Interior Obsessions – Concrete

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After last week’s look at how to incorporate collections into your home, I am shifting gears pretty drastically and taking a look at a specific material that can be found in virtually every home – concrete. Let me begin by clarifying a bit of vocabulary. This is not cement. Cement is the powder used to create concrete, along with water, some type of aggregate rock pieces, and chemical admixtures that produce concrete of differing quality and density. Typically, concrete is found in the home as either part of the foundation, be it a slab floor or footings that carry the structure into the ground, or exterior slabs like patios, driveways and sidewalks. But concrete has become a popular material for home interiors as well. Its versatility and formability has brought it inside to be used for walls, floors, countertops, furniture and accessories.

Concrete can be finished with pigments to provide an integrated color, can be stained, polished, and ground. White concrete is available, although at a significantly higher cost. Different materials can be added to concrete items, such as shells, glass shards, and stones, and pieces such as metal bars can be set into the concrete before it dries to provide a place to put a hot pot on the counter. Concrete counters have been popularized because of the ease in creating drainage areas that slope into the sink, as well as the ability to make integrated sinks of any size and shape. Although the rougher texture of standard concrete can be a gorgeous foil against sleeker materials like steel and glass, my favorite combination is with natural wood. There’s something about the two together that always appeals to me. But a polished concrete floor has none of that unfinished quality, and can be a great way to refinish a floor whose original surface has become a bit dated. It may be a material you have overlooked that deserves a second glance!

(above) Concrete Walls with a Wood Kitchen and Dining Room

Full-length Trough Sink with Cutting Boards + Thick Double Lavs

Board-formed Concrete Wall

Polished Concrete Bed Surround + Pre-cast Concrete Vessel

Concrete Desk Accessory

Amy wrote this post. She is the designer and owner of FormFire Glassworks, where she creates modern lampwork glass beads and jewelry, and by day designs custom homes for a small firm in Southern California. You can follow her twitter @formfireglass.

10 comments | Click here to reply

Stunning I love it when combined with wood too, the wood adds warmth to it. Just beautiful.

Kathryn Dyche Dechairo | July 21st, 2011 at 11:23 am

Woohoo for the concrete vs. cement clarification! I’m a landscape architect and work on hardscape plans most days, so when I hear it referred to as cement drives me a little crazy. Concrete is a wonderful material to use in interiors. It is inexpensive, can be formed in almost infinite ways, there are many countless finish/color options, and it’s sustainable in that it can later be broken down and reused as aggregate in other concrete applications or as baserock.

I love the visible formwork in the photo with the large door, and the box/pen holder is too cool. Thanks for the write-up, Amy!
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Casey | July 21st, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Casey –

So happy to hear I’m not the only one! It’s one of those little things that drives me batty. I love that wall too, and we’ve had some great results ripping out existing floors and refinishing the slab below.

Modern Simplicity | July 21st, 2011 at 2:55 pm

I love the use of a typical structural material- concrete – in new way. No need to cover up concrete, embrace the material and show it off 🙂
{lovely photos too!}

Ellie | July 21st, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Here in France you open an interior design magazine and you’re sure to see concrete floors, shelves, counters, sinks, etc in at least one of the major homes featured. It’s becoming really popular. My own apartment many years ago had these yucky tiles that I ripped off. I waxed the concrete underneath and that was my floor. Really loved it – half for the look, half because it was so easy to clean.

Apol | July 22nd, 2011 at 6:47 am

You dont need to commit to a specific design style for your home to look fabulous. it sounds like your style, however, is “eclectic,” which means you take design from many different sources. it can be quite charming, if you do it correctly.

modern decor | July 28th, 2011 at 5:12 am

[…] week’s look at the use of concrete in the home directed me towards a more relaxed look at the color palette. Today we’re going […]

Interior Obsessions – Blue Skies | papernstitch | July 28th, 2011 at 10:01 am

I have an friend that is starting a business that plans on building forms for a million different concrete products like these. I think he’s going to stay more on the medium sized end and make furniture pieces. It’s a good idea and I hope it works out for him.

Nashville Concrete | August 2nd, 2011 at 12:19 am

There are some very exciting changes both in the world of construction and design. With the variety of concrete colorings available as well as the use of stamped concrete; the creative diversity of concrete has been increased dramatically. I am curious to see where it goes from here. Thank You! Dave

Dave@Concrete Pumps | August 31st, 2011 at 10:46 am

I never knew how versatile concrete was in home furnishings. I will definitely be looking to use less wood-based furnishings. Thanks for writing!

Erin W. | June 5th, 2017 at 12:33 pm
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