Mixing materials for kitchen countertops has many benefits. For one, you can save money by using a less expensive material for your perimeter countertops while splurging on something more luxurious for an island top. Plus, mixing materials is a great way to add visual interest to your kitchen and avoid the overabundance of one color or material. With that in mind, designers are pairing marble with walnut, granite with reclaimed wood, engineered quartz with maple butcher block and more to create diverse surfaces for working, eating and gathering.
Marble Island With Wenge Bar
“Our overall design was form meets function throughout this kitchen design,” says Ashley Luberger, design associate at Osborne Cabinets and Millwork. “The island is the key focal point of this space, so we wanted to add interest combining heights and different materials to create a cohesive space.”
Osborne designed and fabricated the island cabinets and wood top, made out of African wenge wood. “The wood has a really dark natural color along with a really tight grain pattern, creating a contemporary feel,” Luberger says. Collaborative Design Group chose the marble top.
The wood top was selected for the lower eating area because it is more durable than marble, which was used only on the island to avoid stain concerns.
Marble Perimeter With Walnut Island
A white kitchen was a must for the owners of this Minneapolis home. However, both the husband and wife grew up in houses with wood countertops and were keen to incorporate wood. Nicole Bostman, owner and lead designer at Dezaar Interiors, found a happy medium by pairing a white marble countertop and oversize walnut island. “We wanted to introduce the warmth of wood to balance all the white, which can sometimes look a little cold and clinical,” Bostman says.
In this Nunica, Michigan, kitchen by Meiste Homes, the perimeter countertops are oiled walnut, while the custom island is topped with a 10-foot slab of Arabescato marble with a built-up ogee edge.
Be sure to follow proper maintenance routines for each material. Wood can chip and warp, especially in wet areas, such as near the sink. And marble can stain and chip.
Quartz Perimeter With Maple Butcher Block Island
Before the remodel of this Los Angeles contemporary home, the owners had white marble countertops. Gabriel Abikasis, president of Kasis Construction, recommended engineered quartz as a durable alternative.
To add depth, texture and contrast to the white cabinets, Abikasis used 2-inch-thick maple butcher block in a clear satin finish for the island.
Granite Perimeter With Reclaimed-Wood Island
This design of this kitchen reflects the homeowners’ desire to retain the old elements of the 1930s cabin. The main countertop is Jet Mist honed granite, while the island has a reclaimed-wood top fabricated by Grothouse Lumber. The wood island is sealed and cannot be used for cutting directly on. “The contrasting wood counter warms up the kitchen and makes it feel more cabin-like than if everything was dark granite,” says Kelly Ennis, principal at Ennis Nehez.
Granite Island With Walnut Chopping Block Extension
Much thought was put into this kitchen, because it’s in the “forever home” of its owners, in Dartmouth, England. They wanted to make the most of the new space and were meticulous in defining their kitchen right down to listing what items each cabinet would need to store, so that Distinctive Living Kitchens could plan for the correct cabinet sizes and functionality.
The inspiration for the granite came from an existing granite countertop in the laundry room, which Distinctive Living Kitchens matched to the Shivakashi granite counters that are paired with the end-grain walnut chopping block island extension.
Granite Island With Walnut Butcher Block Extension
This Ottawa, Canada, home was built for a couple who wanted an environment conducive to entertaining large groups of family and friends, so a large, functional kitchen with good flow was key. “In addressing the functionality, I wanted to create a space that looked aesthetically balanced with functional and decorative elements,” says Nathan Kyle, senior interior designer at Astro Design Centre.
The island counters have silver wave granite surrounding the prep area mixed with walnut butcher block for the eating area. The inclusion of two materials was necessary to create the length that was required without having a seam in the countertop, and created a length that was ideal for entertaining. The butcher block also allows for a warmer touch on the area where people can rest elbows, versus a cold surface.
“Using a two-toned kitchen allows for the back wall, which is utilitarian in nature, to stand on its own and juxtapose itself with a more detailed decorative island,” Kyle says.
Concrete Island With Wood Inlay
For this contemporary Kansas City, Missouri, kitchen, Studiobuild blended poured concrete for the majority of the island and juxtaposed it with a wood inlay surrounding the cooktop on the same plane. Not only does this look have more visual interest, but a large island for eating and working eliminated the need for an eating nook.
Pietra Cardosa Stone Perimeter With Maple Island
For this center kitchen island, Brooks Custom used a 2-inch-thick premium wide-plank maple top. The light-colored wood contrasts with the dark Pietra Cardosa stone countertop along the perimeter of the kitchen. The seemingly simple finish on the island ties the modern farmhouse look together.
Basaltina Perimeter With Walnut Island
Here a walnut island surface warms the basaltina perimeter and helps add contrast to the white kitchen. It offers the perfect fusion of natural materials and lower maintenance. “There is always a balance to strike between durability offered by manufactured options and the beauty and soul of living materials,” says interior designer Joelle Nesen of Maison.