Concrete beautifies the home

The versatility of concrete is not just restricted to the large structural elements of buildings. You can actually go to Town when it comes to finishings and furniture for the home.

Outdoor furniture, pool surrounds, water features and planters have long been favoured as uses for pre-cast concrete. But now, concrete has moved indoors with a flourish.

Cement baths and basins, vanities and shower cubicles grace contemporary bathrooms. Dining tables, coffee tables, fireplace surrounds and mirror frames make a solid statement in living rooms. And the kitchen makes the most of concrete's functionality through the use of solid counter tops, sinks and splash-backs. Throughout the home, cement floors and walls create a modern rustic look that, through the application of specialised topcoats and pigments, are water- and steam-resistant, durable and scratch-resistant.

One of the companies making the most of concrete's versatility is Cape Town-based Stoneform. The Stoneform factory manufactures a magnificent range of steel-reinforced designer products for wet, dry and outdoor areas. Specialised colour screed applications include custom-built baths made to match or complement walls and floors. Their vanities and deep kitchen counters - ranging from 40mm to 120mm in thickness - are made to order according to each individual requirement. Finishes include smooth, stucco, pitted or etched, sealed with a multi-layer top coat to provide an attractive, low-sheen effect that is water-, oil-, scratch- and stain-resistant.

An excellent combination of materials for durable furniture is wrought iron or stainless steel and concrete. Pedestals for the modern tabletop basins lend themselves to being fashioned from concrete that is pigmented and sealed to match the décor. Swapping concrete table supports for wrought iron, glass tops can be replaced with concrete slabs for a more chunky effect. For an old fashioned 60s look, table slabs can be inset with mosaic or ceramic designs and for that distinctive Mediterranean feel white terrazzo cement will do the trick.

Concrete can also be combined with other materials to change the properties of the material. For example, Igneous Furniture, located in Johannesburg, has taken the hard-wearing qualities of concrete and mixed them with the lightweight qualities of resin to produce furniture that has the comparable weight of timber. The fluid nature of the poly-concrete lends itself to the creation of both organic and geometric shapes that are both practical and comfortable. The material's colourfastness and corrosion-proof qualities make their furniture ideal for high traffic indoor and outdoor use.

Cemcrete, established way back in 1973, has been researching ways to make concrete and its derivatives a more dynamic part of the home and they now have a wide range of products and applications that do just that. Floorcrete is a coloured cement-based self-levelling floorcovering that comes in eleven trendy colours. Decocrete is a cost-effective textured material that is used for the artistic creation of rock finishes. Satincrete provides a warm luxurious finish for walls in kitchens and bathrooms and now there's Texcrete that can be used for artistic panels, headboards and to embellish boring doors.

Examples of how Texcrete can be used around the home

Particularly here in Africa, the aesthetic appeal of concrete has yet to be fully explored, but there's one thing for sure, with all the technological advancements in additives, the future will not be bleak, but distinctly colourful, for this amazing material.

Article by: Bev Hermanson - DESIGN> MAGAZINE