The Kitchen Designer

Reusing Kitchen Cabinetry?

Continuing on the green theme this week, part of the whole green design concept is to "REUSE." There are many very easy ways that we can reuse other, perhaps, older items and get a new (and surprisingly wonderful) perspective in the kitchen.

Point being, you don't have to buy everything new!

green%20pantry.jpgFirst and foremost, you have cabinetry. Sometimes the existing cabinetry is in decent shape, sometimes it's in bad shape. And, even if you can refinish it, perhaps, an option, the interiors are usually old and worn. Of course, oftentimes, the floor plan and cabinetry configuration will substantially change, making it very difficult to adapt the old to the new.

If you want new cabinetry, you should have new cabinetry. I'm not going to pass judgment on those who choose to either hold on to their old, worn, cabinetry, hoping/planning to give it new life, or who buy all new cabinetry, which may not be as green as it could be. It is an individual choice, end of story.

In this new, green, era, I see my role being to offer guidance, education and choices...this is a fundamental philosophy of mine, well before this green issue came upon us. I can help my clients go down a green road, or, perhaps, a lite green road. Should they become more informed about green design, including its issues and products? Yes. What they do with that information is their choice. That said, here are some easy ways to go green!

pantry.jpgIt's a great idea in old homes, to hold on to, say, the butler's pantry cabinetry, which may be simple, old, yet, charming. I've recommended doing that many times.  It is not cabinetry that one uses every day, and it usually adds to the home architecturally. Weigh this type of cabinetry carefully before thinking about removing it.

Sometimes I also design a built in pantry closet rather than adding additional cabinetry to the space. A pantry can be made on site, with doors and shelves, rather than purchasing more cabinetry. A few pieces of building material as opposed to cabinets. Sometimes this idea works out, and looks great too.

Ask your designer what the alternatives are, as well as the pros and cons, to design something more simple, more integrated with the architecture of the home, or, keeping some of which is already in place. Go down that road a ways.  

(A brief disclaimer...I did not have a say on this wall opening to the right. I would have narrowed the width of the opening and put casing around the sides as well as on top, like the door, perhaps with millwork joining the two openings, and I would have made the white cabinet shorter, or to the top of the opening. It was not my choice to have a two color hutch. What I once disliked, I think I've grown to like...yet, with those changes, I would have liked it better!) 

 

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

Induction Cooktops - Cooking Green

Continuing this green series, let's talk about induction cooktops! I went to a cooking demonstration today at the Bosch showroom in beautiful DUMBO in Brooklyn. The showroom is just under the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and it's a stunning area.

The event was centered around induction cooking. I know something about induction cooking. I seriously considered it when I redesigned my kitchen in the mid 80s, yes, induction cooking was around at that time!  I couldn't get past the pots I had to use, that was my issue at the time, so I went with gas.

IMG_0753.jpgI wish I could remember the name of the company who made the induction cooktop (tiles) I almost went with. I can see it now. It was so sexy. They were so far ahead of their time, this manufacturer, there were these wonderful separate, square, induction tiles, I can see them now. And, if I remember correctly, I believe, somehow, they fit flush within the countertop for a very sleek look. Funny how these old memories are coming back.

Fast forward to today, a beautiful October day in 2007. Induction is SO here, so NOW. I'm glad I went to this event, because I didn't realize something very cool (or hot!) about induction cooktops. What I learned, is that induction heat is more powerful, which means it also heats hotter and faster than either gas or electric. Besides all of the other positive properties, this feature really makes me pay attention!

To review, here are the good properties of induction cooktops:

  • instant heat adjustment (just like gas)
  • 50% more efficient than gas or electric (heat only reacts with the cooking vessel)
  • the cooktop is safe to touch when the cooking vessel is removed-paper or other items will not burn
  • no gas fuel risks, i.e. leaks
  • anyone can install it, unlike gas, unavailable in some areas
  • clean cooking method
  • no noise
  • spills do not burn on the cooktop - it's easy cleaning

Downsides? It's pricey! Another, could be electricity failures. I don't see any other compelling negative issues.

