Letters From Basecamp Gallivance: The New Countertop is Marbelous!

Marble counter

After a week of washing dishes in the bathroom sink, mowing through a huge stack of paper plates, and descending into the dark abyss of TV dinners, our new kitchen sink and marble countertop have finally been installed.

We foresaw the disruption this project would cause, and it’s been an ominous cloud on the horizon for some time. And as with most of our projects in the Basecamp Gallivance condo renovation, we’re very happy with the results, but crikey, what a pain!

Of course, a large part of the blame for this hassle falls squarely on our shoulders. We’d been looking for a solid surface solution for the kitchen sink area, and luckily we stumbled upon a remnant piece of marble at a great price. We’ve been really careful with our kitchen renovation budget, installing affordable butcher block in the work areas, building our own breakfast bar, and updating and refurbishing the cabinets. So finding a small, affordable marble remnant was perfect.

Natural marble is a really beautiful stone, and the color works perfectly in our kitchen, but it’s persnickety to work with, and difficult to install. And even though its a hard stone, it can still have natural cracks that aren’t obvious to the naked eye. So it has to be handled very carefully during installation. We tried not to hover over the installers, but in truth, Terri and I were both nervous wrecks by the end of the day.

Kitchen sink

Which brings up a truism reconfirmed in the Basecamp Gallivance renovation. There are some projects that are DIY (Do It Yourself), and others which are CAP … Call A Professional. We both enjoy renovation, and are pleased when we bring a challenging project to fruition. However, we also realize that, for any number of reasons, there are some projects that are way beyond our skill level. And installing a sink and marble countertop is definitely above our pay grade.

We absolutely love our new kitchen counter. I can’t tell you what a thrill is to say goodbye to the old pink formica, and to see this project finished.

Marble Counter

Adios from BCG,

If you’re curious about our Letters from Basecamp Gallivance Series, these posts will give you a flavor.

Establishing Basecamp Gallivance
The Pace Quickens
Totally Floored
From Chaos to Cozy
Back in the Saddle
Chaos for Christmas


Author: gallivance.net

We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at gallivance.net.

41 thoughts

    1. Thanks Radka. It’s funny how much effort can go into finding just the right color, especially when the medium is stone. BTW, have a great time in Paris. Have a croissant for me.

    1. When it comes to renovation, it’s all about priorities, particularly when it’s the house you live in everyday. We’re both ex-corporate types, and when doing a major make-over, it’s been helpful to have some of that experience. “Plan the work, and work the plan.” This is the mantra that saves us from insanity. ~James

    1. Thanks Joyce. We’ve never had our kitchen totally out of commission before, but now we realize how vital it is. It turned out great, and we’re happy campers. Thanks for following along. Love, JH

  1. Beautiful job….again! I can never keep my counter tops as neat as yours no matter
    how I try! Guess I am too much of a collector! Always loved the spareness of your places….lean = peace. Still trying to emulate!!!!

    1. Thanks Sayra. Great to hear from you. I’m telling you, it’s all those years living out of a suitcase, living on the road, and sleeping in a tent. Well, and to be honest, dealing with all the stuff in my Mom’s basement may have had an impact. Hope you’re doing well. Love, J&T

    1. Thanks LuAnn. When we finished the kitchen it felt like we had slain a dragon. Everyone knows that the kitchen is the heart of the home, and it’s great to have all our valves lookin’ good and working properly. ~James

  2. What a delight to go into your kitchen and see the fruits of your labour. The marble counter top is a triumph. Love the wooden counter top. A lovely combination of surfaces. Virginia

    1. Thanks Virginia. I must admit that at this point “triumph” feels like the right word. For most of the project, we weren’t sure who was going to win, us or the kitchen. We’d always wanted a butcher block counter, and now (after a good deal of agony) we have it. And three different surfaces wasn’t the easiest thing to pull off, but it worked and we’re happy. Thanks for following along. ~James

    1. Thanks Susan. We’re so happy to have the kitchen finished. A sink that drains properly, a disposal that works, and a spray nozzle … bury me there. Glad you had a good time in Mexico. ~James

  3. I usually read your travel posts, but I just read all the Base Camp posts – boy am I impressed! I am so far from a DIYer I hate even arranging for work like this. I’m particularly impressed by the kitchen as I’m about to start a mini-renovation there – new appliances, counter top, probably sink, possibly lights (certainly under the cabinet lights). To be followed by updating the master bath and replacing all the flooring in the house (it’s 24 years old). All this for resale, after which I plan to take off for my fourth RTW and then look for a retirement place.

