We decided to try our hands at concrete, when we purchased the antique credenza to use in the bathroom and it had a large gouge in the top, thereby reducing the price by a hundred bucks!  We gave each other a wink as I bartered with the dealer, knowing we intended to replace it anyway.  We didn’t want to have to worry about water’s effect on wood, so concrete seemed like the best alternative.

Cement bathroom counter top in progress. At this point we had removed the sides of the mold and completed wet grinding the surface.

Following the guidelines of a YouTube video, we completed our first one with only one problem:  we bought quick-set concrete and it started to harden before we could even smooth out the pour.  Since it was intended to be the bottom, we didn’t worry too much, but Patrick spent the better part of a day finishing it to the shine we could have had in half the time, if we’d paid better attention to the concrete we should have used.

Here's the cement counter top post installation. Notice how smooth and shiny top surface is, the result of hours of wet grinding!

We really did love our finished product and installed it in the bathroom, vowing to make another one, to top a counter next to the front door, where a fake plant had taken up residence with the former owners who lived in the house from 1963, when they first built it, till I purchased the home in 2006. I think these planters must have been the rage because I have lived in two other homes that had them, both built in that era.

Here's where I learned the difference between cement and concrete. Unlike the bathroom counter, the newer counter top is concrete and contains thousands of small stones. Smoothing them out with the wet grinder reveals a variety beautiful colors.

This planter has provided me with a challenge since I moved in. I intended to get rid of it, but soon learned a) it was built into the wall, which would have left giant holes where it stood, in the wall and on the floor and it was also electrically wired with a small fluorescent 20W strip in the top shelf.  In its day, this would have been the ultimate in modern, functional luxury.  For me, removing it would have been a costly fix.  And, as it serves as the entrance to the house, it needs to designate itself as such.

So, I decided to consider it Design Challenge #403 and work with it.  It is as strong as a battleship, so for the time being I covered the planter with pieces of slate and lived with the uneven surface. I painted it the color of the walls to blend it in, and I started dropping hints to Patrick that “I really think a concrete counter top would motivate me to find the antique doors I need to close off those shelves.”  

I don’t know WHAT got into him, but he disappeared one day and came back with a car full of stuff.  “I got everything I need to do the counter in the entrance. I’m going to build the frame and pour it this weekend.”   Lately, we have undertaken projects as solo acts.   We collaborate on the concept, but—depending on the project—one or the other of us executes it.  Heavy (or really skilled) = Patrick.

Here's the completed entry. Notice that I left the sides unpolished. I swear it was an artistic choice for contrast, not because I was lazy!

True to his word, the man made me a counter top!  And this one’s even better!!