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.
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:
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.