Originally when we conceived of a new kitchen for the Bungalow the plan was butcher block counters. Ikea sells relatively exceptionally affordable butcher block counters. (Like to the tune of $600 for our kitchen which I understand now is out of this world.) The peninsula would take two pieces that I was planning on joining together with the Renovation Whisperer’s biscuit joiner and that was the only “challenging” part of the wood counters.
Well, the only challenging part until Ikea decided to be out of stock! for six months. Seriously! They may have wood counters back in stock today, or maybe not until December, and when I’ve inquired the Ikea employees could, at best, tell me to call every week. Maybe they would get a shipment in, but they didn’t know when.
I moved onto my plan B which was to find a local wood-shop to make the counter tops for me. Here’s what I found out. To do the counters in custom wood our price jumped from $600 to $6,000. (Insert jaw drop here. WHAT!?)
Cue the soapstone.
Okay, now we really have to back up. See when I was first imagining the kitchen soapstone countertops were my love. The problems: price and availability. Soapstone is all the rage in Vermont and the east coast, but in Utah everyone seems to want granite. So when Ikea presented a more affordable, and available (so I thought) option, I shifted to the focus to butcher block.
But since my realization that we would either be without counters for yet a few months, or we could have upscale stone counters I opted to look into the pricing for alternative counters.
I dragged 300 W. (our local industrial/ stone district) looking at the prices and options. Part of the reason I wanted a wood counter top is that over time they develop character. I like character. Granite is nice if you want something that looks polished and in place for the rest of it’s existence, but this old bungalow doesn’t look so pristine and exact and I want a counter top that can grow into place. Soapstone, it turns out, is a dense but soft stone, which mean that it doesn’t take sealer like granite, and it will wear with time and use.
One place had soapstone and the two slabs that I needed to do the countertops were running the same price as upscale granite. The one hitch with the soapstone slabs was that I’d still have to find and hire a fabricator to cut, polish, and place the stone.
Ultimately the soapstone countertops cost more than Ikea wood counters. Let’s say 4x more. But after finding a local fabricator with an incredible price and could get the job done in less than a week, it didn’t make sense to say no. Besides the fact that I was finished waiting for a kitchen and time was running out, soapstone became the “practical” choice.
Now that the soapstone is in I think it was the best choice. Beautiful, soft, and character-building durable.