Move Over, Marble: This Controversial Material Is Making a Kitchen Comeback In 2024

published Feb 13, 2024
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Granite countertops in kitchen.
Credit: Christopher Stark

Back when principal designer Noz Nozawa of Noz Design was a kid, one kitchen countertop choice was as ubiquitous as a catchy pop song: granite. “Coming of age in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, granite countertops seemed like the default option — specifically very dark black and deep brown granites with flecks of other minerals in it,” remembers Nozawa. 

If you didn’t experience granite’s heyday then, there’s still a good chance that you’ve witnessed it as of late. Over the past few years, granite has been popping up alongside orange-tinted cabinetry in many “before” shots of kitchens destined for updates on social media feeds, television shows, and even on Apartment Therapy. But at the time of its widespread popularity, granite was it for a few reasons. This natural stone was a cost-effective, functional choice that could withstand years of cooking and family gatherings without losing its sheen. And despite the de facto darker choices Nozawa mentioned, granite can actually be purchased in a variety of shades, making it possible to go as neutral or bold as you please. 

As the early aughts gave way to the 2010s, quartz composites and white marbles began making waves for that crisp, clean, all-white kitchen look, and granite — a once-desirable, high-end upgrade — began becoming somewhat controversial, seen as dated and even commonplace. But the attributes that once made granite a premiere choice still stand today. According to Angi, installing granite countertops in a kitchen currently ranges between $2,000 and $4,000, and it’s about as durable a natural stone as they come. To that end, when Nozawa became an adult and had the opportunity to renovate her own kitchen, granite just made sense — even as others were labeling it as passé. “I chose granite for my project because it’s very durable for a natural stone,” she says. “I love the drama of some granites, as opposed to the more romantic sweeping veins in iconic white Italian marbles. And frankly, granite price points are often very attractive.”

Nozawa, as it turns out, might not be alone in this second embrace of granite. That’s because the design tides have started to turn yet again. If granite seemed far too busy for the neutral spaces that dominated the 2010s, now that color, texture, and a more lived-in type kitchen is once again desired by renovators — in accordance with trends like cottagecore, mixed metals, and ’70s chic — granite may be able to rebuild a worthwhile reputation among designers and home enthusiasts alike. That’s because it can hang so well in eclectic spaces, and it can take on a more modern look depending on the cabinetry, tile, flooring, and appliances you pair it with. “Granite represents a really wide range of base colors, levels of drama, and price points,” Nozawa says. “I love the iridescent flecks in my own kitchen granite countertops as much as I love the quieter darker granites in client homes, too. You also can really transform the feel of granite by deciding on polished versus honed finishes.”

Credit: Christopher Stark

Nozawa has no regrets about installing her own dark granite countertops in a new kitchen and thinks others should consider this blast from the past, too. Her only advice? Pick the finish that works best for your lifestyle; sealing will keep your counters as pristine as possible. “I do recommend sealing the surface if you are sensitive to the natural changes inherent in using natural stone,” she advises. “As Americans, we often like to ‘protect our investment’ by keeping things looking brand new as long as we can. But in places like Europe, the wear and gradual changes in kitchen countertops is part of life! So I myself did not seal the surface of my countertops, which means the area right next to the range has aged more than other parts of my countertops. And I love it.” 

All this is to say, go ahead and give granite another look. You might be surprised by just how chic it is.