Drumroll Please… Counters are In!

If you’ve read my prior posts, you know that I’ve been anxiously awaiting the day that my quartz countertops were ready to be installed. That day was today!

I cannot express how much I love these countertops. They turned out so beautifully! I chose a thick, square edge to keep it a bit more on the modern side – classic and simple. The square edges really ensure that the gorgeous grey/beige marbling and cool, bright white background remain the star of the show. I also extended one end of the island by 12″ to create an area for two barstools – we didn’t have that before and it came out so great!

To say that my walls have presented some challenges would be an understatement. The fabricator had to cut into one of my kitchen walls on one end to insert the granite INTO the wall because the wall isn’t straight. There was a similar dilemma at the side of the desk in the breakfast nook – crooked walls meant that there was no choice but to gouge one side of the space to get the slab in squarely. Despite the challenges, they did an awesome job. I am so, so happy with the result. Thank you to Bella Interior Creations by Monica for coordinating fabrication and install – we could not be more pleased with the results.

Our huge single-basin sink was installed, as well as our new kitchen faucet and they really give the kitchen a bit of wow factor. We chose to keep our original powder bath sink, although I had not even thought to make sure that it was truly white (it’s not!). No big deal though – it still looks great.

Without further adieu, please look past the rest of the total and utter destruction in my kitchen and bath… I give you Pental Misterio.

Countertop Envy

Following design profiles on Instagram is how I find my daily zen. I don’t watch television – I have terrible ADD and really can’t (or don’t want to) focus long enough to sit and watch a whole show. However, I can sit and watch Instagram stories in short bursts and be totally happy.

These design profiles wow me again and again with dazzling white countertops. Pearly, marbled, beautiful, simple, elegant, bright countertops – exactly the opposite of the granite I have right now. There is absolutely nothing wrong with my current granite, it’s just not what I am lusting after:

Yes, I have had countertop envy for quite some time. So I began my quest to find the perfect white countertops. I didn’t set out with only one type of stone in mind – I was open to granite, quartz, quartzite – just not actual marble because I don’t have the patience to deal with etching and staining in a kitchen and bath. In my last blog post, I posted the five samples I was considering – all quartz.

This was a big decision, but there was one that kept jumping out at me. I hemmed and hawed because, let’s face it, how am I supposed to pick based on a tiny sample? And yet…it kept calling me. Pental Misterio. I made an appointment for my husband and I to meet at Pental Surfaces in Van Nuys, CA after he finished work one day.

As soon as I saw the Misterio slab, I was surprised that I wasn’t convinced (if you know me, you know that this is not shocking at all). However, it was the closest thing to my vision that I had found so far. No, we didn’t buy the slabs. I’m clearly a glutton for punishment, so I made my husband make a separate trip back down to Pental a few weeks later, once I was for sure – for sure – sure that I wanted Misterio.

If you have purchased quartz, you know that it’s manmade, so there is not a lot of variation by slab. Actually, there is next to no variation by slab if it was created in the same run. The original slabs we had looked at were still bugging me. The veining had a lot of beige when I really wanted grey. The veining was also just a bit sharp and busy for me. The helpful Pental warehouse manager pointed out that he had a completely different run he could show us, but not to expect much difference. And yet, I saw it and it was…wow. They pulled a few slabs of this second run out with their forklift crane and brought them to the warehouse door so we could see it in natural light and my heart soared. It had the same pattern as the first slabs, except it had delicate, soft grey veining with just a hint of beige undertone to it. I fell in love with these slabs. So we did it. We reserved three and off we went to sit in the usual rush hour traffic on the 405, but it was by far the best hour that I have been stuck on the 405 in a long time. I had found exactly what I had been looking for.

Now that countertop selection is out of the way, we need to start thinking about a backsplash. Again, I like simple and classic and I’m going for broke (literally!) on the white theme. I’m off to explore the endless options out there, but once again, I have a sneaking suspicion that I know just what I want. More on that soon.

Choices, Choices

When we decided to remodel, I knew exactly what I wanted – a white kitchen. Seemed simple enough. What I didn’t realize was that there are a lot of white countertops to choose from, a lot of white paints to choose from, that I needed to think about cabinet hardware finishes, and so on. I quickly became overwhelmed by it all and also realized that I was starting to add a lot of items I hadn’t planned on. I am a spreadsheet queen, so I started putting one together to track items that were completed, our budget, actual spend, etc. What a huge help! The other huge help was hiring an interior designer to help coordinate work and to help bounce ideas off of. Enter Bella Interior Creations by Monica…keeping me sane along this journey!