    1. Hey Kathy. Fourth RTW … wowza! Very impressive. We’ve done 2 and have hopes for more. We haven’t always been DIY types, but as two ex-corporate types, we really wanted to learn to do things with our own hands. If approached properly, anything can be a meditation. We also used renovation as a way to move and experience other cities. We’d buy a house, fix it up, live there for a couple of years, sell it, put our stuff in storage and hit the road. As you read, we’ve just finished the kitchen (YAY!) and are working on the bathroom now. A ripped up kitchen is a major pain, and we just went through it, so we wish you the best of luck. ~James

  4. Once again you’ve turned a simple space into your signature place. Beautiful, and more so due to your determination to “get this renovation done.”

    1. Thanks El, and you’re so right. We’ve enjoyed the renovation (most of it anyway), but we’ll definitely be glad to git’er done. We have moved on to the bathroom, and have the countertop in, the sink installed, and the mirror finished. We have a plumbing issue that’s beyond my pay grade, so we have to wait for our plumber to return from Daytona and Bike Week. You know these contractors at the beach. Love, J

    1. Thanks Lisa, we love the new countertop, and also thanks for the volcano update. I love the look of these lava plumes. We saw a bit of red glow from Mt. Merapi (from our hotel balcony) in Indonesia, but I would love to see one close up … at a safe distance of course. How close is this volcano to your home?

      1. tungurahua is a long way from here!

        i always enjoyed watching vocano arenal in costa rica, and it was amazing to watch (through binoculars) the house-sized rocks bouncing down the sides as if in slow motion and hear the booming of the volcano.

  5. Great work – but this posting confirms why I’m dreading the upcoming remodelling of our kitchen, even if it’s direly necessary. 😉
    Best regards from southern Texas,

    1. Hey Pit. I assume that you’ll live in the house while the renovation is going on, if so, do not underestimate the disruption that a major kitchen reno will cause. We had never done a total kitchen reno before, and it’s a real pain. My tip would be, if possible, to plan the work in stages. For instance, maintain at least one countertop for food prep, etc. Also, the replacement of the kitchen sink is when the real disruption begins, so plan it carefully. We did a dumb thing, because of contractor schedules etc., we had to be without the sink for over a week … ouch. We should have designed a better plan. Good luck man! ~James

      1. Hi James,
        We’re fully aware of the hassle it would be to live in the house while the renovation is going on, especially since we’ll have to renew the kitchen floor and the kitchen is the only way to get into the hallway to the bedrooms! That is why we’re postponing any serious renovation until we’ve relocated. We’ve found a few homes in and around Fredericksburg that would be to our liking. We’re now trying to either sell part of our property here or get the purchase financed. Keep your fingers crossed.
        Best regards from southern Texas,

      2. Hey Pit. If by relocating, you mean temporarily moving out of the house, that’s a great approach. On a couple of our renovations we’ve gotten small apartments for three months while the renovation is ongoing. It makes the job so much easier. Not having furniture, etc in the way makes everything easier. Best of Luck. ~James

      3. Hi James,
        Actually, we’re planning to relocate permanently, as , with the ongoing oil boom here in southern Texas, the quality of life has really deteriorated. BUt we don’t want to sell the house [it’s my wife’s parents’ house and thus has sentimental value]. We’d like to have it renovated – as I said, after we’ve moved out – and then maybe rent it out.
        Best regards,

  6. Beautiful marble! I also like the overlook side … the wooden top. Our house we are renting (also i will call our base) They made a funny design of the kitchen top. Not enough space at all for food preparation. (a little bit space here..a little bit space there) Finally, I take over a dinner table and prepare everything here. 🙂

    1. Luksana, I’m sure that preparing all that wonderful Thai food would take lots of counter space. But, as you point out, usually it isn’t just about the amount of space, but the design. Our present kitchen worked out great for us. It isn’t a huge amount of space, but it’s well designed. Terri and I both help in meal prep, and we each need our “workstation”. And getting in each other’s way doesn’t work. How much counter space does the boat have? That will take some adjustment. ~James

    1. Hey Mark. We had never done a total counter reno until now, and we learned a few lesson along the way. And I can say that we love our new countertops, but before starting on a countertop project, everyone needs to be on the same page. I’m just sayin’.

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