18 Nov 2019

What to consider when choosing a new worktop

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a kitchen worktop, beyond just what material to use and which pattern you like. In this article, Neolith takes a look at everything you need to keep in mind.

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When you choose a worktop, always look for these three elements: durability, longevity and beauty.

Ensure the material you specify will stand the test of time. No one wants to have to replace a surface after only a couple of years. As such, delicately balancing aesthetics with functionality is crucial. Worktops should simultaneously achieve beauty of form while being able to handle the culinary tasks of everyday life, from breakfast through to dinner; each spill, splash and smudge, every chop, whack and roll.

When it comes to surfacing materials, homeowners and interior designers have never been so spoilt for choice. The industry is continually improving processes, developing new colours and finishes while refining existing ones. In conjunction with ambitious and other-worldly patterns, there is also an increasing number of enhanced finishes available, building on the impressive array of natural stone-inspired surfaces currently on the market.

Hyper-realism is a feature which is becoming increasingly sought after by designers, especially the ability to capture the authenticity of natural stone. They want something realistic, which quite literally tricks the eye. From the natural beauty of exotic granite and the quiet elegance of white quartzite to engineered metals and urban-inspired concrete, the development of true-to-life patterns and colours gives homeowners more design possibilities than ever before.

Any pattern you choose should match the overall theme of a kitchen. This could either be a colour or pattern which seamlessly complements the decor or offers a point of contrast, creating a visual statement within the space. If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some trends we’ve enjoyed recently:

It’s only natural

A greater appetite for natural-looking stone and a wider variety available than ever before has encouraged residential designers to be much more adventurous with their use of colour.

In particular, we have seen contrasts of lighter and darker stone, used judiciously in the kitchen to create a stylish design statement. Opposing textures can be used in conjunction with each other; for example, rough sandstone and wood-effect surfaces off-setting polished marbles or smooth cement.

Back in black

Many homeowners are looking to darker, inkier tones found in igneous rock. We’ve already seen plenty of surfaces which encapsulate beautiful detailing of these ancient stones including basalt and soapstone styles. Their eye-catching, complex swirling deep grains and organic continuous patterns are true to the look and feel of the real thing.

The depth and contrast offered by igneous rocks creates a visually striking statement. This is further emphasised when combined with a contrasting, lighter-coloured splashback and flooring.

Home comforts

One trend that never seems to fade is a desire for traditional kitchens. Nostalgia is nothing new, but across the industry, we’re noticing a revival in design classics. Terrazzo immediately springs to mind. This playful and colourful stone, once so popular as a flooring material, is finding a new lease of life as designers rediscover this style icon.

It’s not the only traditional material that will make a comeback in the near future. The organic look and feel of unpolished wood has timeless appeal and, with the steadily increasing desire for Scandinavian chic, has become highly sought after. In contemporary kitchens, it can be combined with contrasting materials, concrete or metal effects, offering a captivating juxtaposition of the natural and industrial.

Patterns and colour aren’t the only elements to consider; texture is just as important. For example, if you use your kitchen to bake, a polished finish will improve the consistency and texture of pastries, providing a perfectly smooth surface with incredibly low porosity, ensuring an unblemished dough. Also, consider a white Italian marble effect, which will create a pristine blank canvas on which your culinary masterpieces can stand out. As baking becomes more popular in the domestic kitchen, we’ve seen more and more requests being registered for this type of finish.

Finally, a kitchen’s layout has a meaningful impact on its overall aesthetic, so it’s worth experimenting with. Why not consider using a waterfall kitchen island as a focal point? Combine it with a matching worktop and splashback, and make sure you book-match the island’s slabs to ensure a seamless design spill-over across the space. This will establish it as a core feature in the room, without dominating it.

This integrated design is on the rise as homeowners seek simplicity and elegance in the cooking space. Monolithic kitchen islands play a significant role in achieving this, but other features should not be forgotten. Cabinetry veneered to match the worktop creates an eye-catching statement piece. A fully unified effect is more wholly realised through incorporating an integrated sink. Functionality can be subtly incorporated, concealed by continuous colours and patterns.

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