Crazy idea or artistic genius? (pics included)

graceshanJune 8, 2012

So I have this idea of doing concrete countertops for my kitchen laden with seaglass that we've collected off our local beach. Our house style is coastal craftsman. My husband is very nervous about the idea but told me to go ahead and express myself. I have a concrete guy chosen and he's done some samples for me. I've pretty much narrowed the color down to a sandy tanish (think hawaiian beach). My backsplash is a greenish blue glass... call me cheesy but I was thinking the counter could be the sandy beach and the backsplash the ocean :) All cabinets are white and floors are dark hardwood oak. See pics below. Now that I've set the stage...

I'm thinking the color should be somewhere between the whitish and light tan colors (first two) in this first photo:

I found out he can match BM colors so I'm off to look at paint chips tomorrow to see if I can find the sandy beach color I'm looking for. Any thoughts on the color??

Here's my bigger dilemma... he put some broken wine bottle glass pieces in a sample to give me an idea of what it will look like if I incorporate seaglass. Some of the pieces you can feel and if they are curved parts, there can be little "lips" on the edge. He can fill in some of them to a certain extent but he doesn't want the overall look to be patchy with a lot of fixes. My fear is that since my seaglass is all different shapes & sizes and if I get too many of those lips then food and dirt will get caught in the little areas between the concrete and seaglass. We are doing a huge 13' island and I want it to make a statement but not at the expense of practicality. So I need advice!

He did say I could come help place the seaglass so I can put exactly what pieces I want in there in whatever position. That thrilled me as I'd love to help create my counters first-hand.

I'm REALLY excited about this idea and want it to work out. I just need some input from others to see if I'm being crazy or if this sounds okay.... what do you think?? It's an expensive project to have something turn out yucky. So I want to be sure of it before taking the plunge.

Sample with his broken wine bottle glass:

Here are some more pics of samples next to my kitchen wall and tiles:

Some of my seaglass:

Kitchen layout:

I was thinking of having most of the seaglass in the radius area where people can sit up at the counter and maybe sprinkle out to the other parts of the island. I have 2.5 jars of it and just not sure how far it will spread or what will look good.

Thoughts, suggestions, anything???

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Your pics are showing as broken. Your idea sounds pretty but I wonder if it too impractical food/cleaning-wise?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 3:20AM
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I can see the pictures. Love the colors and love the glass tiles and the sea glass. I'd be concerned about the practicality of having it on the counter. Maybe you could incorporate it into the BS? Maybe you could use it in the edge detail in the seating area? I also think it would need to be fairly concentrated to look good. Not real fond of the sample you show with just a few pieces scattered about.

Love all the beachy colors. It will be beautiful. :)

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 3:32AM
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There is a gorgeous commercial counter top that uses recycled glass in it. I ogled it but did not go for it. It is perfectly smooth. Did I mention- gorgeous!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 6:28AM
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I love the idea, maybe because it is exactly the type of thing I would come up with. (My INTP nature.) --But I don't think it will work in terms of usability. The sea glass is not flat and any attempt to put enough concrete around it to keep it flat would cover up most of the glass. If you leave it more exposed, then the surface will be rough enough that you would have to avoid the sea glass when you wanted to put anything down like a drink, or larger things like plates would rock around. I have some ideas to throw out to fix this:

Leave it bumpy but put glass top over it. Maye the concrete could have a ridge or edge built up around it to hold the glass top? Or top coat with a thick layer of poly like you see in restaurant tables.

I would also double check how far the glass will go. Mark off the area of the island on the floor and then scatter your glass. Will it give enough coverage to get the effect you want?

Jumping to other ideas: Make the radius portion a sand box with a glass top. Then you could put beach sand in there with your glass and any other beach finds. (It is what I did for my coffee table.) Or it would look good if used as the back-splash. Just ideas to get the ball rolling...

