With so many choices at homeowners' fingertips, picking out a kitchen counter is no easy task. Since this surface area ends up influencing many kitchen palettes, it's important to choose something that looks good to you, will hold up under the kitchen activity of your household and has a price tag that suits your budget.
I've gathered a selection of 15 popular kitchen countertop materials handily in one place to help you find the choice that suits you best.
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.
Granite Kitchen Counters
There are plenty of reasons granite is so popular — this natural stone has plenty of character, with unique grains, colors and customizable finishes. When properly sealed, it's one of the most durable options out there. While it can cost as low as $50 per square foot installed, prices can go up quickly with more exotic slabs and difficult installations.
Copper Kitchen Counters
It certainly isn't common, but a copper countertop is surprisingly easy to clean and maintain. However, it's not for perfectionists — since it's a "living" surface, it reacts to different substances, creating a blend of matte reds, browns and greens. But for those who love the look, the minimum $100-per-square-foot cost is worth it.
Engineered Quartz Kitchen Counters
Perfect for the customized home, engineered quartz comes in just about every shade imaginable. This engineered product combines ground quartz, resin and pigments for a tough, nonporous material. Great ecofriendly attributes makes it a safe bet for green homes, too. Get ready to pay up, though, since costs range from $95 to $105 per square foot installed.
Tile Kitchen Counters
One of the more affordable counter choices (starting at $30 per square foot installed), ceramic or stone tile is incredibly durable, and one of the few DIY countertop options. Maintenance can be difficult with all that grout, but choosing a durable and dark grout can make things easier.
Ecofriendly Kitchen Counters
A little research is really all that's required today to make your new kitchen ecofriendly. The wide variety of material styles and costs — from salvaged wood to Bio-Glass to bamboo (shown in this photo) — means you can find just the right green countertop material for your home.
Zinc Kitchen Counters
You don't see zinc countertops in many modern kitchens, but this metal exudes warmth that has made it popular for centuries. Zinc's tone darkens with time, adding patina. Its antimicrobial properties make it a smart choice for a cooking space. This beautiful material typically costs $100 and up per square foot, installed.
Recycled Paper-Based Kitchen Counters
Recycled paper sounds like the worst possible material for a kitchen countertop, but this ecofriendly choice has surprising durability. When blended with resins and pigments, it has the look and feel of soapstone — but at $40 to $80 per square foot installed, it's a fraction of the cost.
Plastic Laminate Kitchen Counters
Although it's sometimes scoffed at by stone lovers, plastic laminate still has a serious fan base. The wide range of customizable edges and finishes means it can work in any design. At $8 to $20 per square foot installed, its affordable price makes it a winner for many. However, it's not the most durable of countertops, so it may not be best for heavy-duty cooks.
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".
Marble Kitchen Counters
Marble has an unrivaled, classic look that always seems to be in style. For lovers of white kitchens in particular, marble offers more variety than almost any other material. Marble is known more for the patina it develops with use than for its durability. It's a softer stone than granite, and can scratch and stain easily; the cost typically ranges from $70 to $100 per square foot installed.
Concrete Kitchen Counters
Pigments, stains and dyes can create concrete counters with color and visual texture. With the right sealer, a concrete counter can be well worth its cost — at least $100 to $150 per square foot installed.
Stainless Steel Kitchen Counters
Professional chefs love stainless steel because it's non-staining, heat resistant and easy to clean. While it certainly makes fingerprints and scratches stand out, it's a great choice for hardworking kitchens that don't need a perfect look. A price tag of $80 to $90 per square foot installed means it's more affordable than most stone counters, too.
Solid-Surface Kitchen Counters
Is it stone, wood or plastic? This miracle material has the ability to emulate just about any look without the same damage risk or maintenance. Prices range from $50 to $100 per square foot, depending on the manufacturer.
Wood Kitchen Counters
For some, wood and countertops just don't seem to mix. But a high-quality wood with the right kind of sealer can make for a beautiful, warm and long-lasting countertop. The price varies substantially depending on the type of wood you choose, but butcher block counters tend to range from $30 to $85 per square foot, for materials only.
Bainbridge in Bloom
Get your Tickets HERE
10 things to consider if you’re thinking of downsizing — way down
While still a bit of an oddity, there is no doubt that the tiny house is becoming increasingly popular. Whether you crave more financial freedom, wish to reduce your impact on the environment or want to live a simpler life, tiny homes have a lot to offer — but they are not without tradeoffs. If you are enchanted by the idea of a tiny home but aren’t sure if it’s for you, here are 10 things to consider before diving in.
