4 Surprising Places Concrete Can Improve Your Interior
We have long been big fans of concrete in interiors. As design trends begin gravitating toward more nature-inspired interiors, concrete is a fantastic material to use. Not only is it relatively inexpensive, but it’s also incredibly versatile.
We’re used to seeing concrete in more industrial-inspired themes, but more and more you can find concrete in everyday homes as a cool, earthy accent.
For people who love DIY, concrete is especially exciting because there are endless things you can create using concrete. And you don’t need a contractor’s license or years of professional experience to be able to create something really special. You just need a little patience and a few tools.
How Is Concrete Used in Interior Design?
One of the biggest places you’re going to see concrete is on the floors. Concrete is fun on floors for a few reasons, but one of its main appeals is the natural discoloration and imperfection it sports from the get-go. Concrete has a unique lived-in look whereas you have to wait years for some other materials to develop a patina.
One way to put concrete on the floors is to put down a slab of concrete and steal it. This becomes a very industrial, sturdy floor. You’ll get some natural weathering and changing over time which will add to the concrete look. In our opinion, this just adds to the fun of concrete.
We like these types of floors in spaces that have high traffic because they really stand up to wear and tear. Concrete floors are also fun in studios or craft rooms because they clean up great when you end up with a mess all over them.
Because you can stamp a concrete slab to look like brick or have a pattern, you’ve got a ton of style options when you’re creating concrete slab floors.
Concrete tile is also something we’re seeing a lot in DIY right now. People are making their own DIY concrete tiles for their bathrooms, especially.
By buying a mold and creating concrete tile slowly over the course of a few months, people are home crafting inexpensive custom tile. We’ve seen some stunning bathrooms featuring these concrete tiles—definitely something to try if you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to do custom work in your home.
You can actually tint the concrete in these tiles so that is not a cold grey, and though that’s an extra step for you, it might be worth it to have something that perfectly matches the rest of your design palette.
It might surprise you, but yes, you can put concrete on the walls in your home. If you like that weathered and textured look, you can apply a concrete skim coat to your walls.
The concrete skim coating process can be time-consuming and a little bit tricky, but you do end up with a very elevated and earthy feeling in the coated area.
One of our favorite places to add concrete skim coating is to a fireplace. If you have a built-in fireplace that is just drywall, adding the concrete skin coating gives a unique texture to the drywall that’s super subtle but stands out just a little bit.
If you want a similar look to concrete skim coating but not the hassles that come with actually putting concrete all over your walls, you can add a roman clay treatment or do something called lime washing.
You hear a lot about lime washing when it comes to people painting the bricks on the outside of their homes, but you can use also lime wash in your interiors to add a real old-world feel to any space in your home. Limewash also has tons of color options that concrete skim coating does have.
Like with anything new you do in your home, you’re going to want to practice before you commit to an entire wall. There’s definitely a finesse and technique to lime washing, adding roman clay, or skim coating.
It’s also worth noting that if you’re going to add a concrete skim coat to your walls it is going to be very difficult to remove down the road, where is limewash you can just paint over.
Now there is more of a 3D texture associated with a concrete skim coat, but if you’re planning on selling your house, consider the fact that concrete skim coating is not a look that’s for everybody, so it might be smart to stick with lime wash if you’re not in your forever home.
What Looks Good with Concrete?
The really amazing thing about concrete is that it’s incredibly versatile, so many different home styles easily incorporate concrete elements.
Because concrete is a natural stone, it’s going to play really well with transitional design, mid-century modern design, cottagecore, and pretty much any other design style.
Depending on what design style you have in your home, you may want to add more or less concrete, but a little concrete can go a long way in any design style.
We really love the stark contrast that comes with placing concrete next to a warm textured linen. The juxtaposition between the concrete as a hard earth material and the linen as a soft earth material is just really beautiful and pleasing to the eye.
We also think concrete goes really well with brass and metal elements in farmhouse design or industrial design. The balance you can achieve by pairing these two strong materials together can create some very bold statement pieces in your space.
We’ve seen coffee tables with concrete tops and black metal legs that look absolutely phenomenal. These two elements are both really bold and strong but manage not to compete with one another. Instead, they compliment each other.
