KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Jul 19 2010

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Traditionally green

I recently completed a major renovation on a home built in 1800 in suburban New Jersey. The old kitchen was a hodge-podge of small rooms that had been added and subtracted over the years. There were exposed, leaky pipes, walled over windows and an array of dangerous-looking electric outlets in odd places. The homeowners wanted to maintain a classic, casual farmhouse look that would blend with the rest of the home and not appear that the new space looked….well, NEW. They were very interested in being as “green” or sustainable as possible and also saving money on their outrageous heating and cooling bills, due to the leaky windows and inadequate insulation.

It’s often a difficult task to make any new kitchen renovation look as if it’s been there for many years and still have all the “bells and whistles,” like the latest and greatest in appliances. Taking off the “new” edge and giving the space a timeless look is difficult enough, but adding energy efficiency, water conservation, good indoor air quality and sustainability makes for a pretty tall order. And “green” design isn’t generally known for it’s traditional look. Up to now, most of it looked pretty modern. But that’s all changing. It’s now become easier than ever to create beautiful spaces of any style.

Indoor air quality is one of the basic tenets of green design, and I specified plywood with no added urea formaldehyde to make the cabinetry and finished them with a no-VOC-painted finish. The wide pine flooring was from a flooring manufacturer in New Hampshire, so it qualifies as a “local” product. This particular company, Carlisle, practices responsible forestry and uses either recycled wood from old barns or harvests lumber from local forests.

The homeowner wanted soapstone countertops, which is a gorgeous stone that’s enhanced with food-grade mineral oil, so there’s no chemical sealing. But since soapstone is imported from Portugal, the amount of fuel used to get it here had to be considered. We compromised by using a local stone from Vermont called Danby marble in the baking area. Also, selecting the highest tier of Energy Star-rated appliances was another way of trading off in order to justify the imported stone. The use of fluorescent lighting and an undercabinet water filter added more to the sustainability message. Just think of how many hundreds of plastic water bottles that didn’t get used because of the simple addition of a water filter.

Think locally, use what space you have efficiently without adding uneeded square footage, make trade-offs on items that your client can’t live without, and you’ve got a good start on creating a green kitchen that will endure for many years and leave a smaller, gentler footprint on our planet.

You can read more about this kitchen in the September issue of Traditional Home Magazine.

Patricia Gaylor

This entry was posted on Monday, July 19th, 2010 at 6:00 AM and is filed under Green, Kitchen Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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