Ask the Experts

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Countertop Trends to Watch in 2017

Story by Cheri Woodsmall

It’s a new year. You are ready for a change. Maybe even a dramatic one. Perhaps you’re ready to take a risk, be adventurous in your design choices. And you really want to start with your countertops. We spoke with four experts around the Midwest and asked them what is driving the change in the kitchen and bath countertop market, how technology has helped in opening up tremendous opportunities for customers, what trends they are seeing for 2017 and how cost effective the various options really are. Are you ready to be bold?


Large Sizes Continue To Trend

“We have been seeing many changes in the tile and natural stone landscape. Marble looking porcelain and subway tiles are quite popular right now”, said Gary Sowell, owner of Central States Tile. “We are seeing the trend of larger, more rectangular tiles and stone mosaics, especially in bathrooms. It is not uncommon to see 18” x 36” pieces, some being as large at 4’ x 8’.”

A wholesale distributor and direct importer of porcelain tile and natural stone, offering a wide range of products including porcelain tile, natural stone, metal, glass, and granite, CST also specializes in fine Italian porcelain tile, a trend that has remained steady throughout the years in Kansas City homes and looks to continue down that path in 2017.

“Another movement we are seeing is more limestone and soapstone choices for countertops. Limestone has a very uniform texture and grade, and has gained popularity as a premier dimension stone. Since it also weathers naturally over time and has no artificial coloring agents to fade and no reinforcement rods to rust, the appearance of limestone actually improves with age,” notes Gary.

Fun Fact: Limestone can be cut and carved in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Be creative!


Color Is Key

We had a chance to speak with Summer Kath, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Cambria, an American-made producer of nonporous natural stone surfaces, on the color trends for 2017. “We are seeing a lot of white, creamy colors this year. Each year Cambria releases new colors, palettes, and designs and are bringing luxury to every space in the home, including bath, laundry, and bar.”

As the industry-leader in quartz, they pair emerging trends with inspiration from the penetrating natural landscape of Wales – Cambria’s unique heritage – to consistently deliver exquisite and imaginative designs. “Experimentation and creativity beyond traditional countertop surfaces is encouraged. These pieces demonstrate the beauty of natural stone, the inspiring artistry of our design palette,” revealed Summer.

When we asked Summer what her favorite color was – she took a different turn. “Definitely Princetown. No question. With regal shades of deep purple and gold that swirl behind dramatic black and white veins, it was inspired by the village named in honor of the Price of Wales, calling to mind the ceremony and regal splendor of life at court. Just gorgeous!”

Summer said that although traditional pieces are still their top sellers, customers are becoming more comfortable with change and taking a bit more risk – bring a pop of color into their homes that is completely unexpected. “We’ve been seeing this in guest bathrooms for a few years now, but more and more, the kitchen island is the showstopper. A beautiful piece of art and design all on its own. We’ve been getting much of our inspiration through the world of fashion. It’s all very exciting!”


Ever Popular: Granite & Quartz

Maranda Cocking, a Design Consultant with Unique Stone Concepts, was able to bring us in on many of the trends they are seeing in the industry, as well as share a few of her favorites. “We are very excited about our Polarstone® Quartz line. This is a high-end quartz product that looks just like marble. It’s beautiful and unique because the veining runs all the way through the slab. The product is almost indestructible under normal kitchen prep conditions and is stain and bacteria resistant. Homeowners should think about the type of care they are willing to give their countertop material. If they want to just forget about any type of maintenance and not have to worry about etching or staining, we recommend they stick to either granite or quartz. If the homeowner is willing to be a little more cautious in their day to day usage, it opens up the possibility using all types of surface materials.”

And for the natural stone lovers, Unique Stone Concepts also offers amazing choices. “Blue Bahia is one of my all-time favorites. It’s a very rich, jewel tone that catches beautiful light and looks like a piece of art”, smiled Maranda. “Another hot trend we are seeing is a lean towards green. Costa Smeralda, a rich green, gold mossy tone that reminds you of a forest. Customers are really starting to get adventurous and take a chance on color. It’s fun working with them and having so many choices to offer!”


Technology Ensures A Perfect Fit

Providing a countertop that is custom fitted for each client’s home is a necessity and having the equipment to do just that is what homeowners have a right to expect, shared Jerry Lee, owner of Canaan Stone Works in Leavenworth, KS. “We use specialized robotics equipment called CNC, Computer Numerically Controlled technology. With the introduction of CNC technology, production time has been dramatically decreased and allowed more choices for the customer,” stated Jerry. CNC utilizes digital technology to precisely control all three types of fabrication machines: saws, polishers, and routers. CNC has cut production time down to a single afternoon for a countertop, even with a very complex edge. A countertop begins its journey through the CNC fabrication process in the home, where a template is cut from the existing countertop to ensure that the new countertop is a perfect fit. In the CNC shop, the template is placed on a digitizing table, where its exact dimensions are recorded and exported to a Computer Assisted Design (CAD) program. The designer’s modifications to the countertop are made, as well as the specification of the desired edge profile, and the location of holes for sinks, faucets, and cooktops and voila, a new countertop is made and ready for its new home.

“Because we carry so many options of quartz, granite and quartzite, as well as premium edge a treatment, this technology really makes it easier to provide custom solutions for customers. And getting these beautiful pieces from nature to the showroom is no small feat. The mind-boggling forces involved that create the unique color combinations, striations, inter-mingling of minerals with rock are incomparable and beautiful,” shared Jerry. “We often have clients ask us why each of the slabs of granite, even with the same name, have different coloration. The simple and the complex answer is this; granite is a natural stone, mined in blocks. Each block must be reviewed as it goes through the process of preparation. This involves cutting the block into slabs and ensuring the slab meets quality standards. We inventory slabs of granite and work with granite showrooms to direct clients to the best quality granite from the same “block” whenever possible.”  Photo by JenniG Marketing.

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