Inside Job: Concrete Adds Rustic Charm to Kitchens and Bathrooms


Inside Job: Concrete Adds Rustic Charm to Kitchens and Bathrooms



Not too long ago, concrete was just something you stepped on when walking down the street. But today it has become an indoor material that’s as welcome in homes as stone or marble. This versatile building product creates a smooth simple surface on kitchen countertops, bathroom showers, fireplaces, and floors. It’s easy to understand the appeal: Concrete is affordable, a cinch to clean, and customizable in terms of color, size, shape, and design. Check out how it’s being used right now.


A favorite in industrial- and farmhouse-style homes, concrete countertops have a cool, earthy beauty that compliments a rustic kitchen decor. “Its simplicity and clean, natural lines also make concrete work well with modern designs,” says Nicole S. O’Dwyer, of NS Designs, an interior design firm in northeastern Pennsylvania. Concrete can be a very affordable option but beware of doing too much customization, which could land you in high-price territory. To keep things budget-friendly, consider painting, stamping, or stenciling the concrete to create a look you’ll love. “Because concrete is a porous surface, it has to be sealed but it can still show spills and grease splatters,” O’Dwyer says. To be able to set a hot pot on the countertop without burning it, you could add a built-in trivet.


If you want to be ahead of the crowd, install a shower made of concrete. “Though it’s not extremely popular because of the heavy nature of the material,” says O’Dwyer, “you’ll see concrete in more modern homes.” O’Dwyer suggests going with a light gray color. “It works well with silver or brushed nickel plumbing fixtures and doesn’t feel too powerful in an enclosed space.” But no matter what style home you have, there’s an excellent reason to consider a concrete shower: Unlike tile, it has no grout lines — it’s just one smooth surface — making it much easier to clean and maintain.


While you can have a concrete floor in any room, O’Dwyer says a large light-filled space with an open floor plan is best because it helps to make the concrete feel warmer. “Foyers, living rooms, and kitchens with plenty of natural light aesthetically work well with concrete flooring,” she says. Since a smooth, seamless floor can look rather plain, dress it up by mixing it with pigment and adding a cool design.


Concrete lends an organic, earthy feel to a fireplace. To honor that minimalistic nature, O’Dwyer suggests keeping any decorative flourishes low-key. What works: adding a simple mantel or changing the color to something more noticeable. If you want to take it a step further, add materials like stones, glass, or shells, or instead of a smooth surface, go for a textured look for a brick effect.

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