Pure white countertops generally only available in manufactured materials such as Corian or Caesarstone bring a contemporary minimalist freshness that no natural stone can match. Luckily these materials resist stains well so they can stay a crisp white for years with just a little care. This stark look works well in contemporary spaces. As mentioned the severity of a true white can fight a traditional decor but in a modern space it feels appropriately crisp. It’s especially effective in small spaces such as compact condo kitchens paired with minimalist white cabinets to give the illusion of a bigger space.
Recycled Glass and Cement Kitchen Counters. Although it's expensive ($100 to $160 per square foot installed) this unique combination of glass and cement is a surefire way to add character to your kitchen. Ecofriendly durable and customizable this countertop material is a top choice for a "forever home".
Soapstone Kitchen Counters. Often used in laboratories for its resistance to stains chemicals and bacteria soapstone is a durable and natural choice for a kitchen. At $80 to $100 per square foot installed it might be on the more expensive side but it can be a lifetime investment.
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Boldly veined stone countertops can either make you stop and gaze in admiration or have the opposite effect and overwhelm your eyes. In general the bolder the veining on your counters the less drama you’ll want to add elsewhere. This waterfall counter (with the material wrapped down the sides) is relatively muted but the large gray veins still bring enough character without any daring colors or other statement features.
Lighter woods tend to have more of a casual or rustic feel compared with darker‐stained options. Light‐stained or unstained woods can have a cottage‐inspired feel or a Scandinavian vibe depending on whether you pair them with traditional or modern accouterments. In either case a traditional runner rug makes an excellent complement. Darker woods come off a little more formal and polished than lighter tones. They lend a certain gravity to a space which can work well in areas that are already bright and breezy with lots of windows. When mixing wood counters with other wood finishes it’s often best to stick to either warm or cool tones across the board. Red‐brown woods are more traditional while ashy gray tones have been a popular modern trend in recent years. Whichever tones you prefer they will be less likely to clash if you stick to one family or the other.
Flecked or Softly Veined White. One of the most common and coveted countertop finishes is a stone or manufactured slab material such as quartz in a white or off‐white shade with a light multitonal fleck or grain to give it subtle natural richness. This snowy sparkling look works well in many situations since it is very neutral but also contemporary and fresh. The pale tone brings a sense of cleanness and lightness to the space with a twist of subtle sophistication. In more traditional kitchens this is usually a better choice than a true minimalist white countertop which can be too severe and fight with the elegance of other elements such as knotty woods Shaker cabinets or lantern pendant lights.