Flecked or Softly Veined White. One of the most common and coveted countertop finishes is a stone or manufactured slab material, such as quartz, in a white or off‐white shade with a light multitonal fleck or grain to give it subtle natural richness. This snowy, sparkling look works well in many situations since it is very neutral but also contemporary and fresh. The pale tone brings a sense of cleanness and lightness to the space with a twist of subtle sophistication. In more traditional kitchens, this is usually a better choice than a true minimalist white countertop, which can be too severe and fight with the elegance of other elements such as knotty woods, Shaker cabinets or lantern pendant lights.
Island. No matter how modestly sized, an island can provide invaluable space for working, serving and storing. I recently interviewed a designer who advised that we take the recommended dimensions and clearances with a grain of salt, as they tend to work only for mansions and in Fantasyland. As long as you’re not bruising a hip every time you round the island, you have enough space.
Soft gray countertops and other midtone shades, such as beiges or rich creams, are the most neutral counter options. In this kitchen, with creamy off‐white cabinets and golden yellow undertones in the backsplash and wood, the dreamy, creamy counters add to a harmonious, peaceful look, perfect for friendly family breakfasts. Softly flecked gray stone has a look similar to concrete, and it works perfectly in contemporary spaces with a bit of an architectural bent. It has the advantage of hiding the occasional spot while still looking clean and tidy and not too dark or busy. It’s great if you don’t always have a perfectly organized space but still want a put‐together look.