Davenport Kitchen Counter Tops and Problems

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pharding
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Davenport Kitchen Counter Tops and Problems

Post by pharding »

We continue to wander around like Moses in the desert looking for the ideal kitchen counter tops. This part of the project is one grand compromise. The key elements are historic considerations; expectations of my wife, who is influenced by what her friends have; advice from our color and material consultant; maintenance issues; and my opinion. My wife who has been incredibly supportive in this endeavor, has insisted and continues to insist on granite. I would much prefer something else besides granite, but that is not going to fly. With granite my initial thoughts were to use muted green with some hints of yellow ocher or brown from the cabinets. I have also decided to use a honed finish which makes the granite look less modern. That reduces the saturation of the stone color and makes it lighter in appearance. Unfortunately the stone samples are generally polished so we are forced to have samples honed by our fabricator to see what the end product will look like. I have a beautiful limestone that everyone associated with project likes except for my wife. So the limestone is out because of her concerns about maintenance. Same with soapstone. There are not a lot good choices with gray green granite with hints of warmth in it. One of my staff architects has been to all of the major granite supply houses in Chicago and we still have not found the ideal solution. I proposed the wood counter tops to my wife again today and my generally supportive spouse is not buying that. I am now going to work with Walker Zanger, who has absolutely superb quality control and beautiful stone, and see what we can come up with them. I am also thinking about bagging the green and doing something that is definitely easier to work with. This is what I am now looking at in a more neutral counter top with warm hints in it.
http://www.walkerzanger.com/catalog/indexh.php On page 176 I am looking at Amber Gold Granite. Plus I will probably revisit their greens. We have been looking at options for the counter tops sporadically since September and we are clearly running out of time.

This week has been problems week. We still do not have the environmentally friendly, non-VOC-off-gassing plywood for the kitchen cabinets which is delaying the kitchen cabinets. The contractor scheduled to install them is not happy about the delay. Stone problems. The recovered pine floor boards for patching the original floor arrived on site. They have too many dark boards and many are not usable. I am thinking about converting our new HVAC system into a hybrid geothermal system and that will cost an extra $12,000. Plus it will be challenge to run the water pipes with the walls finished up to the attic mechanical room. Problems, problems. Our list problems continually diminishes but new ones seem to arise. However we are in the home stretch and the restored Davenport House promises to be spectacular. We'll just continue to deal with the problems in a logical manner and it will all work out.
Last edited by pharding on Sun Dec 16, 2007 3:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

jlesshafft
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Post by jlesshafft »

The newest, hottest trend in countertops is concrete which can be colored, would that fly? There are also some nice man-made (synthetic) granites (Silestone is one) that are pretty good, and a nice greyish-green one that we considered before we decided on granite.

pharding
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Post by pharding »

Concrete counter tops are fine, but they just do not seem appropriate. I like quartz a lot, but it too just does not seem appropriate to this 1901 house.

We are just starting on the restoration and addition to a mid-century modern architect designed house in north suburban Chicago. It is a prime candidate for quartz counter tops and walnut base cabinets.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

jlesshafft
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Post by jlesshafft »

Look at the Silestone web site. They also make some solid color "quartz" which might fill your needs.

I don't know if it's still available, but how about slate? Like the old chem lab bench tops?

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

There is a company called SealMaxx that makes a clear (non-glossy) sealer that would be a perfect solution to the maintenance problem associated with soapstone, slate, or concrete. Have you looked at the laminated paper countertops? No maintenance. Paperstone, Richlite, shetkaSTONE are three, there are several. I saw one company that had a real attractive solid black. These can also be routed with integral drainboards which might be appropriate for the time period. There also is Squak Mountain Stone which is a "green" composite of paper and concrete.

There is a company in Tinley Park called Air-Ease that specializes in geothermal installations.

wjsaia
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Post by wjsaia »

A product known as Colorlith has been around for a long time, probably containing plenty of asbestos in the old days. In looking at the manufacturer's website for the current product line, I noticed another product, unknown to me, called SlateScape which, apparently, is being closed out. But there is a considerable inventory still available, one color being a gray-green shade called “Pistachio�.

http://americanfibercement.com/colorlit.html

http://americanfibercement.com/slatescape.html

SDR
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Post by SDR »

The black slate-like product I have seen and installed required application of tung oil and was (still) prone to water-spotting and irregular appearance. This would not be a problem for everyone.

I assume that these products were initially made as substitutes for laboratory slate. . .?

