Countertops: What’s In and What’s Out in Oxford MS


Counter tops can really define your kitchen.

The surface can make an elegant statement. It can be simple. It can be warm. It can be casual.

The surfaces to choose from include wood, stone, concrete, laminate and much more. Many kitchen designers even mix counter surface types within one room.

Wood Surfaces

Wood surfaces are not your regular butcher block from the 1980s. I had a eucalyptus counter in a house I rented several years ago. It was lovely and warm. The wood needed annual upkeep with a specific oil treatment but it was one of my favorite counter tops. Just be sure not to use that space as a cutting board.

Many local homes I’ve viewed had a single counter space in wood and the rest in another surface type. Other wood choices include bamboo, walnut, cherry, mesquite.

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Stone Surfaces

Stone surfaces vary widely and include popular choices like granite, quartz, soapstone, travertine, Jerusalem stone and slate.  Most require particular cleaners as some may damage easily from improper care.  Stone surfaces also come in a variety of color choices to add personality to your kitchen.  The downside to stone is that the busier the design of the stone the easier crumbs and dirt can hide on the surface. However, solid surface colors can only accent the fact you need to clean it.  My favorite counters were black quartz in another house I lived in.  I loved the look when they were clean but I was constantly wiping them down (there were children in the house which accounted for the dirt and crumbs).

New Trends

New trends in counter tops are concrete, copper-wrapped and recycled-glass counters. Copper-wrapping seems to be popular on counters that are separate from the main countertop in the kitchen but not necessarily on the island. Recycled-glass counters are higher-end because of the process to make them. A mix of colorful glass chips from various broken glass items are blended with concrete and sealed for a smooth finish. Terazzo is making a comeback in both flooring and countertops for homeowners making that mid-century modern statement.

Other trends include eco-friendly counters like composite countertops. These can be made of recycled paper or fly ash and are sealed to resist bacteria. They are heat resistant, too. Engineered stone, stainless steel, solid surface and “upscale” laminate are also popular choices.

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Tile Counters

Tile counters are still popular although most people I had shown houses to do not like them. Tile can be a less expensive way to have an expensive looking counter. And while it is pretty, there is the grout to consider when cleaning. Scrubbing stains out of an unsealed grout can be tedious, so be sure to seal it. Grout can also crack, leaving the homeowner to maintain it more often than they would need to with solid surfaces. With these factors in mind solid stone is an unoffical winner of my countertop experience.

But you decide. When choosing your counters go to a store that specializes in stone for their expertise, and visit some other kitchen design centers for their expertise. Be sure to investigate wood as well.

Although I suggested mixing surfaces in your kitchen, do consider matching your other counters throughout the house to the dominant kitchen counter surface. These would include bathrooms and laundry.  If you ever have to sell your house, this is a design issue that comes up often with buyers. Buyers like to see continuity of design and most of my buyers, who have passed on a house, stated that it was because of the expense to match counters.

And my last piece of advice is this: a desk built into the kitchen is a great space to have but consider not using stone on the desk surface; it gets cold. I speak from experience on this matter.

For more info on picking your countertops read this great article on countertops and your personality.

All photos courtesy of Creative Commons.
Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors  2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655  662-404-0816 or 662-234-5344 Equal Housing



Rent vs Own

you pay for housing whether you buy or rent

Renters often are able to purchase a home but do not for several reasons.

Many feel that they can’t afford to purchase a home.

But, as a renter, what are you doing each month?  You pay for your housing. And who benefits?  Well, you do have a roof over your head, but the homeowner is really benefiting.  The homeowner is building wealth.

A smart homeowner would charge at least their monthly mortgage for the renter to pay.  So, renter, you’re paying someone’s mortgage, at least. Why not pay your own?

With each rent payment, the homeowner’s mortgage balance goes down and soon he will own the house out-right. He can sell it and make money. If he was a wise investor, he will sell his house for more than he paid for it.  But regardless, the homeowner didn’t make a mortgage payment with his own money because he had renters pay it and when he sells the house, he will make all of the money back (unless he still has a balance that he needs to pay the bank, but he’ll get the rest.)  When you, renter, move out, you’ll be lucky to get your deposit back and so you’ll basically have nothing for all of the money you paid for housing.

If  you own your house, you are paying your monthly payment and paying down your mortgage balance. When you sell your house for the same or more than what you purchased it for, you pay the bank what you owe them and you get the rest.  You’ve been paying into it, you should get something out of it.

