LYNDA REEVES EXPLORES A RECIPE THAT MIXES IT UP.
Kitchen design has a way of bringing out strong opinions in many of us. Everyone has their view on exactly what they don’t like, plus a list of things they’re considering but wonder about. The investment is always big and the results permanent, so deciding what materials to use is especially critical in a kitchen renovation. Inevitably, the kitchens I gravitate to are handsome, with some classic detailing, heavy polished hardware, some feature appliances like a great range, a mix of painted and natural wood cabinets and always counters and backsplashes of natural stone — soapstone, granite, slate or marble — plus oiled or varnished woods. For the longest time, I’ve only ever considered real marble with a honed or half-honed finish for my own kitchen designs. Believing that imperfections and the inevitable scratches and stains would only enhance the patina of honed marble counters, I wouldn’t even consider a man-made alternative. But then, I also thought that jeans had to be 100 per cent cotton denim with no synthetic mix, and only pure linen pants would do, no matter how much better a little bit of Lycra could make them fit. I’ve totally changed my tune, just in time to avoid a dinosaur designation, because not seeing the huge advantages of today’s alternative materials would be crazy. Engineered stone is any man-made materialthat mimics stone. Itincludes brand names such as Caesarstone and Silestone, both manufactured from quartz and resin. The advantage to these surfaces is that they aren’t porous so they don’t absorb liquid, they don’t stain and rarely scratch, and they come in a huge number of great finishes with a wide range of textures and colours, including subtle shades from nature. You can create a larger surface with no seams than you can using natural stone. Even the biggest real marble slabs won’t cover a whole kitchen without multiple seams. The granddaddy of all composite solid surfaces is Corian, DuPont’s brand name for its groundbreaking material that debuted in 1971, which is now offered in more than 100 colours and can be installed to look virtually seamless.