by a Merrimack Stone client, Mary H.

As a homeowner who completed a major kitchen renovation in North Andover, MA during the pandemic, I have three tips to help you if renovating your kitchen is a goal for 2021. I hope these three tips help save you time and reduce your stress.

1. Select the Countertop Material

This sounds simple but the options can be overwhelming. I’m a list person, so I tagged online pictures and started a folder of magazine photos, designs and materials that I liked.

Make a list of what qualities and characteristics are most important to you as you design your new kitchen:

  • Will the countertops be a focal point for your kitchen or will they be neutral to support other primary design elements?
  • What colors are you looking for? Neutrals – greys and whites – have been popular for years. Identifying colors that you like will help you narrow down the options.
  • Consider lifestyle and characteristics that are important to you, including but not limited to, ease of maintenance, resistance to stains and etching, etc. Quartz and granite are both strong, durable surfaces for kitchen counters and islands.

Selecting the countertop material and island was easy for me. I wanted natural stone and I knew I wanted granite. Plus I did not want neutral tones, so I was looking for a beautiful granite with blues. My existing countertops were granite, and I love the ease of maintenance and the beauty of natural stone. While the countertops were still in good shape, their tone just didn’t go with the new colors I planned for my new kitchen. Luckily, given granite’s strength and suitability for exterior use, I was able to recycle them as outdoor tables!

If you’re not 100 percent sure what will work best for your budget and lifestyle, I highly recommend consulting experts who can help you guide you and Merrimack Stone is an excellent resource to help you.

2. Consult an Expert to Select the Right Stone Slab

Even though I knew I wanted my new island and all countertops to be made of the same natural stone, I wanted to make exactly the right selection. I browsed many design ideas and chose Mont Blue, a granite imported from India, because the tones were perfect for my blue island cabinetry and other ivory kitchen cabinetry. I wanted the countertops and the large island to be the focal point and the ‘wow’ factor.

My next step was to book an appointment to visit the natural stone showroom to select the individual slabs. A sales associate helped me choose two Mont Blue granite slabs, pointing out colors and variations among the slabs and confirming they were from the same lot so they would work well together. While slab selection might seem like an easy process, colors and patterns can vary from slab to slab. The showroom visit was efficient, and it was reassuring to have trained eyes confirm my final slab choices.

A knowledgeable sales associate can be invaluable in helping you select materials and colors that will work best for your kitchen’s design. They’re in business to help you make your kitchen dreams come true!

3. Fabrication — Converting the Stone into Your Countertops!

While it was exciting to select the perfect countertop slab, selecting the right fabricator is equally important. Fabricators are the team that convert the stone into kitchen countertops and islands and install them. Sloppy measurements, poor seam placement, and poor cutting and polishing can ruin beautiful stones.

I chose Merrimack Stone to make and install my countertops and island based on their experience and reputation for quality work. They’ve been in business for more than twenty years, and they’re known for their state-of-the art technology and craftmanship. They are wonderful people and I’m especially impressed by their customer service and commitment to meeting delivery schedules. They were more than willing to travel to North Andover, MA since their service area is broad.

Coordinating installers to sequence the logical phases of a kitchen renovation is tricky, and even more so during the pandemic. The number of people working in the kitchen was well coordinated for everyone’s safety and the work was carefully sequenced to be as efficient as possible.

Prior to installation, Merrimack Stone scheduled and conducted an in-home measurement to create the template. The worker was pleasant and thorough, and the state-of-the art equipment used to capture the measurements was very impressive. No detail was overlooked as he unpacked the sink and stovetop to capture all measurements essential to a flawless installation.

An added convenience for me during the process was meeting online to make final decisions about how the slabs would be oriented and where to place the seams. This not only saved time, but adhered to social distancing in the middle of a pandemic. Georgina at Merrimack Stone presented CAD drawings to me online showing how the two slabs could be laid out to best highlight the beauty of the Mont Blue granite and where to place two seams on one very long kitchen countertop area. This easy and helpful process took just two brief meetings!

Installation was scheduled within two weeks of measurements with no delays or changes! This may sound odd to mention, but when undergoing a major renovation, there are always delays and changes. Not with Merrimack Stone! The scheduled installation date was a solid date. Yay! Unlike so many other aspects of the renovation project, the workers arrived on time and professionally installed all components, leaving no trace behind of their hard work. I love my new countertops and island, and suggested my contractor use Merrimack Stone for all future renovation projects as he too was very impressed.

If you’re planning a kitchen renovation, it pays to take the time to research the material options to meet your lifestyle, esthetics and budget. Expert advice and insights are invaluable, and quality fabricators to convert and install your countertops is key. I highly recommend Merrimack Stone to make your kitchen dreams come true!

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