Tops in Pennsylvania Farmhouse That Look Like Wood and Leather

The owners of this historic farmhouse are used to guests admiring their beautiful kitchen with its wood counters and leather island tops — but the admiration turns into amazement when guests learn that they're actually looking at concrete.
The clients wanted a traditional, organic surface with a distressed rustic look that fit with the historic character of the house. They sought a distressed wood look and feel, but understood that wood is difficult to clean and less than ideal for areas exposed to frequent contact with water, such as a sink counter. Concrete solved these practical challenges and allowed for a unique and expressive surface that is completely at home in this farmhouse kitchen.

Jeff Kudrick, managing partner of JM Lifestyles, created a worn leather look for the kitchen island, and used a distressed wood surface for the remaining kitchen surfaces that he had already developed. The forms are created by casting rubber molds and filling them with fiber-reinforced concrete mixes such as Cheng DFRC and and Xtreme Series by SureCrete. The coloring effects were accomplished with SureCrete's EcoStain, and to give it a long-lasting durable finish the entire project is sealed with SureCrete's PC12 Concrete Sealer. The project was completed in about 4 weeks.

The look the clients wanted fell perfectly in line with JM Lifestyle's wood plank system, developed over their 20-plus years in the decorative concrete business. In addition to perfecting the surface look with a lengthy finishing process, JM Lifestyles used its expertise with other materials to complete the project. Inlaid iron nail heads and dovetails create the illusion of individual planks fastened together, while embedded iron clavos (decorative nails) accent the flamed edge detail of the island.

Technical challenges for the concrete fabrication of this project include creating a unique custom color and skillfully accommodating countertop level changes to allow full window operation. Metal details were added to make countertop seams "purposeful" and completed the overall rustic, well-worn theme of the farmhouse.

JM Lifestyles' Pennsylvania farmhouse work was awarded the Best Decorative Finish at the 2010 CHENG Concrete Exchange Design Challenge for their wood finish concrete countertops in this year's design challenge. Fu-Tung Cheng, head juror, said of the project, "These faux finishes were done so well that even after looking at many other projects in detail, we could hardly believe it was concrete! The judges recognize both the skill required in the execution of these pieces and the company's ability to remain responsive to a wide range of styles and client tastes. Great job!"


Xtreme Series mixes by SureCrete
SureCrete EcoStain 
SureCrete PC12 Concrete Sealer
Inlaid iron nail heads and dovetails
Embedded iron clavos (decorative nails)