Personalization increases aesthetic appeal and real estate investment for homeowners
From high-value homes in the San Francisco Bay Area to sprawling mountain homes in the Colorado Rockies, discerning homeowners demand custom designs and finishes in their kitchens. In particular, they seek to express their individuality and distinct design preferences with the fast-growing design material of choice: concrete.
In fact, concrete countertops have become a kind of
status symbol for kitchens, rivaling granite and other
final countertop surface options. Consumer Reports Magazine
(August 2004) ranked concrete highest for “customization” and “uniqueness” among high-end kitchen countertops.
As a custom product, the amount of time and labor required to produce concrete countertops ranks them as the most expensive and labor-intensive of the top countertop materials.
However, concrete countertops are becoming more accessible to those on a modest budget. The latest do-it-yourself (DIY) trend to captivate homeowners and builders is building your own concrete countertop. This phenomenon has gained popularity in large part due to Cheng’s best-selling book Concrete Countertops: Design, Forms, and Finishes for the New Kitchen and Bath (Taunton Press, 2002). According to Cheng, there is little monetary investment in making concrete countertops, but the creative gains from working with concrete are plentiful.
Increasingly, homeowners are turning away from the drab, manufactured look of traditional countertop surfaces and choosing concrete for its timeless, earthy appeal. Plus, the options for customizing concrete countertops are endless: you can color, polish, stamp, and stain the concrete or embed personal items like stones, seashells, and fossils into the countertop surface, adding sentiment and character. Functional features such as drain boards, soap dishes, and trivets can also be incorporated to meet the needs and lifestyle of homeowners.
Concrete is slowly being demystified as characteristically cold and industrial. On the contrary, this ancient material is warm and surprisingly tactile; people can’t help but touch its smooth, polished surfaces. Real estate agent Joy Rasmussen, who recently sold her mountain home, a short-term investment property in Steamboat Springs, CO, recounts her visitors’ experiences with concrete: “When I had open houses, visitors they gravitated towards the concrete countertops – a lot of people around here have never seen them.”
Joy’s 2,265 sf. ft The mountain home was custom built by her husband, Ken Otterman, along with KJ Otterman, president of Classic Special Custom Homes. They built poured-in-place concrete countertops for the home’s kitchen and three bathrooms using Concrete Countertops as a guide. Sand-colored concrete countertops were polished smooth and then combined with natural slate in various colors, including charcoal, rust, and gold tones, which form the backsplashes in the kitchen and bathrooms. As a design accent, small rectangular slate tiles were added to
the edge of the bathroom sinks, which provided a unique detail to the custom vanities.
When Joy and Ken decided to sell their house, their investment in concrete countertops proved its worth. “We were able to list the house $20,000 above market value and had no problem selling it,” says Joy, as she surveys the long list of upgrades throughout the home, including solid knotty pine doors, natural slate accents on hardwood walls and floors. “The concrete countertops were without a doubt the most unique and impressive of all the finishes. I think they were an important part in
adding value to the house. Around here, all you see in homes is granite countertops, and I really think home buyers are falling asleep to granite.”
“Concrete countertops are a unique offering for homebuyers who see the same finishes used in home after home they visit,” explains Joy, offering her insight as a seasoned realtor. “Having concrete countertops almost gives you bragging rights: You have something different from your neighbors.”
BREAK THE MOLD
Another advantage of concrete is its adaptability in modern or traditional environments, especially when combined with other materials such as various metals, wood or stone. “Concrete adds so many [possibilities] to stone, and the combination with slate, which is very popular here, gives the mountain houses an overall warm and natural feel,” says Joy.
Joy and Ken have since built a much larger home (4,000 square feet) that offers expansive views of Steamboat Ski Resort and is intended to serve as a long-term investment for the couple. They’ve also expanded their list of custom finishes, including hand-finished walls, sleek oil-rubbed bronze hardware, knotty pine doors that arch at the top, cabinets in a natural knotty alder, and their favorite: solid wood kitchen countertops. concrete.
Unlike his previous home, KJ and his specialized team poured charcoal-colored countertops using the precast method into the unfinished basement of the new home. Before pouring the concrete, they sprinkled a number of semi-precious stones into the mold, including leopard skin, moonstone, mother of pearl, and turquoise. After lightly grinding and polishing the surface, the end result was a stunning color combination. “By far the mother-of-pearl was the most amazing,” says Joy.
The L-shaped concrete countertop has a rough, rustic stone look, complementing its rugged country setting. An integral drain board and trivets add functionality and added interest to the concrete countertop. Natural slate backsplashes, distinctive wall accents, and a butcher block countertop on the kitchen island resonate with the traditional warmth and earthiness of concrete countertops.
Joy and Ken’s respective backgrounds in real estate and custom home building, and as investment home buyers, have helped them realize that concrete countertops can add tremendous aesthetic and financial value to a home. Concrete’s “wow” appeal and customization is unlike any other countertop surface. Cheng is a proponent of emotional aesthetics and building houses that capture these emotions, as in the case of Joy and Ken Otterman. Cheng concludes, “People really want differentiation, something personal, something personalized, and concrete can do that for them.”
For more information on concrete countertops, visit: http://www.ConcreteExchange.com/