Thursday, April 28, 2011

Soapstone wins and Marble gets its edge

Soapstone counter and sill (left) and marble inverted ogee edge (the gray paint is primer)
In the end, we were brave.  We invited some high contrast into our previously calm, neutral kitchen scheme, and opted for some drama on our island edge. Thanks in part to the comments on this blog and to the advice of many on the amazing Garden Web kitchen forum, we chose soapstone for our perimeter kitchen counters and we decided on an uncommon, inverted ogee edge for the marble counter top on our two-level island. 

Soapstone, for all of its popularity in theory, seems infrequently used in practice.  But we are now complete converts to its beauty and robustness.  We used two separate supplier/fabricators, one for each stone surface, and each did a beautiful job.  On this count we feel extremely fortunate.  We did our homework and it paid off.  We've been living with the new counters for a few weeks now (it's taken me all this time to get these photos together) and are thrilled with our bold (to us) choices.   We've come so far with the kitchen that it astonishes us that so much remains to be done. But for now, here's a glimpse (in about a million pictures) of the countertops:

this was the first piece of soapstone to be installed--perfect fit
after oiling
the main sink slab coming in on a custom-built trolley
the corner sink--before oiling
and after
the astonishing caramel veining

the perfect, zero reveal, sink cut-out and soapstone window sill
the long view after oiling (the oil sinking in in places)
another window sill  (with window jamb and trim tacked up)
bar faucet, and filter tap in polished nickel
the main sink faucet with side spray (snow now gone)
and here's the soapstone as it looks today--last oiled about a week ago

 A couple of weeks after the soapstone was installed, the marble installers came.  The perimeter soapstone counters included two sink installations, onsite drilling for faucets, and several seam. The installation took two men a full day.  The marble, although for a two-level island, had no seams, and our plywood substrate supplied by the cabinet maker was so perfect that the entire installation took less than an hour.

the marble countertop being installed on a plywood substrate
another installation shot with N providing another set of hands
An L shape in stone, especially with such a narrow side, is inherently prone to cracking and we were very relieved when the piece was in place and intact.  The piece of marble that forms our bathroom vanity upstairs was a piece salvaged from a bar top that had cracked right in half during the installation, so we knew what could happen.

another shot of the island edge (painting in progress--lest you think we're leaving it this way)

the lovely honed marble

and again

Although we've seen a bullnose edge over a recessed ogee, we haven't seen this particular edge (eased square over recessed ogee) anywhere else, have you?
We love the island edge for a few reasons: first, it provides maximum usable counter space which is especially important on the narrow part of the island where the peninsula is only 15" across (if we'd put the ogee on top, the edge would've cut into the counter by an 1 1/2"); second, it allows us to have a built-up edge without any visible seam; third, the flat edge up top allows us to sweep crumbs or mop spills without anything getting stuck in the edge; finally, the profile echoes the baseboard on the island, the sills throughout the house, and the ogee detail on the soapstone sills.  If you're considering a built-up edge on a 3/4" slab of marble (which is by far the most common thickness of marble slabs in the GTA), we wholeheartedly endorse this one.

Our most recent kitchen steps included installing the dishwasher (which arrived dented first time around.  Any nostalgia I felt for handwashing evaporated within a week and after almost two months without the crucial machine, my hands were desperate for a break from soapy water), and installing the window jambs and trim. I'm currently working at painting all of our beautiful new cabinetry by hand (it was my big idea to have a hand painted, rather than factory, finish, and it's now my big job).  More kitchen posts to come.