alpha stone

We’re back with a kitchen update! I know it probably seems like this kitchen reno has taken f.o.r.e.v.e.r. Well, it has. Kind of like when you see an episode of a soap opera, stop watching it for 6 months, then watch it again, and everyone’s wearing the same outfits and that guy is still in a coma. But the light is at the end of the tunnel. Pinky promise. And soon we’ll be on our way to a nice, photo-ready kitchen.

We’ve talked about our wants and needs, the layout, the tale of the damaged sink, what’s next on the list, and all that jazz. But now it’s time to talk about my favorite part of the kitchen reno process: the finishes. Way back when we were in the “initial planning stages”, we posted photos of our dream kitchen (check out that post here). Most of the kitchens had white cabinets, white countertops, and a white backsplash. I know that probably sounds completely and utterly bland, but it has the potential of looking oh-so-crisp, clean, and luxurious…

So, all white kitchen it shall be. Well, sort of all white. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

As you know, we decided to go with Dove White KraftMaid cabinets (check them out in their new home here). Next up on the decision making list: countertops and backsplash. We first started the search at one of our favorite local tile resources (Morris Tile) with the cabinet color sample in hand. After about five minutes of browsing, we quickly realized we definitely needed to pick out the countertop first. When it came to countertops, unfortunately the tried and true Lowe’s and Home Depot didn’t have exactly what we were looking for. Truth be told, we tried to love their options, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to do it, so we asked one of the sales reps at Morris Tile if they knew of a good countertop place. She suggested a place called Alpha Stone which happened to be less than a mile away, so we hopped back in the car and made the 400 yard trek down the street.

I mentioned before that picking out finishes is my favorite part about the kitchen renovation process. Even so, as we were walking in to the showroom filled with a bajilion countertop options, I was feeling slightly overwhelmed. However, much to my surprise – and especially Greg’s – the exact opposite happened. I kid you not… when we walked in, it was like a divinely providential experience. I walked right up to the sample racks and saw THE ONE. I immediately said, “That’s it. Done.” No exaggeration. No sample-collecting, no this or that, not a smidgen of doubt in my mind. Yes, it seemed way too easy.

Her name is Torquay (by Cambria), hailing from the US of A, she’s a part of the Quartz family and… we have a big crush on her.

Quartz is a man-made product, and sometimes it can come across as speckled and unnatural. However, this particular one has lots of natural looking veins that are to die for. I mean, seriously, it really looks a lot like marble. Here’s a photo of the countertop in action from the Cambria website…

I love, love, love the gray veins on the milky white background. The gray veins will pick up on the wall color in the living room and gives it an overall look of Carrara marble… and who doesn’t love Carrara marble?! Seriously. With our new BFF, Torquay, we get the look of natural stone with the benefits of manmade materials – less expensive yet heat-, stain-, and scratch-resistant.

Once I came back down to earth, I realized we had to check on pricing, availability, etc. So I anxiously pulled up the layout that Gaylord emailed us on the iPad and showed the sales rep the lay of the land. He added it all up for a rough estimate of $3,985. Keeping in mind it could be a little more because he only able to go by the cabinet sizes, it was around what we were planning to spend for the countertops (we guestimated around $4k). The sales rep also said one of his local suppliers had some slabs in stock, so the turnaround time after measurement would only be a few days. Needless to say, we said, “Go!”

Back down the road to Morris Tile. Now that the countertop was picked out, it was very easy to narrow down tile options. Since the countertop has a lot of veins, we wanted something simple, classic, and clean. Yeah… you know where we’re going… subway tile! Way back when we made the first mood board for the kitchen, we planned on doing Carrara marble subway tile. With the Carrara-ish countertop, though, that wouldn’t work, so solid white subway tile it is!

I love the classic clean look of white subway tile, but we need something to break up the sea of white. So we’re going to go with a light gray grout. The gray is super close, if not exact, to the gray veins in the countertop and also tie in with the wall color in the living room.

Fast forward a few days, the countertop guy came to measure (using a $70k computerized measuring device. Very fancy shmancy!). Our final quote came out right around $4,800 That’s $800 more than our guestimation, but since we were already in countertop mode, we actually added the countertop for the half bathroom to the order. All in all, we’re really happy with the final price. Using something like Carrara marble would have been $8k+, but by using our new BFF Torquay, we’re definitely getting the look for less.

