The great thing about concrete countertops is that they are never cookie-cutter. They can be personalized in myriad ways, often using materials that can be found around the house or that might otherwise end up in the trash. As the following projects demonstrate, even something as common as an ordinary dinner spoon can result in amazing special effects. See these examples of what's possible when you let your imagination run wild.

Shotgun shells

Put more "bang" into your countertops by dressing them up with 12-gauge shotgun shells (emptied of their gunpowder, of course). For this stained outdoor kitchen countertop, the shells were used to embellish the bullnose edges. See more photos.

Hand-hammered spoons

Stainless steel spoons, hammered flat by hand and artistically arranged beneath an inlay of glass, form a drainboard for this farmhouse-style concrete sink. The objective was to create something that would be totally unique while blending character with functionality.

Metal shavings

Metal shavings salvaged from the floor of a machine shop can be used to create attractive spiral designs when embedded in the surface of a concrete countertop. Learn more about decorative add-ins and how to use recycled materials in your countertops.

Car gauges

A car enthusiast used concrete to help build the automotive men's room of his dreams. Embedded in the backsplash of the polished concrete vanity are three working car gauges that light up and serve as a night light. Get more details about this one-of-a-kind project.

Stainless steel inserts

Ordinary strips of stainless steel were arranged in the surface of this concrete countertop and sink to create a built-in drainboard and trivet. Get more ideas for creating stylish and functional drainboards and trivets.

Daring Free Spans

Using stronger concrete mixes, special additives and lots of reinforcement, contractors are making countertops, kitchen islands and fireplace mantels that span up to 9 feet or more without support.Unlike typical concrete countertops, which rest squarely on cabinetry or other supports, theselong-span slabs seem to be floating in air. See these examples: 9-Foot Free Span Countertop, Free Span Concrete Countertop Stretches Over 23 Feet.

Custom Built-Ins

Adding drainboards, trivets, cutting boards, and built-in displays or storage can add character and functionality to a concrete countertop or vanity. Drainboards can simply be slats cast into the counter, while trivets and cutting boards can be made of nearly any material, from stainless steel to bamboo. Display cutouts can showcase collectibles, and built-in drawers or shelving in a bathroom vanity provide extra storage for towels and grooming products. See this example: Bathroom Sink with Drawers and Shelving.

Colored Glass

For this impressive kitchen makeover, pieces of glass tile matching a new backsplash were integrated into custom concrete countertops. Find out how it was done here: Concrete Countertops Are Personalized with Colored Glass.

Glow-in-the-Dark Aggregates

A luminescent glow is provided by special aggregates embedded in this concrete island. During the day the small pieces of stone soak up energy and at night they shine like clusters of tiny stars. See more of this project: Going for the Glow.

Concrete Countertops Become an Artist’s Canvas

Only using concrete can you create kitchen countertops that double as artwork. These exquisite custom countertops, on display in a home in Ellicott City, Md., are the result of a close collaboration among an architect, artist, and concrete precaster. The architect, Craig Stewart, designed the home over 20 years ago and was recently hired by the homeowners to remodel the kitchen. It was his idea to involve a local artist in the project.