Nourishing Myself (A First Time Homeowner’s Guide to Kitchen Renovations)

| 1/6/2011 10:42:44 AM

Tags: kitchen, green, greening, environmentally-friendly, eco-friendly, renovations, efficient, efficiency, water, energy, reuse, recycled, MDF, shelving, appliances, food, Paperstone, Grohe, Alumillenium, aluminum tiles, VOC, LEED, Energy Star, WaterSense, The Cleaner Plate Club, Marmoleum, Bosch, Sears, faucet, Simran Sethi, Simran Sethi,
oldkitchen1I was determined that my kitchen renovation— the final internal transformation of my precious 85 year-old home—would facilitate my return to the hearth, so I approached the renovation in a very different way than I did the bathroom (my vain self’s most favorite space).

 The original kitchen was sun-filled but worn-down, replete with scratched counters and torn vinyl floors that always looked dirty. It was the home of the mouse that once occupied my house and became a space that was used for quickly reheating store-bought food rather than cooking from scratch. In order to reclaim that piece of myself that loves good food made by my own hands, I had to lure myself back into the kitchen. I had to create a space that was beautiful, functional, easy and efficient; a space that reflected what I love and would make me want to, again, feed myself.    

With the help of LEED AP certified green contractor Danny Veerkamp of Prairie Designs, cabinet-maker Scott Dixon, and a few foodie friends (including The Cleaner Plate Club by author Beth Bader), I did just that. (Deepest thanks to all of you. I owe you a meal.) I like to call it “Eat, Save, Love.”     


The first question I needed to answer was, “What would make me want to cook again?” or, more precisely, “What would cajole me back into the kitchen so eventually I would cook?” My answer had something to do with beauty and ease-of-use. I needed  something to visually draw me back to the space. That attraction came in many forms: low and zero-VOC paints that made up a brilliant peacock blue accent wall; thin, narrow shelves Scott built to hold the beautiful ceramic mugs made by dear friend and brilliant artist Sam Clarkson; stainless steel knobs that hook under my index finger just so and shine like little jewels; and a built-in butcher block from a piece of wood that was salvaged from our recent microburst.   

Save  newkitchen1 

I interpreted the idea of “saving” in a few different ways. My top commitments were to reusing materials I already had (namely, the solid wood cabinets that would have likely been replaced with lesser quality MDF or particle board) and conserving energy and water (in that order). The first contractor I met was adamant that I would not be happy with a mash-up of old and new. I persevered. It would have been a lot easier on a contractor to work with a clean slate, but I knew that certain parts of my kitchen could be salvaged. Finding someone who was willing to work with my vision not only saved financial and natural resources, it bolstered my confidence that I, indeed, would be happy with the kitchen I requested.  

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