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Countertop Update Ideas: High-End Ideas, Low-End Prices

Posted on August 7, 2021 by KylieMawdsley

The Best Laminate COUNTERTOPS on a Budget

Do you want your countertops to look like travertine, marble or concrete without the MAINTENANCE or cost? Some of my most POPULAR bathrooms and kitchens on my Pinterest profile are those with laminate countertops – not quartz, not granite, but LAMINATE! And while I’ve already done a blog post on how AWESOME the new laminate countertops are, I want to go in a bit closer here with a few of my faves…

Are you ready?Kitchen or bathroom countertop update ideas, budget-friendly, laminate countertops, marble, concrete look. Kylie M Interiors Edesign

And just so you know, I’m not getting paid to promote any of the products that I’ve shown you on this page. I pay myself in wine, Starbucks and self high-fives.


  • CONSIDERABLY more affordable than quartz or granite, often 3-5 times less expensive
  • TONS of options that mimic the look of marble, stone and more
  • you can keep your existing sink if it happens to be standard (not undermount)
  • some can be combined in a kitchen with a quartz island (mix and match, as shown below)

Gray greige painted kitchen maple cabinets. Marble island and beige laminate countertop. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Agreeable Gray, Classic Gray

See this whole project HERE


  • will stain or scratch if you work at it (but are made to be pretty hardy for the price)
  • any open ends will have a visible seam
  • while there are those who’ve installed an under-mount sink, it’s generally not recommended


I LOVE the look of an authentic marble countertop, I DON’T love the maintenance of it – momma wants to put her red wine glass down wherever she wants! And while quartz countertops offer GREAT looking alternatives without the maintenance, they still come with a hefty price. And while laminate countertop isn’t as HARDY as quartz, it’s a fraction of the price and WICKED pretty in the right space.

Budget friendly bathroom update ideas, formica calacatta marble laminate countertops, hexagon tile backsplash. Chelsea Gray vanity. Kylie M E-design

Formica Calacatta Marble is one of my faves as it gives a SUPER modern look, similar to marble without the MAINTENANCE. With the square wrap profile on the front, it’s got the look of marble for under $400! If you want the reverse look, so black base with white/gray veining, check out Formica Jet Sequoia.

Double vanity in bathroom painted Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray, hexagon mosaic tile backsplash, Calacatta Marble countertop by Formica. Design by Kylie M Interiors

See all of this bathroom HERE

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A well-chosen laminate countertop can look stunning while coming in at a FRACTION of the price of quartz or granite, and I’m not talking about hundreds of dollars, I’m talking THOUSANDS of dollars (particularly in a kitchen). While there are some ‘affordable’ lines of quartz and granite out there, but they don’t come ANYWHERE near the reduced price of laminate.

REMEMBER, countertops usually come in a VARIETY of finishes (matte, etched, honed, etc…) so make sure you see your OPTIONS before you order! 


If you don’t love the more graphic veining in Calacatta Marble, you might like the more subtle approach of Carrara Bianco. You’ll see that it has less/black gray in it and has a subtle gray veining with a violet undertone (remember, every gray has undertones!)

Laundry room mudroom with Formica laminate countertop Carrara Bianco, marble look. Pure White walls and cabinets. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour blogger

Laundry mudroom sink with budget friendly marble look formica countertop, Carrara Bianco and Pure White walls. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint advice blog

Paint Colour Sherwin Williams Pure White

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It’s hard to beat the organic look of real concrete countertops, but you have to be happy with the fact that they’ll stain easy and require yearly maintenance. For MUCH less money and stress, you can get the look without the work!


Inukshuk Gray is one of my fave countertops for an organic, natural look. While this next project shows Inukshuk Gray in a matte finish, you can also get it in a glossy finish if you prefer a more polished look…

Benjamin Moore Cheating Heart painted cabinets, white oak flooring, Arborite Inukshuk concrete look countertop. Kylie M Interiors ONline paint color consultant

If you look at a sample up-close, you’ll see that it has small white flecks in it for visual interest.

White oak floor, affordable concrete

Cabinets painted Benjamin Moore Cheating Heart / Walls Sherwin Williams Pure White


I know that MANY of you curse your early 2000s travertine tile, but if you ask me, I think travertine is a GORGEOUS product – warm, textured and a great way to add interest to a space. In fact, I’d go so far as to pick up that look on my countertops!

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Formica Travertine Silver is a beautiful laminate with a range of greige and warm tones. This countertop often works with bathrooms with almond and bone fixtures as it has some of those colours in it.

Best paint colour for bathroom vanity or cabinets, Benjamin MOore Kingsport Gray with formica travertine counters. Kylie M Interiors E-design

I’ve had clients want to use Silver Travertine in kitchens, but because of the strong linear veining, it doesn’t look good on countertops that aren’t one piece (where the slab meets in the corner the lines/pattern of the countertop gets pretty mismatched). However, in a bathroom with its straight-run of countertop, it’s a beautiful choice, particularly if your floor tile is more subdued.

Benjamin Moore Kingsport Gray painted vanity with Travertine 180fx Silver countertop and raised vessel sink by Kylie M Interiors

Vanity colour Benjamin Moore Kingsport Gray

The 6 Best Paint Colours for Bathroom Vanities (or Kitchen Islands & Cabinets)


When updating a home, it’s not always feasible to replace EVERY surface. This means you’re often working with tiles, bathroom fixtures or finishes that aren’t EXACTLY what you had in mind. Luckily, there are a few countertops that help transition outdated finishes into a new decade.


