The natural stone age: Natural stone countertops are a cost-effective way to update the look of your kitchen.

Want to transform your kitchen for your family and friends to enjoy while simultaneously increasing the value of your home? Think twice about gutting it floor to ceiling; install a natural stone countertop instead.

Go with granite

According to Robin Fallone, co-owner of Fallone Building & Remodeling in Scottsdale, granite countertops have been a popular choice among homeowners for quite some time.

“We’ve been in business here for about 10 years, and since we’ve been here, we’ve seen that granite has been about 95 percent of the way people go. People love it,” Fallone says.

Ariadna Papagno, manager of Papagno’s Marble & Granite, Inc., says installing natural stone countertops is an inexpensive way to update one’s kitchen and give it an entirely new look.

“It looks a lot more elegant, and it brings out life in the kitchen,” Papagno says. “The granite warms it up, and it feels like you are bringing something from the outside in.”

Ediveth Saenz, interior design consultant for Aracruz International Granite, agrees; she says it adds character to a kitchen.

Unique and practical

Natural stone comes in a variety of colors as well as one-of-a-kind patterns, including veins and minerals like quartz and mica, which can give the granite a sparkle effect.

Isac Libardi, one of the owners of Aracruz International Granite, says each and every color will have a different look.

“It’s like a fingerprint; every slab is unique,” Libardi says. “It brings a whole different style to the house because you’re bringing something inside from Mother Earth; you have a natural piece of the mountain in your house.”

Not only do natural stone countertops look beautiful, they are practical as well.

“I think it’s a really nice, durable surface that you can do anything to and it will still look new,” Papagno says. “You don’t have to worry about scratching it, burning it or anything else that can happen with other common countertop materials.”

Mix and match

One popular trend is mixing more than one color or material. Papagno says she’s seen people mix granite with stainless steel, concrete or glass, creating a sophisticated look. She’s says they’ve even done granite integrated with wood inserts and butcher blocks.

Fallone adds that granite countertops are also great to help achieve a modern, contemporary look.

“If people are going toward the modern look, they’re going for the dark cabinet with straight lines with dark floors, and then they’re going with a backsplash that is very contemporary and granite countertops,” Fallone says.

Dawn Atchison of Granite Transformations of Arizona in Phoenix adds that, regarding countertops and backsplashes, a contrast of materials will be popular in 2013 — “i.e., granite with recycled glass or mosaics and recycled glass countertops and splashes that create an ambiance of elegance, diversity and depth.”

As far as color schemes go, Saenz says contrasting colors, and mixing and matching lighter and darker shades, are popular trends. However, Papagno suggests not to get carried away with too many patterns.

“I always tell people if they want to do different colors, think about it as if you’re wearing something,” Papagno says. “You wouldn’t wear plaid with flowers; so you always want to do something solid and something with design.”

An educated decision

Pricing for slabs can range from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars depending on the slab.

Papagno adds that the difference in price is due to the design of the stone not the quality. The most inexpensive slabs are going to be the standard colors and the most expensive slabs have a lot of veining and unique characteristics.

Most suppliers and designers recognize that character can bring a kitchen to life but also understand that so many choices can become overwhelming to the client. Papagno says client involvement is key to their happiness.

“We feel that educating customers empowers them to make the right decision,” Papagno says. “We want to ensure our customer is happy with what they are getting and that they are fully informed when they make their choices.”

5 tips for choosing the perfect countertops

Don’t know where to start? Dawn Atchison of Granite Transformations of Arizona offers these helpful tips when looking for the best countertops for your kitchen.

  1. Research and find a reputable, licensed, bonded and insured company that will stand behind and warranty their products.
  2. Go with a company that uses only their own certified employees and doesn’t sub-contract the work.
  3. Choose something that won’t go out of style tomorrow.
  4. Go with a countertop that will make your life easier by choosing a maintenance-free material.
  5. Seek help when you find yourself overwhelmed from someone knowledgeable — i.e., make an appointment with a certified design consultant.

For more information about natural stone countertops, visit:

Papagno’s Marble & Granite, Inc.
15716 N. 76th St., Scottsdale
(480) 948-4282

Aracruz International Granite
2310 W. Sherman St., Phoenix
(602) 252-1171

Fallone Building & Remodeling
(480) 473-2109

Granite Transformations of Arizona
2205 W. Lone Cactus Dr., #23, Phoenix
(623) 581-5056

Scottsdale Living Magazine Winter 2013