All along the Gulf Coast you’ll find many cute and quaint cottages in beach communities and historic neighborhoods. Many date back to the early 1900s. A new trend toward small space living has been making cottages in Clearwater increasingly popular. Urban professionals looking for convenience and quality of life have been choosing to purchase older homes in established neighborhoods rather than live in the suburbs. Retired couples moving to Clearwater are also often looking to downsize and find cottage living is a good fit.
With Clearwater listed in the 2012 CBS Money Watch top 10 places to retire, this is a trend that will certainly continue. Cottage life is also the perfect alternative to newer suburbs where large look-alike homes are stuffed into subdivisions like sardines. According to small space living advocates, cottage living is about setting your priorities. Many people will gladly trade a large house in a newer area for the opportunity to live near the beach or in a historic older neighborhood where the streets are walkable and local shops are just a few steps away.
Florida Cottage Kitchen Style
Even in a small space like a cottage kitchen you can have big style. Florida cottage kitchens are relaxed and eclectic while still having a classic style inspired by their historic roots. Modern interpretations of the classic cottage kitchen include vintage touches like pressed tin ceiling tiles, subway tile backsplashes and oversized farmhouse sinks. Environmentally friendly materials are also popular. Reused barnwood, old furniture and vintage cabinet knobs and drawer pulls have found new life in modern cottage kitchens. Many Clearwater cottage kitchens also feature marble countertops that give them a timeless and beautiful old world charm while at the same time keeping the decor light, bright and casual.
The Allure of Marble
From the grand Greek temples of ancient Athens and the masterpieces of Michelangelo to the country kitchens of Provence and Tuscany, marble’s appeal has endured the ages. The color and pattern of marble can range from the soft grey shades of Carrara and brilliant whites of Calacatta marble with its distinctive veining to the contrasting colors and random patterns of brecciated marbles like Pavonazzetto and Breccia Oniciata. Marble’s appeal for architectural, monumental and more recently as a kitchen and bathroom countertop material comes from its beautiful appearance, aesthetically pleasing patterns and its rugged durability. Marble has also been favored by sculptors for centuries because it can be carved using hand tools and is able to hold delicate details. Sculptors like Michelangelo and Rodin used marble to create their most outstanding masterpieces. The translucent finish of marble is able to create the lifelike appearance of smooth skin. Marble temples and statues have survived for thousands of years in nearly pristine condition.
Trouble in Paradise
It wasn’t until the industrial revolution that the effects of acidic solutions on marble became fully realized. Marble contains a large amount of calcium carbonate or calcite which reacts with sulfuric and nitric acids found in polluted air and rainwater. Acid rain and air began to gradually destroy the delicate marble carvings on many world renowned monuments such as the Parthenon and the Taj Mahal.
The same reaction happens with many modern cleaning products that use acidic ingredients to dissolve oily dirt. Many popular “extra strength” kitchen and bathroom cleaners will stain and etch marble as will some all natural cleaners that use vinegar or lemon juice. Mild soap and water is normally all that is needed to clean marble countertops and surfaces.
Stains and Scratches
Marble is also slightly porous. The same qualities that give it its lustrous crystalline almost three-dimensional finish also allow liquids to gradually seep into the surface. Common food products like tomato sauce, wine, coffee grounds, curry powder and even leafy green vegetables will stain marble. Marble can also be easily cut or scratched with metal tools. Since the Bronze Age sculptors have preferred working with marble because of this very characteristic. A few simple precautions are usually all you need to keep your marble countertops looking great.
Simple Care for Marble Countertops
If you spill an acidic liquid on a marble countertop it’s important to dilute the liquid with plenty of water as soon as possible before it has a chance to penetrate the tiny pores in the stone’s surface. Don’t simply wipe the liquid up with a damp cloth or paper towel as this will leave residual acid.
Simple wiping the spill will press small amounts of acid into the pores of the stone. Acidic solutions will eventually discolor and etch the surface leaving a permanent mark. If you spill wine, tomato sauce or other liquid that may stain the surface, dilute the area with water, soak up the spill with a cloth or paper towel and dry immediately.
To prevent scratching your marble countertop simply use protective mats, cutting boards and containers when using metal tools in the kitchen. Use wooden tools whenever feasible if you are still concerned with accidentally dropping a sharp object on the surface.
Treating your marble countertop with a good penetrating natural stone sealer will make it much more resistant to everyday spills and dirt. Some types of polished marble come factory sealed. Sealants will generally last from 10 to 15 years.
Mixing Marble and Other Natural Stone
For those that want to enjoy the beauty of marble without the concern of staining and scratching or the hassle of constant cleaning and maintenance, mixing different natural stone surfaces can be a creative and attractive solution. By carefully considering the activity that you will use each surface in your kitchen for you can choose the appropriate surface for each activity. Combining marble with other more stain and chip resistant stone like granite and manufactured quartz is a beautiful and creative solution that lends itself well to the relaxed aesthetic of a modern Clearwater cottage kitchen. Using a white granite countertop for example with a Carrara marble backsplash and windowsills lets you enjoy the beauty or marble without the worry of damaging it while cooking.
The Perfect Kitchen Countertop
If you want kitchen counters that, in five years, look as pristine as the day you installed them then you should consider your options. If you never or rarely use your kitchen and are willing to seal and meticulously clean up after even the tiniest spill then marble is still a viable choice. If not you should choose a more stain and scratch resistant surface like polished granite or manufactured quartz.
Find The Best Marble Countertops In Clearwater For Your Cottage Kitchen
The distinctive beauty, bright translucent finish, durability and vintage charm are all good reasons to include it as part of your plans. Remember though that marble is a material that wears its history like a badge of honor. For many, the homey relaxed atmosphere of a cottage kitchen is a perfect match with natural marble.
As marble ages it takes on a patina that adds an authentic vintage touch to an eclectic kitchen decor. The sunny laid back atmosphere of Clearwater and the cozy space of a small cottage kitchen are both good matches for a lighter brighter color palette. Large windows, painted cabinets and white marble create a feeling of space and timeless charm that is perfect for your Clearwater cottage kitchen.