Andrew, what are the dimensions?

Is it small enough to afford stone or wood? All (good) stone and wood are $$$$. Stone counters break things easily. Wood would be way cool.

Don't rule out laminate until you've seen the hundreds of color/pattern choices that are out there. I will make fun of you only if it immitates something that it is not, like wood-grained vinyl-clad speakers. A punchy solid color of laminate could do it for you.

Mondo cheapo: paint grade ply, primer, 3 coats (oil-based) paint, 3 coats poly.

When any effort is made to make a manufactured material look like it's made from a real material, Bob cringes, then laughs.
Always call the place you live a house. When you're old, everyone else will call it a home.