We received a phone call from a friend and student of ours who, along with his brother, are very successful concrete contractors. Their company was installing an integrally colored exposed-aggregate driveway for a client, and she told them that she also wanted some decorative work done in her basement. They felt this type of work was out of their league (as they put it), so they called us to see if were interested.

Initially, we met with Randy, the client's builder, and he informed us that Lori Higgs, the homeowner, wanted a black and white floor in her basement. The existing floor was concrete but had some chips, spalls, and other problems that would need to be addressed. After listening to Lori's desire for a black and white floor, my mind immediately went into brainstorming mode, already figuring out where we would use a 100%-solids epoxy in black and white, or perhaps a water-based stain. While I toured the different rooms in the newly constructed house, it dawned on me: Was the client even aware of the other decorative alternatives with concrete, such as countertops and stamped overlays? I suggested a visit to our showroom, and although Randy was somewhat reluctant (go figure), he asked Lori if she was interested in taking a field trip to "go see some of this guy's work," as he put it.

Several days later, Randy and Lori paid us a visit. The first words out of Lori's mouth when she came through our front door were "Oh my God!" as she looked at a massive concrete countertop we have at the entrance to our showroom.

During their visit to our facility, my wife Lee Ann took our clients from room to room, explaining what each application was and how it was done. On the tour, she showed them concrete countertops (both precast and cast in place), a wide variety of cement-based topping applications, vertical wall systems, and stained concrete. "You mean that's concrete?" they kept asking. They both kept making the comment, "We had no idea you could do that in concrete."

Several days later, and after I made one more visit to Lori's home, a project that started out as a black and white floor, transformed into something much bigger. It became a decorative concrete contractor's incredible dream project!

After her visit to our showroom, Lori was especially enamored with multiple applications including vertically stamped walls, cast-in-place concrete countertops, and a stamped floor overlay consisting of embedded river rocks to mimic a stream, with interspersed crushed glass. All of these elements were incorporated into her home. We started off in the basement by installing a beautiful stamped floor overlay with glow-in-the-dark aggregate, crushed glass, and recycle marble chipped in to mosaics running down the sides of a faux river bed along with large stepping stones on either side. Then we went on to install four custom concrete countertops in the basement, with the largest one being 80 square feet to accent the new floor. On the upstairs, we installed three bathroom vanity tops, three precast concrete bathtub surrounds with handtroweled finishes, a laundry room countertop and island, a precast counter in the mudroom and in the kitchen, a concrete countertop with stainless steel inserts and trivets and an island top that between the two totaled more than 150 square feet. I almost forgot the vertically stamped wall in the basement and the mammoth concrete countertop (like the one Lori saw in our showroom) that will be part of an outdoor kitchen. All totaled it was 14 countertops. I almost forgot the 2000-square-foot color-chip epoxy garage floor.