The Kitchen Designer

A Budget Green Kitchen Design

We've all heard that, and if you haven't, you will, that materials for green kitchens can be more expensive than non green materials. So, what, then, for those who need to be on a budget, I'm talking a bona fide small budget, and you want to be green, and you also want a wonderful kitchen? Here are options! I recently wrote about my kitchen, but in this context, it's a different story!

Do what I did

First, let me clarify that our intent with our own kitchen was not necessarily to be "green." Our intent was to be resourceful.  At the time we did this, the green drumbeat was yet to be heard in a significant way. We needed a new kitchen, had some expensive family events coming up, and could not also do the "dream" kitchen, so, we chose to be resourceful and budget oriented. I clearly remember saying these words to myself, as I contemplated our lack of a budget: "You're a designer, design something!"

Looking back, I cannot believe all of the green kitchen design ideas we incorporated into our kitchen as a result of our "alternative" intent.  This kitchen was also sort of a laboratory for ideas for me, at the time, a design experiment!

I rearranged the footprint of my kitchen (somewhat), reused my old cabinetry in the kitchen and elsewhere in the house, reducing cabinetry in the new design, while picking up lots more storage. Instead of cabinetry, I added linen curtains below, on a stainless steel curtain rod, on rings, which effortlessly move, to reveal my pots below on roll out shelves.  Here's the cooktop area with curtained section. A sustainable fabric can be used. 














Our pantry section was not made of cabinetry on the inside, but was very simply made out of wallboard as an architectural statement. We used metro shelving for the pantry because it is easy to see around, has good pricing, and is very durable.  Designing the pantry this way enabled us to only use a cabinet front, another cost savings. Take a look at this post from materialicious for more ideas on innovative uses of common materials.

We added energy efficient windows, quite a few, which adds lots and lots of good light into the entire space, reducing the need to turn on the lights, since changed to flourescent recessed lights.  Since reuse is an important principle in sustainable living, we reused my mother's vintage Danish modern table. We also reused an old, but lightly used, sofa of ours, which now takes center stage in the dining area of the kitchen, and which everyone clamors to sit on it.


chelsea_c.jpgIn this important spot, rather than cabinetry, I designed this simple area with open shelving, convenient to the energy efficient Miele dishwasher and countertop.

More "reuse" in the kitchen: The countertops. In our garage, for, oh, 8 years or so, were beautiful, 13x13 porcelain tiles that I had purchased for another room, and which I bought too few of! There they sat, year after year, until they had a renewed purpose for the countertops and the hood area above the cooktop. I loved them when I purchased them, and I love them now!

I hope these ideas have been a source for good, budget focused, inspiration for a green, and a resourceful, kitchen. It's doable, that's the bottom line. Could I have been even more green focused at the time? Absolutely, and it would have been easy.

One more thing...the budget was stretched even further by my husband doing nearly all the work himself, including, installing all the windows by rigging up a pully system. If anyone wants to know how THAT was done, I'll put together an album, I have the pictures. I'd say we are both resourceful, and you can be too!

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

Kitchens and Color = Spirit!

Breaking News! Interrupting our regularly scheduled green series (again), I had to show you this. I felt like I hit paydirt when I checked one of my usual sources for decorating inspiration, Domino. Wow, take a look at Domino's reader's entries for their first decorating contest. This category is kitchens and dining rooms. You will quickly see that Dominos' readers are NOT afraid of color, texture, or decorative details! How great are these??

It's always so much fun to look at "real" kitchens, especially when you see real individuality in the design. I see spirit in these homes, and that's a special ingredient for a kitchen design that is always worth pursuing. Five finalists will be selected, and will be presented on October 23.  Good work, readers!

Tip: While you're at it, check out the Renovator's Diary blog, by Brooke Williams, also on Domino. I've linked to September's entries, a good look at Brooke's very interesting kitchen.  


Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

White Kitchen - Great Style!

Let's take a brief break from all things green and take a look at a fun, white kitchen! Just cruising around, and spotted this little lovely kitchen on decor8, and I know you all need a kitchen fix, so here it is! What a great idea for instant color and dimension in the space. Of course, I see a cake with candles, but why not put up the banner, say, on a Friday night to start the weekend...


Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

Green Kitchen Design - Things To...

I think I'll throw out some random and useful information about designing green kitchens. These are not in any particular order, but are categorized for easy reference to get one started thinking about incorporating green kitchen design, and overall green principles.

My goal is to keep it simple! Here's why. At this point, (nearly) none of my clients, nor potential clients, are asking questions about designing a green kitchen. They are very busy people, that I know. For many, there is not much time left, with active jobs and families, to become aware of, and accumulate (quickly/easily understandable) knowledge on this issue and how it relates to the kitchen they are thinking about remodeling. Of course, it is important that the "big picture" of sustainable design has a chance to go hand in hand with one's own plans to remodel the kitchen. That's where I come in! Let's take a look at some of these principles which can be easily implemented toward designing green kitchens.


So easy. Two words: Energy Star. Household products are awarded Energy status when they meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and US Department of Energy. It's making a difference..."Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy in 2006 alone to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 25 million cars — all while saving $14 billion on their utility bills." Quite impressive.

Water Conservation

Reducing consumption of our natural resources, thus, conserving water AND energy, merits understanding and knowledge of this issue, even for those who live in areas where the water supply is not an issue...yet. Why conserve water?

Two handy products in the kitchen to help conserve water are: a foot pedal  to prevent water from running needlessly and hands-free sensor faucets, also, to use water only when it's needed. Water savings are significant with these products.

Lighting Tips  - Take a look, and also take a good look at this great article from Treehugger on How to Green Your Lighting. And, here's a great chart to tell you exactly what to look for, as you transition your lighting from incandescent watts to flourescent lighting. Start with one light and see the difference. Flourescents are not as disappointing as they used to be.  LED lights are what you want to look for, for under cabinet lighting.

Ways To Save Energy In The Kitchen   

I think that's enough to get you going in the right direction! Tell me what you know, or what you've learned, I'd love to hear.  

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

Green Design - Reuse and Rejuvenate

swedishchairs.jpgAs mentioned in my previous post, there are other great ways to reuse and rejuvenate, this time, decorative items, in the kitchen!

I've seen many well worn tables and chairs in my time, dining furnishings that have done their job, taken a beating, and often, are best retired, to be donated or handed down to others for renewed appreciation.  

Therefore, again, the answer is not always to buy new! Instead, buy a new table and antique chairs, or vice versa. Look at these beauties that jumped into my email today, from 1st  


Same for lighting...the hunt is what's fun. In thrift shops, flea markets, special antique events, shops, on vacation.

Consider buying vintage, antique, for a natural patina an item can only get from time. 

Take a look at this image of a kitchen I designed with vintage lighting and tell me it doesn't enhance the whole kitchen!

I've had more phone calls from people around the country after this was published, asking where they could find this fixture! It's tough to see, but there are two globes hanging downward.

Vintage is green at its most wonderful, rediscovering those gems from yesteryear (I really hate this word, but I just had to insert it, it sounds almost poetic!)  But, there's NO disputing the sentiment!

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago
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