simple is beautiful

When You're Stuck With Black Countertops

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


We've lived in this house a long time and have made lots of changes.  Most of the changes haven't been major, but a few of them have.  One being our kitchen counters.  They are uba tuba granite and I basically despise them.  I don't like the color flecks or the edge.  Can I have a do-over? Why did I choose them you ask?  Well, it just kind of happened.

I've been doing some research on honing granite after it's installed - which is a possibility.  We plan to remove the granite backsplash and replace the beadboard with white subway tile as soon as the hallway is finished.  If nothing else, these two changes alone will brighten things up.  #cantwait



So, since my counters are black and aren't changing any time soon, I try to use light accessories to brighten the space.  I prefer clean counters and don't like a lot of clutter.  Mind you, this is my preference, not necessarily the reality (if you could see them now, yikes).  But, I do like to add functional items that add brightness to our kitchen countertops.  Fruit, art, cutting boards, canisters, and knife blocks in white or light wood tones do wonders.  Plants in colorful planters are also a nice touch.

Here are a few of my favorites.

33 comments:

  1. Love your kitchen and adding light colored accessories is perfect for brightening the entire space. Adore the marble and wood cutting board!

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    1. Thank you! I have one of the cutting boards from Terrain and it is one of my favorites!

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  2. Before posting that you "despise" the uba tuba granite in your kitchen, did you consider that some of your followers have the same surface in their homes? Wasn't there a way to post your desire for change without being so negative?

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    1. Okay, I have a very strong dislike for MY countertops. :)

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    2. Ditto Elizabeth, I don't think Rene should have to worry about people finding her blog negative, it is her blog and if someone finds it negative then they have the option to move on and really if someone gets offended by that blog well ......... neither we not Rene needs to hear about it.

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    3. Some people are overly sensitive.

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  3. I love your kitchen and your accessories are spot on.

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  4. I love your kitchen! It's perfect. You could eat off the floor.

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    1. Thank you! I don't recommend that sweet Mandy. :)

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  5. I completely know were you are coming from...being "stuck" with a similar situation. While I feel VERY fortunate to have even what I have - it is nice to dream! Honing is a great option...would love to hear if you can do that (i heard not after install). BUT taking away the 4" backsplash will eliminate that color from the vertical plane and you will be surprised at the difference just that can make! BTW - what color did you paint your cabinets and was it prof. done?

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    1. You are so right! I'm certainly thankful for what we have and have no intention of changing it - just trying to make the best of it. #firstworldproblems And yes, removing the 4" strip has been on my to-do list for a while. I'm hoping there won't be a huge gap in the back. Our cabinets are valspar white like the rest of our trim. It used to be available on the shelf, but you have to have it mixed now.

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  6. Ten years ago when we sold our house, the agent told us it wouldn't sell if we didn't have granite. We had a gorgeous solid surface that looked like carrera marble, but "buyers wanted granite". For some reason now granite is the read-headed step child of the decor world. I blame Pinterest. Somehow in the last five years or so, a home has no value or character unless it's swaddled in marble. Believe me, I understand what it's like to have to live with something you no longer love, but you DID like it when you chose it. Is it that it's difficult to live with (shows crumbs and stains) or just doesn't look like those ideal kitchens on Pinterest? Your house is lovely and overflowing with character and in the end, that's all that really matters. Honestly, the black doesn't look bad and is elegant and tuxedo-like against the white cabinets (and will look great sans backsplash with subway tile--have you SEEN the carrera subway at Lowes $4.99/box!).

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    1. Funny how everything changes isn't it Elizabeth? Our granite was chosen over the telephone (which is not very smart). I was told it was black & had no idea it had the weird flecks of color. I would have chosen a square edge too instead of the ski slope. You live, you learn. I don't dislike granite. It is a fabulous hard surface that withstands time in terms of durability and it falls into the "classic" category in my opinion. However, my taste has changed, and I'm sure it will continue to over time - yes, thanks to Pinterest, beautiful blogs, & talented designers, darn them :).

      As for the sellers who make major changes to their homes before listing - proceed with caution.

      P.S. Carrera has been at Lowes & Home Depot for a while now.

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  7. The white cabinets and black counters are so classic, and I love the look. Gorgeous kitchen.

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    1. I agree with Marty, and I like the way black anchors the room that is otherwise white. I think getting rid of the backsplash will make all the difference to you. I predict that in a few years people will be frustrated with their all white kitchens. First world problems indeed. You have a classic look there - just needs a little tweaking.

