decor8 Reader Questions: Advice for Heather's Countertop?

decor8 reader Heather is a graphic designer from Ocean Springs, Mississippi. She worked alongside her husband, an architect, to build their dream home six years ago. When it came down to completing it, they ran out of time, energy, and of course, cash. As a result, many things were finished quickly and cheaply, their countertops being one of those things, which is where Heather is stuck and could use our help. Heathers writes:

We stained and polyurethaned some birch plywood and that's been it for years. Now, we are ready for real countertops and we know we want quartz composite (engineered stone) like Silestone, Caesarstone, Cambria and others. After that choice, we are stuck, we can't decide Light vs. Dark, Color vs. Neutral, Big Chunks vs. Small Grains or Solid.

We like a Cobalt selection a few companies carry that has little sparkly bits of mirror and plan to use that in our breakfast area on a new oval pedestal table. My picture shows a table with a blue top that's a trial run to see if we like a bright blue surface (we do!). We think the blue is great, but don't want to overdo it on all the other counters.

The butcher block top island will stay. The cabinets are a natural cherry, nickel pulls, stainless range, white fridge and dishwasher, will soon install a new stainless single bowl sink (the way cool Kohler Poise or BlancoPrecision) and a new faucet.

The walls are a yellow orange I had planned to rub with a pumpkin glaze and the ceiling is a steely blue metallic from Ralph Lauren Duchesse Satin. The pantry doors are cypress architectural salvage from New Orleans with clear glass panels, the floors are pecan and white oak wide plank with a medium stain, lots of wood everywhere, maybe too much.

The next project after the counters will probably be to finally install the shaker style crown mold over the cabinets and mosaic tile the backsplash, possibly a cream glass tile palette with some shimmer.

I would love some opinions on the countertop issue. I like a balanced look and I'm leaning slightly towards the lighter neutrals, to offset all the color. My husband and I are used to making design and color choices quickly and confidently, but we are stumped on this one! Advice, opinions, suggestions, fresh ideas, all are welcome and appreciated! The photo of samples were some we have considered, we liked how some picked up on the cabinet color.

Holly, I'm thrilled you and your readers will take a stab at solving my problem. If it is any incentive, I am tired of putting off the counters and am ready to do them NOW, I promise to update you with what we decide and will send photos of installed counters. Will you have any other "before + after" type posts? I'm curious to see what Courtney did about her kitchen curtains.

Advice anyone?

After reading that you want to do a mosiac tile backsplash (lovely!), I must stress the importance of choosing your focal point because you don't want the countertop and the backsplash both competing for attention because they each have outstanding features (flecks, shine, etc.). Select which one you'd like in the spotlight. Given the details you've provided above about the space, I'd say go with a colorful mosiac tile background and the darker gray-blue countertop (I'm not a fan of the cobalt because I think it will look dated over time and if you ever want to sell the house, it's something to consider). The tile shown in the top row, second position, in your photo looks great. I scoured the web to try to locate something visual so you could get a sense of the outcome, and came across this photo. I wouldn't go with such large tiles for the backsplash, but I love the mix of colors. See what you think.

(photos from heather for use on decor8)