Green is more than a color these days; it's a building philosophy. "Green" homes incorporate sustainable materials and design ideas aimed at protecting the environment by promoting energy conservation. Avid environmentalists, the owners of this Michigan home decided to make some dramatic, eco-friendly updates to their country French-inspired kitchen, whose vintage charm was lost during a 1970s remodel.
Enlarged windows will brighten up a dark room without increasing your ecological footprint. To bring in the elements and open up the space, these homeowners extended their windows from countertop to ceiling. During the day, the room is flooded with natural light, making electric overhead lighting unnecessary. In addition, the energy-efficient windows offer breathtaking views of the garden outside.
When your floor plan has you in a box, think of ways to create additional space without adding square footage. In this kitchen remodel, several existing spaces were repurposed to create a better-flowing and functional area. Here, a new walk-in pantry, conveniently positioned behind the refrigerator wall in what was once a small rear entry, houses a modest wine collection and everyday kitchen supplies.
The addition of the walk-in pantry made the kitchen's existing storage closet unnecessary. The homeowners turned the closet into a work space, fitting the niche with a desk, shelves, and drawers for office supplies. They didn't add any space--it was simply a matter of assessing existing spaces and reusing them.
When it comes to recycling, don't stop at paper over plastic. Recycled materials can be put to good use in your newly remodeled space too. These homeowners salvaged the prep sink from their old kitchen and installed it in their new granite island. An antique pewter arched faucet reflects the home's country French roots and mirrors the cabinetry's hardware.
The homeowners also repurposed their old countertops, sandwiching them together to create a butcher-block corner for the island. The recycled elements now serve as nostalgic reminders of the old kitchen the family used for so many years.
When updating, always consider form and function. In this remodel, a small, dated island was replaced with a longer, sleeker version that includes a cooktop, prep sink, and butcher-block corner. Green granite with an ogee edge graces the new island, accenting the lively spring color of the kitchen walls. Three barstools pull up to the island, encouraging family and friends to sit down and relax.
In another example of creating space without adding square footage, these homeowners opened up their confined cooking area by removing a wall between the former breakfast room and kitchen. This also created space for a cozy, dark-stained banquette and a custom built-in cabinet used to store porcelain and table linens.
When modernizing your cooking area, be sure to install Energy Star appliances, which use 10%-50% less energy than standard models. In this home, new stainless-steel appliances enhance the fresh look and energy efficiency of the kitchen. Custom cabinets with beaded insets and antiqued-pewter hardware add a vintage touch.
For flooring, consider solid cork. It's a durable, natural material that's easy on the feet--and the environment. It costs roughly the same as hardwood, but solid-cork flooring has a distinct ecological advantage--sustainability. While other trees can take decades to regenerate, cork trees regenerate every nine years.