Montana Interior Designer – Countertop Discussion

As a Montana Interior Designer in Big Sky, I get involved in discussions and decisions on countertops. Both in new construction and in remodels where we are trying to upgrade a home. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and one persons likes may not match another persons. My bottom line is if you love it then it is right! There are a number of choices and materials to choose from and things to consider. Hopefully, this article helps enlighten you on some things to consider when deciding on countertops, whether for your kitchen, bathroom or wherever else.

-Granite Countertops are what the majority of people want in their homes. They are beautiful and Granite is unique. It is a mined slab of natural earth material where no two slabs are alike. Because they are natural material, they are imperfect and some people are concerned that one countertop in a room may not match another countertop exactly. Some people love that slabs show character and some are bothered by it. Costs have dropped recently and granite is more reasonable than in the past. Chances are you will have to have seams depending on the size of countertop. The person that installs can minimize the seams but they are still there. This is due to slabs coming in somewhat uniform sizes and countertops coming in all kinds of lengths! Costs are a concern for me as a Montana Interior Designer and there are a few ways that I can help you in deciding on granite. Many times I can find remnants of an already used slab. Another cost consideration would be thickness of the slab. While the kitchen will normally be a 3″ slab a number of people are now going to 2″ slabs for bathroom and elsewhere countertops. You can also sometimes find excess inventory of certain colors or something that might have been around the yard for a while. Another cost consideration for countertops of all materials is the edge treatment. If you want a edge that is something different than comes from the mine it is going to have to be machined and normally that is going to add expense. The other consideration to consider on granite is if you want a non maintenance surface granite may not be the best for you. It needs to be periodically cleaned and sealed. There is one recent consideration on granite. There are slabs coming more and more from countries such as China that are lesser grade. They are much cheaper but can discolor and are not always as durable. I would ask where the slab has come from and discuss the origin with the supplier. As a Montana Interior Designer, I talk to as many suppliers as I can because they all have different materials, slabs and you never know when you might be able to save a client money!

-Quartz is manmade and is actually more expensive than granite right now. I say manmade, it is actually crushed quartz particles that is then formed with the help of rosin into a solid material. Very durable and has a look and feel of stone. There is no maintenance for quartz. At this point and time it is more expensive than granite. Some people are bothered that it is manufactured but if you want a countertop that you can place and not have to worry about quartz is it. I have used quartz countertops being a Montana Interior Designer and have no issues with using them in a home. In fact, in rentals, it is a very good choice. In theory it is stainless and incredibly durable. Quartz can be effected by sunlight over a period of time so if you have an area that gets noticeably more sunlight you would need to consider that. Because quartz is manufactured versus real stone if there are seams they will be much less noticeable. Quartz is made to look like stone and is much more uniform in color, texture and pattern. If that is important to you consider quartz.

-Quartzite is not to be mistaken for quartz. They are different materials. Quartzite is actually sandstone that has been put under pressure and heat. Choices of colors are more limited in Quartzite, usually, more whites and grays. Quartzite will have more streaking and may have colored streaks depending on materials present in the naturally occurring process. Quartzite, unlike quartz, requires maintenance since it is a stone. You need to seal and reseal to keep material from penetrating the stone. Costs are comparable to quartz.

Other Materials for Countertops

I like to mix things up as a Montana Interior Designer since I can be doing rustic, modern rustic, cabin, ski chalet or any of another styles. There are a couple of materials that I like to use as countertops on more of an accent basis mixed in with some of the materials talked about above. I will just name them alphabetically and not necessarily in order of preference because so much depends on the style and the design.

-Concrete is a great accent piece for islands and smaller areas. It is manmade so you have to seal it a couple times a year and it will stain. Most people view concrete as something that develops character and you can use different color mortars to accent your design. You can do a very light color all the way to black. It is a change of pace that is more of an accent than a long counter. Islands are perfect for concrete.

-Stainless Steel is also a good accent piece, although some will use it for a whole counter. Nothing wrong with either. It is in the personal taste category. Stainless will scratch easily and you either mark that down as character or you can get burnished stainless steel that you will be able to buff out some of the scratches. Stainless is good for a modern look and more of a commercial kitchen look where scratches would not matter anyway. Easy to clean and isn’t going to stain.

-Wood would be the other material I would like to mention that I have used as a Montana Interior Designer. We will use butcher block in limited areas to accent a kitchen. I love the look of butcher block mixed in with a darker colored countertop. This is something you have to seal and clean more than other materials but people that like to cook, love butcher blocks.

Cleaning of Countertops

Just a thought on cleaning of countertops. Over the years in my job as a Montana Interior Designer I have been taught a few things. Any of the natural earth made materials, the best way of cleaning them is with hydrogen peroxide and rock salt. This sanitizes all the little cracks and crevices without damaging the material of your countertop. On the manmade surfaces you can use more normal sanitary cleaners. I would not use bleach on any surface that you will be preparing food.