Bosch has a few cool features such as auto pot detection. The cooktop recognizes the size of the pot. The cooktops also have a power boost function, helpful to get those pots of water boiling quickly.

I also would like to mention the brand new GE induction cooktop, in 30 and 36" sizes. GE says, a 3700-watt element offers the most powerful induction element in the industry and provides heat across 19 different cooking settings.

It's time to take induction cooking seriously. I sure will be. The major cookware manufacturers have also brought out new cookware just for induction cooking. Finding great cookware is no longer an issue for induction cooking.

 

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

Designing Green Kitchens 101

It occurs to me that one of my "life philosophies" translates very well to designing a green kitchen. I'm one who tries to be aware, not only of black and white, but shades of gray in relation to an issue. The shades of gray give us freedom, flexibility, and choices to find the right path toward the right solution, in this case, designing green. It is awareness.

Once one goes into the world of "green design" it's easy to become immersed in a world, not only of green products, but of ways to have a green lifestyle in general. 

You can go down that road as slowly and as near or far as you want to. I find that it is a journey. You can choose to be more "lite green" in your philosophy than "forest green." Think of it as fluid. I am finding the more I know, the more I want to know, forming my own, personal, version of a green philosophy (which is often changing.)

Here are some easy ways to begin thinking green for a kitchen remodel. You can incorporate just some of these ideas to make a difference. Find your own shade of green! Today, I will only focus on cabinetry, appliances, and countertops. Another day, I will address other areas of the kitchen.

My intent with this information is to keep it simple. To offer an easy starting point.

 

Cabinetry

  • Resue/reconfigure, donate, or sell your old cabinetry, perhaps keeping some for storage elsewhere in the home
  • If you are redesigning the cabinetry in your kitchen, look for FSC certified woods, formaldehyde free plywood, as a minimum criteria. You do not need to go with a completely green cabinet if it does not make your heart sing. Again, find your right shade of green, as this is one of your most costly investments in the project.
  • Look for no or low VOC paints and finishes
  • Look for cabinetry manufactured in a 500 mile radius
  • Design cabinetry for universal design, maximum accessibility, or, multi generational use
  • Select products which will be long lasting and durable 
  • Add in a recycling center 

 

Appliances

  • Replace old appliances to gain far better energy efficiency
  • Buy energy star appliances
  • Seriously consider induction cooktops - fyi, the major, high end, cookware manufacturers have produced beautiful, new, cookware just for induction cooking. Induction cooking is 50% more efficient than gas or electric.
  • Get pedal or sensor activated faucets

 

Countertops 

This post on green countertops will continue to expand. Take a look, ask your designer about your options, see samples, and then "beat up" the samples to check durability, as I recommend. You want to make sure your countertop can last decades! And, you really want to love it! 

 
Find your own path to green. I do think this is an issue that is worthy of increasing your awareness about, absolutely. You know, with all the media focus on global warming in recent years, here's my philosophy. Few of us are scientists, of course. I'm certainly not. But, my own perception of all the attention on this issue sways me to err on the side of increasing my awareness, as well as my knowledge bank, than the other way around. You'll find the way that is right for you. I do need to advise you to beware of greenwashing. Always something bad comes with something good, it seems.

I have just added another blog link section called "Green Design Blogs" and will be adding to these over time.

 

Tell me about your green philosophy/thoughts, I'd love to hear them! What do you know, what do you think? What can you share?

 

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

Designing Green Kitchens 101

It occurs to me that one of my "life philosophies" translates very well to designing a green kitchen. I'm one who tries to be aware, not only of black and white, but shades of gray in relation to an issue. The shades of gray give us freedom, flexibility, and choices to find the right path toward the right solution, in this case, designing green. It is awareness.

Once one goes into the world of "green design" it's easy to become immersed in a world, not only of green products, but of ways to have a green lifestyle in general. 

You can go down that road as slowly and as near or far as you want to. I find that it is a journey. You can choose to be more "lite green" in your philosophy than "forest green." Think of it as fluid. I am finding the more I know, the more I want to know, forming my own, personal, version of a green philosophy (which is often changing.)

