Kitchen Countertop Preference: Get Better with Age or Stay Looking Brand New?

It's Kitchen and Bathroom renovation month here on Apartment Therapy, and I for one couldn't be happier about it. As a hard-core foodie and a designer, the kitchen is where my passions meet, and I could talk for hours about kitchen design. And when people talk kitchen design, it's a safe bet that they're talking about countertops.

Next to custom cabinets or new flooring, a new work surface is one of the biggest investments a homeowner can make in their kitchen, and articles about the pros and cons of different materials abound on the web. One thing that usually strikes me about these round-ups is the fact that durability and resistance to change is seen as a plus, while tendency to scratch, darken or mark is considered a minus. Why, I wonder? After all, some work surfaces get better with age.

People fall into one of two camps with their countertop preferences: those who want their costly counters to look as fresh ten years on as the day they were installed, and those who welcome the character of a "lived-in" look. The first group may be larger, but the second is where I belong. There's just something so welcoming and authentic about the glow a carrera marble top develops over decades of use, or the gleaming patina of well-used stainless steel in a restaurant kitchen.

If you want your countertops to get better with age, you might go for a light-colored marble, butcher block, concrete or a metal finish. Manmade materials such as engineered stones, as well as hardwearing natural stones like granite, are your best bet if you want your investment to look spic-and-span for years to come.

Which kind of countertop do you prefer, and why?

(Images: 1. Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan for Apartment Therapy 2. House to Home 3. Ancient Art Concrete Tabletops 4. Traditional Home 5. The Man About the House)