I’m going to cut right to the chase. The countertops happened. They’re here, they’re amazing, and some might even go as far as to say that they’re totally bitchin’. Mostly me and Pete, probably not our parents, but we think they like them just swell too. After almost four years of dreaming about this day, I’ll use all sorts of elated profanity in exclaiming how happy I am to have totally transformed the oak-blue-dingy kitchen (before here) into this thing of in-progress-beauty:
I bought the new white acrylic countertops several weeks ago, and then waited patiently while the contractors took measurements and placed my custom order. To make sure it’s known upfront, the countertops were not sponsored by anyone and the 41 sq. ft. cost me just shy of $1,600 with tax, and with sink installation costs. Do the math, that’s a darn good deal at under $40/sq. ft.. I chose allen & roth “white” from Lowe’s with a stainless sink and an eased countertop edge (several edge options were provided at no extra cost per linear foot, and eased was one of those options). By opting not to have an acrylic backsplash, it’s estimated that I saved an additional $320, and by going with Lowe’s allen & roth instead of DuPont Corian, I saved another $350.
It was a 5-week turnaround from order to install, a timeline that I’m told can be a little longer or shorter depending on the time of year that you’re installing and also based on what material you’re ordering. Lowe’s had hired a local subcontractor to perform the installation; the cost was already factored into the price of the countertop per square foot, so DIY wasn’t an option for us. All we had to do was clear our belongings out of the lower cabinets (just to keep things neat and prevent dust from getting in our Cheerios) and lift off the existing countertop, which we did over the course of a few hours the day before our install was scheduled. I’ll note that we did effectively remove the countertops but doesn’t mean that they’ve been discarded, sold, upcycled, or even moved from the wall in which we have them leaning against in the dining room – they may sit right there until pigs fly or until we can at least figure out how to get a solid 10-foot length of laminate around the right angle of the staircase into the basement to make a new laundry bench. We also might lacquer up the bottoms and use them for sledding this winter, we shall see, it’s an idea.
In any case, we were able to sit back and watch the countertops go in without so much as having to lift a finger. I reorganized 1,000 pins on Pinterest like a zombie during those few hours, and took photos of the progress sporadically when I didn’t feel like I was in the way.
Our countertop configuration wraps around three walls in our kitchen and arrived in four unique pieces: two small pieces to flank the stove, and two long pieces for the back wall and right wall.
The crew used fused the two joining pieces together using an epoxy and clamps and something that looks like it was swiped from the hospital.
I wish I could say that there is no way for you to tell that there was ever a seam there because I did an unfathomable amount of research on the topic and was very much under the impression that it would be visibly seamless, but oh, what, wait for it, and squint hard:
Not only can I see a division in the two pieces caused by discolored epoxy, but I can also feel a little divot in the finish – there is a seam that runs along the edge of the countertop, and the 2″ closest to that outer edge as visible from above. I’m hopeful that it can be corrected in a follow-up install appointment that I already made for next week. If that’s as visible as seams in acrylic can be though, I’m still OK with my decision.
What’s more obvious is that there’s a bit of work to do to repair walls that were previously covered by a backsplash, and in a few places on the cabinets where I hadn’t been able to stain. I expect that those touchups will go quite well once I get started on them in the coming week.
But back to cool things – can I tell you how SMOOTH the surface is? The crew ran over it with a high grit sandpaper and really buffed it into pristine condition. It’s smoother than an eggshell, and I’m not exaggerating, and because solid surface countertops are the same material through and through, if there are any scuffs or bumps that happen during its life, we can sand it smooth again ourselves.
The undermount stainless sink is also a beautiful thing, and it looks even better with the faucet installed; check back for a full overview on that later this week when I finish taking photos of it. One thing that’s totally noteworthy based on this next photo is that without the backsplash, the countertop is a lot deeper, as in, 1-inch deeper. It’s not something that I anticipated, but it’s shockingly noticeable in person, just look at how much space there is behind the sink:
Shortening one countertop surface (an edge to the left of the stove that overhung in the walkway between the living room and kitchen) proved to be another incredible decision. Our passthrough is now unobstructed, and with the surface smaller, it’s bound to be less of a catch-all space. It forces us to live a little differently in the kitchen, and that’s a much needed change.
Remember what it looked like before, and I mean way before, like before I removed the pet door?
Without that extra foot extension from the kitchen, the view looks a lot different. Ignore those huge planks of Formica, they’ll be there awhile.
The white countertop makes all the difference in the world in how the new stained cabinets present themselves. They look great, and even though I’m still considering taking them down to a matte finish, they do look a lot better than I expected with the satin polyurethane.
Obviously, many of these photos were taken while we were in the midst of replumbing the kitchen sink and installing the new faucet, that accounts for the PVC explosion on the floor, but you may notice something else – the kitchen island is gone. We removed it briefly for the installation and decided to leave it out of the kitchen for awhile. Without its large frame, the kitchen is awkwardly spacious in both a good and bad way; we’re exploring our options for creating or buying a smaller island to take its place. If you have any good ideas, send them our way.