Erin Napier's Budget-Friendly Kitchen Trick Is A Renovation Game-Changer

Knowing when to make substitutions for materials is a huge part of keeping expenses down during a kitchen renovation. When Erin Napier wanted soapstone countertops to tie together the English countryside kitchen theme in her and her husband's vacation home, Napier discovered a specific type of granite known as 'black mist.' This material is finished to have a similar appearance to soapstone but at a more affordable price point.

Black mist granite has a honed finish that gives the countertops a more muted look, which is what Napier was looking for based on her kitchen inspiration from the historical series "Downton Abbey." As seen on her Instagram, the worn counter pairs very well with her furniture style and earth tones to make the kitchen feel lived-in. "Our [BlueStar] fridge, range, and hood were all built in the USA, and I chose brown black for the enamel in a nod to antique kitchen appliances and to work with my honed black mist granite countertops (I can't believe it's not soapstone)," she says in the caption.

Soapstone vs. granite

Soapstone and granite are both used on countertops, sinks, and other household surfaces. They have different properties and aesthetics, so choosing between them depends on your preferences and budget. Soapstone comes from talc and gets its name from its smooth, soapy texture when touched, while granite is a type of rock that is harder and denser making it more resistant to scratching and damage. Even though it is more durable and requires less maintenance, granite is the best way to renovate on a budget because it costs around $40 to $100 per square foot installed while soapstone costs about $70 to $120.

Soapstone is known for its distinctive gray to black color range and smooth, matte finish that exudes a natural, classic appeal. It also has the unique property of developing a natural patina over time, which helps to mask minor imperfections and gives it a charming, rustic look. Granite offers a wide variety of colors and patterns and often has a glossy, elegant appearance, but it also has certain finishes that allow you to have the look of soapstone.

More on honed granite

You can achieve the soapstone look by looking for granite described as "matte," "honed," or "leathered." These granite finishes mean the countertops won't have the gloss and shine that comes with a polished finish but has a subdued, natural appearance instead. It will be less reflective than the typical polished granite and can be more forgiving when it comes to showing scratches or wear over time. 

The slabs come in a wide range of colors, from cream to black, with various unique patterns. While the Napiers specifically opted for a honed black mist granite, note that this type might need resealing every six months when used in an indoor kitchen and more frequently when in an outdoor kitchen. Honed granite in a dark color like black is also more likely to reveal marks and imprints on the countertops. Still, honed granite is great if you're going for a more casual feel in your kitchen and don't mind that the countertops could look used.