How About a Waterfall for Your Kitchen?

- Wednesday, August 03, 2016

For those of you who follow my column regularly, you know I often talk about kitchens. I love helping design them for my clients and I enjoy inviting guests into my own kitchen to share in my culinary adventures. Or, make that culinary experimentation.

 Sometimes I create some really tasty morsels, and sometimes I just completely destroy a perfectly good piece of salmon… or brussels sprouts… or eggs. Poor old eggs, my soufflets are always too dry or too runny or just collapse upon themselves. The delicate art of omelets and crepes escapes me too. However, I digress.

Today in the kitchen I want to talk about waterfalls. What, you ask? Yes, waterfalls. Let me explain. You see, this past weekend I called my mother on Sunday afternoon, as I usually do. And she caught me up on every minute of her week, in great detail, as she usually does. My aunt and uncle from Florida had been there for a visit, having stopped at my cousin Debbie’s home on the Outer Banks along the way up to Virginia.

 “My sister told me your cousin Debbie is thinking about remodeling her kitchen. She has all these ideas and is ready to update it and she wants to have a waterfall in there!” my mother exclaimed, the perplexity in her voice coming through loud and clear. “You know, she has always loved being around water, but have you ever heard of such a thing?”

 “Well, Mom, actually I’m pretty sure she is thinking about a waterfall countertop,” I broke in, while thinking to myself, OK, here is the topic for my next column. Thanks Mom! “I don’t think she is going to have an actual water-feature in her kitchen besides the faucet at the sink. I doubt there will be cascading rivulets of water bouncing off stones and creating rainbows in the sunlight streaming from her windows,” I teased.

 You see, waterfall countertops have been popping up all over the place in kitchen design as of late, and it is a trend I really love. The look is totally fresh and a nice departure from the norm. I would not say it is exotic as much as a new way to treat the surfaces in the heart of your home.

What exactly is a waterfall countertop you ask? It is simply an extension of the countertop material, turned 90 degrees, so it runs vertically down the side of a cabinet until it meets the floor. Typically there is no overhang at the top nor is there a toe-kick at the bottom. The uniform shape between top and sides is reminiscent of the iconic parsons table and it is often employed to emphasize the contrast between the counter material and the cabinetry. A waterfall treatment can be used at the end of a run of base cabinets along a wall, on a peninsula, or on an island.

Budget-wise, a waterfall countertop will cost you a bit more as you will need more of your counter material and there will be added labor costs for fabrication. However, I think it gives you a lot of bang for the buck. And a beautiful stone is highlighted even more when showcased on a vertical plane, similar to full-height backsplashes. But there is no need to limit your material choice to natural stone. Corian, engineered stones, stainless steel and even wood can be used to create this dramatic look.

 So remember, as with cooking, the key to creating successful kitchen design is employing the right techniques to showcase your chosen ingredients.

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