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My Green Kitchen Remodel

September 28, 2009

before and after

My husband says that I’m a glutton for punishment since I am constantly wanting to redo something in our home. After a major home remodel in 2002, we had pledged not to tackle another fixer-upper again. That is, until we decided to move to Portland four years later.

In 2006, we bought a charming little 1924 Craftsman home that needed a serious makeover.  There was matted carpet in the dining room, no cabinets on one side of the kitchen, and a noticeable absence of modern amenities.  In the first couple of weeks using the kitchen, two cabinet doors actually fell off of their hinges!

My strategy was to just live in the current condition of the home for a couple of months and take notes on how the space was naturally being used.  The doorway between the kitchen and dining room, for example, was pretty narrow (see “before” photo above).  With two adults and two kids running around, it quickly became evident that the doorway needed to be widened.

In addition to preserving beautiful architectural qualities like crown moulding, it was important to us that our home remodel be as “green” as possible.  We sought out several local green contractors for the kitchen remodel.  All the bids came in higher than our budget, so my husband and I ended up taking on all the demolition ourselves and subcontracting out the speciality jobs.

The demolition only took a couple of days, and we were able to donate or recycle most of the used materials. I feel fortunate that Portland has some great home centers and resources dedicated to the reuse/recycling of materials, like The Rebuilding Center, ReStore, and Metro.

One of the more challenging parts of the remodel was finding sustainable materials that fit our budget. I found two places in Portland that were very helpful and informative- Ecohaus and Canopy Home.  The materials we ended up installing in our kitchen (most all from local businesses) included recycled glass tiles, cork flooring, FSC certified plywood cabinets, wood chip board countertop, earth-friendly paints and finishes, a granite composite sink, and grasscloth wallpaper.  I also picked out energy efficient appliances that were made in the U.S.

One of my favorite features of our kitchen are the handmade tiles from Portland-based Stardust Glass. I actually ran into the founder, Jason Coleman, at a local tile shop when I was searching for recycled glass tiles.  He showed me some of his patterns and designs, and I instantly fell in love with the circle mosaic pattern.  It was exciting to work with Jason on a custom color palette for my backsplash.  The tiles really completed the look in the kitchen by tying in the different colors throughout the space and adding an element of vintage inspiration.

Stardust Tiles founder Jason Coleman and I worked on the color combination of the handmade tiles.

Handmade, recycled glass tiles by Portland company Stardust Glass.

Another favorite part of my kitchen is my pantry.  For months I had food and kitchen supplies sitting in boxes because there just wasn’t enough cabinet space.  I eventually drew up some plans of how I wanted the cabinets designed, including a pantry unit that hung on the wall. I found a talented local craftsman who specialized in European cabinetry, and voila! We’ve got storage!

The floating pantry provides storage for food and small appliances.

The floating pantry provides storage for food and small appliances.

Although it was no easy task to create a new green kitchen, it was well worth the wait and the work. Whether you’re in the throws of your own green remodel or just in the planning stage, here are some local resources that can make your journey easier: Eco-haus,  Rejuvenation, The Rebuilding CenterYolo Colorhouse, and Stardust Glass.

Go here to read my tips on how to make the kitchen design process go smoother.  Now to start on my bedroom!

13 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2009 8:31 am

    i love the cabinetry! great job remodeling!

  2. Katie permalink
    September 29, 2009 7:09 pm


  3. Bill permalink
    October 6, 2009 3:27 pm

    Excellent remodel. I’m interested in learning more about the countertop, please–it looks like particleboard that is stained…is that true and, if so, what dye and how sealed? Thanks!

    • cathy permalink*
      October 6, 2009 4:01 pm

      Bill, it is particleboard. We bought it already dyed with an ebony stain, and we applied a Safecoat matte finish. I’ll email you more details.

  4. gretchen permalink
    October 6, 2009 4:40 pm

    Dear Cathy,

    I would love the information on the particleboard countertop as well.

    Thanks! Gretchen

  5. edgar permalink
    October 7, 2009 4:07 pm

    Cathy, beautiful kitchen remodel. Love the cabinets, especially your hanging pantry. I have a feeling you’ll be busy answering questions about the countertop option since most are so expensive. Was this a more economical choice? Would love some information regarding it also. Thanks!

  6. Jeff permalink
    October 7, 2009 10:01 pm

    Cathy! What a great job! Very imaginative and unique and economical, and I like the colors and woodwork and how they all blend together.

    Can you also send me an about how you did the cabinets and countertops? I would really appreciate.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. October 19, 2009 10:53 pm

    That backsplash is absolutely beautiful! Great work on the remodel.

  8. December 3, 2009 4:54 pm

    I love the tile too! It is beautiful, will have to do check it out.

  9. February 18, 2010 4:53 am

    Great tile job in the kitchen 🙂


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