Here are some easy ways to begin thinking green for a kitchen remodel. You can incorporate just some of these ideas to make a difference. Find your own shade of green! Today, I will only focus on cabinetry, appliances, and countertops. Another day, I will address other areas of the kitchen.

My intent with this information is to keep it simple. To offer an easy starting point.

 

Cabinetry

  • Resue/reconfigure, donate, or sell your old cabinetry, perhaps keeping some for storage elsewhere in the home
  • If you are redesigning the cabinetry in your kitchen, look for FSC certified woods, formaldehyde free plywood, as a minimum criteria. You do not need to go with a completely green cabinet if it does not make your heart sing. Again, find your right shade of green, as this is one of your most costly investments in the project.
  • Look for no or low VOC paints and finishes
  • Look for cabinetry manufactured in a 500 mile radius
  • Design cabinetry for universal design, maximum accessibility, or, multi generational use
  • Select products which will be long lasting and durable 
  • Add in a recycling center 

 

Appliances

  • Replace old appliances to gain far better energy efficiency
  • Buy energy star appliances
  • Seriously consider induction cooktops - fyi, the major, high end, cookware manufacturers have produced beautiful, new, cookware just for induction cooking. Induction cooking is 50% more efficient than gas or electric.
  • Get pedal or sensor activated faucets

 

Countertops 

This post on green countertops will continue to expand. Take a look, ask your designer about your options, see samples, and then "beat up" the samples to check durability, as I recommend. You want to make sure your countertop can last decades! And, you really want to love it! 

 
Find your own path to green. I do think this is an issue that is worthy of increasing your awareness about, absolutely. You know, with all the media focus on global warming in recent years, here's my philosophy. Few of us are scientists, of course. I'm certainly not. But, my own perception of all the attention on this issue sways me to err on the side of increasing my awareness, as well as my knowledge bank, than the other way around. You'll find the way that is right for you. I do need to advise you to beware of greenwashing. Always something bad comes with something good, it seems.

I have just added another blog link section called "Green Design Blogs" and will be adding to these over time.

 

Tell me about your green philosophy/thoughts, I'd love to hear them! What do you know, what do you think? What can you share?

 

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

Green Kitchen Countertops

Let's take a look at what's in the marketplace for green kitchen countertops! There is a surprising selection of materials, many of which are made from recycled materials. One of the principles of designing green is to buy for durability as well as for the long term. To that end, these materials should, ideally, be sampled before purchase, with a variety of products, such as:

ketchup

red wine
worscestershire sauce
balsamic vinegar
coffee
lemon juice
oil

I would also recommend that you use sharp objects on the samples (except wood!) to determine hardness, scratch resistance, and so on. I strongly recommend living with samples under similar kitchen task conditions for a little while. It's important to see how products hold up before you purchase them! Looking at where the products are produced and their transportation path to your home is another consideration which goes along wtih any product under consideration. Following is a good start at a list of green countertop sources.

Squakstone.jpgShetkastone.com  Shetkastone is a revolutionary product that has a 100% sustainable life cycle. Products that are produced from shetkaSTONE are manufactured from pre and post consumer waste paper and rely on using none of the Earth's overtapped resources. All by-products (waste created in the manufacturing process) can be recycled back into the manufacturing process.

Eleek   Eleek Recycled Aluminum Countertops are designed specifically to fit standard kitchen countertops. They are custom made to your specifications. Frontwrap, sidewrap and backsplash features can be built in, creating a sleek, modern integrated surface.

Lithistone  Environmentally appropriate technologies are combined to create our proprietary mixes, which consist of a natural mineral binder, different grades of sand and stone, recycled material, and organic mineral pigments. Lithistone can be customized to meet virtually any specifications with regards to size, shape, colors, and textural variations.

Squak Mountain Stone  A Fibrous-cement material comprised of recycled paper, recycled glass, coal fly-ash and Portland cement. Material is hand-cast into “slabs” as an alternative to natural or quarried stone. Resembles soapstone or limestones.

