News & Information

What is a Honed Countertop?

A new appearance in countertop surfaces, called honed, is becoming increasingly more popular. What is a honed countertop? It is made of the same materials as the glossy polished countertop but is instead fabricated to have a matte finish.  

This matte finish is also called leathered and is similar to the suede finish offered by some manufacturers. 

Honed Countertop Benefits

Why choose a honed countertop? There are several reasons people are opting for the trend. One top reason is that it’s easy on the eyes. While LED lights can reflect off polished countertops, the honed countertop absorbs the light. The look of honed quartz is more casual than polished quartz, appearing similar to slate, concrete, or limestone while maintaining the low porosity of a high-quality stone countertop. A honed granite countertop can appear similar to soapstone while being more cost-effective.

Polished Countertop Benefits

So then why are some people still choosing the traditional polished countertop? A polished countertop is still your best option if you mind maintenance. For example, a polished quartz countertop might never need refinishing and a polished granite only once every year or two, while a honed granite countertop could call for resealing every few months. Also, if fingerprints bother you, a honed countertop will have you reaching for the cleaning spray more often. The same goes for stains, which are more prevalent with the honed finish.

Weighing the Options

Still undecided? Since the durability between the two styles is the same,  we will focus on the look. If you prefer the fancy look of the stone’s veins along with the bold colors and beautiful patterns that come with certain stones, a polished finish is the way to go. The polished finish showcases the stones deep color and saturation.  However, if a soft, muted look would better show off your cabinets and wall décor, you may want to opt for the quieter honed finish. The honed finish is softer, it is a milk and cookies kitchen while the polished countertop kitchen is caviar and wine. Will you be using your countertop often for chopping and cutting? Nicks and cuts show up more in a polished countertop, while crumbs are more apparent on the honed finish.   

The Choice is Personal in the End

All in all, the decision is a personal style choice, not unlike choosing a new car, an outfit, or a piece of furniture; you must decide which features are most important. A brief recap of the major differences, or points to consider includes; need for light absorption, kitchen theme (sharp and polished or cozy and relaxed), cost, maintenance, daily use resulting in stains and fingerprints, and which one makes you want to spend time in the kitchen?

We have many customers that are interested in designing a farmhouse kitchen. Reality TV shows have made this a popular option with those undertaking renovations. We’ll cover what a farmhouse kitchen is, and how you can get the look in your own home.

How to Get the Vintage Look

One of the main things that makes a farmhouse kitchen unique is the vintage look. Vintage furniture, items such as lanterns or milk jugs, and farm tools are all easy to get your hands on and make the farmhouse statement loud and clear. A good place to find these items is at an antique store or auction. You may be able to score some items from your parents or grandparents’ garages, and you may find a great piece or two at the local Goodwill or Salvation Army.

Paint Can Work Wonders

Another piece to creating the vintage look is paint. Farmhouse kitchens, though traditionally white, can look even more stunning with a touch of color. An example is an open space theme with grey painted cabinets and open shelving. Other options could include sea green, country blue, or even periwinkle.

Add an Island

If you have an island or are considering building one, this is a great way to incorporate brick and/or barn wood into your kitchen. A simple cover-up on each side of the island with barn wood can be done in a weekend. If you are building from scratch, try using some brick accents in your building plans. A fancy wooden design can be used as well and when combined with open spaces or shaker style cabinetry, it gives the farmhouse theme an even more vintage look. Of course, natural stone countertops can also be an elegant part of a beautiful kitchen.

Extras Make the Difference

As far as extras, pendant lights, bar stools, a farmhouse or apron style sink can all work very well to tie it all together. The right placement of many other items can also be the key to success. A small old chicken coop, a ceramic cow, an old fashioned milk jug, a country-themed sign and a homemade quilt on display are all examples of unexpected country themed items placed in the kitchen to tie everything together. An old ice cream churn both looks nice and makes for a fun weekend activity for everyone from individuals to families.

A Feature Wall Adds Style and Can Be Useful

If you are interested in a feature wall, dark accents and plank wood can be interesting and pleasing. Perhaps an old ladder hanging from the ceiling, to which hooks are attached and cooking utensils are hung from. A few wooden spoons, an old mixing bowl, and white pitchers all placed on hooks and hanging overhead look fabulous and are within arms reach when needed.

