Blogs > Pat Gaylor > July 2010


A 200 year old New Jersey home gets a green kitchen makeover


I recently completed a major renovation on a home built in 1800 in suburban New Jersey. The old kitchen was a hodge-podge of small rooms that had been added and subtracted over the years. There were exposed leaky pipes, walled over windows, and an array of dangerous looking electric outlets in odd places. The homeowners wanted to maintain a classic, casual farmhouse look that would blend with the rest of the home and not appear that the new space looked….well, NEW. They were very interested in being as ‘green’ or sustainable as possible, and also save money on their outrageous heating and cooling bills, due to the leaky windows and inadequate insulation.
It’s often a difficult task to make any new kitchen renovation look as if it’s been there for many years and still have all the ‘bells and whistles’, like the latest and greatest in appliances. Taking off the ‘new’ edge and giving the space a timeless look is difficult enough, but adding energy efficiency, water conservation, good indoor air quality and sustainability makes for a pretty tall order. And ‘green’ design isn’t generally known for it’s traditional look. Up to now, most of it looked pretty modern. But that’s all changing. It’s now become easier than ever to create beautiful spaces of any style.
Indoor air quality is one of the basic tenets of green design, and I specified plywood with no added urea formaldehyde to make the cabinetry, and finish them with a no VOC painted finish. The wide pine flooring was from a flooring manufacturer in New Hampshire, so it qualifies as a ‘local’ product. This particular company, Carlisle, practices responsible forestry and uses either recycled wood from old barns, or harvests lumber from local forests.

The homeowner wanted soapstone countertops, which is a gorgeous stone that’s enhanced with food-grade mineral oil, so there’s no chemical sealing. But since soapstone is imported from Portugal, the amount of fuel used to get it here had to be considered. We compromised by using a local stone from Vermont called Danby marble in the baking area. Also, selecting the highest tier Energy Star rated appliances was another way of trading off in order to justify the imported stone. The use of fluorescent lighting, and an under-cabinet water filter added more to the sustainability message. Just think of how many hundreds of plastic water bottles that didn’t get used because of the simple addition of a water filter.
Think locally, use what space you have efficiently without adding uneeded square footage, make trade-offs on items that your client can’t live without, and you’ve got a good start on creating a green kitchen that will endure for many years, and leave a smaller, gentler footprint on our planet.

Posted: 7/25/2010 8:35:35 PM by Heather Wallace | with 0 comments

About Me

Patricia Gaylor has practiced as an interior designer in the Northeast for more than two decades. Here, an abundance of older homes in need of complete renovations requiring the removal of everything, from dated appliances to cabinetry, prompted Pat to ponder the question: “What happens to all this stuff after it’s ripped out?” Pat’s passion for green design continues to be fueled by this question.

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