So you’ve chosen the kitchen cupboards, selected the white goods – sorry stainless steel – and commissioned the bespoke door handles. Time for the worktop. And this is where you get to really make a statement.
Gone are the days when you were being quite posh if you chose wood, announcing your wealth if you ran to granite and, like most people, just selected the right shade of laminate and forgot about it.
Now, if you are looking to create your dream kitchen, you can choose from dozens of different materials, including stone, quartz composites, corian and glass, not forgetting those old favourites, wood and stainless steel.
“Glass is the ultimate wow factor for kitchen worktops,” says Robyn Gifford, a consultant at Roundhouse Design. “It’s tough, it’s beautiful and it comes in any colour you like. It’s also low maintenance, although it does scratch if you are wearing a diamond ring.”
Some might say that if your diamonds are big enough to scratch your worktops, you probably aren’t doing your own cooking.
Julia van den Berg, of Decoglaze, says: “Glass is becoming a major trend. One of its great strengths is that we can do lengths of 3.8m, which means that there are fewer joins.
“You can literally have any colour you want. We operate a colour matching service so you can bring in a sample of the paint you are using on the walls or the cupboards and we can match it.”
Neutral colours are always the most popular but sometimes a really strong shade can really add something special to a space.
The other popular choice is Corian. Paul McDowell, from DuPont Surfaces, says: “We offer 70 colours of Corian but by far the most popular colours these days is one of the many variations of white, although some more daring customers occasionally buck the trend and go for a vibrant shade such as celestial blue or indus red.”
Robyn agrees that Corian is having a fashion moment. “It can be moulded which makes it very hygienic as you can use it for both your sink and worktop together so there are no joins, so there will be no water damage and nowhere for germs to congregate.
“One of the reason our clients like it is that consistency of colour. Granite has natural variations but Corian is very uniform and they like that. Everyone wants pale colours now. They also don’t want to spend thousands of pounds on a colour that might be unfashionable in six months time.”
But what about wood? That staple of the kitchen worktop. It’s environmentally friendly, warm to touch and very natural.
John White, managing director of Anderson Sinclair designers, is blunt. “When people come to me asking for wood, I usually manage to dissuade them,” he says.
“It is beautiful but there are too many negatives. It burns, it’s porous which makes it unhygienic if you have an undermounted sink as it collects germs and gets damaged, and you have to re-oil it every few months.”
But he adds that there’s nothing wrong with using a mix of surfaces. “The old concept of the triangle of the cooker, sink and fridge is outmoded now. We work in zones. Wood for the eating area, Corian for the sink and food prep and perhaps granite round the cooker where it needs to be able to withstand hot pans.”
As for me? I have stainless steel. It can take the abuse of hot pans, water and scratches without making a fuss. Yes, it is quite an industrial look but we have softened it with leather handles on the cupboards and reclaimed painted floorboards that are an antidote to the cool modernity of the steel. And basically, if it’s good enough for a professional restaurant it’s good enough for me.
And, I quite like how it goes with the tin ceiling too.
Further reading on how to plan the perfect kitchen