Lighting – Keep It Natural

Another important feature is lighting. Farmhouse style is an open theme, and natural sunlight is very important. Make the most of your windows by minimizing the hardware around them, using wood frames and country-themed curtains. Designed to let as much airflow as possible through the kitchen, farmhouse kitchens are fresh so make sure to maintain the feel of fresh air. A scented candle in an old lantern-turned-candle-warmer can make the perfect addition and adds another element to the senses.

Tying It All Together

When creating your farmhouse kitchen look, gather up some of your eye-catchers, find a color to combine with a mainly white theme, decide on a type of wood whether it be salvaged barn doors or cypress wood, then work out the placements of everything. Long after the project is finished, you can always add whimsical items found at thrift stores or finish that quilt you were working on and display it in your beautiful farmhouse kitchen. 

Flexibility and space tend to be the most important factors of all kitchen designs. Having ample room for pots, pans, and various utensils is a necessity to ensure efficiency and freedom of movement when tackling long cooking sessions with recipes. Even more to consider for those longer recipes is where to store the numerous spices that can easily clog up space in any cabinet. The most practical solution here, as long as the space permits, is utilizing a kitchen island. Kitchen islands can serve as a place to eat, store cooking-related items, and completely enhance your experience in the kitchen. However, some kitchen islands are constructed incorrectly and simply exist as taking up much-needed space. To avoid this mishap, your kitchen island should adhere to three important design rules: open space, cabinets and a countertop that provides room for seating.

Open Space Throughout the Island

One of the most unattractive outcomes of kitchen island designs can be the presence of what looks like a large, unusable block. To avoid this poor, counterproductive design, open space must be provided in the bottom half of the kitchen island. This allows you to get ample storage out of your kitchen island and can also be modified to give your feet a place to rest while eating meals. The open space can also act as a section of your kitchen that allows quick access to your most-used dishes and cooking supplies, without having them get lost in the numerous cupboards in your kitchen. Additionally, the open space can also lessen the burden of trying to squeeze irregularly shaped bowls throughout your kitchen and can technically provide storage for machines, if needed.

Cabinet Storage

Equipping the kitchen island with cabinets on all sides is ideal for maximizing storage. Similar to the rest of your kitchen, the island cabinets can hold all types of items, but should primarily contain items that are used constantly. This transforms the kitchen island into a zone that permits easy access to tools used in prepping food. As a bonus, drawers can be attached to add even more storage space, especially for daily utensils that you don’t want to mix up in other parts of your kitchen. Cups, coffee mugs, and measuring devices can also be placed in these cabinets, effectively making your kitchen island a prep station.

Countertop Design

Perhaps the most underrated part of your kitchen island for maximizing storage space is the design of the countertop. Besides being a flat surface, the countertop should go slightly beyond the dimensions of the island, providing shelter for stools or chairs below while not impeding access to the drawers and open space. 

Final Thoughts

With careful application of these design rules, your kitchen island acts as a prep station, place to eat, and, most importantly, a pivotal part of your kitchen that provides ample storage space. Gone are the days of feeling cluttered and frustrated by having too little storage or space. Following these three steps will provide you with the most storage out of your kitchen island, and the feeling of a spacious, organized kitchen.

Nothing quite shows the display of elegance like marble. Marble, found in quarries throughout the world and converted to products that enhance home designs, can be utilized in furniture, dishes, tiles, and even exterior elements. For outdoor spaces, having a marble fountain has been the cornerstone of many gardens, and offering visitors to walk through marble arches on their way to your home entrance provides a wonderful introduction to your property. With the various uses of marble in design, both indoor and outdoor, it helps to learn about the multitude of types, many which reflect the natural beauty of Earth in their own unique ways. The total list of different types can be overwhelming, so we’ve covered some of the most popular and exquisite types to complement your indoor or outdoor design goals.


Discovered in Italy, Calacatta is a popular, but rare type of marble. Perhaps the most expensive marble type in our list, the design includes dark grey veins and cracked patterns over a white background. This type of marble is popular with memorials, especially statues and fountains. The strong surface promotes the flow of water and can even be used to imprint the home address or family name prominently.

