How to Choose Custom Countertops for Your Home

How to Choose Custom Countertops for Your Home

Cabinets and Countertops
By Dikran Seferian August 17, 2022

Needless to say, the kitchen is an integral part of your home. Chances are no matter your cooking skills, you spend some time there every day. Many homeowners even prefer to eat in the kitchen. Today's home parties are often hosted right in the kitchen with everyone gathering around the countertop or table as homemade appetizers are prepared and mouthwatering dishes are shared. 

Whether for yourself or for guests, it's important that your kitchen looks and feels like it is truly your own. This can be more difficult than other rooms in the home, which you can dress up with throw pillows or a nice new chair. How would you dress up a kitchen? Obviously getting new cabinets and countertops is the way to go. But before you run out and start buying, there are a few do’s and don’ts to remember about custom countertops and cabinets. Keeping these points in mind will help you save yourself money as well as time and effort.

The Do’s of Choosing Custom Countertops and Cabinets

Accounting for Quality

With proper maintenance, both custom countertops and cabinets can last a lifetime if they’re made of high-quality materials. You surely don’t want to end up having to replace them after five years or so. As such, it’s important to always account for quality regardless of your budget.

While stock cabinets that you can find at big box stores are typically lower on the price spectrum, they don’t always match the quality of custom — or even semi-custom — cabinets. When you’re shopping for kitchen cabinets, always make sure to keep an eye out for details like hinges. floating panels, and drawer slides. Side-mounted drawers, for instance, are often the best option.

As for countertops, it helps to consider the advantages and disadvantages of different materials. Marble, for instance, lends a luxurious aesthetic but is susceptible to stains and scratches. Custom butcher block countertops tend to be affordable but are also high-maintenance. In any case, quality should always be a priority. Your best bet is to buy countertops and cabinets from a reputable provider who always guarantees quality — even with economical options.

Quality is among the most important factors to consider in your search for new cabinets and countertops.

Quality is among the most important factors to consider in your search for new cabinets and countertops.

Having a Certain Budget

One of the most important parts of any home renovation project is to establish a budget. Setting a budget will essentially allow you to narrow down your options. It keeps you from feeling overwhelmed and helps you stay on track. Picking the ultimate custom countertop and cabinet can take up to a year if you’re browsing every single option. That being said, having a certain budget prevents an overload of information.

Setting a budget also allows you to determine what actually matters to you. It lets you figure out what you like but don’t really need. For instance, the look of marble may appeal to you but you may not think it’s important to have a pure marble countertop. In this case, you can look for alternatives that look like marble and cater to your budget. Custom laminate countertops, for instance, can emulate the look of marble at a fraction of the cost.

You may also want to bear in mind that buying kitchen countertops and cabinets is a major investment. Not only do they enhance the practicality of your home, but they are also known to raise property value. And if you have a particular countertop or cabinet type in mind that slightly exceeds your budget, consider waiting another couple of months until you can buy it. 

Looking for Practicality

New countertops and cabinetry can boost the functionality of your kitchen. Having said that, it’s absolutely crucial that they’re built in an ideal way to avoid frustration. In older homes, for example, cabinets tend to feel somewhat awkward as well as outdated. You may also find it difficult to organize deep cabinets where items in the back can be easy to forget about — or inconvenient to access.

There’s nothing wrong with finding a cabinet that you absolutely love, just as long as you don’t sacrifice practicality. Even the most gorgeous cabinet will lose its appeal if you’re having a hard time organizing it. And the beautiful custom granite countertop you just got will stop looking as beautiful when it’s permanently stained (although proper sealing can prevent that). While aesthetic value is important, the practicality should come first. Bear in mind that a kitchen is, in essence, a utilitarian space. 

Make sure to account for practicality when shopping for new cabinets.

Make sure to account for practicality when shopping for new cabinets.

Starting With Countertops

While cabinets usually draw most of the attention, it doesn’t mean that you should start with them during a kitchen renovation. As a matter of fact, choosing the countertop first allows for a smoother remodeling process and leaves you with more choices.

Custom countertops are available in a larger variety than cabinets. As such, using the countertop as a starting point gives you more options in terms of color and pattern. Picking the cabinetry first will limit you to finding a kitchen countertop that corresponds with the rest of the design. In other words, matching your cabinets to the countertop is much easier than the other way around. A custom wood countertop, for instance, will leave you with a ton of kitchen design options ranging from modern farmhouse to Scandinavian.

It is also worth noting that countertops are key if you’re adding or replacing a kitchen backsplash. It allows you to set the main theme for the kitchen and simplifies the coordination process. 

Focusing on Three Colors

A common rule of thumb when choosing new countertops and cabinets is to settle on two dominant colors and one accent color. The two main colors will ideally complement each other while the third adds visual interest. Should you end up choosing a custom granite countertop with multiple colors, for example, one of them would serve as the accent.

Consider trying the three colors together in another part of your home before proceeding with the kitchen remodel. You’ll want to make sure the color combination appeals to you and plays well in the interior lighting. Aim for a simple color palette such as black and white, and choose a bold color for the accent. This way, you’ll be able to create a cohesive look with different elements. 

A custom granite countertop with multiple tones can consist of an accent color.

A custom granite countertop with multiple tones can consist of an accent color.

The Don’ts of Choosing Custom Countertops and Cabinets

Basing Your Decision on a Sample

Many stores will often provide samples of cabinets and countertops. For instance, they might show you a cabinet door instead of the entire unit. In the case of custom countertops, the retailer may provide a corner section of the material that you can hold in your hand. But that shouldn’t be enough to make a decision — especially if you’re buying a slab countertop. Quartz or granite countertops, for instance, are natural stones and may consist of many variations that might differ from what you expect. That being said, a small section can not be an adequate representation of the individual slab.

In most cases, you wouldn’t be able to tell what the end result will look like solely judging by the sample. If a sample happens to appeal to you, you may want to see the final product before reaching for your wallet.

Samples shouldn’t be enough to make your decision when buying a new countertop.

Samples shouldn’t be enough to make your decision when buying a new countertop.

Going for the Trendiest Choice

If you’re head over heels for a trendy option, you should definitely go for the design that reflects your personal style. However, you may want to avoid buying a custom countertop or cabinet just because it is all over the trends. Don’t forget that trends pass by on a whim, and that countertop that you saw on Pinterest or TikTok will probably look outdated a few years down the line.

Take the distressed cabinet aesthetic, for instance. It was all the rage a few years ago with rustic kitchen design peaking in popularity. But now that other design styles have taken the spotlight, the distressed look has lost its hype. Having said that, it’s always a good idea to go for a timeless design that will never go out of style. 

Buying Without Bringing Some Samples Home

While it’s not a good idea to pick a custom countertop or cabinet just by seeing a sample, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the sample doesn’t play a key role. It actually helps when you’re matching countertops with cabinets.

There’s only so much you can tell by checking samples or final products in a store. At home, everything from lighting to wall color is different. It’s not easy to determine whether your new countertops and cabinets will look good in your kitchen just by seeing them in a showroom.

Samples come in handy when you’re mixing and matching various countertops and cabinets, in addition to helping you see how a certain option looks in your kitchen. While samples of cabinets may not be available, you can often get wood chip samples to give you an idea of whether that particular style or finish looks alongside the countertop.


Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian