Best in class: Kitchen countertops

From highly polished natural stone to seamless and organic, the choices are endless

The jewel-like monolithic counters by Stamuli Architecture for fashion house Ganni’s new London store would work equally well as kitchen islands.

The jewel-like monolithic counters by Stamuli Architecture for fashion house Ganni’s new London store would work equally well as kitchen islands.

 

1. ALL WRAPPED UP

When investing in a kitchen it can sometimes feel like the same styles and shapes are everywhere. One point of difference is your choice of kitchen countertop. A really inventive way to go is to invest in the creative thinking employed by Stockholm-based Stamuli Architecture in a recent project for fashion house Ganni’s new London store which loosely resembles the living quarters of the label’s founders, married couple Ditte and Nicolaj Reffstrup.

It features cool half-walls to break up the open space and jewel-like monolithic counters that would work equally well as kitchen islands. The material pictured is made from plastic packaging, and you can still see traces of a barcode and letters on the oceanic plastic bottle product, according to its principal, Emanuele Stamuli. The counter, pictured, is 180cm in length and 60cm wide. The material pictured comes in five, 12 or 20mm-deep options. Pictured is the 20mm deep option that is set onto MDF.

Stamuli is remaining tight-lipped about its suppliers, but says an island of this type, designed and fabricated by his team, will cost upwards of €17,000. stamuli.com; ganni.com

2. NATURAL STONE WORKTOPS

Lundhs Real Stone’s Emerald, an inky green in a silk finish, is used on the countertop and splashbacks.
Lundhs Real Stone’s Emerald, an inky green in a silk finish, is used on the countertop and splashbacks.

Durability is one of the key factors you need to consider when choosing your worktop material. Made from Norwegian Larvikite, Lundhs Real Stone is incredibly durable, and has a high density and a non-porous surface. The natural stone worktop is heat, water, scratch, stain and UV resistant. Pictured is its Emerald, an inky green in a silk finish, which has been used on the countertop and its splashback, and onto which you can place hot pans directly onto its surface. Brian Dukes Kitchen by Design in Newtown Cunningham, Co Donegal and Wexford town can supply this on-trend colour from €780 per sq m, ex-finishing. lundhsrealstone.com; briandukeskitchens.com

3. UNHONED GRANITE

This richly textured Azul Aran is sourced from a quarry near the French border in northern Spain for Cullifords, a London-based stone merchant.
This richly textured Azul Aran is sourced from a quarry near the French border in northern Spain for Cullifords, a London-based stone merchant.

Granite is making a comeback, but instead of a highly polished finish, the new way to work this gorgeous material is to have an unhoned, leather look that feels far softer to the touch and is less likely to attract dust mites in the way that the polished black countertops of old did. Pictured is a richly textured Azul Aran, sourced from a quarry near the French border in northern Spain. Its blue-grey colour works really well in Irish sunlight, or lack thereof. The quarry supplies Cullifords, a London-based stone merchant. Currently it can be ordered through Wexford-based Stone Solutions, for about €700 per sq m. To have it cut and finished to the 30mm deep wall-clad design and to the increased depth of the island along with cut-outs, will cost from about €4,400, once fitting and delivery are factored in. azularan.com; cullifords.uk; stonesolutions.ie

4. UPDATE IN CERAMIC

You can bring in pattern and texture when using ceramic tiles as a countertop. It’s an affordable way to update existing units. You do need to consider the grout you’re going to use however. Use an epoxy grout – it comes in white or grey only, says Jackie Horgan of Tilestyle. “Any porcelain tile will work as it’s a strong surface.”

Tilestyle’s range of Wow tiles are priced at about €80 per sq m and can be viewed on its website. If you’re not a fan of grout, large-format non-porous porcelain tiles may be for you. Project has a range by Inalco that will give you a stone look on any design of up to three metres in length, and these cost from €3,000 per finished worktop. This design, pictured, is by cool UK kitchen firm, The Main Company, and includes a hammered copper sink. A kitchen like this starts from about €28,000, excluding delivery and fitting. maincompany.com; tilestyle.ie.

5. ORGANIC SHAPES

Corian’s Smoke Drift Prima, made of an acrylic polymer and alumina tri-hydratea, is available from Arena Kitchens.
Corian’s Smoke Drift Prima, made of an acrylic polymer and alumina tri-hydratea, is available from Arena Kitchens.

Made of an acrylic polymer and alumina tri-hydrate, a material derived from bauxite ore, Corian allows you to create undulating, virtually seamless, organic-shaped counters in bold colours or with a translucency that can be backlit. It also offers swirling confections that rival marbles and can, in some instances, mimic famed psychoanalyst Hermann Rorschach’s ink blots. Pictured is its Smoke Drift Prima. Arena Kitchens supply new countertops in this contemporary material at prices ranging from €3,500 to €8,000, depending on the size and finish required. corian.uk; arenakitchens.com

6. REUSE RATHER THAN PLUNDER

The marble counter on the island at number 88 Goatstown Road features a beautifully aged piece that came out of a greengrocers in Leixlip.
The marble counter on the island at number 88 Goatstown Road features a beautifully aged piece that came out of a greengrocers in Leixlip.

With consumers becoming far more aware of the environmental impact of our purchasing choices, savvy shoppers are looking at ways to repurpose or reuse surfaces rather than plunder the earth again for materials that took millennia to form. The marble counter on the island at number 88 Goatstown Road features a beautifully aged piece that came out of a greengrocers in Leixlip. Old slate taken from snooker tables and church altars are another option. Such finds are becoming rarer and more expensive to buy, and while smaller in size than modern kitchen islands, they can add oodles of character to a room. Wilson’s Yard and The Store Yard are good places to hunt. The latter has a rouge marble-topped island for €4,500, that came out of Café en Seine on Dawson Street. thestoreyard.ie; wilsonsyard.com.

7. STEEL STYLE

Stainless steel countertops – durable but now also stylish, from Leicht.
Stainless steel countertops – durable but now also stylish, from Leicht.

Stainless steel is what professional chefs prefer in their set-ups. It is hygienic, easy to maintain, and practically indestructible. But in its commercial state it can lack a sense of style. Which is where German-engineered Leicht comes into the mix. It has created a wafer-thin top made of stainless steel that has been fused with dark anthracite grey below-counter units. It is elegant, looks effortless and can include welded-in sinks and cut-outs for hobs. It costs from about €4,000 for an average-sized space and can be ordered through Sandymount-based McNally. mcnallyliving.ie

8. SEAMLESS FINISH

Staron is a large, pliable surface that can provide a seamless surface to your splashback finish. It comes in all manner of soft neutral shades, such as this Ocean View.
Staron is a large, pliable surface that can provide a seamless surface to your splashback finish. It comes in all manner of soft neutral shades, such as this Ocean View.

If you’re looking for something without any joins then Staron is a large, pliable surface that is made to measure to ensure a seamless surface to your splashback finish. The quartz is composed of plastic polymers that have less brilliance and reflectivity, and provide a softer-looking surface which helps integrate a kitchen into a larger open-plan room. It comes in all manner of soft neutral shades, such as Ocean View (pictured), but its Aspen range, in particular Lava, an earthy red, Sky, an inky blue, Fiesta, a terrazzo-like effect, and Pepper, a brownish grey, offer gorgeous fashion options and easy ways to bring colour in. It is distributed in the UK and Ireland by Blackheath Products Limited and is priced from about €389 per sq m. While resistant to scratches and heat, it is still recommended that you use a chopping board, and/or a trivot for hot pots. staron.com; blackheathproducts.co.uk