Honed stone (which I would prefer to polished) used in kitchens are said by some to be more prone to irregular appearance over time. Does anyone have experience with this ?

SDR

MHOLUBAR
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Post by MHOLUBAR »

Honed stone is not as polished of course, so the micro scratches that constitute the surface are less reflective and more subject to stains and dirt accumulation. That said, the granite would likely weather most conditions well because it is so hard, the hardest of any of the stones mentioned. Limestone is very porous and would require coating to be very serviceable. Coatings can be a problem for cooking and food prep surfaces.
The granite countertops at the Dobkins house look like they were made for the place, even though i know they were not.
mholubar

dkottum
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Post by dkottum »

Granite countertops can be quite an orphan in a carefully coordinated Prairie House, and I was facing a similar problem recently. The granite is "in" and the client wanted it, and it is an extremely durable surface. One of the most important things I have learned from FLLW is that the answer is always found in the problem itself. Although granite was a foreign material to the house, we decided that if we could find a golden-tan color to follow that used on the walls, all would be well. Surface color would be the coordinating element. We found the golden-tan granite, installed it, and it looks like it belongs there. It does have a polished surface, but that does not seem to be a problem. Paul, if interested, I could send a photo.

Doug Kottum, Battle Lake

SDR
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Post by SDR »

That sounds good to me. . .

SDR

pharding
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Post by pharding »

dkottum wrote:Granite countertops can be quite an orphan in a carefully coordinated Prairie House, and I was facing a similar problem recently. The granite is "in" and the client wanted it, and it is an extremely durable surface. One of the most important things I have learned from FLLW is that the answer is always found in the problem itself. Although granite was a foreign material to the house, we decided that if we could find a golden-tan color to follow that used on the walls, all would be well. Surface color would be the coordinating element. We found the golden-tan granite, installed it, and it looks like it belongs there. It does have a polished surface, but that does not seem to be a problem. Paul, if interested, I could send a photo.
Yes please send me a photo or just post it here. I agree that color makes a big difference in how the counter tops "fit" with the house.

Honed granite has a slightly more porous service than polished granite. It is ever so slightly more susceptible to staining than polished granite. It is important to be vigilant about resealing honed granite as part of the maintenance cycle. In my opinion honed granite has a less modern feel than polished granite, although the polished finish does diminish with time. It has a softer appearance. What creates a challenge is that honing lightens the overall value of the stone and reduces the saturation or vibrancy of the color in the stone. Honing varies slightly from fabricator to fabricator. We had the exact same stone honed by two different fabricators and the finished stone was slightly different.

We are getting stone samples now from Walker Zanger in New York. Architects like Walker Zanger because of the exceptionally quality of their stone in general. They personally select all of the stone at the quarry that they sell and it is the highest grade possible. It is much more uniform without wild patterns and has fewer inclusions. The color of the quartz crystals tends to be slightly better. However there is a price to be paid. You pay a premium of roughly 15 to 20% on the material plus shipping from New York is approximately $1200 extra. Both together add approximately $1600 pushing the Davenport stone counter tops to $9,600. I did not intend to go this route and I still may not use their stone, but I am running out of options and time.

I appreciate the other suggestions and enjoyed researching them, but my options are limited on Davenport. I tried to talk my wife into wood counter tops tonight again. That did not get traction or even a verbal response.

The other counter top suggestions will be considered for a LEEDS certified dormitory project that we are doing for the Salvation Army Officer Cadet College here in Chicago.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

dkottum
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Granite countertop

Post by dkottum »

Paul, would you check your private messages. I am not able to post the images here.

Doug Kottum, Battle Lake

ozwrightfan
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Post by ozwrightfan »

Would you consider Corian? It has the appearance of engineered stone and there is an extensive colour range which may be suitable. Or is the product too modern in comparison to the house and not a natural material.

pharding
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Post by pharding »

Corian here in the US is expensive compared to other options. Quartz is comparable in price here or even slightly cheaper and I personally much prefer quartz. On our Salvation Army project we're looking at quartz counter tops from Korea because of its price point. However it does not appear to make sense to ship it half way around the world for a LEED certified project dumping more carbon into the atmosphere of our small, fragile planet.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

The preference for granite is strange to me. My sister-in-law had, at great expense, mascarello granite installed in her kitchen. My brother e-mailed me photos; I told him it looked like an Italian food fight. I have humble green tile with black trim in my 85-year-old kitchen. I've never had to seal it, it doesn't have a single stain, and the wear just gives it a nice patina. But that's just me.

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