As much as I love Carrara marble, and I am all about the patina of age and use, a few fly-away squirts of lemon or a tipped bottle of wine leave ugly yellow stains on marble. We need a countertop to withstand the daily abuse of a test kitchen and still be camera– and party– ready.
When I brought a dozen or so ‘tweens from my cooking program at the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club to cook in the very beautiful and elegant Christopher Peacock kitchen in the Kips Bay Decorator Show House, I couldn’t get over how well the counters cleaned up after we seemingly destroyed the place. (Seriously, imagine cooking with a slew of 11-14 year olds in your kitchen, and picture the mess.) I found out it was Silestone, but given that it was installed in the very tony Show House, I assumed it was going to be outrageously expensive. I was wrong– it is comparable in price to granite– but cleaning and maintaining quartz countertops is substantially easier, and I could get the light, muted tones I wanted.
We vacillated between two colors: Lagoon and Lyra, both of which are white with gray veining similar to marble. We have a 13-foot uninterrupted surface on our island, and ultimately felt the more subtle Lagoon, with a sueded (not polished) finish would give us a softer look.
The best materials in the world won’t look or function right if they are not measured and installed with precision. Our fabricator, Stone Surfaces, had a challenge with our 13-foot island, which had to be made from two pieces and seamed. They did a great job sealing it in such a way that you can barely see it.
I also put the extra length of Silestone that came from the slab on the counter in my office/studio, which allows us to put warm or messy dishes down during a photo shoot without ruining the surface. (That was actually tricky to install, because it was fitted on top of a 1926 built-in bookcase that was far from square, but they made it work.)
Finally, I used another small piece of Silestone for our charging station. We keep our iPads and laptops there while we work– far enough away from splashes and close enough for “in-process research” (aka, looking stuff up.) There’s a beautiful close-up shot of it in the article about our kitchen in the September 2016 issue of Rachael Ray Every Day.
The base of the charging station, by the way, is a Restoration Hardware lamp. (Our builder came up with the idea when we were trying to figure out how to hang the heavy Silestone on the wall. The lamp was sitting in my office, just waiting to be useful.)
You never really know until you start actually using materials for yourself how you will feel about them, but I was very happy when, a few days after posting about the counters on Facebook (but weeks before I could use the kitchen), a colleague sent me a message to tell me how much she continues to love her Silestone counters after several years of use. That was reassuring to hear, and now that we’ve been abusing– er, using– the countertops for months now they still look like they did the day they were installed.
Want to read more about our renovation? There’s a story about it in the September issue of Rachael Ray Every Day or read my posts here:
Please note: We partnered with many companies, including Silestone, to produce our dream kitchen, and received goods and services along the way. Obviously, we only worked with products that meet our standards for quality, durability, functionality and good looks– and that we are happy to live with for the next 20 years.