Bianco Carrara

Commonly found in many homes, this marble type is typically used on countertops, bathroom walls, and kitchens. Over a white background, this marble reveals thin, veiny patterns in a grey tone, proving to be the most popular marble type. The affordability of this type contributes to its popularity, and in some homes is used as a tile for the kitchen or other rooms.


Once thought to be only a form of rock, this popular type of marble can be found in tan or beige colors. Slightly different than the traditional white and grey design of marble types, Limestone makes for a great countertop design. Since Limestone is highly porous, it is not recommended to be used for tiles or flooring due to its vulnerability to moisture.

Black Marble – Nero Portoro

The most luxurious of all marble types is likely Black Marble, especially when paired with precious metals such as gold or silver. Black Marble can be commonly seen in luxury spaces, and Nero Porturo is the type of Black Marble that contains gold streak patterns. The marble, which depicts that of a leopard’s skin, complements upscale bathroom designs.


Breccia is famously known for coming in various light colors, including pink, red, beige, and white. This is a special type due to the unpredictable colors that come from each slab. For design purposes, Breccia works great in improving the mood as a light color and is popularly used in rooms for kids.

This list of marble types will cover your bases when shopping around for an addition to your home or any design goals you have. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your bathroom or install outdoor fixtures, marble will always be a way of displaying luxury – and art – that you and your guests will all come to appreciate.

Along with appliances, granite countertops are one of the largest investments you can make in your kitchen.  A gorgeous granite countertop is also usually one of the first things a visitor or potential buyer notices when they walk into your kitchen, so it is important to care for that investment like you would the rest of your house.  While the granite itself is tough, the sealants used to give it that nice, smooth shine are more susceptible to wear and tear. Here are some things you should avoid placing or using on your granite countertops to help them stay as beautiful as the day they were installed.

Acidic Cleaners

It’s nearly impossible to walk down the cleaning supply aisle at the store and not see a product with lemon in it.  In addition, there has been a rise in the popularity of DIY cleaners that include vinegar as an ingredient. While these products may be fine for the rest of your home, avoid using them on granite.  The acidic natures of lemon juice and vinegar, as well as ammonia, can wear down the sealant more quickly. Instead, use a cleaner specifically designed for granite. Or, if you’d prefer a more affordable alternative, plain soap works well, too.  If you tend to use harsher cleaners with acidic chemicals because you feel like you can’t sufficiently clean surfaces without them, avoid placing raw meats and other foods directly on the counter. Instead, use a cutting board or another surface that you can wash with a harsh chemical and replace it more easily than granite.

Standing Liquids

Liquids, especially those acidic in nature, such as sodas, citrus fruit juices, and nail polish remover, can greatly damage the sealant if left alone.  Even water can eat away at the sealant if left long enough. For that reason, be sure to always wipe up spills right away with a clean, dry towel. Use coasters to avoid letting the condensation from drinks and other containers seep into the sealant to prevent stains from appearing.

Hot Pans

Granite itself is more than capable of handling hot pans that are straight out of the oven.  However, in order to prevent marring the sealant and losing that smooth surface, be sure to keep hot pots and pans off the countertops.  Brief exposure to heat most likely won’t cause damage, but use trivets and potholders if it’s going to be any longer than a moment.


Sharp knives won’t hurt the actual granite.  They will probably put tiny scratches in the sealant and wear it away over time.  The most likely outcome, though, is that the knives will dull more quickly. For that reason, always use a cutting board, and you can be sure to protect both your cutlery and countertops.


Granite is incredibly strong.  It does, however, have weak spots that are more susceptible to breaking under tension.  Avoid standing on the countertops, especially a breakfast bar or some type of extended piece.  Also, granite can be slick, so it is best to use a more secure surface with a grip that is intended for standing on.

Bonus:  Washing Kids in the Sink

It is common for sinks to be mounted underneath a granite countertop, giving it a sleek look.  While it may be tempting to wash your toddler in the sink, doing so can loosen the mounting. In order to prevent the sink from pulling away from the countertop, avoid putting anything too heavy in the sink (such as a child).

A gorgeous granite countertop can really bring a kitchen together and give it a sleek, modern look.  It is often the literal centerpiece of the room, and it is easily the most noticeable element. That’s why it is so important to choose a palette that works well with the décor, including paint, backsplash, appliances, artwork, and furnishings.

If you’re redoing your kitchen, it is a good idea to choose a granite color right away.  Because granite is multicolor, you can pick a particular piece that you feel drawn to, then choose the rest of the décor based on the colors in the flecks and veins of the slab.  This method is a lot like building an outfit around a bold statement piece.

Another great reason for picking your granite first is because it has a longer lifespan than most other things in your kitchen.  It is much easier (and less expensive) to give your kitchen a fresh coat of paint than it is to replace granite countertops. Keep that in mind, especially if you are renovating to sell your home.  Potential buyers might be turned off if they feel the granite clashes with their own style. That’s why it is so important to select something that will go with a wide range of colors and designs.

Here are some of the best options to consider in order to make sure that your granite countertops match seamlessly with the décor, now and later.


It’s no surprise that black granite made the list—after all, black goes with everything!  The especially great thing about black granite is that it can appear to be one color, but when the light shines on it, you’ll see tiny specks of silver.  That silver and black look excellent with stainless steel appliances. Also, black picture frames, bar stools, and cooking utensils will fit in well. If black countertops feel too dark, add white cabinets to brighten the place up.


White countertops give the room a bright spacious feeling, and they’re incredibly versatile.  Choose a color palette that speaks to you, with more or less blacks, browns, and grays throughout depending on what your cabinets and appliances look like.  White granite can go with any look, including brown cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, or wrought iron bar stools.


Beige granite is light enough that it doesn’t overpower the room.  It is also light enough that you can still see the splashes of black, darker brown, and silver throughout.  That mixture of colors makes it one of the most versatile choices and still provides a warm, inviting feeling to the kitchen.  You really can’t go wrong no matter how the rest of the kitchen looks.

Jewel Tone

While not as common, granite is also available in jewel tones such as reds, blues, and greens.  When paired with simple white cabinets and appliances, the bright colored countertops give the room an incredible pop.  The best part is, the rest of the décor does not have to match the exact shade of the granite—it just has to match its vibrancy.  By having a brightly colored countertop against a white backdrop, you can add fun splashes of décor around the kitchen in a wide range of colors.

The backsplash is one of the most neglected design elements in a kitchen, especially if the room is part of a larger open floorplan because eyes are naturally drawn to the sink and space above the oven. So, a clever backsplash can completely change the personality of your space, and the most important decision you have to make is its color.

But First…

Even though the color is most important, you have to make many decisions before you even get to color. Take a step back and think about what you want your kitchen to say. Is it fun, happy, and bright? Or is it sleek, modern, and serious? Is it a warm and cozy retreat or a serious culinary space? This reflection is one step closer to your finished backsplash.

Then you need to consider what material best fits that personality. Trendy subway tile is a good way to make a kitchen feel hip, stainless steel gives a modern vibe, or mosaic tile or glass can give a rustic feel. If your kitchen is already busy, consider a material with a simple design, like plain tile. If, on the other hand, you’re looking to generate some visual interest, consider a patterned tile or a hand-painted backsplash.

Size Up Your Space

After these big-picture design choices, it’s time to think about how big your backsplash should be. An intricate design is best housed in a smaller space—it’s better to be understated than oppressive. However, a plain natural stone or simple tile pattern can be extended beyond the natural limits of the cabinetry up to the ceiling or around the kitchen. Try to balance the visual interest of your backsplash with the rest of the kitchen so it is a highlight of the room, but it doesn’t steal the show.

Add Some Color

Finally, we’re ready to pick the color! Of course, your choices are limited by the material you have already chosen but don’t be scared to mix that up. Your first consideration is whether to pick a classic neutral tone or a vibrant accent color. If you have a carefully curated modern, earthy, or cozy character in your kitchen, you’ll probably want to stick with neutral or earth tones. A vibrant or upbeat space may demand a bolder choice. 

