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!