DIY and BYOB are two of my favorite acronyms. That’s do-it-yourself and bring-your-own-bottle for those of you new to the lingo. Sprucing up your home doesn’t need to be expensive or traumatic, and it can definitely be fun and inspirational. The occasional bonus adult beverage doesn’t hurt anything either.
So, is it time to renovate your kitchen or redo a section of your yard? Many people not only don’t realize the multipurpose uses for concrete around the home, but they also don’t know concrete is actually a sustainable building material. It’s durable; it uses one of the most abundant minerals on earth, limestone, as its main raw material; it’s energy efficient; and it also produces very little waste.
Plus, it’s cheap and a friendly DIY material. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Why would I want that ugly grey material plastered somewhere on my home? Concrete can actually look very classy and modern when done right. Don’t believe me? Check out the home tour I did of Jake Built’s Mountain Modern Home where he used concrete in beautiful ways.
Ready to get started? Check out these five clever uses for concrete in and around your home. Some are easy DIY projects, and some are a bit more involved, but they’ll all leave your neighbors green over your eco-friendly style.
- Mosaic Retaining Wall
If you have a section of your yard that would benefit from a little shade, investigate glass bottle and/or mosaic retaining walls. After visiting Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, one of the best-kept secrets of Philadelphia, I’ve been dreaming of building one of these walls myself.
This isn’t a project for a single weekend, but it holds the possibility of a creative outlet for your entire family to show off their decorating skills. Pull out powder pigment to mix with concrete and start saving your wine bottles to reuse in the wall. Plus, this is a fun way to show off your sustainable skills to the neighborhood.
If you feel overwhelmed by building the entire wall by yourself, you could also call in some experts to build a simple, basic concrete retaining wall and then build off of their structure. You can watch them build the wall while you work on emptying one more bottle. Purely for crafting purposes, of course.
- Heated Sidewalks and Driveway
You might love the snow, but we all hate to shovel. Concrete is one of several types of surfaces that allow for the installation of a heated driveway system. Your best bet with this, of course, is to hire a professional. Nothing about this project screams DIY.
The ideal time to install a heated sidewalk or driveway is when you’re ready for an entirely new driveway. Yes, you can have a system installed under an existing driveway, but there’s an increased risk — obviously — of damaging your existing driveway.
- Fireplace Wall Treatment
If you’ve got eclectic taste or really love industrial modernism, you’ll love the clean look of a concrete wall treatment around your fireplace. You can leave the concrete its natural color, dye it, sass it up with a mosaic, or acid stain a pattern onto it.
Since a fireplace should always be the focal point of the room, don’t be shy with the sass. This is another opportunity for a little DIY action. I’d hire a professional for the actual construction, but if you have kids, you could talk the contractor into adding their handprints to the wall.
- Kitchen Countertops
Love the look of granite countertops but not the price? This is another area where concrete will not only save you a bundle but allow room for your own creative taste to take the front seat.
When redoing your kitchen, check out all the options for coloring concrete. Ruby red countertops for your black and white kitchen aren’t impossibly out of reach. You can even create a more vintage look with the right sort of staining.
- Concrete Block Decor
Inside or out, concrete block decor pulls us firmly back into the DIY category. A few standard but fun uses of concrete blocks are:
- garden planters (perfect for apartment balconies and inexpensive)
- fire pits
- raised bed gardens
- outdoor furniture (think tables, benches and bars)
If you’re brave enough to transition concrete blocks into indoor use, I’ve seen people opt to use blocks for:
- desk legs (just throw a plank across the top for a tabletop)
- bed frame
Just remember to watch your toes if you use these inside. There’s nothing quite like stubbing your toe on giant manmade rock.