Trinity Glass Products   Recycled glass and concrete countertops

Eco-top  EcoTop is composed of a Forest Stewardship Council-certified 50/50 blend of bamboo fiber, a rapidly renewable resource, and recycled wood fiber salvaged from demolition sites. These materials are bound together by a water-based resin formula that is both petroleum-free and VOC-free. Because of this, EcoTop products can earn you up to six points on your next LEED project.

icestone_tuscan_sunset.jpgIceStone  IceStone® durable surfaces are strong like granite, not as porous as marble and heat-resistant like stone. The chemical composition is benign and 99.5% inorganic making it a very safe material from the standpoint of toxicity and fire resistance. Due to its high recycled content and Cradle to Cradle Certification, IceStone® materials can be used towards LEED points.

EnviroGlas  EnviroGLAS Terrazzo is made of post-consumer and post-industrial recycled glass.  Over 40 billion glass bottles are made every year, and 75% of them wind up in landfills.  Many municipalities have stopped collecting glass for recycling due to a lack of market.  We offer a solution to that problem. Each EnviroGLAS product is about 75% recycled glass and 25% binder by volume.

Richlite  Richlite Company, a manufacturer of paper-based countertops, offers a collection of warm and natural-feeling surface materials that breathe new life into the kitchen, bath and office. Richlite’s® unique paper surfaces bring a soft and comfortable ambience to a room that's rarely achieved through cold, hard stone and plastic solid surfaces. It’s made from environmentally sustainable resources and is an attractive, durable, long-lasting material that complements a variety of design tastes.

syndcrete.jpgAvonite  Avonite's solution has been to adhere to the principles of sustainable design - the art of designing and constructing building which comply with the principles of economic, social and ecological sustainability and conservation. Widely acknowledged as an innovator in solid surfacing, Avonite Surfaces has leveraged that excellence to create ecologically sound products which are cost-effective and elegant.

 Alkemi  Made from 60% post industrial aluminum waste and resins. It is strong and exquisitely beautiful to the eye. Surfaces may sanded and buffed to a matte or high gloss.

Vetrazzo  All of the glass used in Vetrazzo is recycled, and it makes up about 85% of the total material. Most of the glass comes from curbside recycling programs. Other glass comes from windows, dinnerware, stemware, windshields, stained glass, laboratory glass, reclaimed glass from building demolition, traffic lights and other unusual sources. Every Vetrazzo surface has its own history. Due to its high recycled content, using Vetrazzo can help your project qualify for LEED certification. 

Pine%20Wood%20Species1new.jpgCraft-Art Company  Wood countertops and reclaimed wood. Eight new reclaimed wood countertop options are now available from Craft-Art.  The use of beautiful wood from the 1800s and 1900s, eco-friendly and functional, supports the goal to recycle the Earth’s resources as part of the sustainable building movement. Barn Red Oak, Chestnut, Beech, Heart Pine, Cypress, Barn White Oak.

Endura Wood Products  Endura Wood Products offers a wide variety of certified and rediscovered woods and wood products for homes and business. We believe that sourcing and offering only certified and rediscovered forest products is the best way to insure that our children can still see -- and use -- both the forest and the trees.

Syndcrete  Natural cement based, pre cast product, green/sustainable, high recycled content, chemically inert, no off-gassing, aggregates: post consumer bottle glass, tempered glass, wood chips, metal shavings, shells, more. Contributes from 2-8 LEED points. 

Bio Glass  Glass is made of almost 100% crystalline silica in the form of quartz containing 70-72% weight % silicon dioxide. Bio-Glass consists of 100% recycled glass. Bio-Glass colors depend on recycled components (hollow glass, tableware, and/or factory shards)

Caeserstone  CaesarStone is the first and only quartz surface to earn the ISO 14001 Certification for its compliance and commitment to the best green manufacturing processes. The company is committed to creating a better quality environment and is implementing procedures to prevent pollution and waste reduction at its manufacturing facility. In addition, CaesarStone is also certfied ISO 9002 (Quality Management standard) and NSF 51, is LEED (new commercial construction and major renovation projects) compliant and sports the Good Housekeeping Seal.

Take a look at this article on green countertops, very interesting.  I hope to work toward seeing and handling all of these products personally and will report back as I do, as well as letting you know about other materials I come across. Please let me know if YOU have come across a green countertop material! Would you consider a green countertop product?

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago
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