According to Houzz, 1 in 4 homeowners combine two or more kitchen countertop materials when renovating their kitchens. Custom wood countertops are often paired with marble, engineered quartz, quartzite, granite and metal countertops. A popular design choice is to include a wood countertop in a food preparation area while using a metal or stone countertop for perimeter countertops. Another design used often is to select a stone, like marble or quartz, for the kitchen island countertop and select a wood countertop for the seating area.
Design Inspiration for Mixing Kitchen Countertop Materials
Taking ques from some of the best designers in the industry, here is some design inspiration for mixing kitchen countertop materials.
For this traditional chef kitchen with two kitchen islands, Venegas and Company, Boston chose a Zinc countertop for the seating area as well as a White Oak wood countertop for the food preparation work space. Photography by Michael J Lee.
Persa Avorio Leathered Granite countertops were chosen for the perimeter countertops and kitchen island. Designer Kate Connolly of Homestead Kitchens then selected a Wenge butcher block for the kitchen island end. The butcher block creates a perfect food preparation work space and adds a layer of texture to the kitchen.
Alicia Saso, AKBD, of Drury Design Kitchen & Bath Studio chose a Reclaimed Chestnut counter for a raised kitchen bar top. In addition, Quartzite Tempesta was selected for the kitchen island and perimeter countertops.
For more design inspiration, check out the Grothouse Image Library to see how other designers combine kitchen countertop materials.
Our Custom Wood Countertops Blog features the industry’s most talented and innovative designers throughout the United States and abroad. This featured kitchen includes a Wenge and Cherry Checkerboard Butcher Block designed by Andy Foster of Foster Custom Kitchens.
About the Designer: Andy Foster, an accomplished kitchen and bath designer, has been a cabinetmaker for over 40 years. He began woodworking as a hobby shortly after college, and it soon became a passion and a profession. In 1987, after over a decade of commercial woodworking in several venues, he founded Foster Custom Kitchens. What stands out about Andy is his knowledge of and experience in all phases of project development, including design, fabrication, installation, giving him a unique perspective of the process involved in creating a new or remodeled space.
A Tip from Andy: The downstairs of this home has Douglas fir walls, ceilings and beams. The owners chose beautiful rustic cherry for the surrounding cabinetry, and wanted a wooden countertop for their distressed, black, painted cherry island. We were concerned that adding a planked wood grain to the mix would be a little over the top. Choosing a contrasting, end-grain checkerboard pattern of Wenge and Cherry made the island “pop” and tied the painted and natural woods together.
Our Custom Wood Countertops Blog features the industry’s most talented and innovative designers throughout the United States and abroad. This featured kitchen includes a Wenge Butcher Block designed by Kate Connolly of Homestead Kitchens.
About the Designer: Kate Connolly is an interior designer, mother of 2 little girls, aspiring yogi and art lover. She has been designing kitchens professionally for 20 years, collaborating with clients in suburban New England. Kate loves piecing together client’s wish lists into functional spaces making their everyday life easier; playing with colors and textures creating a cohesive space that her clients feel at home in. Kate and her husband, Kevin, opened their business, Homestead Kitchens, twelve years ago. They work together with wonderful employees in a beautiful 1904 house where every room is filled with inspirational kitchens.
A Tip from Kate: Think about how you want the room to feel whether it’s formal/fancy, clean/uncluttered, fresh/modern/trendy or warm/comfortable. Then create a focal point by letting one or two items stand out (in this kitchen it is the tile backsplash and the Wenge butcher block).
Additional Comments and Advice: The clients wanted to omit the kitchen table and have a large island with seating for informal family meals and entertaining. To avoid a seam on the island, we opted for a gorgeous Grothouse Wenge butcher block top at one end. It was not only practical (the perfect spot for food prep), but adds another layer of texture and interest to this mostly monotone kitchen.
RICKI conducts a study among 1,000 U.S. homeowners each quarter. The research gathered is then made available to Professional and Executive level RICKI members. The studies gauge consumer sentiment regarding kitchen and bath renovations, planned purchases of kitchen and bath products, and other relevant and timely measures.
For this study, they asked the question, “Do you have an island in your kitchen at home? IF YES, How often do you use your island for the following kitchen island activities?” The data collected showed that butcher blocks are the perfect kitchen island countertop based on the top 5 most frequent kitchen island activities.
Around three in ten homeowners have an island in their kitchen. Almost two in three say that they are frequently preparing food on their kitchen islands and cutting and mixing ingredients. Kitchen islands are also used frequently when socializing with friends and family.
