It's easy to dream, to imagine what it would be like to have a cook's kitchen or a spa bath. From dreams come fresh ideas, and now your imagination is in overdrive. Wow, what you could do.
But to turn those dreams into reality is the tough part.
There is a budget to contend with, and if you want to do some of the work yourself, you have to set aside the time, always in short supply. Sometimes it will be a picture in a magazine or a new product that sparks your imagination.
In my initial “dream” state, I have come across some spectacular designs and uses for decorative concrete. It has caught the attention of designers and homeowners in recent years.
At first seen as a basic substrate for commercial interiors and modern lofts, the versatility of the material has opened up its application to decorative styles across the board, from cool urban to traditional farmhouse and transitional plans. All methods of applying color and design work well with concrete; it can be stained, stamped, stenciled, etched and polished; it will take inlays and can be molded to any shape.
For limitless design possibilities and to learn all you need to know about living with concrete, visit www.concretenetwork.com. The site also provides sources for concrete contractors across North America.
This is where I met Kristina and Steve Silberman, owners of Absolute ConcreteWorks, www.absolute concreteworks.com. They worked on a stunning project that shows off their company's vision: fusing art with function. “The concrete starts in liquid form,” says Steve, “so there is boundless opportunity for personalization.” In this kitchen, themed “A River Runs Through It,” the flowing design on the concrete surfaces literally runs around the kitchen, beginning at the island, along the kitchen counter and sink (all one) and on the counters on either side of the range.
The coloration has been etched into the concrete, pulling from the homeowners' palette they chose for the slate floor and kitchen cabinetry. Geodes have been embedded in the concrete. (You could embed stones or shells from your property.) The concrete is polished, sealed and finished with a coat of wax. Hardwearing, practical and beautiful, this is concrete re-created.
Whatever your home projects and dreams are, it's time to make at least one or two of them a reality. Here are a few tips:
Set your goal. What do you want to have at the end of the project? More room, an updated look and a different use of existing space are all attainable on any budget.
Consider your budget. Depending on the project, you will need to account for building materials, labor, new or repurposed furniture and decoration. Time off from work counts too, and delays are inevitable.
Plan your project. Do this twice. Once for an overall plan of what is required to complete the project, and then a more detailed, step-by-step plan that covers each section, including shopping, ordering, hiring the trades and professionals, and the time lines.
Prepare for the impact on everyday living that the project is going to have. Make allowances for the space that is temporarily out of action, and create a backup strategy while the work is being completed.
Weather considerations. While there is no way to predict the weather, if you are planning an outdoor project, you will need a period of dry weather, so try to plan when your area would have the best chance to realize this generally unpredictable situation.
Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Travis on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis, and visit her website, www.debbietravis.com.