butcher block counter tops – convince me, please

We’ve been toying with the idea of a kitchen remodel. We’re stuck in our house for at least another five years, thanks to the california real estate market, so we’re taking a look around to figure out what we might want to change. The kitchen is a big one. As are the bathrooms. But, for today, we’re focusing on the kitchen.

The overhead lights are atrocious, but not a main concern. They should be easy enough to change. Perhaps inset lights instead. A microwave hood above the stove would also be nice.

The main issue is the upper cabinets. To start, there is a large purposeless gap at the top, which, aside from the cool retro nineties back lighting, is largely wasted space. I’ve thrown a few things up there where I can, but it looks messy and I’d love for this space to usable for storage. Cabinets up to the ceiling would be fantastic.

our upper cabinets - complete with lots of wasted space!

Next, the cabinet shelves are around 12 inches high. And the depth is about the same. Larger items just don’t fit. Cereal boxes? Forget it. We had to add a separate pantry (thanks, Ikea) to store most of our food. Ben and I are in agreement that the upper cabinets need to be reworked. Style, color, wood are still in negotiation.

ikea cabinet - our food pantry (ignore the christmas cards still up on the side... i'm way behind in taking them down)

The lower cabinets aren’t fantastic for space, but they are much taller and deeper than the upper ones. If we had more space above, I’d care less about the wasted space below. They’re workable, if you don’t mind crawling in the back of dark cabinets to find the pot or pitcher you use once a year. (here’s a great alternative to crawling in to dark corners!)

We both despise our counter tops. I’m not sure what material they’re made of, but they’re very porous. They stain easily and the slightest brush of metal scratches them (doesn’t matter what kind – tinfoil, stainless steel, whatever). The stains and scratches come out with bleach and aggressive scrubbing. We agree that the counters have to go.

Here’s the main difference of opinion we’re having – what do we replace the counters with? Ben loves the look of butcher block. I’ve never been a big fan. Recently though, I’ve seen it done really nicely, and I’m starting to sway. For example, I like the look of the dark stained butcher block with contrasting white cabinets.

I’d love to be convinced that they are, in fact, wonderful. But I still have hesitations. And I just don’t see what’s so great about them. For example, do you actually cut on the counter tops? Or are they just for looks? If you do cut on them, doesn’t that mess up your counters? How well do they age? What’s required for maintenance?

To all you butcher block lovers out there, tell me what’s so fantastic about them? Sell me on them, please. I’m all ears.

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3 Responses to “butcher block counter tops – convince me, please”


  1. 1 bethpladson March 6, 2012 at 9:16 AM

    Hmmm.. I’ve had just about every kind of countertop known to man… except butcher block. I imagine they’d be great if you made a lot of pasta or rolled ot something like pie crust. I really like granite, but I’ve also seen a really cool newish material that is better than corian, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it’s called. Helpful, I know.

  2. 2 Ingrid March 19, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    Kendall put butcher block counter top in her old house kitchen. It looks really pretty, but I guess is a pain to care for. You know, the expert in the family is Rick. Ask him any kitchen design questions—he’s super talented and knows all about the new materials and design options. When we do our kitchen, we are definitely utilizing him!


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Mom to "C", wife to Ben. I'm a part-time blogger, cook, organizer, seamstress, house cleaner, taxi, nurse (the mom kind), accountant... I could go on, but really... it's all in the blog. Read away!

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