Yes, She Poured Lemon Juice All Over Her Marble Countertops!

Hi Everyone,

Thank you for your input on the grout color for the kitchen tile. We’ll veer off the renovation a bit because I must share a true story about this wacky lady who poured straight lemon juice onto her expensive marble countertops.

I know. But, it’s quite a story and all true.


By now, we all know the last thing we should get on our marble countertops is lemon juice.


Yes, the acids in citrus and many other foods will eat away at the calcium carbonate, but not evenly. What’s left is a horrible blotchy mess. That uneven mess is now commonly known as etching.

So, why would someone knowingly pour a relatively cheap bottle of lemon juice all over her expensive marble countertops? After all, she must’ve had a very good reason.


I did…

Have a VERY good reason.




Yeah… But, I’m sure you already realize that. ;]


Okay, I will explain why I poured straight lemon juice on my beautiful marble countertops.


And then the results.

Remember late last September 2023?


Calacatta Caldia my marble slab
This is my exquisite slab of HONED Calacatta Caldia white marble.

I found the white marble of my dreams for my new kitchen countertops, so I bought it and waited patiently for 2-1/2 months for it to be fabricated and installed.

Finally, on the evening of December 14th, the marble arrived, along with Eric and his assistant.


leathered (not specified) honed Calacatta Caldia Marbletops fixed with lemon juice and sanding!


More than six hours after the two of them left (and actually long before they left), I couldn’t help but notice how weirdly plastic and shiny my gorgeous new marble looked.


See above.

Honed marble is matte. It’s possible, you’ll get a subtle reflection but nothing like this.

In addition, there was this strange, shiny, waxy-looking texture.

leathered marble countertops

This was three days later, during the cremone bolt installation. And yes, that hardware should not have been on the fragile marble countertop like that.


air switch for disposal

Please understand that certain lights only show the texture and weird shine. However, when you see it, it’s terrible.

What the hell did they do to my beautifully honed marble countertop?




Only natives from Braintree, MA, don’t say it like that. They call it leath-ud.


I had never heard of leathered marble until maybe ten years ago or less.  Before I go on, I know that many of you have leath-ud marble or leathered if you don’t have a heavy, non-rhotic R American accent. 

And– you LOVE it. That’s fine. My guess is you have a heavier figured marble, and in that case, a leathered finish in a more rustic or contemporary kitchen would be appropriate. However, it is the last thing I would put in my 19th-century brownstone condo.


Why didn’t you tell us before, Laurel?


I guess I felt a certain amount of embarrassment. I only told them two times that I wanted it EXTRA HONED, and I should’ve reminded them 20 times. Well, I assumed that they understood that this marble should either be honed, perfectly matte, or polished; never leathered. I will not comment further because this lack of _ __________ has been the theme of this entire renovation.

Didn’t you complain, Laurel?


Yes, I complained and got the usual gaslighting; something about the marble has been coming in this way recently. NO, it came IN honed. I saw it with my own two eyes.

However, I kindly asked Eric to come back and fix it and was assured that he would.


Oh, that’ll take ALL DAY, he said.


Sure, if you sand it with a toothpick.

Did he fix it? Well, out of the next five visits it took to do the mantel, he spent about 20 minutes fixing the sink side only. It was better but not perfectly honed. At least he was able to get some of the shine off. And then he resealed it.

Finally, I asked him what I needed to do to fix the counter myself. At first, he said they would do it, but then he told me to get 120-grit sandpaper and to get it wet. And then to get the noxious sealer, which I do not recommend: Dry Treat. Well, you can use it, but first, get a tank of oxygen so you don’t blow out your lungs and liver.


So, after Phillip, the tiler, left and the counters were free and clear last weekend, I decided that this would be a good time to work on the marble countertops.


However, first, I took another tight closeup to see the leath-ud finish on the right side of the range marble countertop.


honed, leathered Calacatta Caldia marble - Please do not leather this type of marble!

Yes, there is more orange peel (and a bit of etching visible) on my gorgeous marble countertops! (Orange peel, like on my beautiful new doors downstairs!)

