Design and Style Tips House Tour

Parana White, Soapstone, La Cornue….Would I Do It All Again??

YES!!  I would do all of the same materials and layout again.  I feel very fortunate that I feel that way as I put so much pressure on myself, I mean hey you’re spending a lot of money.  If you’re going through the process you want it all to be perfect and exactly what you envision.  Am I right?!

So let’s get down to how everything has fared now that it’s been just shy of 2 years.

The Parana White Honed “Granite” (dolomite, between a granite and a marble).  What I learned during my extensive research into white stones was that it all has a tendency to act like a marble.  It has to do with the properties associated with being white but I’ll save you the boring details.  Quartzite is one ideal stone for a white with durability, however it’s INCREDIBLY expensive.  I, of course, adored the marbles but the Carrara was to busy for me.  We stumbled on this stuff and here we are.

The good:  1. It’s hard.  Like granitey hard.  We have dropped things on it and nothing has dented or dinged it, which is great because with 4 kids and a messy hubby stuff happens ALL the time.  Sounds like something silly to mention, why talk about a stone being hard.  BUT, the soapstone is a different story (get to that in a sec) so it’s worth mentioning.   2. It’s absolutely gorgeous.  Every time I look at it I see a different vein or a different variation in color I didn’t notice before.  3. It hasn’t stained. I don’t know how much of this is due to the sealer our installer applied but I have found leftover spaghetti sauce dried on it the next day and coffee rings (from said messy hubs early early coffee pouring in the morning) several hours later and NOTHING!  I just give it a good scrub with a Clorox wipe and up it comes.  Marble is notoriously bad for staining so this is a nice surprise, as I had prepared myself for the worst.

The bad: It etches.  I knew this going in as I had tested samples with a whole bunch of food products.  My installer even left me with lasting words of “the sealer buys you time.”  In other words, you have a few minutes before you have an effect take place but you can’t leave it either.  I try to stay on top of the messes but with the whole family, there are times when they help themselves to something or offer to clean the kitchen and I find things later.  Luckily, we only have a couple of spots where there has been etching.  It’s also worth noting that you only see these spots at certain angles in certain light.  I know where they are, because, well I’m obsessive.  But no one else notices them.  The worst spot is a small ring from a kids cup.

The soapstone.  My beloved, long awaited, had dreams about soapstone.  There are more bad things about this than the Parana White but I also knew that going in.  I did tons of reading and testing of samples so I knew it was a potential challenge.  But I also knew I could handle not having perfect countertops.  I like the lived in and loved look so to me it adds to the character of a home.  Definitely not for some people, my mom likes perfect mirror shiny countertops, definitely not for her.  But that’s ok, more for me!

You can see the difference here,  top is dark and side is natural

   The good:  1. It’s gorgeous.  Nothing like the movement and beauty of soapstone.  It’s like it’s got a life of it’s own.  Variations of green and white in the veining are subtle yet striking.  2.  You can place pans right out of the oven on it with no hot pads and it will do NO damage.  This is super convenient and I love that I can do that.  3.  It’s naturally antimicrobial.  It absorbs nothing so there is no sealing required!  This also means it doesn’t absorb all the nasties either.  A quick wash with dish soap and water or Clorox wipes and you’re good to go.  I, a bit of a clean freak in the kitchen, like knowing that.  Extra peace of mind.  4. It’s so soft and smooth to the touch.  The talc in the soapstone gives it such a nice soft feel.  5. Easy to repair or fix when something does happen.  A light sanding for shallow scratches or dings.  Or make a paste of soapstone dust and fill in dents or dings,  I’ve also heard of people just using a sharpie to color those small spots.

The worst ding we have along with some scratches from knives.  This area is the most used and abused by the kids.

  The bad: 1. It is soft.  I mean it is dent, ding, scratch and chip prone.  This goes to the “can’t be a perfectionist” thing I was talking about.  There are different variations of soapstone out there, some are harder than others so you may not have such an issue with it.  We chose a softer stone, although I wouldn’t change it.  We have some dings and chips, particularly around the sink and near the dishwasher where the bulk of banging and dropping tends to happen.

 A long shot showing you the difference between the natural and the naturally aging stone.  It is clean!  The dark are where oil has been spilled and nearer the range it shows the naturally darkened stone because of the use it gets.  Both sides of the range are dark already.

   2. It ages.  If you go to see soapstone or samples of it you will notice they typically have an oiled side and an unoiled side.  Oiled shows you what it will look like if you a. oil it, or b. let it naturally age.  What do I mean by aging?  It naturally darkens over time from the oils in your skin and oils exposed to it from cooking.  If you want a universal and consistent dark look you are going to need to apply a wax or a mineral oil to it regularly for the first year or 2.  This is because the soapstone doesn’t absorb the wax or oil but they leave a layer on top of the soapstone giving it the darker look.  A bit of maintenance but nothing big.  Oil is super easy to apply but messy and I personally don’t care for the greasy feel it leaves.  Wax is my preference, I tried it once to see if I like it.  More work to apply but much better feel.  It wore off after a month or so and I was too lazy to reapply it so I’m letting it darken naturally.

The soapstone sink, I would absolutely do again!!  I love the oversize sink, I love seeing the beautiful stone of the apron front and I find it very easy to clean and always looks lovely.

 You can see in this picture where we always lean against it, this is where it has naturally darkened.

 

Copper bar sink and boxcar countertops are both wearing beautifully.  I love the interest they give and the Vermont Natural Coating sealer we used is doing a lovely job of maintaining the counters.

 Our boxcar countertops, the end result is a real show stopper!

 My really big splurge of the La Cornue Cornufe range, I love it.

  The ovens are smaller than regular ovens but it doesn’t pose a problem for me at all.  I have made Thanksgiving turkeys in here, Papa Murphy’s pizzas, and everything in between.  Just buy slightly smaller size pans and cookie sheets and you’re good to go.  They also cook everything perfectly.  Since they are smaller they are more efficient and I find that I have to turn the dial down 25 degrees from whatever the instructions say otherwise I tend to overcook things.  These ovens have turned out the best baked goods and turkeys I have ever made! The top is gas and works amazingly well.  My hubs makes homebrew beer all the time and uses the big center burner.  He loves that it comes to a boil much faster than our old gas cooktop.  And of course, does it get any prettier?!

The layout is exactly what we needed.  We eat in here ALL the time, pretty much every meal, so the design of the huge center island had to accommodate all 6 of us.  It works perfectly and is always the center of the action when we have friends over, everybody tends to hang out at the island!

The microwave drawer is awesome.  I read some questionable reviews of people having issues with them within a year or 2 but so far so good.  I love that the kids have access to it safely.  I would absolutely do another one of these.

I think that about covers it!  If I missed something you are wondering about please feel free to ask!  My biggest piece of advice would be, if you know you love something even if it doesn’t traditionally go with your lifestyle (i.e. marble/soapstone with my crazy family of 4 youngsters not advisable by the experts), but you are aware of the pitfalls and are ok with accepting them don’t be dissuaded!!  Stick to your guns and go for it, you’ll be glad you did!

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