Rejuvenating Old Conceptions of Concrete
If you’re used to living in an urban jungle, where skyscrapers tower over you and asphalt streets run rampant, then you’re likely used to seeing concrete everywhere. From residential spaces to commercial buildings and public infrastructure, concrete is a material that is widely known for its ubiquitous influence. In architecture, particularly, we can see trends in the usage of architecture. However, if you want to consider new and fresh ways in which you can integrate concrete into your personal home, then read this article to discover how concrete mixers and a little bit of imagination can bring new meaning to the versatile material that is concrete.
Concrete, because of its association with urbanity and city life, can often be perceived as cold and utilitarian. However, when used correctly, the material can incorporate a rustic but chic kind of minimalism. Not only is it a simple material to source and work with thanks to the wide availability of on-site and off-site concrete mixers, but it is also incredibly durable and cost-efficient. Its neutral tones also allow homeowners more freedom to introduce interesting colour combinations and textures into the space without overwhelming the eye or overcomplicating the overall aesthetic.
Concrete has become more popular in recent years because of its increased usage in minimalist architecture. Minimalist architecture aims to lay houses bare so that the materials and structure of space can shine through. This focus on materials allows spectators and residents to connect more with the essential qualities of their environment. In this sense, simplicity is prioritised over ornamentalism and luxurious excessiveness.
Minimalist architecture is characterised by the use of the following materials: glass, steel, concrete and wood. To complement these materials, designers will focus on showcasing the raw nature of the environment by incorporating a lot of natural light, plant life and infinite, open space that is free of clutter. Pure geometric forms and elevated by neat, clean lines, crisp silhouettes and simple, limited and plain materials.
In most minimalist homes, you won’t see too many corbels, columns, dramatic archways or gables. Instead, you’ll see smooth curves and flat surfaces with straight lines. Furthermore, too much colour can distract from the simplicity of minimalist architecture. Hence, most minimalist homes won’t use bold colour schemes – the space will rather try to imitate organic elements. However, bold lighting schemes are always championed in minimalist interiors.
Minimalism first came about as a popular term in the 1950s American art scene, where artists like Agnes Martin, Frank Stella and Donald Judd explored geometric shapes and sought harmony through paintings that prioritised order and simplicity. Scandinavian minimalism and Japanese Minimalism are two spearheads of the trend in minimalist architecture and interiors. Architects who have been celebrated for their minimalist artwork include:
- Walter Gropius
- Mies van der Rohe
- Donald Judd
- John Pawson
- Tony Smith
- Dan Flavin
- Alberto Campo Baeza
- Sol LeWitt
- Antoine Predock
- Luis Barragan
- Louis Kahn
- Marcel Breuer
Minimalism is a style where we can champion modernity and urbanism through the celebration and stylistic reconfiguration of industrial spaces. Through this, we can see industrial elements being brought into residential spaces, elevated by unexpected textural combinations and innovative features. Some of the most unique and celebrated design features that have been borne out of minimalist architecture are created with concrete, with the aid of useful tools like concrete mixers. Below is a list of some features that bring a chic flair to any space, regardless of whether you resonate with minimalist design or not.
Concrete Features That Bring Flair to Your Home
Concrete Kitchen Countertops
If you’re looking for a stand-out centrepiece in your designer kitchen, then consider concrete. Concrete countertops are popular with designers because they after a unique alternative to the more traditional materials like granite, butcher block, marble and quartz. Unlike these countertops cut from rocks, concrete countertops are poured from concrete mixers, making it easier to mould and shape them into any of the customised, sculptural forms that you desire. Concrete can be dyed to most colours, inlaid with other materials like stones or glass, and poured in any shape – so you have a lot of room for creativity here, not to mention more room in your budget as opposed to if you chose marble or quartz.
Concrete Sinks/ Basins
If you’re looking to move away from mainstream porcelain and steel sinks, then installing a concrete basin or sink is an excellent way to bring a bit of contemporary charm to your powder room. Concrete sinks are completely customisable, so you can find an infinite number of ways to create a basin that suits your unique taste. Whether it be a floating round basin, an embedded square sink in a wooden cupboard, a bespoke fitted sink and vanity, or his and hers double concrete sinks, you’re bound to impress guests with this sophisticated detail. All that’s required is a little bit of water-proofing and sealing, then you’re good to go.
Concrete Feature walls
Not only are concrete feature walls incredibly cool, stylish and structurally intriguing, they are also great for thermal insulation and are incredibly sustainable. What’s more, depending on who you hire and what kind of machinery they use, creating a concrete feature wall should be a relatively speedy installation process with high rewards. While some might think that concrete walls might look uninviting or cold, these feature walls actually create a great blank (but textural) canvas for homeowners to play around with. The neutrality of the feature wall makes any other statements and elements in the room pop.