The countertop guys are coming out to install early next week. So exciting! And we’ve called on Melvin (the same guy who tiled the hall bathroom and installed our new hardwood floors in the laundry room) to install the subway tile backsplash. We originally planned to install the backsplash ourselves, but since I’m still recovering from surgery, we opted to hire someone. Ugh! I hope I never have to have major emergency surgery during the holidays AND a renovation ever again. Anyway, Melvin is going to come by and get started on the backsplash as soon as the countertop guys leave. We’re hoping to get this finished by Valentine’s Day. In reality, we’ll definitely get it done way before Valentine’s Day. We’re just giving ourselves a far off goal so we feel like we’ve accomplished something awesome – since we didn’t meet our Christmas deadline (due to the damaged sink). We’re keeping our fingers crossed!

Photos found here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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  • Reply
    Melanie @ Mailbox Journey
    January 6, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Everyone seems to be doing white on white on white these days, but I think your kitchen is going to look fab.

  • Reply
    Erin @ The Impatient Gardener
    January 6, 2012 at 10:50 am

    I love your choices. I did a very similar quartz (from Hanstone) in our bathroom and I’ve been absolutely thrilled with it. Enough that I’m certain that when I replace our kitchen counters I’ll go with quartz again. I can’t wait to see it all come together but I bet you’re even more anxious.

  • Reply
    January 6, 2012 at 11:14 am

    It all looks fantastic! Can’t wait to see the finished results 🙂

  • Reply
    January 6, 2012 at 11:34 am

    I wish you guys could come and help us out on our house!! Love your blog.

  • Reply
    January 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Love the work you are doing darling, your kitchen is stunning…looking forward to seeing more of your great ideas shared. Coryanne

  • Reply
    Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove
    January 6, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I really like the counters you chose! They look beautiful and I can’t wait to see them after they’re installed. I’m a big fan of subway tiles, too, so I’m basically loving all of your choices!

  • Reply
    January 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    omg i loooove the countertops! i’ve pinned so i can remember them for when i buy my next house. looks just like carrarra!

  • Reply
    January 6, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    We did a white on white kitchen in our house. It’s our “in-between” kitchen because we basically re-did our entire main floor, but didn’t have the money to totally overhaul the kitchen. Some paint on the cabinets, new hardware, new appliances, floors, counters, lighting and backsplash. We went with solid surface, white countertops (prettiest, cheap option that gave us the look we wanted) and a white subway tile backsplash. We painted the inside of our cabinets aqua and the walls (well, the little bit of wall that is in our kitchen) aqua. It’s clean and bright. I love it! Can’t wait to see your final results!!

  • Reply
    January 6, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Love those counter tops! I can never get enough of white kitchens.

  • Reply
    Leslie at Habitual Rearranger
    January 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    I love quartz! Non-porous, heat resistant, you can cut on it. That is definitely what I would choose in a reno.
    And I have been told that if you have a lot of granite counters, you should have a radon detector, because it releases radon! So I actually DON’T get excited when I see that a house on the market has been updated with granite countertops:(

  • Reply
    Sarah Kyle
    January 11, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I absolutely love everything you’ve chosen and I can’t WAIT to see the finished product!!!

    I hope you’re recovering well, Ashley!

  • Reply
    Grace @ Balancing Me
    January 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Saying hello! I just found you guys this afternoon through Apartment Therapy. I love everything I’m reading! 🙂

    • Reply
      January 11, 2012 at 11:43 pm

      Awesome! We’re stoked about being featured on AT : ) Glad you found us!

  • Reply
    January 13, 2012 at 9:17 am

    It’s going to look great!

  • Reply
    January 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Are you guys not posting anymore?

    • Reply
      January 18, 2012 at 3:47 pm

      We are! : ) My uncle passed away last week and we took some time out for family time in Florida. All is well : )

  • Reply
    January 16, 2012 at 11:15 am

    It’s going to be beautiful!

  • Reply
    January 17, 2012 at 11:41 am

    I’m dying for an update! I check everyday!