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 7:42AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Love the colors and the idea, but don't think you'll be happy with the execution. We have a cesarstone counter that is made with recycled glass. I was wiping the counter and felt something...yup. Sure enough. One of those pieces of polished glass on the surface got a tiny ding in it as glass is not as strong as the rest of the counter. I mean the ding in my case is very small and not noticeable but Murphy's law says that whatever it is that will chip glass, it will find it and chip it.

I too though about using the glass in the back splash a can even make it in a shape or a pattern.

Or use it for a mosaic in hot plates or other decor item to use on the counter top.

Dainaadele's idea of the sandbox under glass is fabulous.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 7:52AM
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I think the beauty of seagglass, which is all about the delicate colors and the light, is lost imbedded in cement. Have you thought about some way to use it with a lightt fixture?

I think cement might be better used with "fossil impressions" of say starfish or shells.

I also love the bottle you posted. In a large glass bottle, you see the light thru the glass.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 8:01AM
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I would be more tempted to do an embedded sea glass feature in the niche I think.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 8:06AM
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I think the beauty of seagglass, which is all about the delicate colors and the light, is lost imbedded in cement. Have you thought about some way to use it with a lightt fixture?

I think cement might be better used with "fossil impressions" of say starfish or shells.

I also love the bottle you posted. In a large glass bottle, you see the light thru the glass.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 8:12AM
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I would find something else to do with the seaglass. I love seaglass, but, like mtnredux, I don't see it looking good embedded in concrete. I do understand that need to have something unique and unusual in your design, but personally, I'd rethink. Love the idea of using it in some sort of light fixture.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 8:14AM
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Love the idea. Dont' think that I'd love it IRL though. Like others mentioned, I see problems with the glass chipping. I think the unevenness will make it harder to clean (one of the same reasons I would never have a tile countertop). I believe that what makes the glass so special is it's "lightness" and the heaviness of the concrete will smother most of that. Agree with the others that you could have an amazing light fixture made which will show off the glass to it's fullest potential.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 8:29AM
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This is a cool idea. I'd use the seaglass in the BS, though. Look at Enviroglas for a recycled glass product if you want to match it in the counter with a professional counter-- they have a zillion color options including custom. I bet that counter would end up annoying you because of the irregularities and cleaning challenges.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 8:56AM
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I assume what you are talking about is grinding and polishing the concrete surface to expose the seaglass similar to terrazzo. If so, it will be perfectly smooth and you can seal the surface with a food grade wax. There should be no problems cleaning other than the typical concrete counter issues that require you treat it more like marble. If you are not planning on polishing the concrete, then it is not such a good idea due to the surface irregularities.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 9:08AM
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A friend has a very high end limitless money kitchen with gorgeous recycled glass counters. They are perfectly smooth. No bumps or edges. The glass is opaque so it shows up.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 9:09AM
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Sounds like such a cool idea, but I'm not sure you have enough saved up to make it work. I agree with Pooppup that it would have to be pretty concentrated to work.

There are so many ways you can get craft and incorporate it into your kitchen. Check out etsy for ideas. I found one store - beach grass cottage - where she made cute magnetic message boards and vases. You could add so many touches with the glass you've collected it would have such a personal feel.

Good luck - can't wait to see what you come up with.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 9:24AM
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I think it's a beautiful idea. We originally were going to go with icestone (which has horrible reviews- thank you gw.) I wouldn't recommend it, but take a look at their website. They show glass bottles, seaglass, etc in their designs. It's just terrazzo. I'm thinking you didn't want it to be very busy. I haven't looked lately, maybe they have something similar to where you're going. Not sure, since I think you're looking for big chunks, not speckles. That being said, we have quartz. It looks *very* similar to what we originally wanted with no hassle. Instead of a whole counter like that, maybe just a section of a corner with seaglass/shells or whatever...

I think that food and junk will get stuck in it. It will be sanded down, but I don't know if that will mar the surface of the bottles a lot (they are seaglass after all.) And, I don't know how far.