So, I got to work, and after about 10 minutes, the tile was better, but not better enough.

Oh, did I tell you that the leath-ud marble *etches like mad!

Yes, of course it does. So, it’s already blotchy in some lights. So, what did I have to lose? Nothing, I told myself.

That is when I lost all reason and opened my whiny Bertazzoni refrigerator. (It is going bye-bye very soon) Inside, I found a half of a cut lime.

Dum, dum, dum…

That was a composition Cale made for me several years ago. Incidentally, today, June 18th is my darling Cale’s 34th birthday.


At first, I ran the lime only in one section and wiped it off after a few seconds.


It was uniform and better, so I rubbed it along the entire 20″ wide countertop to the right of Bert and the left of Whiny (the fridge). Then I wiped and rinsed and looked carefully from all directions. It was still totally uniform and looked better every time.

I was out of limes, so I made a solution of half water and half lemon juice from a bottle. I halved it because lemons have a stronger acid than limes. There wasn’t much change this time.


Lemon Juice rinse - Calacatta Caldia


Finally, with the lime strewn to the side, I poured full-strength lemon juice all over my expensive marble countertops. (See above)


Yes, I, the level-headed (haha) Laurel, did the unthinkable.

I wiped off the lemon juice, sanded some more, and rinsed and dried the marble countertop.

However, as I was doing this, I could already see that not only was the marble not ruined, but this experiment far surpassed my expectations.


Calacatta Caldia Lemon juiced and sanded


The marble was beautiful, smooth, and 100% uniform in texture. It was HONED. This is a larger-than-life and very closeup. Those tiny white crystals don’t show and are an inherent part of this marble, a metamorphic stone.

So then I did the other marble countertops and after about 90 minutes was all finished.

Nothing was in the slightest bit uneven. All of the former etching was gone!

The countertops are completely matte and quite clean, I might add.

Then, I sealed the countertops with the sealer we used for the tile. I waited for it to dry and put everything back.

Okay, a few things.


No, I do not recommend trying this on ***your*** marble.


It is possible that yours WILL be blotchy. Mine is not.

Please know that even with the leath-ud finish, I adore these countertops. I adore the marble, but it is fragile. It really is like the proverbial porcelain doll. However, there’s nothing else like it, and I don’t regret for one second finally getting the beautiful white marble I’ve always wanted. But now, it’s even better.




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34 Responses

  1. Well, this was a heart stopping read!!! So happy it worked out for you! Everything is coming together beautifully in spite of some major bumps in the road. This is such a gorgeous reno…be proud!

  2. Oh Laurel, thank God it worked out! My heart stopped when I started to read your post! 😱 You sure had me for a (well
    -ending) rollercoaster ride! 🎢

  3. Would love to hear why you’re not happy with the Bertazzoni fridge. Was considering one for my kitchen reno, but maybe I need to reconsider? In any case, bravo for making the lemon work for you!

  4. I am so appalled at all the mistakes that your “experts” are making in your renovations. Are they doing it on purpose, I wonder. Anyway, you are being kind and very patient with them. Perhaps your GC needs to do a better job, like checking reviews and making sure they are licensed and all that fun stuff, when hiring the professionals.

  5. Unfortunately this happens all too often! The leathered look is very trendy now, but not the look you want (me neither). The white honed shoulders and threshold pieces we ordered for the shower, 2 pieces came in shiny like a mirror. I honestly don’t get it how can they send 3 pieces honed and 2 pieces shiny for the same shower stall?? We only noticed once everything was installed! Luckily the work shop wasn’t too far and as my husband was yelling his lungs out, they sent a young guy who honed it down manually. It looks pretty decent, but not as nice as the 2 countertops which are 100% absolute honed and feel like velvet, they have a powdery feel. Glad you could fix it because it is such a wonderful, elegant, soft look! It does have that aged look to it, like it’s been there forever. Your kitchen is so beautiful!

  6. Thanks for all of the great comments! I should’ve mentioned but forgot because it was a couple of years ago. I have a piece of similar marble that was a scrap from a job. On the honed side, it was super dirty, so I thought I’d use some lemon juice to see what would happen.

