Tag Archives: concrete

Jeremy Glasser’s Concrete Countertops

August 29, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann and Jeremy Glasser

Replacing the old tile kitchen countertops of his Morton Meadows home had been on Jeremy Glasser’s to-do list since moving into the house in 2008. When a break between jobs afforded him a bit of time to tackle the project, Glasser went to work creating new concrete counters, which offer an earthy look and tactile feel while also being extremely durable and resistant to heat and scratches.

Glasser did not go this DIY entirely alone, seeking expert advice and step-by-step instruction from the book Concrete Countertops Made Simple by Fu-Tung Cheng. The how-to book also comes with a helpful DVD.

First, Glasser measured the counter space and drew templates for the countertops on 1”-thick melamine board. Then, using the melamine and silicone, he created the forms in which to pour the concrete to set. (Glasser says plexiglass can also be placed inside the forms to offer a smoother concrete finish.) Reinforcing rebar was laid inside the forms to help strengthen the heavy cement counters.

The kitchen countertops before Glasser's project.

The kitchen countertops before Glasser’s project.

Second, Glasser hand-mixed 10 bags of countertop concrete mix and poured the wet cement into the forms. “If I were to do it again, I’d rent a cement mixer, though,” he shares. “One dry/unmixed patch did make it through to the finished product.” Though casual observers might not notice.

Next came settling the concrete. Though Cheng’s book recommends using a stick vibrator to help level out the poured concrete, Glasser employed his “inner MacGyver” ingenuity and rigged up an old motor from an off-balance washing machine to the bottom of the form’s table. The gadget shook out the concrete and eliminated all but the smallest bubbles quite well.

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Once the cement had cured (this took about a week), he used a file to sand down the unfinished edges “because they can be quite sharp,” he adds.

Then came sanding. The process took three passes: first with 320-grit sandpaper, then 800, and lastly 1500, using an orbital sander hooked up to an air compressor. Finding the right paper proved to be a bit of a chore. Glasser was able to procure his supplies at an auto body shop, “though [the paper] was fairly expensive—$40 a box.”

Lastly, Glasser applied a top coat of penetrating sealant and later, a coat of auto wax to the cement for a smooth finish. “You want carnauba wax or something that is going to be food-safe,” he says.

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In all, the project took approximately $300 and about three weeks’ time.

Asked what challenges the countertops project offered, Glasser says creating the forms, which required great care and patience so as to not create wrinkles in the forms, which can transfer to the cement. Also, moving the cured cement pieces from the forms into place. “That concrete was horrendously heavy. You have to have good, strong help to move it into place.”

The natural cement countertops that Glasser and wife Chris now adore in their updated kitchen were well worth the effort.

jLofts on the Market

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Nestled among the quaint brick buildings in the heart of Omaha’s Historic Old Market sits a modern building made of glass and concrete on the corner of 13th and Jackson streets. jLofts on the Market are upscale condos that first went on the market in the spring of 2009, and according to Sandi Downing, the listing agent for the lofts, have been in high demand.

One of the major selling points of the condos is that new owners get to select the finishing touches: everything from the style of hardwood floors to the granite countertops. Downing says the newness of the building, amenities, and concierge services set it apart from other residences in the Old Market. Every loft has a balcony, high-end Bosch appliances, and large walk-in closets. And in a part of town where parking is scarce, the climate-controlled parking garage is a revelation.20130401_bs_9653_Web

The concierge services at jLofts are impressive. The property has a reception room on the main level with package delivery and reception. There are dry cleaning and laundry services available. They will check on your residence and walk your dog if needed. Shoe shine and repair, reservation booking, car washes and detailing, and valet parking are all part of the services provided. The building also boasts a fully-equipped fitness room.

This high standard of luxury comes with a price. The cheapest condo, at just over 850 sq. ft., starts at $239,000. The top-floor penthouses, with 14 ft. ceilings and more square footage than most houses—anywhere from 2,245 to over 5,000 sq. ft.—start at $750,000 and go up to $1,750,000.20130401_bs_9689_Web

Downing says that many people are drawn to the carefree lifestyle of loft living. There’s no yard work or maintenance. Plus, with a thriving social scene just blocks away, there’s always something to do. According to her, “More and more people are thinking of coming downtown,” and adds that the demographic for the building is all over the map: young and old, singles and couples, young professionals and retirees.

“A lot of things have happened in recent years in the Old Market…the Holland Center, the new stadium, the swim trials, to name a few. It’s an exciting time to live in the Old Market,” she says with a smile.20130401_bs_9686_Web

Diane Speck owns a condo at the jLofts and has resided there for almost four years. “I always loved the downtown location,” Speck says. She has lived in other downtown buildings, including The Riley Building, but was waiting for a place like her current loft to become available. She was looking for something in the Old Market that was new and provided the extensive amenities that the building offers.

“I don’t have to worry about a thing when I travel. I park my car in the garage, and I’m set,” Speck says. The concierge takes care of everything, she boasts, which provides her peace of mind.20130401_bs_9665_Web

The location is one of the major aspects that attracted her to jLofts. She is just a brief stroll from international cuisine, bars, two grocers, and the arts and entertainment district.

“Everything I need is right here within walking distance,” Speck says, adding, “I never would have made an investment of this caliber at a different location.”