How to Green a Kitchen

An interior design team from San Rafael, California, shares the secrets behind this spectacular remodel.


| September/October 2007



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We tore vegetable-dyed handmade paper into square and rectangle shapes and applied it to the face of this wall using a diluted, nontoxic wallpaper paste. We wanted to create a bark-style texture reminiscent of the old-growth oak trees outside the windows. We trimmed the windows and the tops of the cabinets with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified ash stained to look like redwood (to match the original ceiling beams). Using the stained wood on the top of the bamboo cabinets creates an illusion of space between the lighter bamboo and the dark wood beams.

Photo By Barbara Bourne

In remodeling this kitchen, our first consideration was how my design team, Carolyn Robbins Site Design along with Green Builders of Marin, could work around the existing windows, plumbing and structural timber, which helped keep both resource consumption and cost lower.

Here are some of the steps we took and some of the eco-friendly materials we used:

• We tore vegetable-dyed handmade paper into square and rectangle shapes and applied it to the face of the bar's wall using a diluted, nontoxic wallpaper paste. We wanted to create a bark-style texture reminiscent of the old-growth oak trees outside the windows.

• We trimmed the windows and the tops of the cabinets with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified ash stained to look like redwood (to match the original ceiling beams). Using the stained wood on the top of the bamboo cabinets creates an illusion of space between the lighter bamboo and the dark wood beams.

• For the kitchen’s original counter, we designed wider, 30-inch countertops to make the cooking area more luxurious. By adding a few inches in depth instead of installing new counters, we provided more square feet of work space but used less counter material—in this case, reclaimed granite.

• The iridescent glass tile is from the Sicis company’s Iridium collection. The Italian company recycles its unused glass product back into new tiles. The tile enhances the room’s natural light by refracting the filtered sun that enters. For the countertops, we bought surplus butterfly granite.





elderberry, echinacea, bee hive

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