What is a tiny home? It can be tricky to pin down exactly how many square feet a house must come in under to be considered “tiny.” According to the Small House Society — a cooperative organization founded by tiny-house pioneers Jay Shafer, Shay Salomon, Nigel Valdez and Gregory Paul Johnson to promote smaller housing alternatives — “it’s not a movement about people claiming to be ‘tinier than thou’ but rather people making their own choices toward simpler and smaller living however they feel best fits their life.” Size is relative — so although generally speaking, a tiny house is under 400 square feet or so, the most important thing seems to be the intention to reduce living space to the minimum the occupants feel they need.
1. Consider what you could be giving up by living tiny. There is no avoiding the fact that scaling down a living space requires significant sacrifices — but not all of the things you may need to give up are negative. Look over this list and imagine what it would feel like to cut back on or go without some or all of these things:
- Personal space: If you live with a partner or kids, what would it feel like to live in much closer quarters with them?
- Bills: A smaller space means less to heat; using solar power could reduce energy bills even further. Going tiny could even mean forgoing a mortgage altogether, or taking out a smaller loan that can be paid off in a shorter amount of time.
- Debt: A lower cost of living makes it easier to live within your means or to pay off debts you have, like student loans.
- Clutter: Living tiny teaches you to have only what you love, use and need.
- Objects you love: Scaling back your living space may force you to make some tough choices, including giving up cherished furniture and objects.
- Big gatherings: While you could host larger groups outdoors, it’s unlikely you would be able to host Thanksgiving for the whole clan in your tiny home. (Is that a good or a bad thing? You decide!)
- Environmental impact: If reducing your impact on the environment is important to you, living in a tiny home is a great way to reduce waste and energy consumption.
2. Consider what you could gain by living tiny. The tiny-home movement is about making an intentional choice to live in a much smaller house — and what motivates many is not what they have to give up in space, but what they can potentially gain in life. Consider how it would feel to live with more of these things in your life:
- Financial (and job) freedom: Lower bills mean more savings for the future, and more freedom to pursue work you love.
- Freedom to travel: A tiny house can easily be closed up while you travel and would require little upkeep while you are away.
- Simplicity: With less to buy, fix and furnish, life is simpler.
- More time outdoors: A smaller interior space makes the outdoors beckon.
- Community: Likewise, having less of your own means you’re more likely to tap into your network of friends and neighbors, and the community at large.
- Good design: Going tiny means it’s easier to afford better materials and design.
- Time: Less surface area means you could clean your entire house in a few minutes.
3. Consider your priorities in a home. In a tiny home, you can’t have it all, so it’s important to be intentional about what you prioritize. You don’t need to sacrifice all luxuries; on the contrary, if you have a pro build your tiny house to fit your needs, you can decide what is important to you. High ceilings, full-size appliances, a washer and dryer, big windows, a sauna, a place to work? Take a few moments to jot down your own personal list of home priorities — try to whittle it down to your top three to five things.
4. Consider your life priorities. Thinking about the bigger picture for a moment, consider what is most important to you in life. Have you always wanted to travel more? Be near your grandchildren? Start your own business?
Now weigh those life goals and dreams against your current lifestyle and home size — would living tiny help you realize a dream you’ve put on hold?
5. Consider the climate. Living in a tiny home in Minnesota or Vermont is very different from living in a tiny home in Southern California. Before you dive into the tiny-house life, it is important to realistically consider the impact your local climate will have on your lifestyle. In the middle of a long winter in a cold, snowy climate, life in a tiny house can feel very small indeed.
6. Consider accessibility. Many popular tiny-home designs feature a loft bed accessible only by ladder, but this can be impractical if you hope to age in place. Also, if you have close relatives or friends who you hope will visit or house sit for you, consider whether they will be able to access your entire home.
7. Consider your past experience with living in small spaces. Have you ever lived in a studio apartment or cabin? How big was the home you grew up in? What about the home you live in now? Tapping into your memories of what it was like to live in a small space can help you anticipate some of the issues that may come up once you are living in a tiny house. If you and a partner or family members are considering moving into a tiny house together, ask each person to share memories or other thoughts about the challenges — and benefits — of living small.
