Kitchen Remodel 5: Countertops

One contractor we talked to said the words granite at least 50 times during his visit. “If we just get some granite on here” and “Granite will really make the room” and so on. We were focused on function and all he could talk about was granite countertops. We were not impressed and wanted to kick him and his granite out the door.

Countertops were one area that made us nervous to remodel the kitchen ourselves because there are a lot of options and you need to measure and cut precisely. We didn’t want to spend a fortune on granite, we really didn’t like the existing laminate, we didn’t want to have to wait on a special order for Corian, and we weren’t sure about the durability of wood. This was probably our most researched topic for the kitchen. For a short while, my husband was really pushing for poured epoxy resin (like in labs). I liked the idea and the look, but it was going to be pretty expensive and I was really nervous about messing it up.

In the end, we decided to go with wood. They were readily available at our local Menards, we could cut them to size ourselves, and they weren’t very expensive. Also, because we could install the countertops for about $300 I didn’t feel like it would be a complete waste if we decided we hated them a few years down the road and switched to something else.


Once we cut the countertops to fit the width, we still had to cut a hole for a sink. I don’t think I’ve seen my husband that nervous since we were in the hospital delivery room waiting for the arrival of our first son, but he did a lovely job.


Now we’re debating on the finish. My husband really wants to just oil them regularly with linseed oil and keep the birch color. I had been picturing a dark countertop and would rather make them darker. For now I’ve relented and agreed to just put some oil on them until the rest of the kitchen is done and I can see them in the finished room.

What do you think? Stay with the natural birch color, or make them darker?

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7 Responses to Kitchen Remodel 5: Countertops

  1. Anne-Marie says:

    Granite countertops have become our generation’s pink bathrooms. They’re so ubiquitous that they’re instantly going to date any space they’re a part of. I can see the people on House Hunters 2035 now – “granite AGAIN! What were they thinking?” I love the wood. We have a u-shaped kitchen with a similar farmhouse feel to yours, I am seriously leaning towards wood for the side that makes up the breakfast bar.

    • bkliethermes says:

      Thanks Anne-Marie. I feel much better about making our own choices rather than popular trends. I guess it might be different if we were going to sell in the next couple of years, but we want to stay put for a long while.

  2. Jenny Morgan says:

    After having granite counter tops, I understand why they are so popular. It’s nice that you can just put your hot pots on there and not worry about burning/staining them. But with the price….yeah, no explination needed there. But with that said, I love wood countertops too! I haven’t ever had them, but I love the look of them. I really think that if you stick to natural materials you can’t go wrong. But I agree with you, Brenda, I think a darker finish would be nice. It will really contrast nicely with your cabinets.

  3. annette burkhalter says:

    Your kitchen is absolutely gorgeous. The kitchen is a personal part of you and your house and should reflect the homeowner no matter what the choice of color or material used. Sometimes people do not have a choice, especially rentors.. I am loving your choices.

  4. Abby Carwile says:

    I feel the same as you do about granite! It’s so expensive and what do you do in ten years, when you are sick of the color you picked or it’s out of style! I would prefer darker countertops, but the natural color would also look nice with white cabinets.

  5. bethh says:

    I like the lighter counter tops, especially at first while you get used to the feel of the space. It would be pretty easy to simulate a darker counter top feel by buying some fabric and lying it down on the counters to see how you like it. (Not that I would bother, but hey, I’m super lazy!)

    I think granite has its place, but I don’t think it would look right in your kitchen. And I definitely feel like it’s been WILDLY overused these last few years!

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