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Stainless Steel Countertops

>> Friday, October 7, 2011

As most of you know, I am a stay-at-home mom.  But I also make cakes (wedding, birthday, etc) from my home.  This helps me keep my sanity and earn a little extra spending money to fund my HGTV and DIY Network addiction. :)

Anyway, one thing I have really been wanting for our kitchen is a larger center island.  Our kitchen is great and we have lots of counter tops, but our center island counter top is fitted to the cabinets and doesn't allow for bar stools.  Something that I've wanted since the first party we had at our house. 

Here is a photo of the unfinished kitchen right before we moved in 6 years ago.  Please forgive the quality of the photos...our digital camera was much lower quality back then!

Here is a photo of the kitchen after we painted and move the appliances in, but we were still moving all of our junk in, so therefore all the junk laying around.

Our home was built by Beazer Homes.  They are not a custom builder, so we didn't get many options on finishes, but we did get to pick our counter tops from about 10 different laminate styles.  This is a close-up of ours.

It's great because it doesn't show stains.  My parents have white counter tops courtesy of the previous owners of their house and I don't know how they have lived with them for so long!  While I like the color of our counter tops, laminate really isn't the "in" thing anymore.  Obviously.

So, besides wanting some bar stools, I've been wanting a surface that is better for working with my cakes. I do cakes with fondant icing a lot, but I always have to spread out some vinyl mats to work with it on because fondant sticks to laminate.  And the last thing you want once you've rolled out a huge sheet of fondant is for it to stick to the counter and leave a hole right in the middle because a patch almost always shows, so I would have to re-do it a lot.

In my research of finding out the best surfaces for fondant use, I found that solid surface counter tops and stainless steel are both NSF certified (food safety standards).  I am a home-based "cottage bakery", so I don't have to meet the NSF standards, but I like to do everything as sanitary as possible.

I really liked the look of stainless steel to add a little modern look to our kitchen.  So I did some further research and found some companies online to get quotes from and also went to Home Depot and Lowes for some quotes as well.  Um, can you say EXPENSIVE?!  I needed a 3'x6' piece for our island, and most companies were coming in around $2500.  I think the lowest quote I received was $1700.  Which was even more expensive than the high-end granite at the big box stores.  Yikes!

So, I did some more research.  AKA, I called my dad.  My dad is an airplane mechanic and I know he works with metal and welding and such, so I thought he might have some ideas.  Unfortunately, he said he didn't have the tools or access to the tools needed to work with stainless steel.  But he recommended calling a local metal shop to see if they could custom fabricate anything for me.  SCORE!  I called a local company and they quoted me $310.  WHAT!?  You've got to be kidding!  They used fancy terms like "sheared edges" and "20 gauge" in the conversation, so I called up my dad just to see if that is what I needed and he agreed, so I ordered it!

The company did end up taking a little longer to make it than they originally promised, but I really wasn't in any hurry and it wasn't that big of a deal.  I actually probably got it sooner than if I would have ordered it from any of the other companies.  I actually ordered it on 9/13 and got the call that it was ready for pickup on 10/5.  So, three weeks.  The most nervous part of the process was just waiting to see it.  Since it was custom, it wasn't like I could go and pick it out.

Anyway, here's a long-awaited photo of the new island counter top!

See how it shines?  I love it!  It's got a brushed finish so it should mask any scratches pretty well.  I was really nervous about how sharp the corners and the bottom edge would be, but I really don't think it will be a problem.  At some point, one of the kids is bound to run into one of the corners and get hurt, but they would do that with any surface.  They are soldered, so they aren't sharp but they definitely stick out farther than the old counter top.

So, here's a photo of the entire kitchen.  As you can tell from the first photos, not a lot has changed since we moved in.  We still have the same colored walls (I love the color!).  Just about the only difference is the light fixtures.  We changed out the mushroom light over the sink and added a couple matching pendant lights over the island.  I still need to find 3 bar stools and am even thinking about changing the back/sides of the island to a bead board and add some trim molding around the base to give it a more "built-in" feel.  Oh, and eventually we will change out the rest of the laminate to a solid surface.  And I would live to have a marble tile back splash (subway style) and add crown molding to the tops of the cabinets as well. See, I told you I watch way too much HGTV and DIY network!


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