New countertops can also make a significant difference in the kitchen, says Doug Storey of Two Storey Building in Bolton. Stone countertops usually run $80 to $100 a square foot, he says, but there are some really nice laminates out there now, too. I did one in a vacation home that looks like mahogany. Nancie Dangel of ND Design Inc. in Cambridge advises checking out other materials, even at the higher end. Im leaning more toward composites myself, she says, or glass or various other surfaces. Butcher-block end grain has come back. The more you beat it, the better it looks. All you have to do is oil it. Ive gotten really tired of granite.