One of the first things I realized was that I needed to choose was lighting – specifically a vanity light, but we also decided to move forward with a chandelier for our formal dining room. We went to a local store and, let me tell you, there was a lot to look at. When you walk in, you almost don’t know where to look, but it’s amazing to imagine all of the possibilities. I found a few I liked and took pictures, knowing that I would bring my husband back with me to make final decisions.

From there, I moved on to countertops for both the kitchen and powder bath. I was pretty sure I wanted quartz countertops, but I didn’t rule out granite or quartzite. Once I started looking at samples, it became clear quickly that quartz was the right choice for the clean, simple look I was trying to achieve and it was also within my budget. Once again, it’s amazing how many white quartz choices there are. I was looking for a subtle, marble look with a true, cool white background. Here are the five I narrowed it down to. I took samples home to try to narrow it further. Here they are against our pantry door in the kitchen – the same color planned for the cabinets.

From left to right: MSI Q in Calacatta Trevi, Pental Quartz in Misterio, Qortstone in Q5028 Lily, MSI Q in Calacatta Vicenza, and MSI Q in Fairy White.

Which one will be the winner? Hint, hint – it IS one of these 5. Stay tuned.

The Before

We fell in love with and put an offer in on our house on my birthday in 2014. My husband and I have very differing tastes (he likes dark and cozy and I like bright and open) and it sort of seemed like we would never find something that we both thought felt like home. When we walked into our house, we just knew. The front part of the house – the formal living room and the formal dining room – had soaring ceilings with big windows and light pouring in. The back part of the house – the kitchen, the breakfast nook, and the family room – had lower ceilings with a balcony shielding some of the light. Cozy, just like my husband liked it. Our offer was accepted and off we went to sell our current home.

This house was a new build, so it wasn’t quite ready for us to move in. In fact, there wasn’t much done inside except drywall and cabinets when we put our offer in. We managed to get the house for a great price, but the one catch was, we couldn’t pick any of the finishes inside except the flooring. Apparently, we missed the builder-imposed deadline for selecting countertops, cabinets, etc. That said, we were informed that the upgrades and finishes that had been chosen were all high-end and beautiful and we were sure to love them. So of course I asked what they looked like…and was promptly told that they couldn’t share it with me for a while, I’d have to make an appointment at the design center….after our offer was accepted. Wow! Ok, so we just put an offer on a house that we don’t really know what the inside will look like. But we loved it, so we carried on.

Flash forward to our design appointment and I was…less than impressed. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful, but it wasn’t me. Dark brown cabinets, dark speckled granite counters, and a brown backsplash with inlaid copper diamonds that made it feel just a tad bit dated. Our master bathroom design wasn’t much better, but I’m sure I’ll get into that later.

We picked the most beautiful dark engineered wood flooring – Provenza Antico in the color Heritage. It has this unique distressed look to it that the designer swore would be perfect for hiding the damage our kids would do to it (a total lie, by the way). My one regret though is that we didn’t continue the wood into the kitchen. My husband was really concerned that wood + water was a bad combination. He’s not wrong. However, the beige-ish tile we picked was just okay and there was always this funny line where the wood stopped and the tile started.

Moving on… since this was a new build, we had to landscape our yard. We chose to do the hardscape/landscape in phases because we had so many expenses at the time (i.e. window coverings, gutters, paint, etc.). Five years later, we decided that it was time for phase 2, which also included painting the kitchen cabinets white to brighten the space because the patio cover was going to add a lot of shade (I’ve always wanted a white kitchen!). We called our landscaper and told him we were ready to build our patio cover, outdoor kitchen, and fireplace and he promptly told us that our yard wasn’t deep enough to do it while meeting local building code. We were crushed. He called in a landscape architect, but he told us the same thing. After much deliberation, we called our landscaper and told him that we were going to take our backyard budget and spend it inside instead, with a few less permanent purchases for outside. To his credit, he took it in stride and wished us luck.

One thing I can tell you about remodeling is that it’s a slippery slope. We started with just repainting the cabinets. That turned into, well what if we replaced the counters? And then, if we do the counters, we will have to do the floor. And so on until our whole kitchen was going to be demolished, along with our powder bath, and a few other things we threw in for good measure. More on that soon. But for now, let me share my home with you…The Before.