My Gripe with Granite

Granite countertop

I’ve spent far too many hours of my life watching House Hunters. And I’ve heard too many folks complain they “were really hoping for modern upgrades, like granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.” Frequently, I end up yelling at the television with granite-plus-expletive.

There’s a troubling homogeneity to their expectations, especially since they don’t seem based on any practical considerations: the ability to rest a hot pot directly on granite, say, or stainless steel’s vulnerability to fingerprints. Instead, they speak to a consumerist notion of appropriately nice, an interior design version of keeping up with the Joneses. I don’t like the Joneses. Or the way they indirectly dictate my options.

They may not mean to, bless them, but they do.

Our loft is basically a new build in an old building, which means it’s a modern condo with a grand, historic lobby. And as a modern condo, it’s full of builder grade choices with a few high-value additions. You can imagine where I’m going here: We have stainless steel and granite.

But I hate the splotchy beige granite in our kitchen and the way it’s carried over into massive vanity cabinets in the bathrooms. It plays nicely with the ceramic floor tile there — also beige — but I don’t want those folks in my friend group. They’re occasional acquaintances, at best.

But changing those things is daunting.

I can budget for up-front time and labor, but what about the hidden costs? If I ditched the granite for a charming butcher block kitchen and wall-mount bathroom sinks, it could be an affordable shift. Until I consider that I’ve just chucked fancy granite slabs for humble wood, effectively decreasing our home’s value. So I hold off, but I constantly wonder about the real value equation.

At what point does distinct style outweigh popular materials?

Mandi at Vintage Revivals put together a great post highlighting the absurdity of trying to divine future resale appeal. (It also offers a spot-on rebuttal of beige walls and “boob lights” that helped shape the anti-beige rant in my last post.) But it doesn’t exactly solve my granite dilemma.

How much faith should we have that a home we’ve poured our hearts into can mean a decent return on our investment? Or, how do we find a balance between what we love and what’s likely to sell?

Unfortunately, I think the short answer is this: Leave the granite. Style the hell out of the rest.

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