Concrete is more porous than quartz or granite or anything like that. He will either seal it or wax it to give it a workable surface. I would worry more about cracking and food getting stuck, which seems to be the most difficult part of it. There were several threads on concrete countertops, including some beautiful ones. They explain some of the problems with the glass, etc.

Oh! I popped in a link for cheng's website. He is supposedly the man for concrete. I believe that there are pictures of something similar.

Either way, if I lived by the beach, I would be all over that same design. I'd love a blue glass backsplash. We are stuck in green trees over here. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: cheng

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 10:21AM
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Like tubeman, I was envisioning that you would embed the glass, and polish the surface to expose the glass. The problem then is that your lovely seaglass will be polished and indistinguishable from broken wine bottles. If, on the other hand, you don't polish, you will have the problems with surface irregularities that you noted already.

I like the backsplash idea, too!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 10:37AM
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I originally posted in Home Building, but this thread seems to have more legs, so this is a cross post - with apologies for all the pictures.

I have collecting pictures of concrete sinks and countertops with fossils and glass embedded in them in preparation for our bathroom remo. There are lots of companies out there that do this, so you might find someone with more experience. Pictures can be deceiving, but the ones below look like they are smoother than the sample you have.

The architect who made our sink (just sculpted contours, no glass embeds) said that other concrete sink makers/artists willingly shared information about the process. So an alternative might be for your guy to talk with someone with more experience.

Finally, check out Fu-Tung Cheng's website for more information and examples.

Here are the pictures, with the websites, plus our bath sink at the end.

These first two are from
From Concrete Countertops

From Concrete Countertops

This is from
From Concrete Countertops

This is from
From Concrete Countertops

Another sea glass example, this one from
From Concrete Countertops

This is not the picture I wanted, but take a look at the website. This company makes beautiful countertops. I just couldn't grab the picture I wanted! (Be sure to use the "gallery.html" extension.)
From Concrete Countertops

Finally, here's our concrete sink. This pix was taken when we were trying to decide what to do about a backsplash. We ended up just keeping the painted wall.
From Concrete Countertops

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 10:38AM
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Here is one more image to consider:

I'd prefer a sort of pattern to the glass, rather than a random scattering.

Good luck, I think it will be lovely!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 11:09AM
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I saw a DYI project for a sea glass backsplash and I can't find it now, but here's two ideas I love from from

Traditional Kitchen design by Boston Architect Siemasko + Verbridge

Contemporary Kitchen design by Boston General Contractor Woodmeister Master Builders

You could also consider adding a clear coating to the finished countertops that can be poured over a surface to protect it. Not sure what the stuff is called, but my DH is considering it to display things on a wood countertop in pub. I believe it dries and forms into a plexiglass like finish, but I am not sure of its durability in a high use kitchen. Just thought I'd mention it for an option.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 12:23PM
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Wow, thank you SO much for all the responses! This helps me so much. I'm definitely leaning away from using it on the countertop directly now. I love the idea of using it just on the edge of the radius seating area.

But the sandbox/glass idea is SO cool. I'm not sure how you deal with the area that is glass covered to the uncovered part. Is the glass flush with the rest of the counters and you dig out a portion of the concrete for the sand? Then just seal the edge between the glass and other counter? Any thoughts on this or how it works? What a great idea!

I also like the idea of using it in the bs niche area. I special ordered my glass tiles though and was really looking forward to my "sea of blue" there.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 12:24PM
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Oh wow, I just saw that seaglass backsplash niche picture that was posted while I was typing... how cool is that! That might work too. Oh my... how to figure this all out by Tuesday!!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 12:26PM
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I am in love with the seaglass backsplash pic that is posted by dilly. I'd do that.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 1:07PM
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I still like the idea of the glass in the countertop, but as others have said, maybe in more quantity, and it should be ground and polished, so everything is flat. Has this concrete guy done countertops before?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 1:10PM
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I love it too. It won't suit my kitchen, but I am thinking it could work between my powder room sink and mirror. Hmmmm.....

