But let's start at the beginning, shall we? This is how our kitchen has been looking lately. The cabinets that we bought secondhand came with an existing marble benchtop. But because we've added a few extra cabinets, a new sink and a wine fridge, oh and mixed up the layout a lot, there was absolutely no way that the old marble benchtops were going to cover everything properly.
Plus the giant problem with this marble was that it's both soft (in stone terms) and incredibly porous. So it's scratched and stained and not particularly nice-looking.
As you know (or may have figured out by now), we ordered a new benchtop last week. We got four different companies out here to quote, just to be sure that we had covered all of our options. The first guy that came out said that he was using this particular stone for a big 86-unit project in a few weeks, so he could give it to us at a much cheaper price than the other stones.
Since I was always planning on going for a light-coloured man-made stone option anyway (to go with my future dark grey pained cabinets), I was perfectly happy with that stone, so he quoted us a price of about $4,500 (plus tax). But we still had three guys to come, all offering slightly different things.
We didn't like the second guy very much, the third guy we liked quite a lot, and the fourth guy was ok. The third guy (the most professional guy) was the last to offer his quote, and he came in the lowest, at about $3,800. The main reason for this was because he could get larger-sized pieces of stone in a particular brand, which meant that he would only need two pieces to fit our kitchen instead of three.
The first guy though, kept checking in with us to see if we'd made a decision yet. We mentioned the other larger-slab quote to him, and he said he could do the same thing with the cheaper bulk-buy stone he was suggesting, for $3,200.
Aside from the cost, the other advantage in going with the first guy was that his timeframe was much much quicker than anyone else's. Less than a week after we agreed to go ahead with him, his guys arrived with our new benchtops in their truck.
They had a good system. The pieces of stone were cut to roughly the right sizes, and they just set themselves up on the footpath to cut them to the perfect size after double-checking all of their measurements.
The first piece went in...
The second piece went in...
The stonemasons had to recruit Tom's and Daniel's help to carry in the biggest peninsula piece...
They lowered it into place carefully...
Slotted it in...
And then brought in the sink piece, the moment of truth, to see if it all fitted together nicely.
It did, although the seam where it meets the peninsula was not perfect.
They checked all of the levels to see what had to move in order to make that seam sit nice and flat.
The easiest solution? Cutting a little sliver off the front of our under-sink cabinet so that the stone would sit a little bit lower at the front. The boys accomplished that quickly with the circular saw and then a chisel...
And thank goodness, it worked!
Then came the pièce de résistance, our "waterfall". We'd decided that to add a little bit of 'wow' factor to the kitchen we would have an extra piece of stone running vertically down the side of our peninsula. And it made a HUGE difference!
The next step was gluing everything into place and covering up the seams as much as possible...
And so... without further ado, let me introduce our completely transformed kitchen!!!
The guys said that we should leave the counters overnight to let the glue absolutely harden before giving them a proper clean, so because I couldn't wait to take photos, the counters aren't perfectly clean and shiny here.
I'm so very much in love. They're so beautiful!
The extra 'waterfall' has limited the opening to the kitchen a little bit, but it's still roomy enough to pass through ok. And to be honest? I couldn't care less. It's totally worth it.
Months and months ago I found this little hall table on Gumtree for $40. We've been using it as a bit of extra working space in the kitchen. With a little slab of stone on top of it (with rounded corners to save me from bruising myself when I inevitably crash into it), its role is now official! We just have to raise the height of the legs a bit so that its top will be at the same height as all of the benchtops.
The room feels almost entirely unrecognisable now. I'm so happy,
Now I have to start thinking about stools to sit on the other side of our peninsula! Perhaps not until our bank account recovers from all of these major purchases. And not until I decide exactly what material I want to use to cover over the plywood back of that cabinet.
The mismatching colours of all of our cabinets are also now letting down our fabulous new benchtops in a big way. I might just have to make up my mind about a colour and get painting!