When deciding on the color, be sure to pay attention to the permanent features of your kitchen. First, strive to complement without being too matchy. Color within the palette of your kitchen is better than repeating a color already present. Second, balance the impact of space with the rest of the room. If your kitchen lacks accent, create some in your color choice. An already busy kitchen probably needs a subdued color.

Color can have the biggest impact on the backsplash’s effect. Choose a color that fits the personality you have created, and make sure it does not draw undue attention to itself. Most importantly, be careful to keep the backsplash in its place if it needs to be by using a neutral tone, or let it shine with a bold color.

Growing plants in your kitchen has a simple charm that can’t be beaten. Of course, this comes with some challenges—after all, kitchens are designed for cooking, not for growing. When selecting a plant for your kitchen, there are three things to consider: size, light tolerance, and function.

Unless you have unlimited counter space—and let’s be real, that’s something we all want more of—your best options are likely underneath or on top of cabinets or in some inaccessible nook.  For this same reason, it will also need to tolerate low light levels. Given the value of counter space in our homes, if we are keeping a plant on it, that plant needs to pay its own way, either by cleaning the air or by growing something useful.

1. Pothos (Devil’s Ivy) or English Ivy

Sure, these plants will spread out over time, but proper care will keep them well-behaved in the kitchen. Pothos is great for low-light kitchens or bright spaces, but English ivy requires time in direct sunlight. Though neither produces anything useful in the kitchen, they clean the air by filtering out solvents, mold, and bacteria. You’ll breathe a little easier and a little happier with one of these adorable ivies in your kitchen.

2. Aloe Vera

Aloe is a compact and useful plant but requires regular sunlight. Though visually stunning, its true beauty lies in its medicinal use. The next time you need to soothe a burn, simply cut off a lower spear, slice it lengthwise, and apply the gel for instant relief. Care is a breeze.  Letting the soil dry out between waterings is recommended as root rot is a constant threat. This bold succulent is a welcome addition to any kitchen space.

3. Herbs

Though you may not have luck growing tomatoes on your counter, you can still try your hand at basil, mint, or parsley. Most herbs need regular sunlight, but a shade-tolerant variety or plant-growing light can make these the perfect kitchen plant. Herbs can also be grown in small pots and kept to a manageable size with proper care. With the installation of a high output plant growing light, you can grow any herb right where you cook.

4. Cast Iron Plant

Though this plant serves only to bring beauty and oxygen to your room, it is unbelievably tolerant of any condition you could throw at it. This hardiness makes it worthy of its name, though it will likely need to be housed on the floor or in the corner given its height. Low or bright light, humid or arid, warm or cold, this plant won’t flinch, making it the perfect kitchen companion.

5. White Jasmine

Rounding out our list is this exquisite sweet-smelling flowering plant. It requires a little more care than others, doing best in indirect light and reliably moist soil, but its aroma and aesthetic make it worth it. The delicate scent can help create a fresh and clean environment but won’t interfere with the aromas of your gourmet creations.

Answering two direct, illuminating questions can make your search for awesome basement kitchen ideas fast, easy, and highly effective. You’ll get a basement kitchen you love, not something that seems thrown together, or designed for someone else.


As you gather ideas for an awesome basement kitchen, the first question to keep in mind is the function. What function will your basement kitchen serve?

 Will it be an awesome entertaining space? Or will it be to provide guests with a small private kitchen? Will it be to create a rental space with more value? To create a haven retreat for an individual member of the household?

 Once you think that question through and yes, create a written statement of function for your planned basement kitchen, you can evaluate ideas instantly. And there’s another important general question you’ll want to ask before coming up with specific.


The second question is: Who will be using this kitchen? Make a list of the main users. Then rank them in order of the most frequent users down to the least frequent. You now know who this basement kitchen is for and what they’ll be using it for.

 Now it’s time to consider ideas, which you can now properly evaluate. Compare every idea you come up with against those two questions, and you’ll be able to evaluate them instantly as awesome or as … not so good.

 Now for the fun part. Here are some suggestions to get you started on your exploration. 


