Design

Our Calacatta Marble countertop by Formica in the Home Office–Yeah, That’s Laminate!

November 3, 2016  —  Written by Julia Marcum 

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Our home office is inching closer to completion every day, but ever since our beautiful marble-look-alike Formica (!!!) countertop arrived last week, we’ve been using it daily. Yes it’s laminate and yes, we love it. So I thought today I’ll share a few quick details about it and then as soon as I can decide on hardware for the standing desk, we’ll share the full tutorial on how we made the base from Ikea cabinets and Semihandmade doors.

I love this extra tall barstool for a standing desk.

The standing desk ended up being even taller than we had initially designed, but it’s perfect height for my elbows to rest at 90 degrees while standing. I love the ability to walk right up and answer a quick email, or if I’m going to be working for the long haul, I can have a seat in one of the extra tall barstools we found from AllModern (drool…I love them!) that can tuck completely under the desk for standing sessions. Which, by the way, I was surprised to find that after only an hour of standing, my legs needed a break! I’m working up to longer stretches.

I can't believe that's not marble!

I can’t tell you how overwhelmingly happy we are with the countertop and can barely believe ourselves that it’s laminate! We went with the Calacatta Marble in the Etchings finish from the 180fx collection by Formica. The 180fx collection takes true-to-scale high resolution stone (like marble) and wood patterns and makes them into a laminate product that looks so real for a fraction of the cost.

I can't believe that's not marble!

Normally, laminate’s edging is a dead giveaway. You know, that dark line at the top corner where the laminate top and side pieces meet–everyone knows it’s laminate from across the room. Luckily, Formica’s product has come a long way. After doing some research, I discovered they have a new decorating edging called, IdealEdge, that eliminates the flat edges and brown seams you see traditionally in laminate. We went with the IdealEdge in the Bullnose profile, but it’s also available in an Ogee edge.

I can't believe that's not marble!Our Home Office.

The price is also a big selling point to laminate–we’re talking a couple hundred dollars compared to the thousands we would have paid for actual marble. But the price may vary slightly with fabricator in your area. We initially went through our local Lowe’s to purchase the Formica product and they had direct contacts to fabricators in the area. Or you can find a Formica brand retailer near you here.

We’ve had to put the office on the back-burner slightly since starting the One Room Challenge, but I promise a full (daytime!) shot for you as soon as we wrap up a few more details in here. Does this countertop make you a laminate convert or what?!

Ps. Check out how we DIYed the wall treatment in here in this post!

This post is in partnership with Formica. They donated the material and labor in exchange for us sharing our experience with all of you. 

What do you think?

  1. Gail Ranc says:

    This is exactly what I want, but the sample they gave me does not have a white background like your’s, it is muted grey. Is your’s definitely a white background?

  2. Jody says:

    My mother has this exact counter in her kitchen. It is beautiful and has held up under LOTS of use. Not a scratch or stain on it after several years. The fabricator in our area was a dream to work with too! I love the idea of your tall desk/work station. Looks fab!!!

  3. Libby says:

    So sorry if I’m blind but I’m looking for more details (style, dimensions) on the base cabinet you used! Have you posted the final reveal for the office yet and I just missed it!?

  4. Kacie says:

    I have such a dumb question! I’m thinking about using these countertops for a desk we are building but all I’m finding are the laminate sheets which you stick onto an existing countertop. Is that what you all did? If so, what material was your original countertop?

    • Chris says:

      We went through a local Formica fabricator. He first built the desktop frame out of particle board, then covered it with the Formica.

  5. Lp says:

    I’m surprised how prominent and not great the seam still looks with the light color. That corner doesn’t look quite lined up either, with a shadow on the vertical seam.
    That being said, I had a light peachy/brown formica in my first house, and it was THE BEST. Couldn’t tell it was not stone, still holding up well to the renters who live there now. One of the smartest decisions the previous owners did to the place.

    • Laura C says:

      Agreed – the seams don’t look great. An improvement on the Formica of past decades, but it’s definitely visible.That being said, you do have to expect to make concessions when you’re cutting costs – I could live with the seam if I were doing a low-budget project.

  6. S says:

    I appreciate the commenters here mentioning the problems they’ve had using the Formica product in the kitchen. I tend to think that bloggers who got free counters wouldn’t report that they had problems (not that you guys will be cooking in your office to have these similar issues). I’ve considered Formica for a temporary inexpensive upgrade to my kitchen, but after reading these comments and seeing the seams, I’ll save up for something else!

    • Julia says:

      I’ve read and talked to at least a dozen people with these exact counters before we made this decision and feel extremely confident.

  7. Joanna says:

    Looking lovely! I love the moodiness of the molding and the paint color with the crispness of the formica and the desk. Plus, you’re right. That chair is drool worthy!

  8. Dee says:

    I’d just like to echo what a commenter said above — thank you for being such a hard-working blogger. I follow about five or six blogs regularly, check in every day, and yours is only one of two that update every week day, without fail. I absolutely love it. Well done and thank you for providing such consistent, great content!

    • Julia says:

      Thank you for reading! It always is motivating to churn out content when we know we have such fantastic, loyal readers on the other end.

  9. Sarah says:

    We are considering this for our kitchen. In some of these photos there still seems to be a clear edge line that gives it away. Is it just how it appearing in photos?

  10. Elizabeth Speicher says:

    Well, this makes a believer out of me. That countertop is beautiful. I’m remodeling a 70’s kitchen and attached laundry room. I’ll be looking at formica for the laundry room at the very least. More money for the appliances I want!

