Kitchen & Bath Design News

AUG 2017

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Photos: Lauren DeBell MARTHA MURRAY Martha Murray Design, Bend, OR Countertops are one of the largest surfaces in a kitchen, sec- ond only to cabinets, notes Martha Murray. "Plus, everything happens on a countertop – cutting, prepping, etc. – so coun- tertops are hugely important," she maintains. "It's critical to choose the right material for function and aesthetics." In this kitchen, those goals are accomplished with a mix of concrete and butcher block. "This kitchen was horribly dated and not very functional," says Murray. "She is a major cook, and they like to entertain, so we reconfigured the kitch- en so it functions like they need it to." On one end of the island, the designer added butcher block so her client can conveniently chop ingredients without a cutting board, positioning it within easy access to the cooktop. The rest of the island – as well as the perimeter cabinets and raised seating area – is topped with concrete manufactured by a local company. This material choice fulfills her clients' desire for a contemporary feel. "The way we do concrete counter- tops in this market is different than in other places," she says. "Many people only think of concrete as a poured material, but you would never know this countertop is concrete." Murray selected a neutral, cream color. "For the most part, it can also be seamless since it is made to size," she says, adding that its core is manufactured with materials that keep it lightweight and help eliminate cracking often associated with concrete. "This concrete also has a wonderful 'hand.' It isn't as cold as stone and it feels nice to the touch. It's a beautiful countertop, with a warm, wonderful look and feel." Murray also configured the kitchen's footprint to facili- tate entertaining. In particular, the raised seating area offers a clear delineation between work and entertaining spaces. "Aesthetically, it's also more interesting," she says, noting that its outward-facing, cold-rolled steel façade is accented with steel rods to add pattern and dimension while the kitchen side Cream colored concrete countertops add a contemporary feel to this kitchen, designed by Martha Murray. "This concrete has a wonderful 'hand,' she says. "It isn't as cold as stone and it feels nice to the touch." Murray added butcher block on the cooktop end of the island, making it easier for her clients to chop ingredients without the need for a cutting board. features open shelving for cookbook storage. "When people are sitting in the living room, the seating area provides a visual block to the kitchen so you aren't staring at a countertop full of dirty pots and pans." Mixing countertop materials is trending with many of her clients. "It is fairly popular to do one material on the perimeter and another on the island, if they have an island," she states, noting that marble and butcher block are often mixed with other materials. "It can give a color or textural contrast." While some clients are still requesting granite, many are moving to quartz. "They consider quartz to be more of an 'eco' product since it is manmade with materials from other indus- tries," she says, adding that countertops made from recycled concrete, glass, etc. are also appealing. "People are trying to move away from natural stone for ecological reasons." Porcelain slabs are piquing interest as well, she notes. "They have advantages because they are available in large slabs," says the designer. "They are also thin, which makes them a great choice for shower walls. Most other solid surfaces are 1.25" thick so they can be unwieldy and heavy. Porcelain is also great for exterior barbecue areas because it doesn't fade. "It's great to have so many choices," she continues. "While porcelain is not necessarily less expensive than other materi- als, it's yet another choice to add to the mix." ▪ August 2017 • KitchenBathDesign.com 87

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