How To Use Concrete In A Traditional Kitchen

Concrete's use in​ kitchens and bathrooms may still be considered relatively "modern" design-wise by some homeowners. But while concrete can be used to​ create a​ modern or​ minimal look, it's also perfectly adaptable to​ a​ more traditional setting - where it​ was so extensively used in​ the first place.

Concrete can act as​ a​ substitute for more traditional materials. Rather than just using concrete to​ explicitly re-create something from the past, you can also combine it​ with other elements to​ suggest a​ timeless quality. in​ my work, I always strive to​ strike a​ balance between innovation and emotion, between spare contemporary and warm traditional. Adding mosaic tile along the front edge of​ a​ concrete surface, inlaying bits of​ tile along a​ backsplash, or​ even embedding a​ fossil in​ a​ countertop all connect us to​ the past.

A California cottage we recently renovated moved from "traditional" to​ "transitional." a​ large concrete curved wall and counter boldly separates the living room from the kitchen. Meanwhile, a​ stainless steel integral sink countertop straddles one wall- yet, by inlaying glass tiles into the backsplash and inserting a​ traditional plate holder in​ the cabinetry, enough balance is​ achieved to​ avoid a​ conflict of​ styles.

Let's take a​ turn-of-century "Craftsman" style kitchen for a​ hypothetical example. The cabinets would most likely be frame-and-panel with flush inlay doorframes. There would be wood wainscoting in​ the dining area and perhaps tile around a​ single porcelain sink. The lighting fixtures might have beveled glass or​ echoes of​ Tiffany lamps. What concrete application would be appropriate in​ this situation? I would look into one or​ more of​ the following ideas in​ combination:

- Choose an​ earth tone color or​ natural gray. No bright colors.

- Keep the front face, or​ thickness, of​ the countertop at​ a​ minimum of​ 2-1/2" up to​ 5".

- Inset "panels" into the front face of​ the countertop to​ reflect the cabinet doors. These panels would be no deeper than 3/8" and would measure approximately 1/3" to​ the height of​ the front face, or

- Recess the appropriately sized or​ proportioned ceramic tiles with some embossing on them into the face of​ the countertop or​ into a​ cast backsplash.

Allow the recess to​ be at​ least 1/4" in​ depth.
- Mosaic tiles in​ groups of​ four separated by 1/8"-1/4" spacing could be placed on the countertop surface as​ inlaid "trivets" next to​ the stove burners. (In the mold, they would be placed face down on the bottom of​ the form.)

- Line the drain board into the sink with tile or​ marble.

Now I wouldn't want to​ use all of​ the above accents - just enough to​ carry a​ complementary flavor to​ the Craftsman look and feel. The concrete itself is​ earthy enough to​ carry that load. It's up to​ you as​ a​ homeowner or​ designer to​ add the touch that personalizes and enhances the piece. in​ some cases, for instance, the overwrought "traditional English manor" kitchen, usually full of​ elaborate detailing, can use a​ touch of​ restraint - the concrete counter with a​ simple ogee edge detail and a​ complementary white porcelain farm sink might just be perfect.

as​ they say, it's all in​ the details.

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