, and all the upscale houses get it. Several years down the road, the cost has dropped, it’s been featured in all the magazines/TV shows, and now it goes into all the new mid-range houses and remodels. 20 years later, we all ask “Who would want avocado green appliances?”
The house I just bought has crappy 40 year old cabinets, with brand new black granite countertops and all new stainless steel appliances. Personally, I’d rather have had $4k knocked off the cost of the house, or had decent cabinets with formica, but oh well.
This is why I haven’t replaced the crappy carpeting in my kitchen. New floor covering would just highlight the old formica countertops and shabby cabinets. And the lowered ceiling and the walls paneled with some green plastic stuff.
I don’t like shiny countertops – it looks cold – and all the granite I’ve seen is shiny. I had Corian in one house. It looked like stone and didn’t shine.
LOL. That’s why I gutted my kitchen and built a new one! My darling wife wanted me to replace the nasty, original vinyl or Linoleum floor! I couldn’t very well replace it with a proper floor only to want to tear it up again in a few years in order to replace the kitchen!