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  8. René, I love your black countertops. I actually look for that while house hunting because I think a black and white kitchen is so chic. Pops of color here and there are great because they can be changed out while you have your neutral pallate. Of course, you realize this since you're a designer, but, in my opinion, you can't go wrong with the kitchen you have picked out. I think the flecks of color keep it from being too stark as well. You have a gorgeous home. Thank you for sharing your fun projects with us!

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  9. Rene, we are in the same boat! I would love to remove my black backsplash but I don't know how. Will yours be a do-it-yourself job? Help!

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    1. Yes it will Deborah. From everything I've read, you just score it along the bottom and pry it off. Of course, nothing is ever as easy as it sounds, but I'm hopeful. I'll definitely share everything I learn from the process. I've seen before & after pictures of this and it really makes a huge difference. Who knows, I may actually LOVE my countertops when it's done, lol.

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  10. I think the black gives the space a grounding that keeps it from looking stark, which is how kitchens with white everything can tend to look, in my opinion. I get what you're saying about the edge, but otherwise I think it's perfect!

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  11. Hi! Love your style. We're working on a major kitchen remodel. Can you tell me more about why you dislike your black granite countertops? Is it just the color and edge, or is there a functionality concern? Any input is much appreciated!

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    1. Thank you! More details can be found here in a follow up post. Hope this helps.

      http://www.cottageandvine.net/2015/10/black-countertops-i-like-few-other.html

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  12. Your kitchen is already really nice, but I do think white subway tile will be gorgeous! And I love that tangerine print!

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  13. Your kitchen is so bright, pretty and cheerful Rene! I love what you've done with it with accessories and styling. I had Uba Tuba in my last house and I liked the color but not the shiny-ness of mine, they constantly needed to be Windexed to look clean and not cloudy! Now I have my bologna-colored countertops and I would take back my shiny counters in a heartbeat :) I totally get living with a huge element that you wouldn't choose now and that is not easy (or inexpensive) to change!!

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  14. I feel your pain as we installed Black Absolute granite in 2006 (not my choice). I use Windex w/o vinegar or ammonia in it to clean them. When we tear off a paper towel from the holder installed under the upper cabinets, a fine layer of paper dust settles on the counter. I wanted to rip them out almost immediately but bargained to remove them in 5 years. Of course, other household/emergency expenses have come up to thwart me but we both agreed that those counters are leaving in 2016, even if we have to put down plywood to use instead.

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  15. We remodeled last year, and I have Absolute Black leathered granite on my perimeter counters, above white cabinets, with Danby marble on my 8x5 center island, which has black cabinets. To me, the solid black (no flecks!) grounds the room, but our kitchen is huge, probably 20' x 16', and needs some reining in around the edge. Plus with 3 young-yet-absurdly tall children, who therefore have wildly-long arms and legs, I needed surfaces that could resist spills and drops. We have faceted white subway tile from counter to ceiing all the way around, and this brings a lot of light into the room. (Don't anyone be jealous about that large kitchen -- our ranch still has a peach-tile,1965-era bathroom!)....I love an all-white marble look, but I'm saving that for the master bath when we get around to it. :)

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  16. Rene, I installed Absolute Black with a bullnose edge in my last house, and I enjoyed them for the first few years. But I had NO IDEA (because that was my first experience with granite) how easily that glossy black surface would show every single water spot, grain of salt or pepper, etc. That drove me BONKERS! We just moved in July, and I had the opportunity to renovate this house first. This house originally had black granite, as well, and I opted for a lighter quartz, which has made all the difference. It's easier to keep clean, and it definitely lightens the look of the room. So while I worked with what I had for a decade, it is nice to be able to move on. I get that you aren't "bashing" black granite ... just stating an opinion. If you'd like to see what I did in my new kitchen, there are pictures of it here: http://www.grass-stains.com/2015/07/before-after-kitchen.html

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  17. Never fear an honest expression of how you feel. If these pages don't reveal our true selves then what does that make us? I enjoyed the post.

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  18. I have black granite (Virginina Mist) counters that are honed and I love them - they look just like soapstone. I thought about trying to hone the granite in our last house because the polished look was dated and I felt like maybe honing would help play down some of the more saturated colors in the granite - would love to see if you're able to do this with your existing counters!

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  19. Crikey....Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry......can we just relax a little:)

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Thanks so much for stopping by! I love your comments and read each and every one. Your questions will be answered here or you can email me at rene.cottageandvine@gmail.com

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