8. Consider your lifestyle. Mentally walk through a typical day in your life right now, from the moment you wake to the moment you shut off the lights at night. Which rooms in your home do you use most, and which do you rarely visit? What sort of meals do you cook, and what do you need in terms of space and supplies to prepare them? Do you spend a lot of time at home, or do you tend to be out and about?
9. Consider the law. Although tiny houses are enjoying increasing popularity, many areas still have building codes that require a dwelling to be over a certain number of square feet. Some tiny-home owners are able to get around this by putting their homes on wheels, but you will need to do some research to figure out what the laws are in your area before making any decisions.
10. Consider your property’s potential. If you are choosing land to buy with the intention of adding a tiny house, consider the potential to add supplemental structures. A tiny home may feel totally doable if you are able to supplement your living space with a separate teahouse, dining pavilion, outdoor kitchen, hot tub or sauna, or even a tiny guesthouse. Or, if you have friends or family also interested in living tiny, what about planning or joining a tiny-house community? When you begin to think creatively about what your home might look like, the solutions you come up with may surprise you.
There are lots of sweet and fun things to do on Bainbridge Island for Valentine’s Day!
Heyday Farm Kids Cooking Class sounds a like a fun idea for kids 7 – 12. This is a participatory class where kids will learn to make a meal and dessert using fresh farm ingredients!
02/13/15 to 02/22/15
Side by Side by Sondheim This Tony Award-winning musical is a perfect introduction to the work of this contemporary master, and a must for die-hard fans.
Planetarium at Battle Point Park is hosting a Valentine’s Day Stargazing Show. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, professional astronomer Dave Fong will tell twisted tales of love through ancient lore depicted in the starry sky. If the sky is clear, astronomers will be on hand with telescopes for public solar viewing prior and star-gazing afterward.
02/14/15 to 02/15/15
Wine and Chocolate Winery Tour What could be better for Valentine's Day than wine and chocolate? Visit the 7 wineries of Bainbridge Island, each featuring exceptional wines and chocolates. These 7 cozy artisanal wineries are mostly new on the scene but are already garnering awards and attention. Avoid the crowds and explore the peaceful beauty and charm of Bainbridge Island!
Heyday Valentine's Day Farm Dinner with Live Americana Acoustical Music Enjoy a special evening out on the farm. They will have music and appetizers in our barn–full of the sweet smell of alfalfa hay. From there you will join your fellow local food lovers in the historic farmhouse and share a winter family style feast of fresh food right from the farm. They also have lovely, historic farmhouse rooms for rent for those that want to make this a romantic overnight visit complete with a farm breakfast.
Kiana Lodge Valentine’s Day Dinner Just across the bridge you’ll find the beautiful waterfront Kiana Lodge. Dinner will take place in the Main Lodge with stone fireplaces and stunning views of Agate Passage.
Cupid’s Walk at Bloedel Reserve Take a romantic walk around Bloedel’s landscaped gardens. With a special map highlighting the best kissing spots along the trails!
Nikki Dee Valentine’s Concert at Bloedel Reserve The Bloedel Reserve Residence will be transformed into an intimate nightclub to set the stage for jazz vocalist Nikki Dee. Enjoy her sultry jazz duo, a delicious dessert and a glass of wine. A wonderful way to spend a romantic night with the one you love.
The Beach House at Pleasant Beach Village Valentine’s Dinner The Beach House will be serving a six course dinner in the very romantic setting of their dining room and additional seating available in the Manor House. Call 206-780-FOOD to reserve your table!
Valentine’s Dinner at Restaurant Marche’ Greg Atkinson's contemporary Pacific Northwest Bistro will be serving a five course, pre-fixe, Chef’s Tasting Menu. Call 206-842-1633 for reservations.
Hitchcock Restaurant is offering a pre-fixe menu of “All the sexy food you can imagine: oysters on the half, foie, truffles, meat served on the bone, chocolate, spices, and citrus.” Chef Brendan McGill says there also will be “a fine selection of bubbles and digestifs to bookend a romantic evening.” Call 206-201-3789 for reservations.
