An affordable substitute for pastel Formica boomerang laminates? Two new designs with potential

turquoise laminate from arboriteHoneydew Tulle by ArboriteArborite has two new laminates in their 2011-2012 collection that just popped onto my radar. I haven’t seen these as actual samples yet — I’ll order them this week. Meanwhile, I wanted to put them out there, because I know that many Retro Renovators have been left kind of up a creek since Formica discontinued their pastel boomerangs. These two new laminate designs — one that looks to be channeling both blue and aqua, and the other with a soft avocado vibe — have some pattern to them that provides additional dimension along a long run of countertop, and it appears that the textural pattern does not ‘scream’ one era over another. That is: It looks like it would work fine playing along with a retro theme. The aquamarine or turquoise is called Sky Tulle, and the light green, Honeydew Tulle.


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  1. Lynne says

    Laminate counters are so maligned these days, I have to wonder if the companies have just stopped trying. Honestly, some of them are hideous. Last summer, I was really hard pressed to find just the “lesser of the evils”. The stores weren’t even keeping their little sample selections up to date. Everything I thought might work was discontinued, and they hadn’t bothered to update their samples with anything that might be new. The guy kept saying “No one wants Formica any more”

    • says

      Lynne, you are right. We were just at a Home Depot where they still had all the Formica Aqua Boomerang samples still hanging on the wall, as well as others that had been discontinued. So not good. 🙁 I wish Formica would give our beloved Boomerang back to us!

    • pam kueber says

      Yes, the situation is unfortunate, Lynne. I also need to research this, but I have a theory that laminate is “greener” than alternatives like granite and marble. To my understanding, “price” is a proxy for “carbon dioxide.” Low-cost solutions — if they are durable — usually are “greener” than more expensive solutions. However, I need to see if any companies have done complete, cradle-to-cradle Life Cycle Assessments of laminate vs. granite — that is where the truth comes out…

      • Lynne says

        Ya know, here’s the thing. They (the Formica/laminate people) don’t even have to think up something NEW! All they have to do is go back in their archives a few years, and reproduce the old designs. Don’t they have people who research growing trends??

        I had quartz counters in my last house. We went with quartz because you don’t have to seal it or anything. It was pretty enough to look at, but I hated it. It was noisy, and cold, and unforgiving. The island reminded me of a big tombstone. We put it in purely for resale.

        • Ally Cat says

          I agree! I am a kitchen planner, and I am appalled at the bias against laminate! I updated my own kitchen (as my previous soggy 80’s cabs were not salvageable) and put in a lovely laminate countertop. Although my kitchen is new, it’s design, color palate and layout are all in harmony with the 1950’s structure., Anytime anyone sees my kitchen they remark on how they like it! Not how it would look better with granite tops. Laminate is hard-wearing, sound insulating and easy on the eyes and the hands! I tell my clients, never let a real-estate agent design your house for you. It’s your house, not the next person’s, so do what you want and need!

      • says

        Greener – good thinking, Pam! I’d be interested in knowing what you find out in your research. I wonder, too, how much beautiful land is eradicated by the “harvesting” of granite, etc.

        I agree, Lynne – laminate (the good designs we like) is always so much prettier than countertops made out of rock. And of course, the laminate that is made to look like your countertops were made out of rock aren’t very pretty, either. I’d love to see the boomerangs back again. But what I’d really love is for them to figure out a way to bring back the laminates with the gold flecks in them!

  2. Bepsf says

    Sad thing is – so many folks have been sold on marble and granite, but they want them to be as carefree as Formica…
    …seems to me that what folks really want is Formica – but are afraid of getting it because their real estate agents and TV decorating shows keep telling them that they have to have stone.

    • Jason says

      I can not agree more!!! During my renovation I picked out white appliances and Wilsonart HD laminate and all my friends said “oh you didn’t get stainless steel” and “oh you didn’t get granite?” It was so ridiculous.

      I was happy to not spend the money on a bottom of the line stainless with no options, not even a self cleaning oven and a rip off cheap granite contractor and have nice slightly more than bottom of the line appliances (not much because I’m not impressed by such things) and custom laminate counters. Most importantly I bought what I wanted!

      The stuff people do because of what their friends think, etc. is ridiculous and you’re 110% right – they say oh the stainless is easy to keep clean and granite is no problem – when at the same time they’re trying to find a way to keep fingerprints off the fridge and stains out of their counters. When all they really need is good durable materials which also look very nice which I can tell by the compliments on the counter before you tell them what it is!

  3. says

    Our house from 1949 has the original countertops and they’re holding up well. I cannot imagine getting stone or the faux stone people are putting in now. It’ll look hideous soon, and the other stuff, whatever you call it, you can’t even set anything hot on. What a nuisance!

  4. Ann-Marie Meyers says

    One of the remodelers I have been talking to about my kitchen can get Arborite, so I have sent for the two samples. Thanks for the great news. I think Sky Tulle might work great in my kitchen. I sent for two samples of that one. One in satin finish, and one it diamond, which is a supposedly fingerprint resisting semi-gloss. I am not sure about that one. We have hard water, so gloss is usually a no-no around here, but I wanted to see it.
    I think the color will go great with my earthenware, Franciscan Tulip Time. If it does, I will bite the bullet, and start the project as soon as I get my tax refund!

