THE KITCHEN CHRONICLES…

PT. III – Say Goodbye To Formica!!!


Cori and I are, by no means, professional chefs.  However, we do very much appreciate a good meal.  After years of mastering meat and potatoes, I’m actually becoming quite proficient around the kitchen.  Of course, the area in which you operate can either allow the seedlings of culinary creativity to blossom, or snuff out any hope of germination resulting in yet another frozen burger on the grill.  One key ingredient is the right work surface.  The countertop and sink are every bit as vital as the appliances when preparing a meal.  How much room do you have to work?  Can the sink hold enough dirty dishes so you don’t have to stop halfway through prepping the meal to do them?  And when you do get to the dishes, do you have enough room to actually wash them?

The new countertop! Now, I just need to move that oversized microwave into that closet.

There are some gorgeous options out there when it comes to countertops.  The natural beauty of stone.  The maintenance-free enjoyment of solid surface.  There are even some nice colors and styles to choose from in the world of formica.  Then there was our countertop.  The cream color is actually a blend of several different colors.  There are swirls of antique white, ocher, and parchment with whisps of bile yellow and the subtle undertones of a very light melanoma brown.  Over the years, the countertop sagged with age.  Thankfully, it sagged in the middle.   So when things (eggs, etc.) rolled away from you, at least it rolled to the middle and not off the edge and onto the floor or our feet.  With the countertop, came a porcelain overlay double sink.  Double the bowls, half the usefulness, as I would say.  A couple of plates and a pot, and the sink is stuffed.  I guess it did force us to stay on top of the dishes.  Like just about everything in this house, the sink and countertop were original.  Sinks of a certain age have their own version of osteoporosis.  The edges become chipped and flakey and can become quite dangerous.  For the life of me, I can’t understand how no one sliced off a finger on those little piranha-like shards when wiping down the counter and sink.  No question that this tired old pair had to go the way of Bevis & Butthead.  Not really sure why anyone liked them in the first place, but they had a good run.  Now just go away.

Please welcome to the makeover party Stacey & Mark Ducharme of Coastal-N-Counters in Mashpee.  Their showroom is packed with choices for solid surface countertops.  They carry the full line of Corian, SileStone, CeasarStone, and Zodiac.  Thank God Stacey was there to walk us through all the options.  It’d be a major case of analysis paralysis without her.  Actually, she told us what style and color we were getting.  We’d had them over for a friendly dinner (also so she could get a look at the space), and she pronounced that “Rosemary” would be our color of Corian.

“Ah, OK…I think we should probably see it first,” we said.

“Don’t worry, you will,” she responded.

The next step...tile that backsplash.

Shortly thereafter John O’Rourke & I were broadcasting live from the Cape Cod Life Home Expo.  Mark & Stacey had a booth at the expo as they had for the past several years and whadaya know!  Their display setup showed off-white cabinets with…wait for it…wait for it…a Rosemary Corian countertop!  See, there is a reason Stacey runs the showroom and Mark runs the fabrication shop.  She knows what’ll work for people and their kitchens.  We were hooked as soon as we saw it.  Greens with tans, off-white and a little rust color swirling through the countertop gave it the look of stone.  In a word, WOW!  People are stunned to learn that our countertops are Corian and not stone.  When we’d tell people that we have Corian, some would say, “Oh no,” turning their noses up as if checking the ceiling for cracks, “we prefer stone.”  Once they saw it for themselves, it really opened their eyes and leveled their noses to the possibilities.

The process is quite simple and surprisingly non-disruptive…usually.  Our case was a little different which I’ll explain in a moment.  Once we were set on the color and style of countertop, Mark and his partner in crime, Ryan, came over to template the space where the countertop would go.  The idea is to take the template back to the shop and fabricate the new top.  They would come back a couple of weeks later and install it in one day!  They even make arrangements with Spencer Hallett Plumbing and Heating to disconnect the faucet and dishwasher before and reconnect them after the installation is complete.  That’s what happens 99% of the time.  Then there’s the Egan kitchen.  It seems that the builder of our house measured wrong when putting in the counters.  They weren’t deep enough.  So to solve that little problem, he simply put the backsplash on the wall first and then butted the counter to it.  To get an accurate template, Mark and Ryan normally have to take just the backsplash off.  Not possible in our case.  They had to remove the counter, then the backsplash, then template.  The good thing was they had the countertop just about ready to go.  Just some final cuts-to-fit and it was ready.  So we were without countertops for a night.  Boo hoo, we had to go out to eat.  Ryan and his brother came back the next day and installed our gorgeous new countertop in just a couple of hours.  I connected the faucet and dishwasher and we were back in business.

The nice, deep sink that'll actually be functional.

After the guys left, Cori and I stood there admiring the dramatic new look of our kitchen.  I saw the gleam in her eye and the broad smile across her face so again I took my shot.

“You know, this countertop makes the…”

“Don’t even start,” she said through gritted teeth.

So, with nightmarish visions of sanding 17 cabinet doors, five drawer fronts and face frames stomping around in my head, I called Sheldon of Stewart Painting.  They say money can’t buy you happiness.  I am here to tell you that it can save you from tremendous amounts of misery sometimes, however.

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