How to Maintain and Clean Your Countertops

If you are anything like us, once you invest in your countertops, you want to get the most out of them. Your countertops’ longevity is directly correlated with your maintenance and upkeep. Since not all countertops are created equal, no “one” remedy handles everything, but knowing how to clean each type of countertop will help you get the most out of your investment. To help, we explored different countertops and various remedies to help you keep them clean and lasting as long as possible. Let’s take a look!


Laminate is a great, affordable countertop solution used in many homes today. The surface is nonporous which makes it easy to clean. It will not need to be sealed or refinished like some countertops. A simple way to clean laminate is with a homogenous blend of water and vinegar. You can use this to get the shine to come back. To remove dirt, simply wipe with a rag to remove debris.


Granite is a durable, gorgeous countertop option. If you have granite, cleaning it is essential. Try to avoid glass cleaners regularly because this can dull the shine in the counter. You should consider having your countertop sealed annually. Depending on the countertops’ use, you may need to have frequent sealings. Granite is a natural element, and it can be stained. Try to remove spills immediately to prevent penetration into the countertop.


Like granite, quartz countertops are very durable; however, they are more flexible. This is an added benefit making the surfaces hard to chip or crack. Because quartz is non-porous, you do not have to seal them. Quartz is a very low-maintenance countertop solution, and it should be noted that direct sunlight can cause discoloring. If you have the opportunity to block UV rays with blinds or shades, remember to do so.

Butcher Block

Butcher block countertops are coming back into the market for their natural aesthetic appeal. Butcher block is typically oiled. To clean, remove dirt from your countertops. Pick a food-safe oil but avoid walnut and culinary oils because these can oxidize and build of the surface. If you have a coating on your surface, this should be sanded off before application. Apply a mineral oil and allow it to absorb. You can then add a conditioner as well to prevent cracking to the wood.

All countertops have pros and cons, but you should be able to decide which is best for you and your lifestyle. Remember to consider the maintenance requirements to sustain your countertops for longer. For more tips and tricks, make sure to subscribe.

Planning a Kitchen Remodel for Resale

The kitchen can be one of the most significant selling points of a home to prospective buyers. Your home’s resale value can be determined by several factors of your home, one of them including the kitchen. The kitchen’s functionality, aesthetic appeal, and appliances can all contribute to the value. It is essential to properly invest in your kitchen if you are planning on reselling your home. Certain buyers will want particular features in their future kitchen, but there are general guidelines that will help make your kitchen appealing to all prospective buyers. Let’s take a look! 

1. Appliances. Keep in mind that homeowners typically prefer stainless steel appliances for their home. If you are looking to potentially sell your home, you should consider buying stainless steel appliances to keep buyers happy. Also, you will need to take in consideration the age of each appliance that may need to be replaced. Some appliances will last longer than others. Make sure to only replace items if they need to be replaced then you can use the leftover money on other kitchen features.

2. Counter Space & Countertops. Food gurus love a lot of kitchen counter space. Plus, it will not devalue your house if you have a lot of counter space available. The type of countertop your home has can really hold together your whole kitchen’s design. Granite countertops tend to be homeowners’ favorite because of their beauty and durability. Granite allows you to place hot pans on top of it without having to worry about potentially burning it. If you are worried about the cost, consider getting grade 2 granite. Buyers are not necessarily looking for the most expensive countertops, but a nice-looking countertop can complete the overall look.

3. Storage. The kitchen could be absolutely gorgeous, but if there is nowhere to put anything, it is almost useless to buyers. The number of cabinets and drawers available for storage purposes can be a major selling feature. Homeowners do not want to worry about where they will put all of their kitchen supplies. If your home does not have enough storage currently, try adding in some more cabinets.

4. Flooring. There are some significant factors to keep in mind when you are choosing your kitchen flooring. If your kitchen is opened to other rooms in your house, consider the style and if it flows with the rest of your home. Keep in mind that your flooring can determine the aesthetic appeal of your kitchen. Flooring can either be a real eye-sore or a statement piece. Lastly, you should consider how easy it is to clean your flooring. Maintenance can definitely be a priority for some homeowners.

Try remodeling your kitchen with classic trends rather than making it super trendy. Focus on designing with trends that tend to stay in style for a long time. We hope you found these four tips helpful. Thanks for reading! 