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 1:12PM
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I just don't want my seaglass to look all polished or it loses the seaglassy effect... so I'm guessing it would be better suited where it won't need to be polished.

rhome, he's relatively new but has done some nice looking counters (formconcrete . com).

I'm still considering the shadowbox idea. I wonder about the practicality of having glass on part of the counter and how thick should that glass be anyway? At least it could be changed out (and the beach scene updated) at intervals.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 1:22PM
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I have never made anything from concrete, but I would guess: If the rest of the top is concrete, you would have the glass and a "mold" of the area where the sand would go. He would then pour the concrete using the mold and the glass to shape the concrete where needed. After the concrete sets, the glass is lifted off and the mold removed. Sand, etc. would be put in the hole and glass would be back on top and flush with the rest of the counter top. A very thin liner like saran wrap between the two could stop the concrete from sticking to the glass and the mold.

As to the glass thickness, if you gave the dimensions of the are to a glass shop, they would know what thickness for the correct strength.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 5:23PM
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After mulling this over today, I'm leaning toward using my seaglass in a mosaic art piece in the niche over the stove now like the picture dilly posted. I love the look and it would showcase my seaglass nicely!

However, I still wanted to think of something to do with the counters that made them feel beachy. I don't know if I want to do the shadowbox idea as it might get old after awhile and then I'll be stuck with it. And I'd hate to miss out on this opportunity to embed whatever we want into our counters. Any other suggestions or ideas? I was thinking mixing some shells into the concrete mix or something but not sure how that would look. I don't want to get too carried away. Maybe the solid concrete would look best... I just don't know! :)

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 6:40PM
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I really like what you already had for your backsplash. Why not have the concrete guy make you some trivets/cutting boards that you could use the seaglass in? Sort of like the stepping stones you see with mosaics, but on a smaller, thinner scale.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 8:21PM
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Hi Graceshan -
Ironically, I think the concrete looks kinda beachy! Maybe the colours or casualness of it...Or maybe because I always see concrete piers/breakwaters...

Look here:

Go three-quarters of the way down and you'll see a kitchen with concrete perimeter counters and a wood island that kind of looks beachy to me. I don't think you need the sea glass in them.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 9:43AM
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I'm glad you said that pawa... that was my original thought and I've gotten so far away from it. I too think the concrete counters look beachy and I think we'll just leave them as they are.

As for the backsplash, I was thinking of keeping my blue/green subway tiles and then perhaps doing a seaglass mosaic in the niche area only. But now that the cabinets are going up I realize there isn't much space for my subway tiles.

Originally I was going to do subway tiles around the niche and then the mosaic same color tiles in the niche (the ones showing in the photo above). So it's down to this: seaglass mosaic in the niche or the little squares in the niche or maybe even continue the subway tiles in the niche??
Here's a pic of the tile color with seaglass:

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 1:56PM
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Have you thought about dying the concrete a sandy color? I think gray could be beachy, too, but it's a thought.

I think I'd skip the mosaic tiles and just continue your subways into the niche. I love the look of the seaglass in the jar. Your tiles already seem sea glass inspired, IMO.

If you used the sea glass in the backsplash, how do you picture it? Surrounded by a square of mosaic tiles? Free form circle? Other? I'd try drawing it out or laying tiles out to get a really clear picture of your options. The above picture from houzz looks kind of like they filled a glass shadowbox with sea glass and then made a niche for it in the wall.

I'm linking to a pintest page with seaglass. There's a really cool candle holder that might be a potential light idea (as someone mentioned above), and also a shadowbox and window.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pinterest: Seaglass

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 12:08PM
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Yes I'm going to make the counter a beachy color but I'm thinking the tanish beach rather than gray because I think the tan goes so nicely with the blue/green tiles.

So I'm thinking of something like this now:

And perhaps just keep the subway tiles everywhere except where the seaglass display goes. I was going to glue the seaglass on top of each other for a 3d effect. That pinterest page is cool... I love the candle holder!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 7:09PM
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