Use paint that is low in -- or free of -- volatile organic compounds. VOCs are gases, some of which can be toxic, that are emitted from products such as wall paint, paint stripper, cleaning supplies, and some building materials.
Natural flooring, such as wood, cork, or linoleum, doesn't contain the toxins found in many manufactured materials. Cork is roughly the same price as wood, but it's a sustainable material. Cork trees regenerate every nine years, while trees such as oak or maple can take 30 years or more.
Use energy-efficient appliances throughout the kitchen. Appliances with an Energy Star label have met strict energy-efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency.
To conserve water, use a water-saving faucet with a flow rate around 2.2 gallons per minute.
Swapping out old hardware for new gives a kitchen a fresh, new look. Instead of junking the old hardware, save it for future use elsewhere.
Potted plants act as natural air filters by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into the kitchen.
When remodeling a kitchen, rearrange and refinish or paint cabinets rather than purchasing new ones. This will prevent old cabinets from piling up in the landfill.
The size and shape of this old restaurant sink make it ideal for a home kitchen activity center. It provides enough work space for multiple members of the family to prep and clean up simultaneously.
Salvaged glass forms the center panels in these cabinet doors. This action saves old glass from the trash. It can also add style to new projects because wavy antique glass adds an heirloom quality to just-made cabinets.
When mounted to a pendant and filled with wineglasses, a recycled factory bottle holder becomes a gallery-worthy chandelier.
No one would ever guess that this elegant dining room table was once junkyard-bound. It was saved by a creative homeowner who stripped it of multiple layers of paint and replaced its broken tabletop with one made from old wood.
A one-of-a kind utensil holder made from four vintage corner blocks stores everyday wooden spoons.
Oversized Victorian brackets add decorative detailing to this boxy island and visually anchor the extended countertop.
Sized for a small kitchen, a half-round accent table with cutwork trim finds new life as a minibar.
An antique doll cabinet now serves as a spice rack. To retain both charm and value, don't strip the piece of its original finish; instead, apply a nontoxic wood cleaner, then air dry. Round up a variety of shapely jars to store herbs and spices.
For just $200, an alter from a Scottish Rite temple is transformed into a luxe kitchen island. It is topped with a concrete counter that the homeowner and his father poured after reading a DIY book. Add wood appliquès and trim pieces easily with a glue gun, hammer, and nails.
Discarded stained-glass panels sparkle again when installed as window valances.
A plain bookcase is transformed into a wall-mount china cabinet when an antique artwork frame is attached as a fanciful pediment.
Instead of replacing all your countertops, opt for natural soapstone on the island only, so a smaller amount of surfacing goes into a landfill. Better yet, repurpose the removed counter as a worktable in the basement or garage.
Create a storage center by pushing together two bookcases and painting them the same color to create a one-of-a-kind hutch.