Our art room needed a major facelift. We had moved into a farm house over seven years ago and what I now used as an art studio for our family was once used as a canning kitchen in the seventies and eighties. A ceramic artist lived here next and used it as her studio space until our family took over in 2012. It was outdated, stained and was the definition of dingy. The cabinets were caked in a layer of grease from the canning and then a layer of paint and clay from the second owners of the house. The laminate countertops were stained on every square inch. Although they looked like a Jackson Pollack masterpiece and let my little ones have free creative reign without the nagging fear of their mother, it was time to move on and brighten up the space. It was getting to the point when I walked in to work, I wanted to reverse my steps to escape the grime. One of my favorite sayings is by Pablo Picasso, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” I was not going to get any wave of inspiration when I was avoiding the working. I needed to create a clean bright space that inspired creativity and calm.
The cabinetry was a no brainer. Although there was a layer of grime, they were custom made by the craftsman who built this whole house by hand. They were high quality and certainly nothing I wanted to blow my budget on totally replacing. Fortunately, they had the right amount of drawers and cabinets and even had a work space cut out so I could paint with my legs under the counter. Unfortunately I hired the wrong team from Task Rabbit to prep and paint the cabinets. To spare you the details (and my shame for making some mistakes hiring a couple who worked very slow and were paid by the hour) the whole working relationship ended abruptly when the paint on the cabinet faces were left bubbled and peeling and the couple broke up. I called in a friend’s painter and he quickly and expertly fixed the cabinetry. Some painful lessons learned and it definitely set me back on my budget.
The actual color of the cabinetry was the easiest choice. My favorite and most inspiring color, Kelly green. Lauren Liess from HGTV Best House on the Block had posted a bathroom on Instagram a few years ago and I had it stuck in my mental design file. The bold saturated color would make a statement, especially for the amount of painted surfaces in the space. However easy the color was to choose, the countertop decision was agonizing. For so long I had let the kids, and myself, not care what spilled or what stained the countertops. In fact, I could look at it and see the memories of specific art projects and see little fingerprints dappled around. I loved the carefree feeling of doing art and not compromising creativity for maintaining perfect tops. What’s worse, I really wanted the crispness of pure white…how was I going to be able to maintain a pristine white surface in an art zone?
I researched and asked around and then finally decided to take a trip to a local showroom to see what options there were for materials. Since I knew I wanted white tops, the other two decision points were cost and durability. I quickly discovered that a quartz countertop was the answer. It was surprisingly cost effective (the solid colors of quartz can be more affordable than quartz tops that have more color ways and movement). I also learned that because they are so dense and hard, they are stain resistant and difficult to scratch. I chose the color, Chipped Ice from DalTile. It looks solid white from a distance, but as you get closer there are small and uniform flecks of crystals. I think this creates a subtle shine and a bit of interest. While at the showroom I also learned that I had to choose whether or not to have an under mount sink. I am so grateful the staff let me know the advantages of mounting the sink from below, as it makes cleaning so much easier.
After a year of installing and living with my bright white quartz countertops I couldn’t be more pleased. No stains yet*, no stress and they are gorgeous. I decided to paint the cabinetry Kelly green so it could be the showstopper when people entered the room but the only real star in my studio are these countertops!
*Yet being an important distinction here. My messy and rambunctious clan haven’t stained them to date but as the manufacturer states..these are stain resistant and not stain proof. If my daughter decides to make a Sharpie masterpiece directly on the countertop and I don’t notice it for a few hours, I am assuming not all evidence of her creative endeavor would be removed.
When I was doing my research several sites mentioned that one shouldn’t install quartz countertops for hobby work or painting (guilty on both counts!) as exposure to solvents can damage the countertops and void the warranty. Common sense has prevailed here and I haven’t ever used powerful or acidic paint additives directly on the countertops. Generally when I use a paint thinner or high powered glue in my studio I take that work to the barn…the goats don’t seem to mind the fumes!
They look so crisp and bright and they provide the best backdrop to let our creativity roll! What I love the most? I have fun in here with all the kids and crazy mom only comes out when they get in paint fights…after all, I have my Kelly green cabinets to protect!
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