Thanks to a wave of decidedly modern applications, laminate countertops – actually, laminate anything – are shedding their dated reputation. That isn’t to say that the old stuff is suddenly a good thing; if you decide to purchase a fixer-upper with a peeling faux-granite Formica countertop in the kitchen, we aren’t going to stop you ripping that trash right out.
But before you begin, or even before you go furniture shopping, get it out of your head that this material is only evil. Laminate counters, laminate cabinet fronts, and even laminate furniture are all making a serious comeback and we’re very on board for the revival. (So note: A way less expensive alternative to a full kitchen reno would be to laminate a new surface right over the top of that Formica countertop from the 1950s.)
Don’t believe a layer of plastic can make for a chic surface? Check out Reform, a Danish company changing the way we think about kitchen cabinetry. Its Chelsea collection, designed by Christina Meyer Bengtsson (the creative force behind many a Michelin restaurant design), is Art Deco–inspired, featuring patinated brass sheets mixed in with laminate surfaces in a mix of moody, contemporary tones like Powder, a blush pink, and Pewter, a dusty dark gray. Plus, all the designs are made to work with IKEA cabinet systems (score!). Clearly this is some sophisticated design – gone are the dated, rounded corners you’d picture in a postwar kitchen, though under the plastic surface is indeed a layer of MDF just like you’d expect. Technology and design have come a long way since the postwar residential boom, so laminate can look a lot lovelier now than ever before.
Drawer fronts from Reform’s Chelsea line are edged with brass for a super finished, contemporary look.
Fancy people, don’t worry – we’re also seeing custom laminate countertops in enviable houses like this one. Some brand names proving there’s a real market for laminate counters are Formica (duh), Wilsonart, Pionite, Hartson-Kennedy, and more. It’s not just for spiffed-up IKEA systems! This spring, interior designer and TV host Leanne Ford showed off a custom bed she designed using faux-marble Formica – and you’d think it was made of the real thing.