A good friend, Tara, wrote for advice on her kitchen. The budget and economy nixed plans to completely redo her kitchen. Instead, they're looking at putting in granite countertops and redesigning their island.
Her biggest concern was the amount of white: white cabinets, white appliances, white floor.
She had questions about:
1) Should the island be different cabinets? Use maple perhaps since their home has some maple trim and the kitchen table is in maple?
2) What height should the island be: bar height, counter height or table height?
3) What about a tiered island?
4) And what do you do with the backsplash once you put in the granite?
So we wrote back and forth and among other gossip, we discussed each question.
1) I told her that her odd-shaped island was actually clever to maximize space and asked if she had enough room to make it a rectangle. She answered that she did. I advised that that would be best, especially since she had mentioned trying to get some seating space at it. I told her she could do the island in maple as that was popular, but she opted to keep it white. The new granite would be used on the island and other tops.
2) For height, I recommended counter height with bar stools. That way it provided consistency throughout her kitchen while the stools would give her seating space. To accomplish that, you put a solid piece on the back side of the cabinets to finish them. You can even get panels that match the doors. Then you have support brackets or corbels to support the overhanging countertop. Your stools then slide beneath when not in use.
3) We discussed a two-tier island. I have seen those a few times, but given the size and the added expense of more granite, more carpentry, and finish work, I suggested she keep it one level and use the stools mentioned above.
4) For the backsplash, she can put a small one up with the granite or a full one from the countertop to underneath the cabinets. However, that much granite is expensive and can be a bit overwhelming. I recommended she use a four inch backsplash and then tile above that to beneath the cabinets. If possible, get tiles of the same granite to make accent pieces in your backsplash design as shown here.
Tara is keeping her paint color (great choice of color) and will likely remove the border. We'll wait for after pictures.
Remember my favorite tip for saving money on granite countertops: get remnant slabs at a big discount, especially for smaller kitchens or islands.
If you have a question of your own or an idea request, just email me or reply in the comments below.