  • Reply
    February 16, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Hi! Love your home it is beatuiful. We are doing a very similar white on white kitchen with grey walls. We are about to do our back splash and are also doing the subways with the grey grout. What color grout did you use. Love the contrast of yours, its perfect. Also wondering about your floor color. We are refinishing ours too. Looking at the Jacobean but havent seen it on person. Thoughts, suggestions, reccomendations?

    Thakns so much!

    • Reply
      February 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      Thank you! The grout is by Laticrete and the color is called Smoke Grey. The floors were stained Dark Walnut. We love the color!
      Hope that helps and thanks again!

  • Reply
    Mary Anne
    August 22, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Beautiful !Did you use a white sink If so what make /size?

    • Reply
      November 1, 2012 at 11:29 am

      Thanks! It’s the Dickinson apron-front, undercounter sink by Kholer.

  • Reply
    December 8, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    What a beautiful home y’all have. Congrats on the gorgeous kitchen. I am currently renovating my kitchen as well and have also decided on Kraftmaid cabinets. Would you mind sharing some feedback from your purchase? Are you happy with the choice now that you have them installed and using them daily? Also, which style cabinets are yours? I’m super excited about my kitchen, but of course with any home renovation it’s frustrating and requires much patience. Thank you again and it is such a delight to learn from what you all have accomplished. From your devoted NoVa follower 😉

    • Reply
      December 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      Hi Erika! Thanks so much : ) Our cabinet doors are the slim shaker style by KraftMaid in Dove White. We LOVE our countertops! It was such a great investment and we wouldn’t take the decision back for one second. We wrote a whole post about the countertops (from instillation to maintenance) right here. Have fun with your kitchen reno!

  • Reply
    December 16, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    beautiful kitchen. would you be willing to share the color of your grout? Found your site through pinterest.

    • Reply
      December 16, 2012 at 10:07 pm

      Glad you found us! : ) The grout is by Laticrete and the color is called Smoke Grey.

  • Reply
    February 1, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Ashley – you mentioned total cost of the counter, but wondering if you know what the installed cost per square foot was? Planning a very similar kitchen project and considering the Cambria Torquay.


    • Reply
      February 7, 2013 at 10:10 am

      We’ve found that it totally depends on your area. I guess due to availability, it can be higher or lower in specific areas of the country. For instance, we heard it costs a pretty penny in Washington state compared to Virginia.

      For us, we’re not completely sure what the cost was per sq ft (before taxes), but we have about 60 sq feet of countertop, and the total cost (including tax and instillation) was $3,985. So that brings it to about $66 and some change a square foot installed and ready to use. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    February 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm


    Great job! I’m wondering where you got your subway tile and what color it is?


    • Reply
      February 2, 2013 at 9:39 pm

      Hi there! We purchased the tile at Morris Tile here in Richmond. It’s “standard white” 3×6 subway tile. Hope that helps!!

  • Reply
    September 12, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    How’s it going? I was wondering if you could tell me what size spacers you used between your subway tiles? You kitchen looks amazing! Thanks!

    • Reply
      September 16, 2013 at 8:34 pm

      I’m not sure exactly what specific sized spacers were used (we called in the pros for this one), but there’s about a quarter inch grout line between each tile. I hope that helps!

  • Reply
    September 18, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    Love your kitchen! I’m in the process of a kitchen renovation and have decided on the Cambria Torquay for the countertop but am having a tough time deciding on the white color for the cabinets. We are doing Shiloh cabinets and there are 2 whites – one is a stark white called Arctic and the other is more “off white” and is called Polar. I know you mentioned yours are Kraftmaid in Dove White – would you say they are a stark white? I’m just concerned that the stark white makes the Torquay look too creamy…? These are all such tough decisions! 🙂

    • Reply
      October 28, 2015 at 10:24 am

      Yes! Those are always tough decisions! Ours are more of a creamy white, but closer to the stark white family than the off white family. With the Torquay, I’d just stay away from a white that has a blue undertone. I hope that helps!! 🙂

  • Reply
    January 22, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    Hello – and many thanks for posting this. We just received our Kraftmaid Dove white cabinets and I’m seriously questioning my choice because they look too stark white for any of the quartz I’ve been looking at. They have a blue undertone. I too looked at Cambia Torquay, but it appeared too creamy with the cabinets. But your kitchen looks lovely – did you get a special finish on your cabinets – because they don’t look nearly as cool in color as mine do. Thank you

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