The not so lowly cinderblock

Category :Gardens

Part of the designer’s art is to understand the possibilities of materials.  Sometimes they can  elevate materials beyond their original intentions–a piece of wood becomes an incredible piece of furniture…some shiny chunks of minerals become a diamond brooch.

Cinder blocks or concrete masonry units (cmu) are one of the most frequently used building materials in gardens and elsewhere.  They are also usually covered up–often by veneered stone, stucco or paint.  Outside, sometimes they’re used by clever DIYers as planters–those can be quite artful as seen at the Philadelphia Flower Show several years ago.


Cut to the chase…in Chelsea Market in New York, this lowly behind the scenes player is made clean and modern and totally sophisticated.  Combined simply with other materials…brick and granite block…the lowly cmu comes into its own.

Under a counter
As a wall

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  1. Susan aka Miss. R

    Pretty cool, huh? I really hadn’t ever considered it before I saw it used this way. –s.

  2. It shows how thinking outside the box works (ie using the blocks as design elements, rather than just building materials)

  3. Having just visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House (again) this past weekend, I marvel at how he used ordinary building supplies like brick, and by tweaking them did extraordinary things. Outside the brickwork is deeply raked on the horizontal and the vertical grout is dyed the same color as the brick, emphasizing the horizontal. Inside there’s a fireplace of the same brick but the grout is painted with a bronze varnish that makes the whole fireplace glow when there’s a fire. Makes me look at everything differently.

  4. Susan, creative on your part. never thought cement blocks were so useful. neat.

  5. Love it when the patina shows up. Especially when things start to grow in the cracks and crevices.

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