Say good-bye to your basic, solid-colored white and beige countertops. While most apartment developers continue to play it safe with neutral colors, they are stepping out of the box a bit to experiment with natural-looking textures and patterns.
“I have seen, in the last 10 years, solid colors drop off the face of the countertop market,” says Renee Hytry, senior vice president of global design for the Formica Corp., a manufacturer of surfacing products. “People have a tendency to go for a pattern because it hides a lot of wear and tear, plus toast crumbs.”
While real stone and granite are a must for high-end apartments and condos, developers can offer the patterned, speckled look of these natural materials in mid-priced units as well. Manufacturers continue to perfect the look of stone, marble and granite in laminate and solid surface materials. For instance, Formica's newly expanded Etchings Finish laminate collection offers a softly polished and etched surface, dappled with highlights from tiny fractures and fissures like those found in real granite and stone.
These neutral colors aren't the norm everywhere. In urban markets, multifamily developers are becoming more adventurous with their color selections. At the Element, a condominium being built in the Atlantic Station live/work/play community in Atlanta, developer Lane Co. is offering residents a Blue Eyes granite, which combines gray tones with pops of vibrant cobalt blue. “Purchasers were looking for something different in their homes,” says Quinn Lindsay, marketing and project coordination manager at Lane Investment and Development.
Palladium (USA) International is investigating bolder colored counter-tops, like bright reds and blues, to use at Canal Side Lofts, a loft community the company is developing in Las Colinas, Texas.
“We feel that [a loft project] gives us more license to be a little more aggressive on color selection,” says Richard Brownjohn, Palladium's senior vice president of development. “We may not do it in every single unit, but certainly a percentage of our units will have something that is not as conventional as what we are seeing in the marketplace.”