    It cleaned everything off and left the stone silky smooth. Having already done that experiment, I realized that it would most likely make my bumpy stone smoother.

    And yes, I did a lot of sanding too.

    Again, I don’t encourage anyone to do what I did. Ideally, if you have a stain or something similar, you should contact a stone professional.

  7. That was very brave of you and an amazing success! I have what appears to be the same honed marble (white with black/grey veining) in my guest bath. It’s really beautiful other than it appears that there was “something” spilled on it that looks like an oil stain. I’m wondering if lemon juice might work?

  8. Wow! That was very brave, and I’m so glad it worked out. Your counters are so gorgeous…really just what I wanted when we built our house a few years ago, but I was scared off by the maintenance stories. I went with a marble-look quartzite which was beautiful in the stone yard, but with my lighting it reads a bit too gray in my kitchen…sigh. However, that stuff is *impervious*! Does not etch, does not stain, does not crack (even when I accidentally bang a pan or something). So to Dee Dee’s comment about people worried about quartzite, no need! (It does have a polished finish however.)

  9. OMG I feel your pain. I also have gorgeous marble counters with etching here and there from my family! I wanted to kill them at the time. The contractors would leave tools and hot sauce on them. I asked repeatedly to please cover the marble! I have heard of people pouring lemon juice all over. I am now tempted! The thing to remember is there is marble everywhere in Europe, in bars, restaurants, train stations, you name it! I would always look down to see the etching. Lots of it of course. They live with it and love it. That’s my only saving grace!

  10. I am getting soapstone and not oiling it. I refuse to be a slave to my countertops and constantly have to baby them. The way people talk about having to avoid using their countertops in a convenient way bc the marble or quartzite is too delicate baffles me. The soapstone will age and weather with whatever we throw at it.

    1. I got soapstone about 4 years ago. They too need a bit of work, but in a different way. Installer said not to oil and they will darken as you use them. It is so true and they are great. Unlike marble they show oil stains that I take out with Greased Lightning spray. And the area under a tray or such does not get enough light to darken. Just move things around. I would not change them for anything!!

  11. I have done this exact thing and was pleased with the results. In my latest project I used a new product called Anti-etch by More, it’s expensive but worth it! Now I can drop lemons or red wine on my calacatta counters and they don’t etch!

  12. This has been such an exciting roller coaster ride – I’m glad you had such a win! (And sorry you didn’t get the right countertops from the get go.)

  13. Lemons ARE miraculous, aren’t they? Well played, Laurel! BTW – every time I see a photo of that curved lower cabinet on the left side of your new kitchen, I SWOON!!! So lovely!

  14. Interested in your “recipe”. I have a polished (wanted and asked for honed…) marble kitchen island that has etched horribly and was thinking that it cant get any worse if I tried your method.
    Sandpaper (grit size?)
    1/2 Lemon Juice and water (from concentrate? Fresh squeezed?)

    Spray, Wait (how long) wipe and sand? Sand and Wipe? Rinse?? I will not hold you accountable


  15. also – my Farrow and Ball French Grat that looked fab with the head cheese countertops looks like a doublemint gum wrapper with my new counters and flooring (I did a wide plank brazilain cherry to match the exsiting floors in the DR and LR and halls)

  16. Ha – we had to redo our kithen due to a mouse snacking on a dishwasher drain house. not broken hearted – my DH had redone the kitchen before we met and it had hard maple floors, honey oak cabinets (custom made but honey oak and he is a wood is good so no painting kind of guy and granite that looked like a cross between blood sausage and head cheese. anyhow the largest piece of granite somehow broke during removal (to get the base cabinets out to get the floor out) wink wink. I picked out a new slab, had photos of it at the supplier. After fabrication and installation I realized the ‘grain’ was running lower left to upper rignt, not upper left to lower right like the slab i chose. Everyone denies switching out the slab but I hate this one. I has little drops of red that look like drops of blood…. nothing i can except take them to court and it would be the crazy lazy vs the fabricator and the supplier. 🙁

