Monthly Archives: October 2011

On the Prowl: Alternatives to White Marble Countertops

A friend of mine who is redoing her kitchen is obsessed with the look of white marble countertops.  But, considering how high maintenance they are (staining, chipping, and resealing every 3-4 months!), she wants to know if there are any alternatives to achieve the same look.  Sure, there are, I said, there are plenty of engineered stones and the like that look like marble.  WHERE? she demanded.  Where indeed?  So now I’m putting my statement to the test, to find out if there really is anything that can match the beauty of white marble.





4.   Quartzite in Luce di Luna, Super White, or Biancaquartzite that look like white marble PROS: Quartzite is a natural stone, very resilient, and stain-proof. As a natural stone, we get that great veiny look we’re searching for. The Bianca is the only material I found that imitates the Calacatta Gold’s warmer, beige veins rather than gray/black.
CONS: While the pictures I’ve chosen is fairly light, as a natural stone there will, of course, be variation in the coloring, so you might have to look around for a slab that is whitish rather than gray.  When I went to see the Luce di Luna in real life, I will say that I was disappointed by the darker appearance of the slab I saw.  If you’re going from one stoneyard to another looking for the right coloring, that can mean significant time shopping around.  Also, as a natural stone, quartzite can be superduper expensive… I’ve seen it quoted at $130+.


5.   White Granites: Bethel White, Casa Blanca and Beola Ghiandonatagranite-look-white-marble
PROS: We all know the pros of granites: hard, durable, and a magnet for future homebuyers.  The other upside is that granite’s popularity has lead to an abundant supply and some very, very affordable granite options… I’ve seen it quoted for as little as $29-49 sq ft installed.
CONS: Granite is just never white.  It can be light grey, but it will still be grey.  Period.  It is also not usually veiny.  It can be swirly, like the impossible to spell Beola Ghiandoata, but most of the time it will disappoint marble-seekers because it is typically dotty and splotchy. 

Beware: what suppliers are typically calling “white” granite probably looks something like this (an actual photo from a recent trip to a stoneyard):

white-graniteThis piece was priced at $40 sq ft.

6.   Caesarstone Misty Carrera:caesarstone-misty-carrera
PROS: Misty Carrera is 93% natural quartz, so it’s it’s stain, chip, and crack resistant, and extremely low maintenance.
CONS: I’ve seen this in real life, and I have to say that this is absolutely not white.  It is grey.  I’ve also heard rumors of a problem with the resin in Caesarstone that there was some yellowing after exposure to sunlight.  Unconfirmed, but scary nonetheless.

UPDATE: I didn’t get to all the products the first time! Please read on to see my second look at great substitutes for marble: Countertops that look like white marble (take two)

So what do you think? Which do you like the best?

7 Reasons to Dump Your Bookshelves

UGGGHHHH. (Shudder). The dreaded bookshelf! How many of you have something like the above in your place?

I’m throwing this out there for debate… Please comment below and let me know what you think! Throughout the centuries, there have been many pieces of furniture that, having ceased to serve a useful function, have been abandoned in most modern homes. The flat screen TV rendered full-scale entertainment units a thing of the past. Large scale dining tables have been replaced by more comfortable, casual sets. Yes, I am saying that the bookshelf fits into this category, along with the tea table and the fainting sofa. Bookshelves in the living area are, in my opinion, rapidly becoming, if not already, obsolete, and I’ll give you 7 reasons why.

1) We don’t use the books we own. You got it, my number one reason we don’t need bookshelves is because the majority of us don’t need the very things they were meant to house. We have kindles, nooks, iPads, audiobooks, and every other device out there to replace our old paperbacks.  Now I recognize that there are some holdouts who want their real paper copies.  For those people, we have libraries. Unless you have space enough to have your own library, the bare fact is that most people don’t have the square footage to devote to something they’ll likely read only once.

2) Bookshelves are magnets for clutter. Let’s think of what people typically house on their bookshelves. Books that they read in college, maybe with bent spines in random colors. Assorted photos in non-matching frames. Random travel souvenirs. And around, on top, and in between all of this, clutter. Bookshelves are hideaways for all kinds of sins, except they’re not actually hidden away. They’re on display for everyone to see.

3) Bookshelves create shadows and darkness. Unless you’re lighting them (inside the shelves as well as out), bookshelves have the potential to create patches of darkness throughout your space. And, Without under lighting on the shelves themselves,  the objects that you display, which theoretically are meant to be set forth for guests to admire, can be sunk into shadow, and might actually be harder to view than if they are simply hung on the wall.

4) Books are dust magnets. Unless you’re a scholar using your books on a daily basis, or you’re a collector with rare first editions, a book you’ve read that you’re never going to read again is no better than keeping a pile of rags in display space in your living room.

5) The spines of your books are not attractive. Period. Let’s think of your favorite work of art of all time. There might be a million different answers for a million different people, but I’d be willing to bet that not one person answered that question with, “the spines of the assorted books on my bookshelf.”.  Unless you’ve artfully selected books for your shelves, in which case this article does not apply to you, your books are going to be randomly colored, the fonts may be strange, the spines may be bent repeatedly.  If they are not attractive to you, why would you possibly subject your guests to them?  The real world decision you have to make is between those books and that most favorite art print or photograph.

6) We have other alternatives to bookshelves to create height. Traditionally designers have used bookshelves to create tall elements in a room.  However, draperies, tall plants, wall art, millwork, or closed cabinetry may also serve this purpose.

7) The alternative is 1,000 times better.Let’s see.  On the one hand, we have our bookshelves with our leftover textbooks, dog-eared copy of the davinci code, random photos that are sunk in shadow, and random, indiscernible tchotckes, let’s consider the alternative.  Suppose instead you use a low sideboard with doors to provide storage, allowing for light, breathing room, and wall space to mount a favorite print, or several prints leaning against the wall.  You still have a surface for display to set out a plant, a vase, a few photos (in coordinated frames), a clever arrangement of tchotchkes, and ( dare I say it?) even a book or two if you like.   There, that’s better! So what do you think? Are you ready to throw away your bookshelves, or do you still think they have a place in the typical living room?

Mid-Centry Credenza with art work – Killer!

A rustic sideboard with a fresh, natural display and vintage print, courtesy of Southern Living

For those of you who prefer a more traditional look, here is a delightful vignette featuring a Barbara Barry for Baker console. Closed storage – Check! Various vases and other display pieces – Check! Eye-catching art – Check!

Why lamps?

I spent the weekend in Providence with an old college friend of mine.  In between catching up and reliving our college days, we were shopping for some items she could accessorize her new home with.  We found some cool art pieces and table decor and then we came to the lighting section and she turned to me and said, “I hate lamps, I do not understand the point of them and most of them are so ugly I do not want any in my house.”  Enough said… so she thought.

Mary this post is for you!

I happen to feel the complete opposite about lighting and lamps in particular.  There is something that is so unique about a table lamp that can seriously change a room.  The best part is that lamps can be altered, if you change your color scheme all you may need is a new lamp shade.  Buy a classic lamp and you will see how it can go with an array of different styles and last you years and years.  Here are some of my favorite lamps in a range of prices and styles…

Eva Colored Glass Lamp - Pottery Barn $99

EleanorTableLamp - Crate and Barrel $179

Your lamp can even be a sculpture! Robert Abbey $345