Bathroom Blogfest 2012: Using Marble in the Bath

We are participating in the 7th annual Bathroom Blogfest! This year’s theme is “Still Coming Out” and it is a great way to bring together bloggers from all over the globe to talk about bathroom designs.  Take a look at who’s participating this year and get the inside scoop on everything bathroom.

There is just something classic about marble in the bathroom. Marble counters and sinks are traditional designs that continue to be popular today.  But there are new ways to use marble in the bathroom in addition to the classics.

Marble tiles can be applied to the floor, walls, and shower stall.  New tile sizes and patterns make this centuries old material feel contemporary.  Laying the tile in a horizontal pattern, rather than a traditional vertical pattern turns these classic tiles into a contemporary style.   Oversize horizontal tiles, like in this bathroom, are another way to put a contemporary twist on marble tiles.

Marble can be polished, honed and tumbled for shiny and matte surfaces.  Honed and tumbled are better choices for flooring as they are not as slick when wet.  Placing a bath mat down can help absorb water and prevent slips.

The tile is a neutral color, which allows a homeowner to have versatile options for the sinks, countertop, and bathroom accessories.  This homeowner chose to keep the bathroom sinks and countertop clean and neutral by choosing white, but they always have the option of adding a pop of color with towels or candles. Another great option for marble tile choices is classic white marble with grey veins.  A mix of white fixtures and marble has a crisp feeling that makes us think of a luxury hotel or spa.

Covering the walls and tub surround in the same marble tile gives this bathroom a uniform look and only adds to the luxurious spa feeling. Using the same material throughout the space makes the room feel even larger.

Even a little marble can make a big impact. A marble counter in the bathroom would take a small amount of stone and could fit most budgets. You could also add a strip of small marble tile for a sink’s backsplash in the bathroom.  It will add detail and interest to your bathroom.

Read more about Bathroom Blogfest 2012 from other writers:

Name Twitter Username Blog Name Blog URL
Susan Abbott susanabbott theIdeaStudio
Laurence Borel blogtillyoudrop blog till you drop
Bill Buyok AventeTile Avente Tile Talk
Jeanne Byington jmbyington The Importance of Earnest Service
Nora DePalma steamtherapy The Mr. Steam SteamTherapy Blog
Mr. Steam noradepalma OR-DP POV
Stacy Garcia kbtribechat kbtribe
Diane Kazan dkazan Public Bathroom Blog
Arpi Nalbandian Arpi_Nalb Avente Tile Talk
Victoria & Shelley Redshaw & Pond scarletopus Scarlet Opus Trends Blog
Sandy Renshaw sandyrenshaw Purple Wren
Bruce D. Sanders rimtailing RIMtailing
Paige Smith none Tile tips from installation professionals
Todd Vendituoli TALV58 Thebuildingblox
Shannon Vogel cyswebsites From the Floors Up
CB Whittemore cbwhittemore Content Talks Business Blog
Irene Williams crossvilleinc Elevate Your Space
Linda Wright skiptotheloo Skip to the Loo!


Where Do You Find Inspiration?

24021915Those who are familiar with Greece will recognize this typical street scene. The bright white sun-washed stucco walls provide an inviting contrast to the vivid blues that pepper the country as doorways and railings.

One couple wanting to remember their dream vacation decided to use these images as a starting-point for their kitchen renovation. This is a fun approach to designing – thinking beyond the traditional sources of inspiration by drawing on memories and photographs of a favorite country, season or moment as the foundation of any room in your home.

Take a look at the kitchen they designed in the photo below. You can see many aspects of this street scene echoed in the room. The flooring is the most exciting match – finding a good quality vinyl with a similar pattern of grey stones against the white concrete edging was a stroke of luck. The stones pictured in the kitchen are smaller, which suits the smaller proportions of a kitchen as opposed to a street.

30485736The white stucco walls are reproduced here as white cabinets, and the rich cobalt blue that is uniquely Greece covers the back wall. The softer blue of the door to the left is reflected in the countertops, and even that splash of turquoise with the upper right railing comes into the kitchen with a vase in a lighter tone of that same hue.

When you plan a redesign or choose options for a new home, take advantage of the opportunity to think outside the traditional box. This couple made a daring choice, and has the chance to be reminded of the trip of a lifetime every time they step into their kitchen.

