Tips for Picking Kitchen Counters and Tiles

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Inside: How to pick a back splash tile you won’t regret, plus things to consider when you are designing a kitchen with a laminate counter.

This post is sponsored by Home Hardware. We are thrilled to be working with them throughout our entire renovation process. 

Kitchen renovations are intense, but they are also super fun. I have been looking forward to picking out our counters, tiles and fixtures since the very beginning!

If you’re just jumping into this series now, you might want to go back one post and check out our layout and space design process first. 

In this post, I’ll be sharing my tips for picking the right countertop tone and texture, as well as matching your backsplash tile and grout! hex tile and concrete-like counter samples

Tips for picking laminate counters

In the last post, I explained that we have decided to install high end laminate counters in this kitchen for two reasons: firstly, it is going to save thousands on costs and install fees. Secondly, we are planning this kitchen renovation with resale in mind. Since our neighbourhood is a starter neighbourhood, we don’t feel we will necessarily get the value out of real stone or quartz counters when we go to sell. The norm here is high end laminate – so that is what we are doing! 

(We’re splurging on better lighting, a new dishwasher and we are also putting in a glorious sink and faucet that will add a lot of glam to the space too!) 

Picking a laminate counter profile

The profile of your countertop is the edge piece. It’s how the counter looks from the front and it can truly determine how ‘high-end’ your kitchen looks. Back in the 80s, a bullnose edge was really popular and now I find that it looks super dated!

We have decided to go with a 2.5″ square edge profile so that our laminate countertop looks as close to natural stone as possible. The wider and chunkier counter edge can really elevate the style of your space.

The other thing to consider with laminate counters is the backsplash lip – (I don’t think it’s really called that, but that’s what I’ve always called it!). It’s the piece of counter that continues up the wall about 4″ and it tends to come standard on laminate counters. 

But if you want your laminate to look the least like laminate, the best thing to do is have your design and install team remove it and create what is called a bar top laminate counter. 

It will have to be sealed with water tight sealant after the backsplash is installed, but the clean line is totally worth it. 

Picking a laminate countertop pattern

Best advice here is to pick out a bunch of samples that you like, bring them home and live with them in your space for a bit and narrow them down to the ones you love. 

Initially, I was drawn to a countertop sample that resembled honed marble. But when we brought it home and looked at it in the different natural light in our kitchen, it looked super browny-beige, which is not what we want.

We ended up settling on a concrete look laminate that will be modern, but timeless and it won’t pull too much colour into the space. 

In terms of texture for laminate, some will be super smooth to the touch and others will have a bit of a faux-stone feel. We’ve had a roughly textured laminate for the last seven years and I must say that it’s more forgiving than flat and smooth laminate. 

I think this is just a matter of personal preference. If you like high gloss and super shiny surfaces, then a smooth laminate might be the way to go. 

Picking a backsplash to match your counters

If I’m being honest, I thought I was going to agonize over this choice a lot more than I did! But I found that once we had settled on a countertop sample, picking a backsplash tile was a lot simpler. 

The factors I took into account included sheen, tone and the scale of the tile. Then once I had narrowed down my choices to a handful that fit my overall vision, I picked out the grout colour.

My backsplash criteria included that the tiles be a medium scale (not oversized and not tiny), that they have elements of whites and greys to pull out the tones in the counters and echo some of the metals that will be in the space and that they not be too ‘expected’. I want my backsplash to have a little bit of fun!

I went back and forth between a cararra marble subway tile and honed marble hexagon tiles and the hex won! I was immediately drawn to it and I think it’s always safe to go with your gut.grey and white hexagon back splash tiles

We will be using this tile on the main run of cabinets as well as behind the new bank of storage cabinets on the new wall. 

As far as grout, I am not entirely sold on the trend of super dark grout. I think with the hex it will look way too visually stimulating. But then, my worry with light grout is that it will be a nightmare to clean! So in true moderate fashion, I chose a medium tone grout that will enhance the shape of the tiles without being too overbearing. 

What’s next?

Well, we really are just beginning! Soon we’ll be sharing a bit more detail about our plans for our movable kitchen island, as well as how we are practically planning for our kitchen to be demolished. We are going to put together a little kitchen capsule to keep us sane and fed while we have no sink and limited access to our stove. 

Then we are into demo and install and OMG!! 

Thanks again to the incredible team at Home Hardware

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