No matter how much money you may save on setting up a dry bar — and that can work — check your budget and the costs of installing a wet bar. You know you’ll want a sink. The only question is: can or should you spend the money on it.


Adequate adjustable lighting is a no-brainer for an awesome kitchen basement. Choose LED strip lights and LED bulbs that you can control with an app or a dedicated remote control. Recessed ceiling lights with smart bulbs make for a cleaner look.


Counter seating is another easy call for a basement kitchen. Counter seating saves space — no dining table needed. And counter seating can be uber comfortable, or torture to sit in. So don’t skimp on these. Make sure they’re comfortable and can pivot so that your guests can turn toward (and away from) each other.  Rule out any seats that don’t have built-in, adjustable height footrests that pivot with the seat. 


The backsplash should be classy, not too bold, and not trendy. Choose the right color to complement the cabinetry and walls. Rock or tile or wood can all work. Ensure it gives the right feeling for the function of your basement kitchen, and for the people who will be using it most.  


Finally, remember that what goes on the walls of a basement kitchen can be as important as the square footage. Mirrors and the right art can go a long way to opening up even a small space. With a tasteful, rectangular mirror behind the bar, your guests will feel cozy instead of feeling claustrophobic. Art on the walls should be well-lit, inviting, and with lighting dedicated to it. And taking a lesson from small, cozy bars, remember that a couple of wall-mounted TVs, muted and set to sports or to scenic screensavers, give anyone a feeling of connection, still, to the outside world.

Evaluating each of your choices strictly against the function of your basement kitchen will bring you to a finished project that pleases you and all the users of that space. Enjoy the journey!  

Creating the perfect kitchen island for you can seem overwhelming — until you notice the one obvious question to rule them all. 

And that question, every designer agrees because it’s designing 101, is this: How will your kitchen island be used? 

Do you want to eat there? Entertain? Do you want to sit on kitchen stools or in chairs? Who will use it? Adults only? Children? So take some time first to write out, on paper, the basic purposes you want this kitchen island to fulfill in your life. 

Do you want one level? Or two?

Do you want one level for your kitchen island or two levels? If you’ll be doing cooking prep at the island, you’ll want a counter height level. For seating that would require stools, not chairs. But designers can accommodate both needs at once — on one side, counter height for prep, and on the dining side, table height so guests can sit more comfortably in chairs. 

A two-level solution is especially important for toddlers who can so easily fall off of kitchen stools. 

Do you really want a stovetop and sink?

In imagination, it’s alluring: you’re cooking while talking with friends seated just across from you at the kitchen island. What could be more charming? But reality often differs from imagination.  

In reality, cooking can splatter. And there’s heat involved. Consider the advantages (and enormous cost savings) of using your existing stovetop to cook on, while turning around to chat with your guests at the kitchen island. Most food doesn’t require absolutely constant attention, anyway. And those that do — stir fry, for example — no guest wants to be seated near, at eye level, dodging the steam and the spatter. 

Sink splashes are less painful than hot grease but can be just as much of a buzzkill for friendly conversation. 

For these reasons, many designers recommend not mixing cooking, cleaning, and conversation in the same eye-level space. It can be done, of course, but the island needs to be quite large for it to work comfortably. 

How much space to leave

The rule of thumb you’ll hear from any designer is to leave at least three feet of space around any kitchen island. The island must accommodate a person seated, room to pass behind the person, and any wall art or side tables. Since some people can be quite large, and since everyone likes at times to have room to move while seated, planning for at least three feet of space is the minimum. You’ll avoid cramped quarters for your guests.

To be 100% sure you choose the right size of kitchen island for your kitchen, first make detailed floor plan drawings of it. It’s not difficult with graph paper, letting one square be equal to one foot of space. Imagination alone can help you to see if a design works in the space you have. 

But for really making sure it will work, there’s no substitute for creating a cardboard mockup using clean moving boxes from a home supplies store. Cut and tape the mockup together, and live with it for a week. You’ll then know with certainty whether the design fits you and your kitchen, or needs some tweaking. All for less than $10, you’ve saved potentially thousands later. 

Keep the function always in your mind, and choosing details will be much easier and more effective. You’ll end up with an awesome kitchen island your family will love for years to come.