  17. Laurel, I have been following you for two or three years, never made a comment, but will now. You are the authority that I go to on everything I think I want to do. You help pushes me.
    I just want to tell you that in 1971, I went to school at a place called “Academe Moderne” In Boston. It was on the second block of CommAv on the side toward the Charles. It was a fashion merchandising 1 year course. Worked at Lord and Taylor. Just an FYI because I don’t have a picture of the front of the school, but I believe that we walked down a couple of steps before we went into the building. I wonder if you know the building. I’m sure it’s condos now.
    Carry on your informative and humorous blog And best of luck in the final stages of your renovation

  18. I only like matt finishes so when I chose countertops for my kitchen and home office, needing to be a matt finish was important in my choice. This is insane that you are constantly having to “fix” what the hired help has screwed up. Happy summer solstice to all!!

  19. Good morning Laurel,
    You are a genius. And very brave! Fortunately it worked out.
    I read once that Gwyneth Paltrow pored tomato juice all over her marble countertops to break them in. WHO knows if it’s true or not.

  20. I can’t believe the number of “mistakes” that have happened recently, but more so, I can’t believe you have kept your sanity! The marble is beautiful and I begin to wonder if my etching would disappear if I poured lemon juice all over mine….I don’t think I have the guts to do it. You are amazing!

  21. I was so scared as I read what you had done , but bravo bc it worked ! So happy that corrected the problem. Wish MEN would listen to instructions more carefully !

  22. Hi Laurel,
    Local NH Designer here. I work with Crown Point all the time, specifically Melissa whom you’ve met. I’ve been following your reno & feel your pain!
    I’m commenting because I had honed VT Danby Marble installed throughout my kitchen & they too came in leathered. I like the leathered look but it was not going to work with my marble because I was having an additional sealant/protection installed. I had to have my fabricator come back to hone them all. Have you ever heard of Stoneguard?
    Check out Final Seal Pros
    It’s been a game changer! I highly recommend them! Very busy working kitchen and no issues!

    Enjoy your new space, it’s beautiful!
    Keri Davidson

  23. Wow, hard to believe all the mishaps in this renovation. I’ve done many renovations on my home of 40+ years, plus many clients’ homes, and have had my share of problems, but nothing like this. I’m so sad for you, after all your planning. But I’m sure in the end it will be absolutely fantastic!
    However, I am baffled by your being able to reverse the leathered finish with citrus acid. Doesn’t a leathered finish produce a bumpy texture which is achieved by diamond tipped brushes? How did the bumps disappear after just letting lemon juice sit on it? Amazing!

  24. Laurel, oh wow, that was risky. My jaw dropped as I read this post. So how did you get the idea to use lemon & lime to re-condition the finish? Had you come across this idea through a previous customer’s reno? Your countertops are beautiful – the kitchen is definitely one for inclusion in one of those big hardcover decorator books, of which I have a few 😉.

  25. Hmmm. Perhaps the weird orange peel texture was the result of a poorly applied sealer, not something done to the marble? I say that because it doesn’t look like anything that can be done to stone easily, but like a heavy handed application with a paint roller.
    In any case, you successfully fixed something that you shouldn’t have had to fix. Brava!

  26. Well done, Laurel! That must have been heart-stopping for brief moments. But definitely worth it. Doing it yourself is the guarantee that you’ll get what you want, but it shouldn’t have to be that way. I can’t believe that what look like sexist attitudes (she’s only a woman, we can do what’s easiest for us, or what we prefer) are still going so strong in 2024. It drove me crazy back in 1981 — “Non madame, techniquement ce n’est pas possible” was the standard response to any request!

  27. How in the world do professional stone people confuse honed with leathered?!?! Sorry you have run into so many snafu’s with this renovation. Glad you were able to solve this particular problem on your own. Even though you shouldn’t have had to.

  28. This is amazing. More proof that creative, hardworking gals can accomplish miracles. If you ever have the opportunity, hire women in construction, electrical and other trades.

  29. Congratulations on the great success of returning your marble to a honed finish. You are a chemist and craftswoman extraordinaire! I had to look up “leathered” as I had never heard of it. Honed is of course the most beautiful. (Maybe not for floors.)

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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