I grew up in the ‘concrete jungle’ of New York City, where my experience with concrete was the bruises it caused on contact with the neighborhood kids’ knees. Not an endearing history with the material.
Fast forward to now, where concrete has made its’ way inside, paving the way (sorry) for a trendy, industrial style interior. Perhaps this phenomenon started with the renovation of old industrial mills as living spaces. Homeowners and home decor experts have found innovative ways to use concrete in unexpected items such as lighting, furniture, wall tiles and even wall coverings. Using the material for flooring and countertops is a natural fit.
Concrete floors are an affordable flooring option and can mimic more expensive natural stone. There are unlimited colors, textures and patterns that can be custom designed, but I love the signature gray color of the natural material. I would suggest adding a semi-gloss sealer to give it a refined finish. Remember you want to be creative with this material so that it does not look like a garage floor. Layering wood tone furniture and soft furnishings in a room with a concrete floor adds warmth and plays off of its hard edge. Contrasts of material always create the most interesting interiors. Another suggestion for us Vermonters is to add radiant heat beneath the floor for a cozy living experience. Concrete floors are easy to maintain and clean, and a wonderful choice for people with pets or allergies. And, when you get tired of it, it is easy enough to carpet or tile over it.
Consider concrete countertops as a change from the usual granite choices. Concrete countertops are handcrafted and give you the option of customization. They can take on any shape and interesting materials can be embedded in them such as glass, nailheads, you name it. The choices are unlimited. But do consider hiring a professional to create your countertops. There is a steep learning curve for the process, making it a difficult ‘do it yourself’ project.
Concrete is not quite a “Green Building” material yet because of the enormous amount of energy needed to produce Portland cement and the large quantities of CO2 the production of concrete emits. But there are strides being made to find substitute materials to reduce the amount of Portland cement with recyclables such as post-consumer glass.
If you want to see a fine example of a concrete countertop, visit Seasons Restaurant in Manchester and ask Paul Bogassian to tell you his story about creating the beautiful countertop at the bar. It was a challenge, but so worth it.
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