Step aside, shiplap: Concrete is having a moment. No longer relegated to construction zones or outdoor spaces, the cool composite material is popping up in unexpected places inside our homes—from walls to bathtubs and beyond.
Concrete wallpapers are doing more interesting things like trough sinks, entire shower stalls, staircases, really large fireplace surrounds, wall panels, or furniture pieces,” says designer Ana Cummings. “The possibilities are pretty endless.”
It’s also relatively cheap, extremely durable, and easy to stain with beautiful colors or texture for flair. Plus, despite what you might think, concrete isn’t just for modern spaces. Experts agree it can be a nice complement to farmhouse-chic interiors; just consider working in rustic handmade metal or wood pieces to warm things up.
“It’s all about balance,” says HomeGoods style expert Mike Harrison. “In general, 2018 décor is moving toward more fresh, natural materials, so I think it’s important to mix concrete with other natural elements like stone, copper, or granite to make it tasteful.”
A few caveats: In the hands of a novice DIYer, concrete can crack. And it’s permanent once applied to a surface, so be sure you love it before you commit! Finally, if you live in an older or historic home, use concrete judiciously, as it can clash with that aesthetic.
Ready to dig in? We’ve collected some of the most unexpected ways to bring concrete to life in your home.
1. On your walls
If you’re all-in on this trend—and live in a fairly modern home—consider adding a concrete accent wall. Then, to add warmth, mix in warm textures like blond woods and soft bed linens.
For a more visually intricate look (and if you’re a skilled DIYer) use a trowel or putty knife to layer on various colors and textures.
“This really adds personality and drama to a space so much better than paint or wallpaper can, because it has the added 3-D element of texture,” Cummings says.
2. On your fireplace
Not into the idea of sheathing an entire wall in the cold, hard stuff? Try just one feature, such as a fireplace.
“It can stand alone as a special feature in almost any interior,” Cummings says.
You can either surround your fireplace with stained concrete or incorporate geometric concrete tiles—which experts agree will be huge in 2018.
3. On your kitchen counters or island
With the rise of the farmhouse-chic craze (thanks, Joanna Gaines!), concrete counters have become a red-hot trend in the kitchen, creating that perfect blend of rustic yet industrial design today’s homeowners are craving.
Concrete counters are the “visual centerpiece” of the kitchen, Harrison says, and there’s no sign of their fading into the background any time soon.
“Concrete countertops are durable, stylish, and cost-effective,” says Lowe’s spokesman Matt Michaels. “You can customize the color, shape, decorative elements, and size, which means the possibilities are endless.
“Concrete countertops allow you to bring any vision to life, which is not always possible with other materials,” he adds.
Want to take the drama up a notch? Instead of an island topped with granite or marble, consider one made entirely of concrete. And as long as you apply a sealant every few years, your concrete can last for decades.
4. In your bathroom
Of course, you can extend the concrete countertop idea in the loo, as well. If you’re a DIYer, consider snagging a topless bathroom vanity and throwing a concrete slab on top, or outfit your space with a trendy concrete sink.
The composite even works well in more unexpected places, like soaking tubs or stained floors.
To keep the vibe inviting, pair concrete elements with natural elements or other materials such as marble. This texture will “really warm up the room,” Harrison says.
For a lighter touch, choose concrete accessories like these soap dishes from Rain Living.
5. As decor elements
If you’re not ready to go all-in with your walls and floors, sample the concrete trend with a few strategically placed decorative pieces.
“Small accents items are fun and versatile in any space—from bookends to candles and even cheese boards for the foodies,” Harrison says.
For an in-between option, consider a concrete coffee table, which you can also DIY if you’re up for the challenge.
Just remember: “Concrete is heavy,” says Monica Mangin, host of Lowe’s DIY web series “The Weekender.”
“We had a homeowner request a concrete table years ago—and we delivered—but when it was time to move, getting it out was a major production,” she says. “Try the trend in small doses at first!”