Concrete patios are extremely flexible and they can be easily tailored to create a distinctive aesthetic in your backyard – this is particularly useful for those of us who love to entertain and host get-togethers outside. For example, you can make over your concrete patio by adding borders and curves using pavers. You can also combine concrete foundations and pillars with deck flooring to create a surprising but warm juxtaposition between materials. You can even paint your concrete, using stencils to imitate diamond patterns, plaid patterns, floral patterns, paisley patterns, stripes, checkerboards, geometric or even abstract patterns.
Concrete is a great material to use for fireplaces because it is highly resistant to rot and it is completely fireproof. With a concrete fireplace, you can marry pragmatism and aesthetic appeal, because they are beautifully eye-catching and incredibly functional. These fireplaces invite nearby visitors and residents to gather around the fire, get cosy and enjoy the benefits of an attractive yet functional environment. Again, you have complete flexibility in choosing the kind of shape and design of the fireplace, as the material is mixed using concrete mixers and then poured into handmade moulds that can accommodate any of your preferences for the mantel of your dreams.
Concrete Columns and Exposed Beams
Reinforced concrete columns and beams were essentially created to carry compressive loads in order to provide structural reinforcement. While they still offer the same engineering benefits, it has also become a more and more popular practice to leave these beams and columns exposed. As people lean more towards the industrial look and style of Bauhaus-inspired minimalist building styles, exposed concrete beams and columns bring in a raw, modern feel that has a cutting-edge sharpness. With the help of advanced technology, you can mix and cast beams that will draw your gaze upwards, bringing visual interest by creating undulating height dimensions that make the space feel larger and more palatial.
Concrete floors are energy-efficient, cost-effective, easy to clean and they radiate heat. Concrete floors are more eco-friendly because they can be produced locally by contractors and manufacturers who can mix the concrete onsite using concrete mixers, as opposed to other kinds of flooring that generally require importing. Concrete floors are also incredibly easy to personalise with the help of dyes, stains, paints and stencils. Joined with the right colours or shading techniques, concrete floors can also be made to mirror clay tile, normal stone, block, and even soil!
Concrete ceilings create that effortless, modern look that goes so well with modern apartments in urban spaces – homeowners can choose to go with raw finishes to suit the shabby chic industrial style, or they can opt for smoother finishes by polishing and sealing the ceilings. Sealed concrete ceilings catch and reflect the light in bright ways, while raw finishes make the space feel warmer and more snug. Either way, it’s always nice to pay more attention to detail by extending your design efforts upwards and onwards. Having your ceilings done up with concrete will create a more personalised feel than if you leave them in their original state.
Concrete Bed Bases
If you‘re a fan of elevated beds, then concrete bed bases are a great option. By integrating the bed base into the floor using the same materials, you can fabricate a seamless space where there’s no space for dust, dirt or clutter to pile up underneath you. Elevated beds are proven to be warmer, preventing you from getting too cold and consequently struggling to sleep. If you don’t have the funds to create this unique feature, then you can even consider using concrete cinder blocks to forge that industrial vibe.
Concrete Pot Plants
Begonias, African Violets, Orchids, Morning Glory, Mums and Easter Lilies are all examples of plants that are very well-suited to surviving in concrete pot plants due to their usual levels of pH in their soil. Unsealed concrete and cement planters in their raw form are porous, which is great for plants that need to release moisture. Using porous planters made from concrete is really beneficial because it helps to control overwatering. These pots and planters are easily created by mixing concrete in on-site mixers, then pouring the fresh concrete into moulds; alternatively, you can mix concrete by hand if you only desire to make one or two pot plants.
Stay On-Trend by Incorporating These Ideas Into Your Home
Interior design is a dynamic field that is always changing. With these changes come new ideas and innovative ways to reconfigure and rejuvenate traditional materials in modern ways. Adapting to these trends is critical not only in the interior design industry and the construction business but also for homeowners who want to refresh their homes and stay relevant. With inventive design experiments, advanced technology, and machinery like concrete mixers, we can transform industrial elements to become stylish and functional additions to our spaces.
The rising use of concrete in residential spaces is one of the most recent emerging trends that shows our willingness to incorporate urbanism, minimalism and utilitarian chicness to our interiors. Gone are the days when concrete looked unpleasant and rough. The functional and durable characteristics of concrete are delicately integrated with elegance and grace thanks to new designs and casting technologies such as concrete mixers, allowing us to discover new ways to decorate our homes.