(the granite isn't the only problem with this bathroom, but it's definitely a contributing factor. Yikes.)
I'm mostly sick of seeing granite, and no longer recommend it to clients who are doing new kitchens or baths. However, all that negative stuff said, there is such beauty in natural materials, and I do believe that granite is still the right choice in certain applications.
1 CONSIDER THE AGE OF THE HOME
The age and aesthetic of the home can (and often should) dictate many of the design decisions, especially when it comes to materials. Since granite has gained most of its popularity since the mid-90's, it looks out of place to slap a heavily figured or speckled slab in a 20's or 30's era home. That said, it can often be the right thing to add to a 90's era/early 2000's oak or cherry kitchen because these spaces were often built in the time period when granite was popular. A perfect example of this is my parent's kitchen, where they recently replaced their builder-grade laminate with granite, and installed a backsplash where there previously had just been painted sheetrock. Their kitchen is the classic early 2000's red oak, and naturally it has yellowed over time to a golden tone.
The backsplash looks quite greenish in these photos, but in reality has a nice neutral golden tone that compliments the granite perfectly. We found this beautiful glass/ceramic crackle tile, and did it full height in all areas with a liner bar running about five inches up. This was intentional because we had to add a short side splash at the walls on either end of the countertops, and the liner caps off the unfinished top edge of the tile, continuing through for a seamless transition.
2 CONSIDER THE VISUAL TEXTURE IN THE REST OF THE ROOM
Granite can be the perfect choice when it compliments and adds to other visually textural elements in the rest of the room. If done incorrectly this can look like chaos, but when executed properly, the patterning and interest in a granite surface can add richness and harmony.
The lighter tones and delicate veining seen here are a beautiful compliment to the stone hood surround and backsplash. Additionally, they compliment the rich grain pattern in the wood cabinetry.
This exotic looking granite is perfect with the depth, color and texture of that copper sink. It also is a complimentary element to the glazed and distressed cabinetry, and gives a jumping point for the color of the oil rubbed bronze fixtures and hardware.
With granite often used in more traditional applications, its easy to overlook its place in a more modern and streamlined interior:
I'm not 100% sure if that gorgeous wrapped island countertop is granite (it could be marble), but it adds the perfect amount of texture to contrast with the other sleeker elements in the space. I also love how it references the wood countertops and flooring, using those elements as inspiration for the rich caramel color.
I LOVE this kitchen, and if anyone knows who designed it and where I can see more images, please let me know! There couldn't have been a more perfect choice than a heavily patterned granite for that full height backsplash. It makes all of the other elements in the kitchen stand out even more, and brings such prominence and importance to that end of the kitchen. What a great way to draw the eye into this amazing gathering space.
4 REMEMBER THAT GRANITE IS A UNIQUE AND PERSONAL CHOICE
The patterning and veining found in many types of granite is so unique that I think its almost impossible to think that the next set of homeowners will have the same taste as yours. If you are in your forever house, and want the finishes personalized to your taste, granite is a great choice. If you are looking at resale anytime in the future, think of a heavily patterned granite the same as you'd think of a bold floral sofa--probably not going to suit the tastes of the next owners. Consider a more neutral countertop option, because you can take that floral sofa with you, but the granite will be inherited by the next owners.
5 GO FOR GRANITE AS A GREAT NEUTRAL
I've talked mostly about the heavily colored and patterned granite types, but beyond those there are a couple that are real stand outs when it comes to creating a more neutral scheme.
Finally, I love the contrast that a honed black granite gives to white cabinets, and chose this material in my own kitchen. The honed (matte) finish takes the edge off, and is easy to maintain. Be warned about seeing every little crumb and spec of dust though......I've learned this firsthand!
So after pulling this post together, I'm much more calm and less hateful toward granite. Seeing it done properly, and knowing that this beautiful natural material has its place opens up a world of possibility. Maybe I'll use it in my next client project. Or at least consider it :)