I hope you have found this article to be helpful. I know I have left out some surfaces so if you love a surface that I did not mention please feel free to drop me a note or comment. If you liked the information you might also check out the rest of our blog for more articles and please feel free to check out our Portfolio section to see some of our latest projects. You can also check us out on Pinterest, Houzz or Facebook and by all means if you have a project in Montana where you need a Montana Interior Decorator give us a shout  for a free consultation.

 

Photo Credit: Victor Hanacek  www.victorhanacek.com

Kitchen in Big Sky, MT

Interior Decorator Big Sky MT – Discussion On Saving On Countertops

This is one of those topics that comes up being an Interior Decorator Big Sky MT. Whether it is a new build or a remodel this can be one of the most discussed and debated parts of the kitchen or bathroom decors and can definitely affect the overall budget. What kind of material, cost, color, seams all enter into the discussion. There are several things that I have found as an Interior Decorator that can help keep costs as reasonable as possible. First of all being in Big Sky, Montana you have less vendors to choose from. We just don’t live in a big town. All Interior Decorators in Big Sky MT are going to go to Bozeman. Our choice of suppliers has greatly improved over the years I have been doing this but our population still is very small compared to larger cities so, of course, we have less choices. Not bad choices just less choices.

Here are the things I have learned being an Interior Decorator Big Sky MT:

-On granite ask about remnants and extra large slabs. This can even be true on other materials. Many times companies have left over product from a project that might work well for a bath room countertop or a smaller kitchen countertop. On the larger slabs if you have a large area some times you can keep from going to a 2nd slab. Slabs are broken sometimes on larger slabs and can be cut to fit smaller projects. You have to be open to doing this but if your counter is cut from a larger remnant or larger broken piece and it doesn’t affect any part of the look of your counter, it is worth considering for some of my clients. Savings can be 30-50% under the right situation and it becomes a win-win for everyone.

-Get multiple quotes from different suppliers. Each has different product and materials so prices are going to vary. It also introduces you to more salesman. Salesman can be the key if you build a rapport with them quickly. They might know of a sale coming up, a remnant, excess inventory or a slab they are trying to move for whatever reason. Sometimes, they are also given margin room that they can give you a % off the listed price. A good friendly relationship can get you quantity discounts as well. If you go have discussions with several salesman in town and have them all working for you many times you will get a call on a special deal. I may have an advantage in being and Interior Decorator Big Sky MT and they know that but having a good relationship with several salesman someone is going to offer you a good deal. Everyone likes working with someone they like and I am a big believer that is how you can drive your best bargain.

-Keep an open mind. Sometimes there might be a slab that is excess inventory or has not sold for whatever reason. Maybe the slab has been there for a while or they ordered too much of the same lot run. Maybe the slab is thinner than a normal slab. The normal slab is 3″ thick but the trend to save money is going to 2″ on counters besides the kitchen. You might need to consider paint color changes in a room and if you had a paint color you were deciding between and you can get a great deal on a counter top that you might have to go with your 2nd choice paint, it might be considering. As an Interior Decorator in Big Sky MT sometimes things get expensive and if we had a close second on paint choice and we can save good money, I need to present you that choice for you to make.

-Be a friend to everyone at the yard. You will be surprised what someone will tell you if you are nice, ask an opinion and listen. People in the back know a lot about the product. They might be an installer, do the cutting or move product and they might be able to tell you to check on this product or give you a heads up on a product they would steer away from. Granite shops are known to have varied opinions that they will share with you while the salesman runs and gets a call or talks to someone else. You are an information gatherer from anyone that is willing to share information. When you go from one place to another share the information you gathered and then see what the opinions of more experts want to share with you.

-Edges and finishes cost money. It is a simple fact that if something has to be done to your slab for your liking it is going to cost money 99 times out of 100. If you want a Beveled, Cove, Dupont or Ogee edge compared to the edge that comes from the mill you should expect to pay extra. These are all edges that time will be spent on very expensive machines to give you the desired edge contour that you want and you will be billed a very healthy rate to get the custom edges. The same thing goes for finishes. If you want a leathered finish, a certain sheen or shine that is not from the mill you are going back on a machine to get the desired effect. That machine and person that runs it doesn’t work for free. The only exception is getting lucky with a remnant which I have done a number of times. In fact, as a Interior Decorator Big Sky MT, I have people that will call me when such pieces come up. It works incredibly well if you have the right project.

-Find a handyman to do the demo of pulling old counters off, sheetrock if necessary, disposing of the trash. You can save money by doing that with a handyman. Make sure they understand the specs and what is being done. That is a big part of my job as an Interior Decorator Big Sky MT is putting the right people together and making sure they understand what the other sub needs. Most countertop people in Bozeman don’t even do both but in the few cases I know of, you can potentially save hundreds of dollars.

-Find a handyman to do the plumbing of putting a sink in. There are a number of types of sinks and ways to put them in with countertops. Some countertop companies do light plumbing but many times a good handyman can save you hundreds here as well.

-Use other less expensive materials to break up the size you need of more expensive materials. We like to use butcher block, concrete and any other complimentary products on wings of a slab to cut down on the square footage for say high end granite. For instance, many times it adds to a kitchen to have some butcher block. If it saves money, as well, that makes it all the better.

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