  11. KP says:

    Back in august when you said you didn’t know what to do for the worktop someone suggested this exact product. I remember thinking “wow, great idea!” and so when I read this post I expected to see some mention of that – a reader suggested this product and we loved it – thanks reader! Even though this is your bog the comments can be a collaborative space and I think it’s nice to acknowledge when people help you with a design (or suggest a particular product that you end up choosing). Just my two cents. If I was the original suggested I would appreciate a shoutout!

    • Julia says:

      I’m so glad you consider our comment space a collaborative effort–we really think that, too. I’m not sure the exact comment you’re referring to but we did include this countertop in the very first mood board for the room right here and have heard lots of experiences from our readers before and after that.

      • KP says:

        It was before your first mood board, back when you said you wanted marble on an MDF budget. August 22. It’s not a big deal, maybe you didn’t even see that person’s comment, but it’s kind of off putting how defensive you got right away. Maybe a simple “hmm don’t think I saw that comment – must have came to the same conclusion independently!” would have been a better response instead of trying to disprove what I said.

  12. Caroline says:

    I love that you make your house function for your needs. I love a house that works hard for a family. And you achieve that while still making it look so good. So inspirational! Also, so impressed that you are tackling so much at one time (office, the girls’ room, stair railings, halloween parties). Way to go!!

  13. Nichole K says:

    Love this, especially with the grey-ish walls. Brings out the veining in the desktop nicely!

    We have Formica brand in our kitchen and bathrooms (budget-friendly option when we built our house) and they’ve held up wonderfully for 4+ years. Ours is a dark granite slab lookalike with a ton of color variation of greys, tans, blacks, and even a little red-brown. We have the traditional 90 degree edge, but the black seam doesn’t stand out at all since the pattern is so dark. People can’t believe it’s Formica! :)

  14. Elizabeth says:

    I have this in my kitchen, and was very careful with it, but after only 6 weeks the counter by the sink where we set dirty dishes to be washed was scratched and stained, I have to really scrub hard to get coffee drips off! I was very disappointed with this product from Formica and they would not cover it by warranty, not that I’d want it again anyway. But in an office where you’re not making cooking messes it should be fine.

    • Marina says:

      I installed it 2 weeks ago Formica fx calacutta marble series and its been pretty good so far in my kitchen. Stains wipe off easily tea, coffee, and turmeric which can really stain real marble. Looks great too.

  15. B. says:

    Hi I don’t see info on that amazing chair :(

  16. Abby J. says:

    Love the look! That moulding is fabulous and the top looks great! A question, though:

    What about power cord options? You can’t run your laptops on battery all the time, after all.

    • Julia says:

      There’s a plug right under the desk! I’m gearing myself up for drilling a hole in the top of the desk so we can easily feed cords, but it’s hard for me to get to that point. Haha.

  17. Katie says:

    Girl, you are CRANKING out these posts. Every day I expect to see a little filler post because y’all are so busy with the one room challenge, halloween party, etc (which would be totally totally fine) but nope. Thanks for being such a hardworking blogger. I love coming here to read everyday, and watching the real-time progress of your home. The room looks beautiful– can’t wait to see it all finished! xx

  18. I really like the marble effect of the formica :) Can I ask the reason behind having a standing desk rather than a traditional height one? Also I’m sure this is just a case of perspective but is the desk as big in comparison to the room in person as it appears in these photos? I absolutely love everything you have done to your house but I can’t make my mind about this one. The desk has a bit of a kitchen island vibe to it, sorry! :(

    • Julia says:

      We generally try to balance form and function, but this room definitely leans more function than anything for us and we’re squeezing form into the details where we can. Since Chris’s back surgery almost two years ago now, he has tried every gadget and method to keep his back from reverting back (he even does Yoga now!), but every time he starts sitting down for more than an hour, his back starts bothering him. We had a scare earlier this year, shortly before he left his desk job, where we thought he was going to have to go in for surgery again. But ever since he isn’t trapped to a desk and chair, his back is 1000% better. They say sitting is the new smoking and we’re just trying to stay ahead of our health, since surprisingly, blogging requires a lot of sitting.

      • Oh I totally understand where you are coming from now. I have had bad back pain since having our little firecracker 2 years ago and having a 9 to 5 office job where I spend most of my time sitting; doesn’t help at all so I can see how this room is the perfect solution to Chris’ back problems. Thanks for taking the time to replying to my question xxx

  19. Heather says:

    I’ve had the same counter in my kitchen for almost three years now and haven’t had any issues! The dream is still to replace it with quartz one day but as you said, you can’t beat the price!

    • Julia says:

      So great to hear, Heather!

      • Allison Cassetta says:

        What is the price? I just found these and I am in LOVE- I was just about to replace my countertops with quartz and its going to be 3500 but I am totally loving this! Just wanna know the ball park price

  20. Elizabeth says:

    I love this look! I agree with the reader above–I would be reluctant to use this in a kitchen. We have light colored Formica in our kitchen and it hasn’t held up. (Granted, I’m not the easiest on counters…). Love it for the office, though!

  21. Esther says:

    That’s a new concepts (having a standing office desk). I can see it having its perks!!
    I have a friend that also put this countertop into her new kitchen. At first she was loving it, but now, almost a year later, she hates it. She finds that it scratches and stains easily!
    Do you know if there is a guarantee/warranty for this product? It could maybe also depend on the manufacturer and the quality of material?

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