Mom may have had a laminate top, likely trimmed in chrome. Today, your choices are much more varied, and consumers are installing new, creative looks.
The first company to take solid surfaces by storm was DuPont, with Corian. Since losing its patent, the price of Corian has come down and is currently priced approximately in line with granite. While you cannot cut on acrylics or place a hot pot on the countertop, it is still the only surface that offers a true seamless look.
Granite is still king. Nothing can replicate what nature makes unique in every slab, and granite is still the most widely used kitchen counter in the Wellesley area. Granite is a great choice for kitchens because you can cut on it without a cutting board, and it will not melt if you place a hot pan atop it. It even expedites the cooling of a pie removed fresh from the oven.
Quartz products have arrived. With all the benefits of granite, quartz products are also non-porous, offer consistency in color, and will not blemish if installed with a “honed” or “matte” finish. The major brands are Silestone, Zodiaq, and CaesarStone. The cost is slightly higher than for granite but may be worth using if the color and style fit your design.