Once Manuel finished the new cabinets and I built the storage cubbies, it was finally time to get the new kitchen countertops underway! Since it’s really not possible to do accurately when cabinetry isn’t in place, we had to wait until those steps were done to have an installer come and take measurements. We’d decided long before to go with LG HI-MACS (an acrylic solid surface; similar to Corian) for the countertops, and in Santa Fe, the only dealers are Lowe’s and Home Depot. We got quotes (for materials, fabrication, and installation) from both based on my own measurements, and Lowe’s came out significantly lower. They were also able to immediately confirm that our color of choice, Nordic White, was available, so we went ahead and placed the order right away. They told us to expect a call from a contracted installer to set up an appointment.
I’m not sure how this kind of thing usually plays out in other parts of the country, but in New Mexico, you really can’t expect things to happen right away, even if you’re told to expect as much. Anyway, that said, about a week later, a contractor did indeed call me to set up an appointment. He was based in Albuquerque (about an hour from Santa Fe), and his next available appointment for Santa Fe was a week later. So…two weeks after we ordered the countertops, a very nice countertop guy came to take measurements, and then told me it would be another two weeks before they were ready for installation.
The countertop guy took the sink with him, since generally they handle that part of the installation if it’s an undermount. Thankfully, I ordered the sink—a 23″ stainless steel Kraus Standart—well in advance, so it was there and ready. I also insisted that he check the specs for the Kraus Oletto pull-down faucet to make absolutely sure he positioned the cutout for the sink far enough forward to account for the windowsill and proper movement of the faucet handle. I did not want to wind up waiting a month for an incorrectly cut countertop, so I asked a whole lot of questions and double checked all of his notes before he left.
Let me be totally clear: I’m not mentioning the wait times to seem like a countertop martyr or anything like that. I just want to share what the reality of the installation process was, because I think stuff like home shows and blog “reveals” has lead us to believe that it all just happens right away when you’re ready for it to happen, and that’s not how it works. Despite all of the renovation projects I’ve been involved with in the past, this was the first time I’d dealt with countertop installation (the Newburgh kitchen had all-in-one freestanding units with integrated stainless steel countertops), and I honestly wasn’t expecting it to be a whole month from the date of order to the date of installation—especially for a stock item. I’m sure part of that is because it’s New Mexico and there aren’t a lot of dealers or installers here, but still—it’s something to be aware of no matter where you live. It might take a while.
By early December, I’d been washing dishes (and doing everything else that involves running water—washing vegetables, draining pasta, keeping my hands clean, etc.) in the bathtub—not to mention doing all of my food prep on a piece of plywood—for about two and a half months. Yes, there are worse things. But there are also better things, like having a sink in your kitchen. I was over it.
Until the moment this first section of countertop slid into place, part of me was absolutely convinced that something was going to go terribly wrong with the installation. Like…either it wouldn’t fit at all because the walls of the house are out of square, or the sink would’ve been in the wrong spot, or they would have given us some kind of ornate edging option instead of the simple eased edge we’d requested. Or it would be the wrong color. Or something. But it was perfect. Everything had been measured correctly, all of our requests had been followed, and I was RELIEVED.
There’s a lot going on here! The countertop arrived in three pieces (the two parts that make up the main L-shape, and the smaller piece for the new cabinet to the right of the stove), and two of them needed to be joined. They generally try to put the seam in an inconspicuous location, but because Nordic White is a solid color with no pattern or embedded flecks/swirls, they didn’t have to worry much about hiding it. Some sort of chemical was applied that “melted” (not with heat, but with something that smelled bad) the two sections together. Surface clamps held the pieces in place while stuff cured, and then the entire countertop got sanded and buffed. Unless I’m REALLY looking for it, I can’t see the seam at all. It’s virtually undetectable.
LOOK!!! COUNTERTOPS!!!!!!!!!! (!!!!!!!!!!!!) They’re so, so beautiful. Understated, honed in appearance, soft, smooth, clean (but not “clinical”), fresh, and absolutely exactly what this kitchen needed. It’s now been five months since they were installed, and I still can’t stop petting them. I might need to do a dedicated countertop post in the future so I can cover more ground (like how they need to be cared for, and what to expect if you decide to go the acrylic route), but for now, I can’t stress enough how happy I am with this material. I also feel like the color choice—Nordic White—is just right for this house. I didn’t want to go too warm because the ceiling and vigas are a very orangey-wood, and I knew that color would reflect off of the countertops to a degree, but I also didn’t want to wind up with a white that was blindingly bright.
With the beautiful satiny-white countertops installed (and the hole for the faucet drilled in the correct spot—PHEW), it was immediately time to get some plumbing happening. AK called the plumber, and he was there the next day. That never happens! But it happened. Yes, I probably could have installed the faucet myself, but since we also needed a whole new trap and supply lines, it just made sense to have a pro do it. A couple of hours later…
RUNNING WATER! INDOORS! IN THE KITCHEN! IN A SINK! FROM A FAUCET! WATER!!!!!!!!! Friends, I cannot tell you how happy I was in this moment. Those splatters inside the sink? THOSE ARE MY TEARS OF JOY. You have never seen someone so excited to wash the dinner dishes. My goodness. It took me a couple of weeks to fully break the habit of walking to the bathroom every time I needed to wash an apple.
You know what’s coming next, right? Yup. Backsplash tile!! In the mean time, if you need to get caught up on the kitchen renovation so far…
✚ It’s time to meet the kitchen!
✚ Kitchen planning!
✚ Kitchen cabinets: Prep + painting.
✚ Painting and stenciling the kitchen floor.
✚ Kitchen countertop demolition.
✚ Painting the kitchen’s steel casement window.
✚ Let’s add some cabinets!
✚ Building cabinet cubbies for extra storage.