Another element we love placing with concrete is live plants. There’s something really lovely about a lush green plant pouring out of a concrete planter. It’s once again that juxtaposition of two natural elements that are so very different from one another that creates something that’s very visually interesting.
Whenever you can create something interesting like that, it catches your eye and keeps you engaged. Concrete planters are a go-to when it comes to styling in almost any design style.
Things to Avoid
When it comes to materials that concrete does not play well with, there aren’t a lot, but we do recommend not putting concrete with another stoneware because the two materials may begin to conflict, and your room may start feeling really flat and monotone.
While it’s totally fine to have a concrete tile floor and some stone decor up on the countertop, you probably wouldn’t want to put concrete and stone and all sorts of other rocky materials together all in one space. You can spread them out around a larger room to create some cohesion, but the more you pile them together the more chaotic your spacing feels.
We also don’t recommend concrete on concrete on concrete. Instead of feeling really up-scale and thoughtful, when you have too much concrete in one place it just starts to feel like a warehouse.
What Colors Go Well with Concrete?
The great thing about colors and concrete is that there are different colors of concrete. While most of your concrete is going to be in the greige (beige/gray) range there’s enough variation that you can create both warm and cool color palettes with your concrete.
If you’re using concrete as the base of a space on the floors or the walls, you’re going to want to be really conscious about what tone the concrete has. We really like a classic gray concrete, but a slightly warmed-up version makes a fantastic neutral that really blends in well with your space.
If you have a warm tone concrete base in your space we really loved pairing it with tans and creams as well as some soft greens and muted blues. If the concrete in your space is cooler, we like to pair it with a navy or black as well as some deeper greens or some warmer colors like a mauve.
If you’re looking to add concrete elements to your home through your decor, you really can’t go wrong. Any color that your concrete decor is going to come in is going to be considered neutral, and you can really work to incorporate those neutrals into any space. If you want something that feels a little more seamless go for a concrete that’s the same undertone as the majority of your decor.
So, for example, if you have a really warm house with lots of creams and browns, go for a concrete that has a slightly warm undertone to it. But if you’re looking to add some juxtaposition to your space, consider adding a true gray concrete item to your warm decor to really ground the space and give it a small element of interest.
DIY Concrete Decor
If you want to add concrete to your home and you love DIY projects as much as we do, there are so many fun concrete projects you can do in your own home.
First, it’s important to note that there are tons of different types of concrete you can buy at the store. Some concrete is really smooth, and some concrete is really rocky. So make sure that before you start your project you know exactly what kind of concrete you would like to have, and then purchase the right kind. We’ve messed up more than one project by buying concrete that’s just a little too pebbly.
If you’re going to be taking on a big concrete project, you’re going to want to invest in all of the right tools. You’re going to want to professional concrete mixer—and no, we’re not talking a cement truck, we’re talking a hand mixer—and you’re also going to want a few large buckets, protective eye and face gear, and probably some gloves.
For smaller concrete projects you don’t need all of that stuff, if you’re just making a few small decorative items, you can mix the concrete in a small bucket with a paint stick. But we would still recommend a mask and protective eyewear.
We think that the easiest project to start with for concrete beginners is a concrete planter. You’re going to want to purchase a silicone mold from a craft store or online. You want something that is made of silicone because your concrete won’t break when you remove it from the mold.
The first time we tried this project we just started with something really small and worked our way up to a larger size pot. We recommend buying really smooth concrete for the first time you try this project out, and then working your way up to a more pebbled concrete if you’re looking for something that feels old and antique.
Pouring a concrete planter into your silicone mold is really simple. You’re going to mix a small amount of concrete following the proportions listed on the back of your concrete bag and then you’re going to let the concrete set for the amount of time that the back of the bag recommends. It’s that easy.
If you want to spruce things up, you can add pigment and dye to your concrete to change the colors or add unique designs to your planters.
For any concrete DIY that you tackle after this, from planters to tiles, the process remains pretty much the same. You’re going to want to find the mold, preferably made of silicone or another stretchy material, and then you’re going to want to fill it with concrete and follow the instructions on the concrete bag.