Doc’s Marina Grill is feeling the romance for Valentine’s Day. They’re transforming their dining room into a “romantic waterfront oasis,” with candlelit tables and a special menu featuring lobster, Kumomoto oysters, and champagne. Advance reservations are recommended. 206-842-8339
San Carlos Restaurant Bainbridge Island's Neuvo Mexican / Southwestern Restuarant will have a special menu featuring decadent desserts. 206-842-1999
Buying beautiful and delicious gifts for your Valentine is easy on Bainbridge Island.
Bob Bon Confections – Home of Bainbridge Island Fudge had incredible hand-made fudge in a variety of flavors along with an amazing assortment of old fashioned candies from your best childhood memories. Gift wrapping is available. 206-780-0199
Flowering Around is the quintessential florist. Artistry and fine florals to create the perfect bouquet, plus beautiful orchids and other plants are available.
For something more unique and personal, try one of the many incredible gift and lifestyle shops on Bainbridge Island:
And for your littlest Valentine – Calico Cat Toy Shop
Happy Valentines Day from Jackie98110!
There are some terrific things happeneing on New Years Eve on Bainbridge Island!
A New Years Eve Dance Party is being held at the Treehouse Cafe in Lynwood Center, from 9:00 pm to 12:30 am – featuring The Dusty 45's, Tarot and Palm readings, automatic entry for a raffle drawing and complimentary champagne at midnight! THis even is suitable for those 21 years of age and older. Get the details here: New Years Eve Dance Party
If your family is looking for something fun for the younger members, there is also a New Years Eve Party for Kids at KidiMu! All are invited to the Museum for an annual countdown to noon and balloon drop. Come early to enjoy special activities between 10 and 11:45 a.m., including face painting, music, a noisemaker clock craft and bingo. The event runs from 10 am to 12:30 and is sure to be lots of fun for the entire family. Get the details here: New Years at KidiMu and Bainbridge Art Museum or at KidiMu
Bainbridge Performing Arts Center will be hosting a New Years Eve Party, from 9 pm to 12:30 am. Celebrate New Year’s Eve by dancing all night long with Seattle’s hottest DJ – Dubreezy – and with an expanded bar selection that includes spirits from Bainbridge Organic Distillers, beer on tap from the Bainbridge Island Brewing Company, and half-price non-alcoholic beverages for designated drivers. This event is suitable for ages 21 and over with complimentary champagne served at midnight. Get the details here: Bainbridge Performing Arts Center New Years Eve Party
For those who love the water, there are a couple of options to ring in the new year on Puget Sound.Bainbridge Island-based Exotic Aquatics Scuba and Kayaking has planned an afternoon and evening excursion that includes three dives, dinner and transit to Elliott Bay to watch the Seattle fireworks at midnight on the newest boat to join the Puget Sound Dive Charters' fleet — the 45-foot Salish Explorer. For $125, divers can get an afternoon of exploring in before cleaning up — the boat has showers — and sitting down to dinner. Non-divers also are invited for a lesser charge of $110. A sparkling punch toast will be held at midnight. The boat leaves from its location in Winslow at 1 p.m. Those interested in tickets should call 206-842-1980.
There are aso some restaurants serving a special New Years Eve Menu, if you are looking for a more intimate celebration. Click the links below for more information.
Finally, for the super hearty and hardcore challenge lovers – the 14th Annual Polar Bear Plunge will take place at Noon on Lytle Beach. BRRR!
Happy New Year!
11. McDonalds is not only a massive food chain – it also owns one of the world's best real estate portfolios. Franchisees own the restaurant business and rent the buildings from the McDonald's Corporation – all over the world.
10. Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world, still lives in a house he bought for $31,500 in 1958.
9. Brass doorknobs disinfect themselves. Several metals, including brass, copper, aluminum, iron, lead and silver are antimicrobial and they kill bacteria – brass being the most antimicrobial of them all.
8. In Scotland, homeowners paint their front door red, when they pay off their mortgage.
7. A Canadian man named Kyle Mcdonald conducted an experiment that started with a red paperclip and in only 14 online trades – traded up all the way to a free house.
6. Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd was Depression-Era bank robber that was beloved by the public because when he robbed banks, he destroyed mortgage documents, which freed many citizens from their debts.
5. Monopoly was originally invented to teach the players about the broken nature of Capitalism.
4. India's richest person built a $1 Billion home. It has 27 habitable floors, including 6 parking floors for a capacity of up to 168 cars.
3. In New York State, it is a legal requirement for a Seller to disclose if a property is believed to be haunted by ghosts.
2. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai, is so tall that you can watch the sun set from the base of the building, take an elevator to the top, and watch the same sun set all over again.
1. Using prefabricated modules, some builders in China are able to build 30-story skyscapers in as little as 15 days!!!
If I were to pay money to your lender to lower your mortgage rate — permanently — would you make me a better offer on my house?
That's a question that could become more common as home sales slow, prices erode and mortgage rates increase. The cooling-off trend is well underway in many areas, according to Veros Real Estate Solutions, a Santa Ana analytics company. Veros' forecast for the coming year reported that price increases in "all but the most upbeat markets are slowing" across the country, and 1 out of 5 markets could see year-to-year declines.
But could mortgage assistance by sellers for buyers help cushion the effect of these market shifts, bridging the gap between what owners want — or need because their equity positions are thin — and what increasingly picky buyers are willing to pay?
Realty agents and lenders in some areas believe the answer is yes. Agents have begun touting "seller-assisted below-market-rate financing" on the signs they post outside their listed homes. Others are boning up on a marketing technique that's long been used by home builders but rarely seen in resale transactions in recent years: interest rate buy-downs.
The idea is straightforward. To make their houses more attractive to buyers as a financial proposition, sellers can offer to lower buyers' long-term monthly mortgage expenses. The sellers achieve this by paying money upfront to the buyers' lender to reduce the interest rate. The lower rate continues for the life of the loan.
The reduction might cost the sellers two or three "points" — a point is 1% of the mortgage amount — and produce a reduction in the buyers' note rate of one half of a percentage point. The points paid by the sellers represent interest paid in advance. A larger cash payment of points would produce larger rate reductions.
David H. Stevens, chief executive of the Mortgage Bankers Assn., says "we did a ton of buy-downs" on resales during 2006-09 when he was a senior executive with Long & Foster Cos., the country's largest independent realty brokerage. In the right circumstances, Stevens believes, "they can be a pretty good opportunity" for sellers and buyers to come together on a deal, even with today's lower mortgage rates. It's all a matter of making sure the numbers work for both parties.
Oray Nicolai, a senior mortgage banker with Access National Mortgage, a subsidiary of Access National Bank, says rate buy-downs are particularly effective because they magnify the effect of the sellers' financial concession by spreading it over many years. Buyers "keep getting the benefits of lower monthly mortgage payments for as long as they have the mortgage," he notes.
Nicolai, who assists realty agents in structuring and presenting rate buy-downs to sellers and purchasers, provided this recent example. The buyers made an offer $50,000 less than the seller was willing to accept. By buying down the purchasers' note rate by half a percentage point — from 4.25% to 3.75% fixed for 30 years — the sellers were able to get the price they needed. Meanwhile the buyers ended up with the same monthly principal and interest payment at the 3.75% rate they would have obtained on a conventional fixed-rate loan at 4.25% with a 20% down payment. The sellers' buy-down cost them $13,600 — an expense that under IRS rules was deductible by the buyers — and the sellers ended up netting $36,000 more than they would have had they accepted the buyers' initial low offer.
But buy-downs can have important limitations: Some buyers want seller concessions in the form of contributions to closing costs. Or they simply want a lower sale price rather than reduced monthly mortgage expenses.
Also, buy-downs don't work as well when the capital markets demand extra cash to buy down rates. Paul Skeens, president of Colonial Mortgage Group in Waldorf, Md., says a half-percentage-point note rate reduction may cost more than two points, forcing the seller to net less on the sale. Loan officers can usually explain how much of a rate break the current market is offering when points are paid upfront.
Bottom line: Agents, sellers and buyers should at least be aware of the buy-down option. Then, if the numbers work and the buyer is open to a little creativity, make it happen.
Fay Bainbridge Park is a 17-acre marine camping park with 1,420 feet of saltwater shoreline on the northeast corner of Bainbridge Island. The park offers sweeping views of Puget Sound, the Cascade Mountains and features sandy beaches. On clear days, Mount Rainier and Mount Baker are visible from a sandy beach.
Besides the amazing beachcombing, Fay Bainbridge also has sheltered Picnic areas with water and electricity, a large playground and camping!
While it is free to access the park, there are nominal fees for camping and use of the large shelter areas. There are plenty of open picnic tables all over the park that are free to use – first come first served!
For more information on this lovely treasure, go to the Bainbridge Island Parks Department website: