The countertop is the foundation of kitchen décor, whether you are doing a renovation or designing a whole new kitchen. It sets the tone and feel of the space and perhaps the whole house.

It’s where all the action takes place.

As you would expect, color and material choices are most important. Here are some of the headliners.

Quartz is here to stay: Quartz was introduced a few years ago as a high-end alternative to granite. It is non-porous, making it highly resistant to staining, and it is one of the most hygienic countertop options for homeowners.

Additionally, quartz is extremely strong, making it super durable and low-maintenance.

Quartz now comes in many colors, patterns, and finishing techniques that mimic the look of natural stone.

Textured finishes vs. polished: Even though polished is still the most popular finish, there are advantages to honed and leathered surfaces.

Honed surfaces result in a matte finish with little to no shine. The overall look will vary depending on the stone type, but it generally offers a low sheen and a smooth surface.

Leathered finish has become increasingly popular. It has a soft sheen that is less glossy than polished, and to the touch, it has a different feel.

The leathered finish retains the stone’s natural color, giving it a sophisticated look. It also hides fingerprints and water spots very well, which is appealing.

Countertops with character: Materials like quartz are being designed to resemble slabs of natural stone, like granite and marble. This involves creating veins in interesting patterns swirled into the countertop slabs. These new countertops are particularly popular with varied finishes.

Neutral tones are the new colors: Preference for soft, neutral tones is a common theme running throughout current design trends. The bright, bold hues of Art Deco and mid-century styles are gradually losing place in the kitchen in favor of more laid-back tones.

Today, you are more likely to find soft grey, white and beige tones in kitchens. There is more focus on using neutral backgrounds. So, you might find a beige countertop, with a ceiling-high mosaic pattern backsplash behind it.

More and more, homeowners are opting for off-whites, ashy grays and neutral beige.

Andrea Antunes McGilton is project manager at Distinctive Granite and Marble, with showrooms in Okatie; Lady’s Island; Pooler, Ga., and on Hilton Head Island.