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Crafting modern concrete designs

Concrete can update with color, texture and decorative finishes
by: gail emmerson park

Perhaps you've seen it but didn't recognize it. Stylish concrete is appearing everywhere these days.

Concrete is adding noticeable improvements to Portland-area homes and landscapes.

The sophisticated look is handmade and one-of-a-kind. Finishes include stones, stain, geometric patterns and forms that curve around unique spaces, such as a rounded deck or tight bathroom. Modern concrete surfaces are being used to enhance both outdoor and indoor living spaces.

Lake Oswego concrete artist Benjamin Cunin custom designs and fabricates concrete. His projects are created at his showroom, Coulee Concrete Designs, on Upper Boones Ferry Road. He and his staff construct functional works of art from templates composed at a client's homes or businesses.

'No wall is real straight,' said the 42-year-old business owner and former computer programmer. 'To get things to fit properly we have to build a perfect template before we can begin pouring any concrete.'

Pre-cast concrete can be as bold as one's fancy.

'We start with our clients' ideas, input the functional needs and use that as a springboard for a creative collaboration with unique and personal results.' Cunin said.

Fully trained in Fu-Tung Cheng's work - an award-winning concrete innovator - Cunin recently transformed a Lake Oswego deck at a Southshore residence into an outside living room.

The homeowners installed a Viking kitchen on their custom terrace with built-in supports to accommodate a tailored countertop. Cunin and his team crafted, hauled and installed a hollow swirl-shaped long concrete table. Its sleek, black and bronze finish resembles smooth obsidian. It can be used as a workspace or place to dine. By installing a customized fire table, the outdoors and lake views can be enjoyed on even today's chilly days. To add to the outdoor experience, a matching slide-out dining table is being constructed. It will draw people lakeside near a sky blue hot tub. The concrete sculptural elements are warm and inviting. Though weighty, the additions are durable and as unique as the homeowner's inventiveness.

'We can do it,' Cunin said of pioneering his company's creative possibilities. 'Only the imagination is the limit.'

Cunin can help with a variety of home improvements and design solutions. For instance, bar tops and bistro tables can have an antique look with staining. An orange washbasin with a continuous sand top counter can make a bold statement. A potting shed with a honed drain board and sink can simplify a hobby. These are concrete projects that Cunin crafts at his showroom/workshop.

For more information about Coulee Concrete Designs, visit couleeconcrete.com or call 503-895-2621.

ADVANTAGES OF CONCRETE

Benjamin Cunin, owner of Coulee Concrete Designs, cites the following advantages of using concrete for home improvements.

* Durability -- 'The concrete is fairly porous and air-permeable. It breathes and seals.'

* Colors won't fade. With resealing (now and then), color will continue to look fresh even outdoors.

* The concrete is formed, so it can be shaped in as many ways as can be imagined. If need be, a bench can wrap around a tree.

* Decorative inlays can include cherished family keepsakes or items such as lucky coins cast into the work. Sinks and vanities are custom sculpted and colored to bring sophistication to a room.

* The products are sustainable and made in Lake Oswego.

* Concrete is heat-resistant. 'A soaking tub might be nice.'

* Sinks can be constructed to about a half-inch thick, and countertops to three-quarters of an inch. Some designs can be fabricated in one slick piece.




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  • 21 Aug 2014

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  • 22 Aug 2014

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