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.