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Kitchen Design Decisions

Photo Steven Gambrel Kitchen Design Decisions

Designer Shelley Penner, Ikea Canada's Tamara Robbins Griffith and Elyse Gelman from Toronto's Interiors Only weigh in on the pros and cons of countertops, cabinets and floors.

Natural Stone vs. Composite Countertops

Natural Stone


  • Hefty and heat resistant
  • Lasts a lifetime
  • Looks beautiful


  • Needs to be resealed periodically
  • Some materials need regular applications of mineral oil
  • Marble is expensive, porous and vulnerable to staining



  • Quartz is scratch and stain-resistant and needs no sealing
  • Paperstone and Richlite are eco-friendly
  • Solid surfaces like Corian are seamless


  • Hot pans can permanently mark some solid-surface countertops
  • Can be expensive

Photo Kitchen Design Decisions Countertop Marble

Open Shelves vs. Upper Cabinets

Open Shelves


  • Space to display art, beautiful cookware and dishes
  • Opens up the room
  • Can be restyled easily for a fresh look


  • Requires regular dusting
  • Can become cluttered and look messy
  • Not as much practical storage space

Upper Cabinets


  • Hides unorganized storage
  • Creates a seamless, unified look and uses all vertical space
  • Prevents dust and grease from settling on food and dishes


  • More expensive to buy and install
  • Can make a room feel closed in
  • May result in unused space as it is difficult to reach top cabinets

Photo Kitchen Design Decisions Michael Penney

Tile vs. Wood Floors



  • Hard-wearing and easy to clean
  • Many inexpensive options
  • Endless patterns and colours for any style of room


  • Can be cold underfoot
  • Easily shatters dishes dropped on it
  • Grout requires regular scrubbing and sealing



  • Maintains flow in an open-concept space
  • Warm and comfortable underfoot
  • Adds an organic element


  • Scratches and dents easily
  • Can be expensive
  • Spills need to cleaned up immediately to prevent moisture from affecting wood

Photo Kitchen Design Decisions Steven Gambrel Clock


Anna-Kaisa Walker


Michael Graydon (marble countertop); Angus Fergusson (open shelves); Eric Piasecki (hardwood flooring, design by S.R. Gambrel).

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