In order for all of these activities to take place, the kitchen island must have a durable, comfortable, and inviting countertop surface. Grothouse Butcher Blocks crafted in End Grain construction style are the number 1 preferred kitchen island countertop surface – especially by chefs. This is because the construction style of the surface is kindest to knives and keeps them sharp. In addition, butcher block tend to be self-healing and most knife marks disappear after cleaning. After years of use, the butcher block can be sanded and re-oiled to look like new again.
Butcher Block Designs for Kitchen Island Activities
64 percent of homeowners use their kitchen island mostly to cut up food and mix ingredients. Butcher Blocks can be designed specifically for this use.
Plain & Fancy Cabinetry designed this kitchen island with food preparation in mind. The island features a Sapele Mahogany butcher block with an overmount sink. It is in close proximity to the refrigerator, cooktop, and main sink. The butcher block size permits plenty of space for cutting food, mixing ingredients, and even serving food.
Butcher blocks can also be designed to co-exist with other surface types or use of food preparation. Stonington Cabinetry & Designs designed this Walnut Butcher Block to match up perfectly with the marble counter. The butcher block can be used for food preparation, while the marble can be used for eating and entertaining.
For purposes of serving food, eating, and conversations with family and friends, Butcher blocks can be designed to overhang the kitchen island for a fun seating area. M & M Design, Inc. designed the Walnut with Cherry Checkerboard Pattern Butcher Block above for entertaining.
Grothouse butcher blocks were featured in an article on Angie’s List, “How Much Do Butcher Block’s Cost?” The article summarizes the definition of a butcher block, the pros and the cons, and also the cost of a butcher block.
The article states that butcher blocks consist of strips of glued hardwood. It’s been utilized for chopping blocks and cutting boards for years, and more recently, as a popular material for kitchen countertops, tables and islands.
The Grothouse definition of a butcher block is a wood surface crafted in end
grain construction. End grain construction is the construction style recommended for direct food preparation.
End grain construction consists of small wood pieces standing vertically to show only the ends of the wood. This style of butcher block is significantly harder to manufacture than other construction styles. It requires a level of skill and craftsmanship not found with most commercial suppliers. The pieces are generally random sized, although sizes will vary depending on the species and sizes of wood available at the time of manufacturing.
The Featured Grothouse Butcher Blocks
This Zebrawood Butcher Block was designed by Lisa Martin of Signature Custom Cabinetry and was on display at the on display at the 2015 Signature Custom Cabinetry Conference. It is 2-1/2″ thick and features a 1/8″ Roundover edge profile.
This butcher block features an interlocked pattern of Walnut, Maple, and White Oak. It was designed by a homeowner in New York and is 3″ thick.
Old Town Woodworking designed this 2-1/2″ thick Teak butcher block with a 1/4″ Roundover edge profile.
A Family Sized Butcher Block custom crafted by Grothouse was featured in a New York Times article, “The Closed Kitchen Makes a Comeback.” The butcher block is pictured showing Jennifer McAllister-Nevins and her family in their TriBeCa loft’s enclosed kitchen.
During a New Year’s Eve dinner party several years ago, the pipes in Jennifer McAllister-Nevins’ kitchen were suddenly blocked. All of the guests got to witness each chaotic moment as the pipes for the sink backed up because she lived in a TriBeCa apartment with an open kitchen. Because of this instance, Ms. McAllister-Nevins, who loves to entertain, now lives in a different TriBeCa loft, one with an enclosed kitchen.
Family Sized Butcher Block Designs
Overtime we have seen butcher blocks used for kitchens used by families. Butcher blocks permit areas for seating and food preparation. Butcher Blocks often become the center of the kitchen, creating a central meeting place for the whole family to enjoy.
John Troxell, Director of Design, Wood-Mode Inc. designed this large butcher block with three tiers. The butcher block is made of Cherry wood on the inside, a Wenge wood stripe, and a Walnut wood border. The tiers on either side of the butcher block are made of Walnut wood. There is plenty of space for the whole family to enjoy around this butcher block.
Plain & Fancy Cabinetry designed this Sapele Mahogany Butcher Block. This large kitchen island has plenty of space for food preparation and storage underneath. Chairs could be pulled up to the overhang to create a seating area. This space was designed with family, and convenience, in mind.
Home Supply Inc. designed this American Black Walnut Butcher Block for this large kitchen island. This kitchen island has an area for seating. By leaving some space open on the butcher block across from the oven, it creates a space for food preparation and serving.
