kitchen DESIGN | Re-cycled Countertops

Old Countertops can be made new again with just a touch of gold! Check out how I re-cycled my old Countertops below.

alison kent the home kitchen watercolor painting of thyme leaf branches

The Home Kitchen RENO

In case you missed it, you can catch up on the whole RENO here >

Everything Old …

When originally deciding what to do when our Range was dying and the cabinets were falling apart, I tried pretty hard to keep the original (Silestone) Quartz Countertops. Even with White, they really had stood the test of time over 18 years and were in great shape, but in the end it just wasn’t going to work with the new layout. So I started looking at ways to make sure they would have a good home.

I tried calling Construction demo places to see if they took old Countertops for new projects, and even called the City dump to make sure if they were tossed they would eventually be recycled. No clear answers resulted. I’m still wondering what happens to all that waste… But I decided only the smallest portion of my old Countertops would ever find out.

alison kent the home kitchen design designer kitchen blog photo for upscaling kitchen countertops recycle counters

The Art of Kintsugi

A piece of Plywood with vinyl ‘Marble’ sticker had been holding down our Dining Room counter for some time until I was ready to make a decision on what to do, and I started to wonder if it might be the perfect place to ‘re-use / recycle’ and re-install the Old as New.

For some years I had been fascinated by Kintsugi, the Japanese practice of taking something broken and making it new again by seaming it back together with golden glue. In the end, the ‘New’ was seen as far more valuable than the ‘Old’ had ever been. I had been practicing it whenever a vintage piece of dishware broke, determined not to toss it but to give it a different, more precious life. Maybe now instead of holding potatoes, it would hold jewelry.

I didn’t know exactly how this idea would translate into a Countertop, but knowing that this particular area wasn’t in a ‘wet zone’, I thought it would be a safe place to give it a try.

‘NO’ is Not in my Vocabulary!

I spoke about the idea to MULTIPLE Countertop fabricators, and a) no one seemed to understand what I wanted to do, b) their response to something they didn’t understand was to tell me I didn’t actually want it LOL, and c) the result of every conversation was … NO. Too messy, too hard, too expensive, too odd, too risky – it’s just not how things are done.

But, I’m stubborn. And relentless. And eventually one guy reluctantly said he would come by for a day, with no promise of it working out. I was elated.

Measure Six Times, Cut Once

The day he showed up, I had measured and re-measured to make sure there were enough pieces of the right size to puzzle back together in the Dining Room. He re-measured again, we talked about what to put where, how it was all going to (hopefully) work, and how to support it all, and away we went!

alison kent the home kitchen design designer kitchen blog photo for upscaling kitchen countertops recycle counters

Each piece was triple checked in the Dining Room, and plywood cut to support it all off the Cabinets for the protection of the top of the drawers and the finger pulls.

alison kent the home kitchen design designer kitchen blog photo for upscaling kitchen countertops recycle counters

The Learning Curve

More trials – trying to determine where the Plywood should go, making everything level. In future I would have the existing wood removed from the old Countertop, and pre-paint/edge a piece of 1/4” Plywood (not the 3/4” shown that I used). These millimeters would be figured out on a project-by-project basis once the existing conditions of everything are determined.

alison kent the home kitchen design designer kitchen blog photo for upscaling kitchen countertops recycle counters

As each piece was carried out by hand, the largest one dropped and cracked in half! The Fabricator was crushed – but I was celebrating. THIS was the detail I had wanted all along, not the nice, even cuts we mostly had. It’s by far my favorite part of the ‘New’ Countertop and I secretly wish we had broken more pieces…

alison kent the home kitchen design designer kitchen blog photo for upscaling kitchen countertops recycle counters

I carefully saved every chip to put back in place back in the Dining Room! Thankfully the Fabricator was game to patiently put it all back together chip by chip.

alison kent the home kitchen design designer kitchen blog photo for upscaling kitchen countertops recycle counters

All that Glitters

Hard at work gluing every puzzle piece into place! Between the perfectly straight hand-cut lines and the curvy broken bits, the Quartz was seamed consistently. I had looked into adding a gold dust compound to the glues he was using, but they didn’t arrive in time and this day was my one chance to get it done. Next time I would definitely start with gold dusted epoxy, then touch up.

alison kent the home kitchen design designer kitchen blog photo for upscaling kitchen countertops recycle counters

Next up since I didn’t get the gold dust in time, I added my own touches of Gold at the seams. The hand-cutting leaves a slightly rough edge, but after a few rounds of paint and a sealant, I made it as clean as possible with a razor edge. I think professionally done it would be much cleaner. IF it was possible, I would have measured every piece with painter tape and sent it to the Fabricators shop for the laser machine. It’s all part of the learning! I still love it here, though, and managed to clean up the edges quite well.

alison kent the home kitchen design designer kitchen blog photo for upscaling kitchen countertops recycle counters

The beautiful cracked bits! Love this part of the Counter!!!

AND … <drumroll> Everything Old Becomes New Again

alison kent the home kitchen design designer kitchen blog photo for upscaling kitchen countertops recycle counters

And – VOILA!

What do you think??! Let me know in the Comments!!
While it’s not perfect, it’s exactly what I had wanted to try, and it was the perfect place in which to test it. I believe with a professionally applied gold epoxy, it would do well on even a wet-zone Countertop as a way to re-use old pieces, or to artfully make an Island top larger than a Jumbo sized piece of Marble or Quartz, or to create (should someone want to) a Mosaic of sorts.

I still don’t know what EXACTLY happens to Quartz once it’s demolished from a site for a Reno – and no one else seemed to quite know either – but I do know this is one Countertop that’s leading to solutions in recycling that I hope to explore a lot more in future projects.

The BIG PICTURE

Did you catch the rest of the Kitchen Reno? This was just ONE of the ideas explored when I recently renovated my own Home Kitchen. Check them all out >

alison kent the home kitchen watercolor painting of thyme leaf branches