Here’s the thing. Granite is pretty cool. You heard? It is a tough surface, easy to clean, an infinite number of color patterns, plus granite carries with it this feeling of royalty. This last point might be the lever for most people. No other material, for any other part of the home, has this ready-made entrance to society’s upper crust like granite counters. It’s easy to understand why homeowners for the last ten years have been over-spending on countertops: granite is your ticket to the ball.
So many houses all over the country have granite counters, even without the rest of the kitchen or bathroom to match. Granite is the flat screen TV of home countertops. We all got ‘em.
Granite Counters Part of a Societal Shift
Wes Benteen, Kris Kristofferson’s character in Silver City, said this:
People want to back a winner. They need to feel a part of something bigger than they are. They used to advertise the quality of a product—tastes great, whitens your teeth, shaves close, rides like a dream. Now what do they push? America’s number one soft drink. Best-selling mid-sized utility vehicle. It isn’t “buy the product.” It’s “Join the club.” You make people feel part of a winner, they’ll follow you anywhere.
Maybe this is why it’s fine for everyone to wear Crocs, don aviator sunshades, eat at Chilis, watch “American Idol”, and have granite counters. Because not having these things is like admitting that 1) you don’t know what’s cool and 2) you can’t afford it. 15 years ago, when you saw a Lexus, it turned your head. If you had a Lexus, you had arrived. They were the cool.
Lexus is no longer the pinnacle of vehicle luxury that it once was. How can it be? There are too many of them. Maybe Lexus is fine that their product is no longer actually the epitome of class, because with their leasing program and their ubiquity, they are likely swimming in a vault of money like Scrooge McDuck.
So for the last several years, the barrier to get the products, materials, and possessions of the upper class has been lowered, either by the promiscuity of credit cards or refusal to save or lack of tithing at church. Who knows. I’m not sure about the components of the complexity, but I am sure that we’re about to tap out with granite.
Shag Carpeting, Split-Level Houses, Wood Paneling, Carpeting over Wood…
All the horrible home design ideas from the 70s that were so popular and universal are laughable today. Shag carpeting is so silly that it hasn’t even been allowed to be retro. And back then shag was the rage. It was the best thing there had ever been or ever would be. Remember in the 50s & 60s when it was considered low class not to have this new trend called carpet? So everyone carpeted over their wood floors. Now we’re back to wood floors being sweet again. Hopefully, you are connecting the dots here…
We’ve had a good run, and it’s been great that we’ve all been able to be impressed with ourselves because we could not only afford the coolest countertop trends, but also we knew what it was. But now we all have granite, just like we all used to have laminate (Formica) counters. It’s tough to see granite as a flavor of the month, as this era’s laminate, because we haven’t yet been able to predict what is coming next. How can granite be replaced if there’s no known replacement?
Concrete counters have been trying. Actually, they have been trying really hard over the last three years. Concrete will get more popular than now, but it won’t go wild. It is tightly tied to a modern style, which just doesn’t fit that many Americans’ tastes.
I imagine quartz-based hybrid products like Silestone or Zodiaq will get a lot of pickup as a safe transition away from granite. Head-to-head, quartz has some serious benefits over granite. But ultimately, I think there is a green option that will come on like wildfire here in the next three years or so. Homeowners are ready for something new. They just haven’t seen new yet. For the next little while, concrete and quartz are going to have their day.
Soon all of our kitchens and baths are going to be covered in granite, which is kind of scary. Clearly this serves right now perfectly. Though I can just hear the next generation of homebuyers seeing granite and dismissing it, like we do today with track lighting, and thinking… “That’s so tacky. It’ll have to go.”