An email from Jay:
I know that honey oak is not the thing now, but our cabinets are new and the budget is really tight. Can you suggest granite colors that would work with natural oak in a small condo kitchen with no windows and very light challenged?
You had me at "no windows" Jay! Take a look at quartzite in a white. It's the lightest stone that is also durable. Ask for that. OR, get the classic black and white granite. I cannot think of the name, but it looks fine and is very inexpensive and has a light appearance. Quite "busy" however. There are also many cream colored granites which might fit the bill.
All that said, I'd prefer that you look at engineered stone instead. Caeserstone, Cambria, Zodiaq, are engineered stones that are more solid in color and perform better than most granites. While you're looking, also consider IceStone, which is made from 100% recycled glass or ECO by Cosentino, another eco friendly engineered stone material made of 75% recycled content.
Some of these materials look very close to granite, but in your case, the visual consistency of this type of material will work to your benefit, helping your kitchen appear more spacious....and just easier on the eyes overall in my opinion. Granite may be a knee-jerk reaction, understandably for many, but please be open to other materials for the reasons stated above. I am not sure if you can get some of these materials in 3/4" thickness, but that would help the budget.
Find a kitchen design professional to help you with getting a quote for your countertop. He/she will handle all the details for you and make suggestions that will enhance the countertop design. Trust me on this. A kitchen design professional knows the little tips and tweaks that other sources for your product generally do not care about or know about. There will be a significant difference in the quality of the details and installation when the specifications are handled by a kitchen designer.
I almost forgot...whatever material you are seriously considering, please do yourself a favor and get as large a sample as you can get and proceed to put food substances on it and let it sit overnight. Give it a variety of tests...food, scratching, etc. to understand the properties of the material under stress.
This is Caeserstone, Champagne Limestone, which I love and have used before.