Ideas for using Concrete in Interior Design

Posted by Samantha Drury Shore on

Concrete wall and kitchen counter with sink and potted twigs

I suppose concrete could be considered a divisive material. I might even go so far as to put it in the "Marmite" category (i.e. you either love it or hate it, for those outside the UK).

In my younger days (by which I mean the late 1980s / early 1990s when I was growing up), I remember thinking of concrete as nothing but an eye-sore. A material I associated with unfriendly industrial facades, run-down shopping centres and monolithic multi-storey car parks. This gem was in good old Southend-on-Sea:

Concrete multi-storey carpark

I don't know whether it's my aesthetic sensibilities that have changed, or the way concrete is used, or just the wider design dialogue (or realistically, a combination of these, and other factors besides), but now I adore concrete. The look of it, the feel of it, the different finishes.

So I thought it would be fun to put together a blog post with various ideas for using concrete in your interior design schemes. I've been scouring Instagram, Pinterest, and my personal "self-build scrapbook" folder for hours (don't say I don't treat you). Here's what I've come up with... 

Found via BuildIt Magazine:

Open plan house interior with concrete pillar

This project by Patalab, "The Gables" (also known as my dream home) is a converted mechanic's garage in North-West London. The ground floor is almost entirely open-plan, around an enclosed staircase, and the floor is polished concrete.

Open plan house interior with sunken seating area

The feature pillar I believe is original, and just so striking, don't you think? I actually gasped out loud the first time I saw it. The sunken seating area is right up my street too. I adore this place.

Found via archiscene.net

Entirely concrete living room with open fire

Concrete wall and kitchen counter with sink and potted twigs

This extraordinary property can be found in Swiss Alps, where it was originally a shelter for local farmers. Architects Georg Nickish and Selina Walder really have used concrete at every opportunity and still managed to create a cosy bolt-hole.

Entirely concrete bedroom with rock face outside the window

Built in concrete bath

I love the way the texture of the concrete echoes the rockface outside the windows. I find the bath an especially beautiful feature. I would say the bedroom feels slightly too austere and cell-like for my taste, but I still love how striking the look of the overall home is. 

Entirely concrete bedroom with bare bulb. Double bed made up in white.

Assuming you don't live in a minimal cottage in the Swiss Alps, this much concrete is probably a bit unrealistic for most people's homes. Taking it down a notch, how about a concrete floor? I found this via MCK Architects in Sydney: 

Large kitchen with concrete floor, glass walls and black breakfast bar

And this one via Trijntje Visser on Instagram (always great to have a colour coordinated kitty):

Black kitchen with polished concrete floor and a grey kitten leaping across

If you're not quite ready to commit to great swathes of concrete in the form of walls or floors, you could consider a concrete fixture, such as a bath, sink, bench or fireplace? All of these images came via UP Interiors

Build in concrete bath tub with towels and sponge

Floating concrete sink with large mirror

Floating concrete bench with potted plant and grey cushions

Living room with view over forest. Concrete fireplace and comfy chair

That view in the last image - be still my beating heart!!

If you're looking to experiment with concrete in just one room of your home, I'd say the bathroom is the place to do it. If you prefer a slightly more rustic vibe, check out Maison Kamari by React Architects

Minimal shower room with white walls and concrete floor

 Or this super modern option (via Meir Australia):

Modern concrete bathroom with white bath and shower running

The amazing bath tub below can be found in a penthouse apartment in Antwerp, designed by Vincent van Duysen. Concrete is used throughout, so well worth checking it out (here). 

Large concrete bath tub

I hope you've enjoyed my little inspo round up. And please, if there are any images you don't feel I have credited appropriately (more copyright info at the end of the post), do drop me a line. 

If you love the idea of bringing some concrete into your home, but renovation work is off the cards, why not take a look at our collection of concrete interior accessories. I'm sure you'll find something you like...

Concrete rhino ornament on shelf

Alphabet of concrete letters

Concrete tealight holder with lit candles with a small potted succulent

Concrete Dachshund ornament

Black concrete dala horse held on a flat hand

 

Grey concrete dala horse

Concrete numbers making up a date with flowers in the background and wedding rings in the foreground

Grey concrete moose ornament

Collection of grey items: concrete tray, reusable coffee cup, wash cloth, ceramic pot and silicone coaster

Now I suppose I must come to the large grey elephant in the room, and that is that concrete as a material is not particularly environmentally friendly. Obviously, sustainability and 'green' materials are something I care deeply about, and in this way I would say my love of concrete is rather... conflicted.

The main issue is the high level of CO2 emissions associated with the manufacture of Portland cement (a major component of concrete, along with water and aggregate). Though my understanding is there are definitely conversations and research occurring around reducing these emissions and making the manufacturing process more sustainable.

Another issue with concrete's external use is it can prevent drainage and therefore contribute to flooding, though of course that's less of a worry if we're talking interiors. In other good news, recycling of concrete is now much more common these days, so it is less likely to end up in landfill once it has fulfilled its current purpose. I suppose as with everything in life, in the process of choosing concrete as a material, one would need to bear these environmental factors in mind, and make your decisions accordingly.

Also, speak to your builder or supplier about more sustainable alternatives... they might know something you don't, and if not, the more voices there are expressing a demand, the more attention the industry will be likely to pay.  

Lastly I would say, as with any interiors project, try and think for the long term, rather than following fads. The longer you keep something for, the less its overall impact is. So take your time and invest in something you can cherish for years to come. 

Additional image copyright info:
Photo 2 via Ian Reynolds on Pinterest.
Photo 10 by Willem Rethmeier.
Photo 12 by Morten Holtum. 
Photo 13 by Funksjonelt.
Photo 14 by Mikael Lundblad. Project 'Gold & Gray Aparetment' in Stockhom, Sweden, designed by Richard Lindvall. 
Photo 15: Project Forester's House and Service Building in Grimeton, Sweden. Designed by (and photography courtesy of) Petra Gipp Arkitektur.
Photo 16 by Damien De Medeiros.
Photo 18 by Koen Van Damme.
Photos 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27 copyright White Black Grey / Samantha Drury Shore. 
Photo 21 by MOXON London. 

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