The Icing on Top


Icing is to cake what counter tops are to cabinets. Look out, I'm doing ratios! And that's as far as my math skills go. Which is unfortunate, because I need them to figure out how much (or should I say little) this stunning Butcher Block counter would cost to be installed in our ranch house kitchen. But we'll worry about that later, for now, let's just feast our eyes on this beautiful wood!

After the long (four years, to be exact) process of planning our cabinetry, we're just about ready for the next big move- the counter tops. We've been vacillating between granite, Corian, and Quartz- natural stone vs. engineered, there are pros and cons to both. After looking at a lot of samples, we'd sort of settled on granite, since the other two are just as expensive yet not as beautiful or "renowned" in a lot of cases.

Then, just yesterday, a whole new world of possibility opened up. I happened to catch a 5 second clip of a re-design show on HGTV where kitchen counters were updated with butcher block for $35. What?! Didn't they mean $3,500? No, $35. Anybody who's priced anything-kitchen has got to find that mind-blowing. We were quoted at about $6,000 for counter tops, assuming we chose granite, Corian, or Quartz. I looked into laminate and concrete as well, which are almost, if not just as expensive. I didn't think there was any way around the cost, that shelling out 6 big ones was just the way it had to be.


But it appears I'm wrong! It's not just about the money, although saving it is nice. But money issues aside, these counter tops are just flat out gorgeous. And I'm sure there's a wide price range, some are probably just as expensive as granite, while others are apparently as low as $35 (per foot, I'm guessing). But assuming we went with a less expensive one, with a little sanding and staining even the most basic butcher block could be transformed into a beautiful, custom element.

After doing a little research with the ole Google machine, I came across some options from Lumber Liquidators. (We're big LL fans, we purchased our solid bamboo flooring through them, more on that later!)

For instance, take this basic maple slab. It's only $259 for 8 linear feet of it. (Which I just learned means 8 "ruler" feet, as opposed to cubic or square feet.)


How would it look on top of our espresso maple cabinets? Thanks to Photoshop, it doesn't have to be a mystery:


Now, how would it look if we stained the butcher block to mimic our bamboo and espresso-stained-maple stairs?


Here are the stairs, just in case you haven't seen them:


And just to bring it full circle, here's our inspiration kitchen. (See the full kitchen plans here.) Funny how the color scheme has totally come together with the stairs (and maybe even with the counter tops, if we decide to go with them).

Now to the not-so-fun but very important part; the cost. And this requires math, unfortunately. Let me just say that numbers are no piece of cake for this brain of mine. But I'll give it my best shot.

This is our kitchen blueprint- the camel colored blocks represent the counter space.


(Warning: DO NOT READ THIS WHILE OPERATING HEAVY MACHINERY). So the first question is how many linear feet of counter space do we need to cover? Well, after eyeing the little measurements around the perimeter of these blueprints, I'm coming up with a total of 171 inches- assuming I read it correctly- although it's probably safer to assume I read it incorrectly. But for now I'll pretend to know what I'm talking about. So, 171 inches, plus 60 inches (5 feet), for the island. That's a total of 231 inches, which converts to 19.25 linear feet. We'll round to 20 linear feet, to account for the little triangle piece that we'll need in the upper left corner.

So, 20 linear feet it is! Since each butcher block is 8 feet long, we'll need exactly 2.5 blocks. Except since they probably don't do halfsies, we'll need 3 blocks.

Here we go...drum roll please....

3 Butcher Blocks x $259 per block= $777!

Compared to granite, that's an approximate savings of $5,000! Haha, it seems laughable. Am I missing something here? Is it just me, or does that sound too good to be true? Thane hasn't seen these numbers yet, but I'm thinking he'll be pretty impressed when he does. I have to mention that he has some reservations about the upkeep required for butcher blocks, and wonders if it's an inferior material. Well, one thing's for sure, it's not as hard or as resilient as solid stone, and you can't set a hot pan on it (although I've never set a hot pan directly onto a counter top, so I don't see why I'd start). But anyway, for these reasons Thane's still leaning towards granite. So we're thinking about sticking with granite for the perimeter counter tops and then doing a Butcher Block island as an accent. If that's the route we take, we'll go with a light, creamy, neutral toned granite slab, similar to the one you see on the perimeter cabinets in the inspiration kitchen photo above. That would be a beautiful option, although the pricier of the two.

So, we'll see which direction we end up taking... By the way, our supplier took one last final measurement of our kitchen yesterday, so we're just about ready to place the cabinet order!

- - -P.S. I happen to know a wonderful pastry chef who thinks very highly of butcher block counter tops...apparently they're great for rolling out dough, among other things. (Like cookie prep, perhaps?) So, just wanted to throw this out here to further support my case for butcher blocks. Thanks Becca!

- - -P.S.S. A family member of mine is currently attempting to DIY their own butcher block counter tops out of old barn wood, how cool! If I get permission, I'll post photos of the finished product.

4 comments:

Rebecca Zwerneman said...

Sarah- as far as upkeep goes for the butcher block- just soapy water will keep it clean and a rub down of mineral oil about twice a year will keep them from getting dried out. Pretty easy. :) But, I also think the granite with butcher block island would be pretty too!

Sarah said...

Thanks Becca! That's another thing we were wondering about, the cleaning. I'd also read that rubbing a lemon wedge over it helps keep bacteria away. Yeah, we'll see what we end up doing...
Thanks again!

Psalm 1 said...

I can't wait to see the finished home Sarah! You always have such a great eye for design.

Sarah said...

Thanks Psalm 1! Haha, a "finished" home...I'm wondering if we'll ever be able to call it that. But that's what keeps it fun though :)

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