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  • To create the effect of a flowing river and a wave-washed beach, this concrete kitchen island incorporates many natural decorative embeds, including exposed sand, rock, and petrified wood. The roughened edge was created from pieces of rock strategically pressed into the mold to create a natural chiseled look.
  • The homeowners selected a large piece of petrified wood to be used as a key design element in the countertop. The river effect was created using acid stains in shades of walnut, brown, and green.
  • The shape of the island and placement of embeds were determined by the kitchen’s traffic flow, lighting, and seating accommodations.

For these Pacific Coast homeowners, a morning at the beach can be enjoyed while sitting in their own kitchen, sipping a cup of coffee. From the drift-wood colored cabinetry to the wood-plank floors, the entire kitchen has a beachy vibe. But the true focal point of the space is the concrete kitchen island, which replicates a flowing river and a wave-washed beach of exposed sand, rock, and petrified wood.

"The wife designed the home with a very organic feel, with natural woods, dark floors, warm neutral colors, and organic textures. For the kitchen island and cooktop, she wanted to create the look of a river running through to a sandy beach,” says Tina Silberman of Absolute ConcreteWorks, who worked along with her husband Steve and the homeowners to come up with the final design.

Using natural materials as decorative embeds were a key part of the design, and the homeowners selected most of the elements themselves. “They actually went to a ‘rock hound’ who collects and sells petrified wood and picked out a piece that spoke to them. We also used geodes, exposed sand, and aggregate to carry out the river and sandy beach theme,” she says.

To determine the shape of the island and location of the embeds, numerous factors were taken into account. “We worked with the flow of the kitchen, lighting, traffic patterns, and space for the sitting area around the island to designate the flow of the river and placement of the embeds. The homeowners wanted their grandkids to sit around the island by the petrified wood piece and play with the ‘river’ with their pretend boats,” Tina says. The piece of petrified wood was placed prominently in a corner of the countertop, where the river begins its journey.

Steve McComb, the shop foreman for Absolute ConcreteWorks, cast the countertop using a glass-fiber-reinforced concrete mix integrally colored with a pebble-toned pigment to mimic the color of sand. He then colored the river using various acid stains in walnut, brown, and green. To harmonize with the organic look of the countertop, it was cast with a roughened edge formed from chiseled rock. “We placed clay inside the mold and then hand pressed different rocks into it to create a textured edge without repetition, like a natural chiseled or broken slab of rock,” Tina explains.

Materials used: GFRC mix design: AR glass, polypropylene fibers and additives from Nippon, gray portland cement from LaFarge
Integral color: Pebble, from Davis Colors
Acid stains: Lithochrome Chemstain from Scofield (in dark walnut, padre brown, and green)
Countertop sealer and finish wax: HydroGuard water-based acrylic sealer, Star Bees Wax Polish from Inter-Tool

Concrete contractor: Steve and Tina Silberman
Absolute ConcreteWorks LLC, Seattle, Wash.

See more projects completed by this contractor: Precast Concrete Wall Panels Mimic Stacks of Books
Concrete Countertops Flow Like a River Through Custom Kitchen

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