    • pam kueber says

      I’m eager to see how you like it, Ann-Marie. I’ll be ordering my samples tomorrow from the PR folks…

      • Ann-Marie Meyers says

        The samples arrived yesterday. Now comes the tough part. Deciding which color is best in my kitchen. During the day, I like the Honeydew, but at night it looks a little sad. The Sky may be the safer way to go. I have to experiment with the lighting in my kitchen. Maybe some under cabinet light cable thingies.
        Either way, I do like the diamond finish better than the satin, although the difference is not big enough to warrant a large price increase.
        I will wait until my tax refunds come in (one cannot even be mailed in until later this month), then the work starts. Photos will be taken, of course.

  5. jeanne says

    Just to add to Laura’s comment….my Formica counter tops have held up just fine from the 1960 remodel of my 1952 home.

  6. Jordanna says

    I like the Honeydew Tulle, but you’ll have to excuse me if I never refer to it as avocado Formica. Just because the mockery would be severe.

    I love greens. Avocado will do, but what I really want is JADITE laminate in a real jade-ish bright blue-tinged cold shiny green, but it doesn’t seem to exist. As it is, I’m looking at various formica marbles. I have the impression, possibly deluded, that laminate “marble” was a thing in the ’50s? Fake stone is the only thing laminates seem willing to actually provide.

    My husband actually likes Graveyard of the Atlantic but partly just because he finds the name hilarious.

    For those of us who skew more ’30s-’50s than ’50s-’70s, are there any particular colors/patterns we should be thinking for countertops? I love the look of tile countertops for that period, but can’t convince anyone else and no one seems to install beautiful tile counters anymore. 🙁

    • Ann-Marie Meyers says

      I agree with you on the tile counter tops. They were popular for a while in the late 80’s and the 90’s, but only in very neutral shades, and they used lots of colored tiles in the past. I can’t even find any tile places that carry bright shades any more.
      So, I gave up on that idea, and went back to the old workhorse of the era, laminate. You really can’t beat it. It cleans up well, you can wax it if you are obsessive compulsive, and if you accidentally ruin it, it is fairly inexpensive to replace; just difficult to replicate in the right mid mod shade and pattern.

  7. Pat M says

    Pam, Would you comment on Corian? We never liked granite or stone, but what we disliked about other surfaces were seams and edges by metal framing: Areas for collection of dirt and crumbs. Groady! I value the under-counter sink non-edge and the wrap-over counter edges for cleanliness.

  8. neca says

    Don’t give up on Formica! We just moved and my husband was able to order 3 5×12 sheets of aqua boomerang laminate at a little over $100 apiece. Your big box store may not have them, but look for a local Wilsonart wholesaler – they are still out there and we didn’t experience any price gouging. Good hunting!

  9. Pat says

    I hate granite and quartz, give me Formica any day! I heard that granite is going out of style already. If not Formica, then real butcher block.

  10. Jay says

    What nice soft colors with a subtle all over design. Wish it was available a few years back when I went with an off the shelf laminate from Home Depot. Hey I happen to like neutral colors. Laminate is an economical finish however everyone seems brainwashed these days by TV and realtors. A house down the street is for sale and I have to admit, the combined kitchen and dining room with its granite and stainless will probably sell the house in today’s market because many buyers won’t consider anything else. I think most people would look at my kitchen from the 50’s and run out of the house screaming. I remember the person who came to lay the vinyl floor commenting that I must be renting! What a &*%!.

  11. Karen Day says

    I just received my samples in the mail yesterday, and they appear a little lighter than shown in this post (at least on my monitor). Both are beautiful, soft shades. The green is lighter, more a combo of lime and mint, with maybe a slight avocado tinge. The aqua is gorgeous, would be perfect for our kitchen.

    On a side note, the house next door recently sold (the 90-something owner died) to a flipper. I have watched with dismay as this house is being “updated”, ie. the pink and blue bathroom sinks, turquoise kitchen laminate, turquoise built-in wall oven, etc. ripped out to be replaced with the standard modern stuff.

  12. Jackie says

    The “sky” might be what I’m looking for, but I also noticed that Arborite has a color called “Blueberry Linolite” that looks like marbled linoleum in a nice darkish royal blue. Apparently, this is the only color of the “Linolite” still in production, with several other colors discontinued. Again, you might be able to find some sheets of the discontinued colors with a wholesaler.

  13. Emily says

    I ordered samples of the Sky Tulle a couple of weeks ago. It is lighter, than shown on the computer with a pale aqua. It’s very cool and I haven’t seen anything else like this around (I’m not into the whole “boomerang” pattern). I’m just wondering how much it would cost to have these installed in my kitchen, considering the company is located in Canada.

  14. says

    Just ordered my Sky Tulle samples in high gloss. Can’t wait to see ’em! I compared it to the discontinued Aqua Boomerang Skylark The Skylark definitely looks brighter and clearer, but I’ll have to see it. I got a quote from a company about the Aqua and they wanted A LOT OF MONEY for it, so we shall see. Do you think it is possible that the former manufacturers of the Aqua are deliberately building up interest and demand by first discontinuing and then possibly bringing back the product?. That is the reason I am hesitating on purchasing my countertop laminate-I’m am keep hoping it will be brought back.

    • pam kueber says

      No, I think that Formica discontinued it because it was not selling in enough volume to merit production and distributions measures… Be sure to read all my stories about laminate options in Kitchens / Countertops category, in the navigation above.

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