This project was commissioned several months after winning the client’s confidence by designing and crafting a feature fireplace surround as a highlight to their living room, which set the tone for a major house renovation.
The aim of the renovation was to make the home they had purchased a few years earlier truly their own by adding their personality to it and so the owners subsequently asked us to create a “wow” feature for the powder room, containing beach glass collected from the family’s favorite beach in Hawaii.
Through consultation with the owners and the cabinet maker, a design for the cabinet and vanity top was proposed, tweaked, finalized and approved, which then left us to figure out the technicalities of producing the mold for what we had envisioned: A craftsman-style concrete countertop with a 3” high textured edge highlighted by recessed lighting embedded directly above it, with a domed area incorporating the beach glass back-lit by fiber optics below a glass vessel sink.
To maintain the aesthetics and balance of the countertop, the maximum thickness of the top was to be 4 1/2 inches. The textured edge of the countertop, designed to provide ambient lighting, was made curved, to better catch the light and cast shadows across its face. It was 3 inches high. A 1-inch rectangular edge profile ran around the top, which housed a recess for a low profile track lighting and a 1/2-inch rectangular edge profile balanced the bottom face of the counter.
Because certain sections of the counter were less than 1/2 inch thick, the project was done in one piece with GFRC, using forton acrylic additive and 19 mm AR fibers. An integrally colored face coat was sprayed on the inside of the mold, and the back coat was poured in and completed with foam recesses to house the lighting mechanisms. The top and backsplash were sealed using EAP, an epoxy-based satin-finish sealer applied with an HVLP turbine sprayer.
A 3/8-inch diameter copper tube was shaped to fit around the domed section and then chromed, to match the pop-up drain and cabinet hardware. A backsplash with the same profile and textured face runs across the back wall, below the large mirror and an overhead chandelier provides additional lighting to the room.
After several brainstorming sessions, and drawing on technical experience gained from experimenting on past projects, the mold sections were devised and assembled in approximately 20 hours by one person. The pieces of beach glass required eight hours to hand-prepare by a second person who flattened one side and glued the 104 lighting fibers individually to the glass using fast-setting two part epoxy. Spraying and pouring were completed in two stages in approximately 4 hours. Removal from the mold, final finishing and sealing required an additional 10 hours, with installation taking two more hours, for a total of approximately 42 hours.