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Waterfall Counters, and why we love them.

Updated: May 18, 2020

Kitchens are such central environments to a home. The kitchen is where the family comes together sharing everything about their lives, if not a just sandwich.

One simple thing that can be done to make a kitchen feel really luxurious, is to make the countertops waterfall. A waterfall counter is one that "spills" over the edge of the cabinetry and continues to terminate at the floor. Its a design element that really features the counter material and makes the countertops more than just a place to set you coffee.

So what do we need to make a waterfall counter work? Lets cover some basic points.

1. A spectacular slab of material

Pick a countertop that deserves to be featured, and a design that balances that bold element. A waterfall countertop brings a tremendous amount of focus to the counter and the material selection. If you budget is not large enough to afford natural stone or at least a high-end quartz, bringing attention to it may not be the right choice.

In the example below the island is made of two slabs of bookmatched quartzite. The material is spectacular, but against the white glass floors, it really pops. To make it even more significant, I added a 4" mitered return making the entire top feel substantial. By waterfalling the tops over both sides of the island, we create a monolithic shape that supports the modern design. Using an organic material in a warm color tone, we soften the angular aspect and balance the design.


2. Size matters.

When creating a waterfall on an island, keep in mind you are literally covering your island in stone. All that stone really can make a large kitchen island seem small. If you are going to waterfall the island, make sure that island is big enough to visually represent the waterfall.

Large kitchen with a smaller waterfall island
Large kitchen with a smaller waterfall island

In this example, the kitchen was quite large, but the area set aside for the island, was not substantial. It was large enough, but just barely given the heft of the stone falling over both sides onto the floor.

smaller waterfall kitchen island

One way I made the island feel larger was to project the stone past the cabinetry on the room side, creating a negative space and the illusion of size. I also did not build the counter up with a mitered edge, I left the counter as a 3cm slab all the way around giving it a clean, sharp appearance.

These islands are all of a significant size, creating a proper sense of balance and symmetry. My basic rule of thumb is that the island should be three times as long as it is high or deep.


3. Make it flow

The very concept of a "waterfall" evokes the feeling of movement. Use that element to allow your room to flow. Design a counter that makes the eye draw the room the way you want it to be drawn.

peninsula with a waterfall edge

This peninsula with it's waterfall counter makes the user draw the line with their eye from the wall to the floor. It allows an otherwise monolithic structure to have purpose and consistency within the design of the room.

Outdoor kitchen peninsula with waterfall counter

This outdoor kitchen waterfall serves to define the kitchen space where there are no walls or other visual elements that would normally do so.

Bathroom Vanity with waterfall top

Even in a bathroom, a waterfall can be used to make a vanity pop. In this example, the contrast of the white counter framing the dark cabinets all the way down to the floor, really defines the object and gives it purpose in the room.

So if you are thinking about using a waterfall countertop, remember, make it large, visually bold, and have a reason. As always, ask your designer what will work in your space, and remember to think outside the box!

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