To read the New York Times article featuring a family sized butcher block, click here. To see more designs including large butcher blocks, visit our Countertop Image Library.
Tigerwood is known for its striking figure that can range from fine lines to deep, bold lines that look like brush strokes. When Tigerwood is crafted in end grain construction to create butcher block countertops, beauty and function are combined to create the ultimate kitchen area.
Butcher block countertops crafted in end grain construction can be used for a variety of different purposes. The first, and most common, use is for food preparation. End grain construction is the preferred chopping surface by chefs because it is the kindest to knives and keeps them sharp. In addition, butcher blocks tend to be self-healing and most knife marks disappear after cleaning. If any heavy knife marks appear on the block, it can be sanded and re-finished to look like new.
Another use for butcher block countertops is an area for dining. Wood is naturally a warm material, not to mention it is kind to fine china and other tableware. Who wouldn’t want the comfort of a naturally warm, kind material to gather around with their family and friends? End grain construction style also permits the ability to make a very large table without needing seams, creating a truly colossal appearance.
The use of two Tigerwood butcher block countertops in this kitchen is quite brilliant. One butcher block can be used strictly for food preparation purposes, and the other can be used for dining purposes.
This blog post covers the butcher block pros and cons. At Grothouse, the term ‘butcher block’ refers to a wood surface crafted in End Grain Construction. End Grain is the premium construction style recommended for direct food preparation. It is the construction style of choice for upscale applications. In end grain construction, small wood pieces stand vertically to show only the ends of the wood.
Butcher Block Pros
There are far more butcher block pros than cons. To start off, a butcher block can be used for direct food preparation. This means you can cut and chop directly on the wood surface.
Knives keep their edge far better when used on butcher blocks. This is because the blade slides between the wood fibers, much like cutting into a firm brush. Cutting on hard surfaces like stone or glass can dull sharp blades.
An added benefit is that butcher blocks do not show knife marks quite as readily as surfaces crafted in other construction styles.
Any light scratches or knife marks made in the butcher block surface can be sanded off and re-oiled to look brand new!
The most popular use for butcher blocks is kitchen islands. They provide a functional work surface and unlike stone slabs, can be made any size without unsightly seams.
All Grothouse butcher blocks are finished with Grothouse Original Oil™. Grothouse Original Oil™ is a food safe oil finish. The finish requires ongoing maintenance depending on the environment and amount of use.
Butcher Block Cons
The major butcher block con is that end grain surfaces cannot be sealed with ourDurata® Waterproof Permanent Finish. Only surfaces crafted in flat grain or edge grain construction can be finished with Durata®. Durata® is a maintenance free finish. You can learn more about Durata® on our website. Because butcher blocks cannot be finished with Durata®, they cannot include a stain application.
Butcher Block Customer Reviews
We have received a great deal of positive butcher block customer reviews. Cheryl R. from Mountain Lakes, New Jersey wrote:
I just wanted to say thank you and share a few pics of the beautiful butcher block you created for us! We love it! It was supposed to be all about the function but it has become a masterful design feature!
I think it garners most of the compliments in our new kitchen! It was a pleasure working with your people from start to finish!
David L. from Santa Rosa, California said:
Although it’s been a little over a year since we did business with you, I just wanted to say thanks again for the incredible butcher block countertop you built for our new kitchen island. It is the perfect combination of beauty and function – we get lots of compliments from friends who visit.
Read more butcher block customer reviews here. Visit our websitefor more information regarding butcher block pros and cons. Visit our Pinterest to see inspiring designs including butcher blocks.
Grothouse would like to congratulate Peter Cardamone and Lynne Kaltman of Blue Bell Kitchens for winning Thermador’s National Kitchen Design Challenge in the Traditional/Transitional category! Their designs are always equally beautiful and functional.
Their kitchen entry was from a Wyomissing, Pennsylvania residence. Together the two created an open and inviting space to be the center of the home. The kitchen showcases Thermador appliances and rustic elements mixed in with transitional cabinetry to complement the existing natural tones from the kitchen’s field stone fireplace.
The Custom Random Mix Walnut Butcher Block was crafted to be 2 ½ inches thick with a ¼ inch Chamfer Edge Profile. Sealed with Grothouse Original Oil™, the Walnut Butcher Block is the perfect food preparation area, home for the KitchenAid mixer and de rigueur for a chef’s kitchen.