First up, let’s check out Mineral Jet. This is a great countertop if you have some warmer finishes in your room, as along with black, it has a soft bit of brown and gray as well, making it quite flexible…

Oak kitchen update, before and after. Benjamin Moore Chelea Gray on wood cabinets, Gentle Cream walls, Mineral Jet formica countertops. black appliances. Kylie M INteriors Edesign


Black is often a popular choice for those wanting to update a space without having to do EVERY surrounding finish. Mineral Jet (above), Ebony Oxide and Oiled Soapstone are great examples of black countertops that still have visual interest.

Painted kitchen cabinets. Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray, Gray Owl, white subway tile, black laminate countertop. Budget friendly Kylie M Interiors E-design Colour expert (1)

Because I rely 100% on my Online Paint Color Consulting clients for their photos, giving you REAL HOMES with REAL BUDGETS, I don’t have photos of all of my faves. So, if you’re looking for a laminate countertop that’s flexible but WARMER, check out…


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Online paint colour consultant Benjamin Moore Sherwin Williams, Vancouver Island, USA, UK. Interior, exterior, edesign colors. Kylie M Interiors, blogger marketing. Best paint color ideas

Chat soon,




  1. Lovely work here! I just discovered linoleum for my kitchen and am totally in love with my marble look floor but am digging the comfort, as II have severe osteoarthritis and can’t stand for long and real marble would have been intolerable. These countertops remind me how lucky I am. Any one interested should dive right in without hesitation.

  2. Great article!
    Can you share what cabinet brand you used in the bathroom with the dark stained cabinets? I really like them. Do they make that vanity cabinet that sits on the counter or did that require custom modification?

  3. Hi, Kylie~
    Just wanted to tell you how utterly perfect I think the bathroom is that you designed for your client, Laura.
    And thanks bunches for your recommendation of laminate/Formica. I’m going to check it out online right now!

  4. Those sure are lovely countertops! I would prefer them to my granite countertop- which just developed a rather large crack in front of the kitchen sink-!! When I choose the granite about 8 years ago, I really preferred the look of marble, but knew that it was too high maintenance and delicate (etching easily) for our home. I sure wish that these were available then! And most granite is really not that popular anymore– but most of us spent so much money on it that we ‘d feel guilty replacing it! With laminates, at least it won’t hurt so much financially to replace it when trends change!!
    Thanks for another great post! I always look forward to reading them.

  5. Hi Kylie! 🙂 Thank you so much for this article! Now I have great ideas to show my hubby for our bathroom.
    We’ve been checking out Formica 180fx for about a year because we have a kitchen remodel coming up. It’s so reassuring to see an interior designer use it in her own kitchen . However, reading this raised a question in my mind. We love the look of the Formica Dolce Vita and had pretty much decided on that. But your comment about linear patterns and corners is making me wonder if we should choose another pattern. Am I worrying unnecessarily?

    1. Hi Celia! I would worry about Dolce Vita. It has a pretty strong linear pattern and you may find that the lines don’t match up where they meet on the 45 degree corner. If it were ME…ya, I would worry about it getting a bit busy in the corners – sorry if I’ve burst your bubble, but I also don’t want you to be disappointed with the end product. If it’s just 1 corner, life will go on, but if you have 2 corners it might just be too much 🙂


      1. Thank you, Kylie! I completely agree. We only have one corner, but it would REALLY bother me if the seam was extremely visible due to the pattern of the laminate, Thankfully, there are many beatiful choices out there, so I don’t mind saying goodbye to Dolce Vita????.

  6. Hi Kylie,
    We are doing a vanity remodel soon, and I love the sinks you showed! (Formica not so much….we’ll go with quartz) New to your posts and are liking them a lot.
    Thank you.

    1. Thank you Amy! There are some gorgeous quartz products out there. Not sure what colour range you’re going for, but check out Bianco Drift by Caesarstone. It’s an amazing light gray with other neutrals in it, making it SUPER flexible. If you go into my Portfolio, under Kylie’s home, you’ll see it in my main bathroom reno as well as the bar area – MAD LOVE!

  7. I’m looking into the 180fx countertops for my kitchen in either the marble or the soapstone. What kind of edge is that? I’m wondering what to ask for.

    Loooove the blog!

  8. I don’t know if I’m just not looking closely enough, but I can’t for the life of me find where you say what brand of sink you used in this bathroom. Please tell me. I love it! Thank you so much!

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  9. Girl! You have got some mad skills!! Would you mind sharing what color the gray vanity is? I love love love that bathroom! It’s crazy that the counter is laminate!!

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  10. Hi Kyle,
    Love your blog.. I was looking at the formica in the bathroom photo (calcutta marble). Their website lists gloss or etched.. I’m try to get my bathroom to look like your.. Which should I get? And, did your contractor round that corner for you to make it look like one piece?
    Thanks for your website, I love your helpful links.

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      Hi Alice, I believe it was the etched finish. And that’s called a square wrap around these parts! So it’s not rounded, yet isn’t so square that it has an edge/break in the surface – hope that helps!

  11. I really like the look of an undermount sink. Is it possible to have a laminate counter top with an undermount sink?

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      Hi Sarah, yes it is! The only negative is that a lot of countertop suppliers will void the warranty if it’s installed this way. Talk to your local supplier and ask them how they feel about it, it does look WICKED cool. Here’s a photo of one (you can type in undermount laminate on Pinterest and get some nice images). https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/93871973463482437/

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