Many don’t have enough for a down payment.

There are many mortgage programs that your mortgage banker can tell you about and she can figure out which works best for you.  Some can get you into a house with 3% down. Others can get you into a house for even less. Of course, consider you might be paying an extra percentage in interest or paying a PMI cost. PMI is Private Mortgage Insurance and you can learn about it here.

There are many apps you can use to check your credit score. There are others that tell you what your estimated payments would be for a particular property or price.

Talk to your banker about receiving gift money from a relative for  your down payment.

Mississippi and a few other states offer a First-time Home Buyer’s Savings Account. Check with your bank to get your account started and set a goal.

Many would rather have someone make repairs or pay to replace faulty appliances for them.

I hear this a lot. An old apartment or an old house will most likely have old appliances which will go out.  Who knows how the previous renter took care of the appliances also. So many renters often call their landlords for repairs.

If you purchase a new home, you have new appliances. Your home has warranties including a 1-year builder warranty in Mississippi.

Should you purchase a pre-owned home, you’ll see on the seller’s disclosure the age and condition of appliances.  If they are all old or approaching that magic year things start breaking down, you can negotiate a seller-paid home warranty for the first year you own the home.  Most service calls are under $100 for repair or replacement. If you cannot negotiate it into the purchase, warranties run around $500 per year so you can set that aside to purchase yourself.  I have one and it has paid for itself many times.

Many do not think their credit score is good enough.

You never know what you can afford or what you can qualify for until you investigate. Go see your banker or check in with a local mortgage company.  A “ding” to your credit report for mortgage purposes is not the same as a “ding” to your credit report for a new credit card or car loan. Find out now so you can plan. Or, find out now, so you can be pleasantly surprised and can start shopping for a new home.

Do Not, I repeat, Do Not make any large purchases until after you close on your new house.  An washer, a new car, a sofa charged on a credit card will change your debt-income ratio and may cause you to lose the house if you don’t still qualify for that mortgage on closing day.

The whole process of purchasing a house and all of those steps to take along the way are scary.

It is a lot of fun looking online at houses for sale in your town.  It would be a lot more fun to actually look at them in person, on a mission to purchase one. That’s why you need to get a real estate agent to help you from the start.  Once you find out your financial status, start interviewing real estate agents. Don’t settle for the first one you talk to. You are hiring someone to help you make one of the most important, emotional and stressful purchases of your life. Make sure you feel comfortable with the agent you have helping you.  The agent with a ton of sales, and therefore experience, under their belt may not have the personality you need to work with. Find one with a lot of training. Find one you can trust.

So, you pay for housing whether you buy or rent. Which would you rather do?

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors  2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655  662-404-0816 or 662-234-5344 Equal Housing

100 Things To Do in Oxford MS

Oxford can sometimes have amazing weather in January. Average temps are usually in the 50s. So what do you do when the weather is great? Get outside and enjoy Oxford. Explore. Hike. Walk around the Square. Go to the park. Walk to the museums. Did you know there are 100 things to do in Oxford MS?

There are really over 100 fun and interesting things to do in Oxford but when I compiled a list of things to do for my family, I had to stop my list at some point. This is a list I want to share with you and I publish it 3 times a year: Winter/Spring list, Summer edition and Fall/Christmas.

The Winter/Spring 2018 edition of 100 Things To Do In Oxford MS is available. Download a copy of it here, today or pick up a copy from the Visitor’s Center on Jackson Avenue at the Square.

Here’s just a sampling of some things to do and what events you can participate in this month:

January Events

  • Pop Up Oxford January 22-23
  • Oxford Fiber Festival January 26-28

February  Events

  • Oxford Film Festival February 7-11


  • Bike or hike the Whirlpool Trails/Thacker Mountain Rail Trail
  • Picnic on the Grove or Rowan Oak
  • Go Geocaching
  • Play golf or frisbee golf
  • Hike the Bailey Woods Trail
  • Enjoy the Parks: Lamar, Avent, Stone and the skating park on Bramlett Blvd.
  • Take a walking tour of Oxford, a tree tour or get a list of haunted landmarks and visit them.


  • UM Museum, Burns Belfry, Cedar Oaks and others
  • Hang with friends at a coffee or yogurt shop
  • Go bowling
  • Catch a movie


Click here to download list

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors, 2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655  662-404-0816 or 662-234-5344 Equal Housing