More images of the Prize Winning Kitchen including a Walnut Butcher Block:
There are various patterns available for Butcher Blocks manufactured by Grothouse. The most popular pattern choice is Checkerboard. Checkerboard Butcher Blocks are a fun and appealing way to incorporate more than one wood specie into any kitchen design style.
Designing Checkerboard Butcher Blocks
The Checkerboard Pattern is only available for wood surfaces crafted in End Grain Construction, also known as Butcher Blocks. End Grain Construction is the premium construction style for direct food preparation. Below is a diagram of End Grain Butcher Block Construction. Butcher Blocks have a minimum thickness of 2 1/2 inches.
Checkerboard Butcher Blocks are designed for many different uses. The three best qualities about Checkerboard Butcher Blocks are that 1) they can always be used as a food preparation surface, 2) they can be crafted into anything, any shape or size, such as kitchen island tops, kitchen island ends, table tops – the options are limitless! and 3) you are not limited to only choosing one wood specie!
Checkerboard Butcher Blocks used for Kitchen Island Countertops
Interior Environments designed the Modern Kitchen photographed below. They went with a Maple and Wenge Checkerboard Butcher Block for the entire kitchen island top. This large kitchen island countertop measures ten feet long.This Checkerboard Butcher Block includes an Overmount Sink and provides a large surface for this client to prepare meals for the family.
M E S Mitchell Interiors, LLC designed the Traditional Kitchen photographed below. The American Cherry and Walnut Checkerboard Butcher Block has been featured in magazines and books all over the United States. The Butcher Block includes a Medium Roman Ogee Edge Profile on the top horizontal edges, adding a Traditional flare.
Jenny’s Design Build designed the Butcher Block in the photograph below. Instead of designing the Checkerboard Pattern to be the entire countertop, they designed the Checkerboard to be a border around the Butcher Block. The center of the countertop is crafted of Beech. The Checkerboard Border includes Beech, Wenge, and Walnut. This design requires exact precision to line up the pieces. The Checkerboard Border of the Butcher Block compliments the Checkerboard lighting and other Checkerboard pieces throughout the kitchen.
Checkerboard Butcher Blocks used for Kitchen Island Ends
Checkerboard Butcher Blocks can also be designed for use as Kitchen Island Ends. Blue Bell Kitchens designed the Eclectic kitchen in the following photograph.They incorporated a Cherry and Maple Checkerboard Butcher Block as the Kitchen Island End. This award winning kitchen design boasts ample work space combined with an antique feel.
In Detail Interiors designed the Modern Kitchen shown below. This modern kitchen design is crisp, warm and clean. The kitchen island is flanked by a Cherry and Walnut Checkerboard Butcher Block that is lowered for comfort while chopping. The Walnut in the Butcher Block compliments the chocolate colored cabinetry.
Checkerboard Butcher Blocks used for Tables
Checkerboard Butcher Blocks are also designed to be used as Tables. Chris Benner designed the Maple and Walnut Checkerboard Butcher Block Table photographed below. The table provides a warm and inviting space to enjoy meals.
The Checkerboard Butcher Block Table design shown in the photograph below was a challenge; we call it “square peg, round hole”. It was complicated to create a square checkerboard center with a round border, especially considering the 9″ thickness required. This butcherblock table top was placed on a metal base. An eye catching and unique design for a butcher block.
Other designs and uses for Checkerboard Butcher Blocks
As mentioned previously, Checkerboard Butcher Blocks are not limited to any type of design. Beatty Lumber, Inc. designed the fun Butcher Block shown below. The Checkerboard Pattern was placed in the center of the Butcher Block as a Chess Board. The Butcher Block consists of Walnut, Wenge, and Maple.
Grothouse Original Oil™ Finish for Checkerboard Butcher Blocks
Checkerboard Butcher Blocks are always finished with Grothouse Original Oil™. End Grain Butcher Blocks cannot be finished with Durata® or have a stain application. The Grothouse Original Oil™ Finish is completely food-safe and requires ongoing maintenance; frequency depending on how often the Butcher Block is used. Oil should be applied when the block appears dry. After applying the oil, the block will appear darker. Please note that it will lighten back to the color you are used to. All Grothouse Butcher Blocks can be re-sanded to get rid of any scratches, dings, or dents. After re-sanding, apply some Grothouse Original Oil™ and the Butcher Block will look as good as new!
Grothouse Original Oil™ can be purchased on the Grothouse Online Store or at your local Grothouse Kitchen Dealer. For instructions on how to use the Grothouse Original Oil™, click here.