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Not quite an Eichler/Kitchen Countertop Question

8 replies [Last post]
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Joined: Jul 20 2003

We recently bought an American Homebuilders Guild Home (AHG) home in Sunnyvale after a long and unfortunately fruitless search for the perfect Eichler that matched our budget. We've been told that AHG built many of these 'Eichler-look' homes in competition for the Eichler market. Ours was built in 1962. While it has many of the same wonderful features of an Eichler (atrium, wonderful amounts of glass, pitched roof), it unfortunately doesn't have others, such as radiant heat (this makes us sad!). But, it is lovely and airy, and it matched our budget, so here we go with the renovations......

We're trying to return the house to the spare look that's in keeping with the spirit of the original design, and in our search for the perfect kitchen countertops have decided upon granite (black, no mottling, no sparklies, as plain as granite can get) after listening to all the woes of corian, etc. We considered concrete but can't go that route due to cost, current cabinet construction (that we must keep), etc. Unfortunately, we are working with a very limited budget, which makes this choice a difficult one to implement. In our search we've had Best Tile and Building Supply recommended to us many times and are considering using their product, which consists of pre-cut slabs (bullnose on 1, 2, 3 or 4 sides, depending on price you pay). The deal is you buy the pre-cut slabs and have your installer cut them to your exact kitchen specs and install them. The problem we've run into is that although the price of the pre-fab cut granite is right for our very limited budget, we have no idea who can do the final cutting and installing for us. Has anyone used this type of product and if you have, can you recommend an installer? If you have any other ideas we'd also love to hear them. We do want to go with granite if at all possible, as we dearly love to whip those hot pans right off the stove and set them upon the countertop, among other no-no's for manufactured surfaces.

We've really enjoyed reading all the posts on this board over the last year and plan to keep on reading. Some really great ideas we've read here have already been incorporated into our renovation (or, if you prefer, the 'draining of our bank account'!)

Thank you for any advice you can offer.

Kind regards,

JC

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

You should have someone check and verify that your cabinets can hold the weight of stone. In my experiencee they usually need to be reinforced.

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

"We're trying to return the house to the spare look that's in keeping with the spirit of the original design, and in our search for the perfect kitchen countertops have decided upon granite"

Granite? Do a little more research. I doubt if any developer ever specified granite for mid-century modern homes in the 50s and 60s. Maybe McMansions in the 90s!

If you want to keep within the spirit of the design, go with Formica. Especially if you are on a budget. Also consider stainless steal in areas where hot pans are an issue.

Heck, a Fiesta divit works with hot pans too.

Granite is more in style with homes in the 20s, 30s, and McMansions of today.

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Joined: Apr 8 2003

I remember that those pre-cut stone slabs are only offered with a full bullnose (ie. a semicircle) edge. Correct me if I'm wrong. If so, it's not the best detail for achieving those spare modern lines you're after. I think once you buy these pieces, pay for sink cut-outs, installation and the inevitable tweaking (are your walls and corners really straight? because the stone will be...), you might be disappointed in how much money you spent for a look that's not quite there.

If you want granite, you should consider having it custom fabricated. You'll get nicer results and I suspect it won't cost that much more. Now I wish I knew someone to recommend! I'm redoing my kitchen right now and am going with stainless steel on the counters. With flat sheets, it's actually cheap. My previous kitchen I made the counters out of a material called Trespa Athlon. A lab surface material, it scratches if you cut things on it, but it can take heat and all kinds of chemicals. It has a black core and comes in different thicknesses. With black faces, it gives you a clean look. Made with recycled paper & resin, it's also "green." Anyone who can work with wood can work this stuff and it's not expensive. For both kitchens, I couldn't afford stone.

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

I would be interested in more info on the Trespa products. Did you have to machine it yourself or were contractors willing to work with it?

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Joined: Apr 8 2003

A quick web search should give you Trespa info. I worked it myself, using a standard circular saw and drill. It is heavier and harder to work on than wood and wore out several blades along the way. Once cut, the edges have to be routed and/or sanded to get a smooth finish. I found an orbital sander worked best. Three years later, it all still looked new.

Most likely, contractors will not have used it before and may resist giving you a bid for it. It's hard to guess how much labor it will take if you haven't done it before. But I'm not a contractor, so if I could do it, so can they! You'd just need to find someone open-minded.

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Joined: Mar 22 2003

If you do decide to use granite, you might consider having it honed first. This will give it a matte finish much more in keeping with minimalist design. All that said, you should absolutely do whatever you want, since it is your home and you have the right to be happy in it.

When we bought our Willow Glen Eichler 8 years ago, we were fortunate enough to have inherited the original kitchen. What we did was to restore/upgrade it conservatively. We kept the boxes for the cabinets, but had them refaced with new Formica, replacing the old sliding doors which were forever sticking, with ones that open out. They are completely flat, with no hardware at all, just hidden finger pulls. For the countertops, we used Formica again, this time in a brown matte stone-look style. I can't tell you how many complements we have received on those inexpensive countertops! I think it might be that they work so well with the rest of the kitchen, more than anything else, but who knows?

We spent the greatest part of the budget on the floors (tiled the entire house), new sliding glass doors, and lighting (halogen track). Once you get started, you'd be amazed at how fast the dollars add up. We certainly were. After all our hard work at creating a minimilist authentic Eichler kitchen, it is now filled to capacity with every cooking pot, pan, device, and gadget imaginable. What I need is a larger house...

Lastly, if you want to read discussions about more than you could ever imagine relating to home remodeling, surf on over to thathomesite.com and go to their forums. Take a look at "kitchens" "appliances" and "home remodeling and repair." They are a great source of information. Awhile back in fact, there was a lengthy discussion about the tendency of granite countertops to explode! I kid you not.

Best of luck and welcome to the neighborhood.

C

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Joined: Aug 7 2003

I have a midwestern not quite an Eichler and am considering honed vermont black slate. It is far less expensive than granite and supposed to be low maintenance. There are several websites for slate companies that I found through google.

Offline
Joined: Aug 7 2003

I have a midwestern not quite an Eichler and am considering honed vermont black slate. It is far less expensive than granite and supposed to be low maintenance. There are several websites for slate companies that I found through google.

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