Professional Kitchen Designers

For a full down to the studs kitchen remodel or an update, working with a professional kitchen designer can be a great idea. Professional kitchen designers can help you design your dream kitchen or choose new countertops for a quick update.


Flooring, counters, backsplashes, cabinets, appliances and lighting can each change the look and feel of a kitchen. On their own they can update the kitchen; together they will give your kitchen a whole new look. Selecting a single one of these to work with your existing kitchen can be tricky. Choosing a combination of new counters, cabinets and flooring can be downright daunting. Enter the kitchen designer.


Kitchen designers can help you select a stone backsplash that coordinates with granite counter tops that also work with your existing cabinetry. Larger guts and remodels can be planned by a kitchen designer to change not only the look of your kitchen but its functionality.  These designers can recommend changes to floor plans that can up the function of your kitchen without expanding the floor plan.  For major projects an in home consultation to take measurements is a must.  Even for surface changes, a home appointment should be done for measurements and color samples.


To hire a kitchen designer you can begin by asking friends and neighbors for recommendations who have recently remodeled their kitchens. If there is a local kitchen showroom, visit and ask for a consultation. Get several estimates before deciding to make sure you find the right kitchen designer for your home and budget.

Granite Countertop Myths – Reader Question

Reader Question:

I am thinking about granite countertops in my kitchen and have heard many conflicting stories about whether you can cut directly on them or use hot pots directly on them. Before I fall in love with a color I want to be sure this is the right product for me! Can you clear up either of these and also tell me if there are other things I should know about? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Theresa from Washington



Great questions! These are questions I hear very frequently, so you are not alone. Granite is a wonderful choice for countertops, but even though it is a rock- it is not indestructible. Below are answers to your questions as well as a few other things you may want to know about granite.

  • Hot pots should be placed on trivets or potholders rather than directly on the countertop. Placing hot pots directly on the countertop can burn the sealer that has been applied to protect the tops.
  • You should always use a cutting board on any countertop surface for cleanliness, slip resistance and also protection from knife blades.
  • Granite countertops should be sealed because granite can be permanently stained by  grease and other oily substances. It can also be etched by acids found in common household products and foods such as lemons.
  • Granite countertops can be made from slabs or granite tiles. When choosing granite tiles, its always a good idea to seal the grout or use epoxy grout to prevent staining.
  • When selecting the color of your countertops, look at the largest sample possible to see the veining and color variation that is naturally occurring in granite. (Remember, the more movement and variation in your granite, the more unique it is and also easier to hide dirt!)

Enjoy your new countertops, but protect your investment by taking proper care of them. Thanks again for the question. I am sure there are others out there wondering the same thing!

Kitchen Tile Design Ideas

If you love to cook, you probably spend a lot of time in your kitchen.  Even if you don’t love to cook, but you have a family, you probably still spend a lot of time in your kitchen. Why not make your kitchen so beautiful that you want to spend as much time as you can in it!?!

This kitchen is a great example of one I would want to spend a lot of time in. There’s lots of space, plenty of color, a variety of textures and even a whimsical element in the furniture.

Let’s take a look at some of the features in this kitchen that make it unique and give it a look and feel that encourages you to spend time in it!

  • Notice the pattern of the floor tile. There is not only a beautiful tile that shows color and range, but it is mixed with metal accents. The floor starts out straight around the perimeter and then is divided by a metal floor border. Then, inside the border the direction the tile is laid changes to a diagonal install with metal accent dots in the alternating intersections of the joints.
  • The warmness of the floor compliments the color of the cabinets well. Then, notice how the countertop does an excellent job of tying the colors in the floor and the colors in the cabinet together. Note how things blend and coordinate, but do not match.
  • The designer chose to go with a lighter, more neutral backsplash and use a pattern to set the tile for the focus rather than introducing more color.  It serves as a nice restful backdrop for the decorative items displayed on the counter.
  • Of course there has to be a comment about the whimsical Picasso barstools. The finish on the stools ties in well with the color of the cabinet hardware. The seat cushion brings in the warmth of the wall color -all while introducing an element of fun!
  • Overall, this kitchen achieves a feeling of warmth and comfort while being extremely functional and not to mention – easy to keep clean!

What are your thoughts on this kitchen? What would you change? Does the warmth and color scheme appeal to you?

ECO Countertops by Cosentino

Are you tired of the same countertop choices? Are you looking for something new? Innovative? Green? If so, keep reading to learn more about ECO countertops by Cosentino.

This durable countertop surface is made from 75% recycled content (either pre- or post- consumer depending on color), which is bound by an environmentally friendly resin which comes in part from corn oil. ECO by Cosentino is a sustainable substitute for natural and/or engineered stone.


* It won’t scratch, stain or scorch (but you should always use a cutting board to protect your knives)

* Doesn’t require sealing because it’s low in porosity

* Available in 10 designer colors and two textures (Leather™ and polished)

* Available in 63”x 128” slab and standard size tiles

* Backed by a 5 year limited warranty

* LEED credits: MR Credit 4.1 and 4.2 : Recycled Content

There are other eco-friendly surfacing materials in the market today, but no other like ECO by Cosentino. ECO by Cosentino reutilizes materials that have reached the end of their life cycle, thus saving on the creation and consumption of natural resources. Most of the raw materials used in the creation of ECO are: Porcelain Mirror, Glass Corn Based Resin

and Crystallized Ash Stone Scraps.

One of the best features:

To maintain ECO surfaces’ beauty and shine, simply wipe the surface with soap and water on a regular basis.

Thanks, CaraGreen for the introduction of ECO by Cosentino!

Cambria Special Request – Reader Question

Question: I would like to know if you have any information regarding making a farm sink out of the same Cambria countertop material I am using for my counters.

My architect made a farm sink out of the same limestone she used for her countertops. I really like the look and was just wondering if you had any experience with it.

Answer: I contacted Cambria for this special request and was pleased to find out that you can in fact have a farm sink made from Cambria. It is a special / custom order that can be done. Each order is priced on an individual basis. Other information that Cambria will need includes, your location, where you plan to purchase Cambria and an estimated size of your sink.

For more information, contact

Angie Hilgenberg

Director of Marketing Promotions

If you are not familiar with Cambria – see below for some of the benefits of Cambria:

  • Strength & Durability– Cambria Natural Quartz Surfaces™ are twice as strong as granite. Cambria is a surface that is truly everlasting.
  • Maintenance Free – No sealing, polishing or reconditioning is needed. Simply wash with warm water. It’s that simple. Plus, unlike granite, Cambria will resist stains from common food items such as wine, coffee and tea.
  • Food Safe – Unlike granite, Cambria has been certified by NSF International as safe for use as a food preparation surface. Cambria is nonporous; therefore, food and moisture cannot penetrate the surface — the main source of growth for harmful bacteria.
  • All Natural – Cambria is created from pure natural quartz, an extremely hard stone. In fact, quartz is the hardest non-precious stone that can be found in the earth’s surface.
  • Everlasting Value – With its beauty and performance advantages over granite, a Cambria kitchen countertop or bathroom vanity will add value to your home.
  • Guaranteed – As the only producer of quartz surfaces in the United States, Cambria is covered by a Lifetime Limited Warranty.

The closer you look, the more you’ll discover the benefits of Cambria over other surfaces. With Cambria, you’ll add warmth and beauty plus the strength and durability that can only be found in natural quartz. Your dream home begins with Cambria!

Cambria Countertops – Environmental Product Attributes

Discover the warmth and richness that can only be found in natural quartz surfaces – where elegance and beauty meet function and lasting durability. With an endless palette of dazzling colors showcasing the depth and character of natural quartz, you’ll see why more and more homeowners are asking for Cambria by name. Bring your dream kitchen or bath to life today – Discover yourself in Cambria!

Cambria is committed to environmental responsibility in its product offerings and business practices.

Product Attributes:

  • Natural quartz; strong, durable and long lasting.
  • Cambria is nonporous and nonabsorbant, and therefore resists stains from common household items such as coffee, tea, and wine.
  • As the only quartz countertop produced in the USA, Cambria has lower transportation requirements than other quartz surfacing products produced in the Middle East, Asia and Europe.
  • Cambria is GREENGUARD For Children and SchoolsSM certified.
  • Cambria is GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified®.
  • Cambria can contribute to projects achieving LEED points.
  • Cambria is certified by NSF International (Standard 51-Food Equipment Materials) as safe for use as a food preparation surface.
  • Cambria is radon free.

For a product comparison of other types of countertops, click here.