Countertops 101 – Soapstone

I am totally obsessed with this kitchen designed by Juan Carretero, published in last month’s House Beautiful! Isn’t it wonderful? And did you notice how so many designers and homeowners prefer marble and granite, although soapstone can be equally beautiful and so much easier to care for?

I’ve long thought that soapstone had a farmhouse-like feel that  cannot lend itself to a more traditional mood but I have recently changed my mind. Case in point, in this kitchen by Carretero, the soapstone island countertop is paired with a more elegant marble perimeter and antiqued brass cabinet jewels. This creates not only a dramatic contrast but a stunning display of stones, in such a chic way.

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Juan Carretero

Another great example of soapstone countertops is this kitchen designed by Nina Farmer – simple, classic, beautiful.

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Nina Farmer

So, inspired by these two favorite kitchens, I decided to make a case for soapstone. Far from being overdone, soapstone can make for an original design – here are some facts to consider.

1. Soapstone is a type of metamorphic rock with different degrees of hardness, based upon the location where it’s quarried.

2. When it comes to color, soapstone  can be anywhere from light gray to dark gray. Some stones have a green undertone to them.

3. Soapstone is the softest natural stone used for countertops, so it will dent and scratch. However, any scratch mark can be easily sanded out with 80 grade sand paper and the stone will look like new again.

4. Very durable, it will develop a beautiful patina with age. The gray varieties are harder than the green ones.

5. Being a natural stone, no two slabs are alike. Soapstone quarried in Brazil has a beautiful gray-white veining that makes it similar to black marble.

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Rafe Churchill & Heide Hendricks 

6. Soapstone is impervious to most types of fluids and chemicals.  Acidic liquids like lemon juice, vinegar, wine won’t ruin it.

7. Soapstone is dense and non-porous so it won’t absorb liquids and you don’t have to worry about bacteria overgrowth either. For this reason, it is the preferred countertop used in labs.

8. It is an excellent choice for green design. Soapstone is 100% recyclable and most importantly, it doesn’t need harsh chemical sealers. In fact, it doesn’t need selling at all, although for a uniform look, it’s best to cure the stone before use with a refined mineral oil. This video by Martha Stewart explains all about the oiling process.

9. Soapstone retains heat nicely,  you can place hot pans on it without any problem.

10. And last, Ina Garten’s barn kitchen, which we all know and love, has soapstone countertops and if it’s good enough for Ina, well… it sure is good enough for me!

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Robert Stilin

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Robert Stilin 

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2009 Kitchen of the Year with Ina Garten 

xo,

Eva


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6 Comments

  1. December 7, 2017 / 7:22 am

    Hi Eva, my friend had gorgeous soapstone countertops in her kitchen and ripped them out and replaced with granite because they were so hard to keep clean. But I agree, the look is beautiful, I love them too.

    • Eva Contreras
      December 7, 2017 / 8:31 am

      Hello, Denise! Thanks for leaving a comment! I’m so sorry to hear about your friend’s countertops… soapstone is certainly not for everyone. I’ve had clients who similarly couldn’t commit to marble so I always try to find out how much the homeowner is willing to trade – beauty of a natural stone vs upkeep. We live our lives so differently that what works for me and my family might not work for somebody else. One great advice is to buy a larger board of marble, soapstone, granite,… and try to deliberately “hurt” it in any way that you can (chopping, tomato juice, wine, falling objects hahaha) and see what happens! That way you’ll know more or less what to expect 🙂 xo, Eva

  2. December 7, 2017 / 1:42 pm

    I love the Nina Farmer kitchen, but they are all lovely. Soapstone reminds me a bit of honed granite. I like the matte surfaces-they seem classic and timeless.

    • Eva Contreras
      December 8, 2017 / 9:35 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Elizabeth!

  3. Marta
    December 11, 2017 / 7:09 am

    What a beautiful option! Everything Ina does is 👍🏻👍🏻

    • Eva Contreras
      December 11, 2017 / 9:46 am

      I agree, I don’t know how she does it!!! That kitchen of hers is perfect in my book 🙂

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