Kitchen renovators, listen up!

"No matter what, the kitchen will be the gathering spot, so I try to make it inviting while also defining it for the cook," says Moser about this free-flowing, open space centered around a 4- by 8-foot island. An opening in the ceiling lets hot air escape upstairs, cutting down on energy bills and creating a great vantage point from above. Harper marked the spot with an oversize lantern from Coleen & Company and had no qualms about combining it with two Hicks pendants. "It looks richer to mix finishes," she says. Cocoa touches - like the island's tan Wellborn cabinetry in Dormer Brown by Sherwin-Williams and the outside countertops made of sand-colored quartz—warm up the kitchen.
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Marble has had a good run. Granite had a good run before that. But it's time to put one of the MVP of surfaces back in the spotlight for a minute. It's durable, it's clean, and comes in an ever-increasing variety of styles. It's no wonder quartz is the biggest countertop trend for 2018.

Quartz is man-made, formed from ground-up quartz, resin, and pigments. Sometimes glass, stones, or metal (or an array of other ingredients) is added to the mix, to create variations in the appearance. Thanks to its industrial origin, quartz counters are scratch and stain-resistant, and are non-porous, making them super-tough (and a much cleaner choice!). Mold, bacteria, mildew are not able to penetrate the surface. They also don't require long-term maintenance, the way wood or natural stone requires re-sealing.

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Quartz often gets knocked for not living up to the natural-stone look of granite, but now with the increasing variety of options and advanced technology, you can have the same look. Or, if you're looking for a more uniform, monochrome look, quartz can do that too. It's ideal for seamless corners and sinks.

It's few, very limited cons? It can get pricey, though no more so than if you were using granite. It also in indoor-only. Though it's tough enough to be walked upon (you may not have even realized it's the floor you're walking on!), it does need to be indoors. Exposure to the elements can eventually cause it to fade, warp, or wear over time. And finally, be careful with heat! Too much can affect the resin, so be sure to use a trivet.

Sources like Cambria offer variations from royal blue to marble look-alike. Hoping for bright-red counters? Quartz can do that too. Also try Ceasarstone and Silestone while you're at it.

Need anymore countertop inspiration? Check out this gallery for inspiration for all kinds of countertop surfaces.