Concrete Island Warms Up a Contemporary Kitchen

Earth-toned concrete countertops harmonize beautifully with black cabinetry and stainless steel
By Anne Balogh, columnist

This kitchen remodeling project is the perfect example of how concrete can be adapted in color, shape and finish to suit any design requirement. In this case, the owners of this contemporary kitchen liked the look of their black cabinetry, mirrored wall panels and stainless steel appliances and fixtures, but they wanted to add a touch of warmth. They also liked the oval "racetrack" shape of their existing kitchen island, but wanted to give it more drama. Their designer recommended concrete as the ideal material for the kitchen island and countertops, for aesthetic reasons as well as practical ones. The concrete could easily be formed to accommodate a drop-in stainless steel cooktop and undermount sink, and the new concrete island could be installed right over the existing one, with a cutout formed for access to the dishwasher. But the design feature that really won the clients over is the island's striking 6-inch drop edge, something that could only be achieved with cast concrete.

Dave Grech of Trueform Concrete, Denville, N.J., is the artisan who custom built the 8x4-foot island and 34 square feet of concrete countertops. All of the pieces were precast at his shop and given a hand-troweled finish to impart a natural look and feel and unique texture color and variations.

Grech says that one of the benefits of concrete is the ability to make it virtually any color. Trueform blends it own iron-oxide pigments, offering an endless range of colors, including custom color matching. For this project, the clients chose a warm, earthy taupe shade. "The kitchen designer brought the client to our showroom, and she instantly fell in love with the look," Grech says. "They selected the color and finish pretty quickly, since it went so nicely with their black cabinetry and stainless steel sink and faucet."

The island top is 1 ½ inches thick and the 6-inch apron is an inch thick. The island was cast as a single piece, with a steel grid embedded to provide extra reinforcement. While this resulted in a seamless surface, the size and shape of the piece made it a challenge to transport and install, Grech admits. "We couldn't fit it on our A-frame so we used a box truck and transported it flat. Extra hands were definitely needed. Sometimes making and transporting pieces this large can really be challenging, but seeing it in place and seeing the client's thrilled reaction makes it all worthwhile."

Eco-friendly focus

Trueform specializes in concrete countertops and vanity tops, sinks, fireplace surrounds, tabletops, and more. All of their pieces are custom made by hand. In addition to the craftsmanship that goes into their work, Trueform is dedicated to making eco-friendly concrete products that use sustainable materials and fabrication processes.

"We utilize all local vendors for the ingredients in our mix designs, one of which is a recycled pozzolanic material," says Grech. "We also have extremely precise mix designs, so barely any concrete is left over after we pour. Any leftover concrete is then used to make samples, so there is literally no waste."

Trueform also uses minimal amounts of water during their fabrication process, and to reduce fabrication waste, they reuse molds and form-making materials whenever possible. Trueform can also incorporate recycled materials such as post-consumer glass, metal and porcelain. To seal and protect their products, Trueform uses only environmentally safe products. On this job, for example, the concrete surfaces were sealed with a product that is food safe, contains no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and does not require any maintenance or waxing.

Trueform Concrete
Rockaway, NJ 07866

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