Can This Home Be Greened? Beautifying a Craftsman Bungalow

A California craftsman craves a kitchen makeover.

| March/April 2008

  • Opening up the wall above the hearth would bring more light into the living room.
  • Daria could install a frosted, sliding-glass door between the kitchen and the utility room to bring more sunlight into the kitchen.
  • Memento concert posters hide peeling particleboard cabinet doors.
  • Photos and magnets on the fridge compound kitchen clutter. Substituting a cork board for notes and photos would make the room feel less messy.
  • This historic Craftsman home in Oakland, California, needs just a few eco-friendly updates.
  • Homeowner Daria Schwarzschild favors nontoxic remodeling projects.

A tree-lined street in a friendly Oakland, California, neighborhood drew Daria Schwarzschild when she bought her charming Craftsman bungalow in 1999. The home features a living room with traditional wood trim and a large fireplace and a dining room that’s flooded with natural light. The ample back yard has beautiful lemon, orange, plum, apple and persimmon trees—plus room for a garden.

Daria’s well-worn 1970s kitchen—which has a mustard-yellow stove, burnt-orange countertops and crumbling particleboard cabinets—isn’t quite as appealing. "I’m open to finding out what sustainable materials are needed and even doing some of the work myself to lower the labor costs," says Daria, an office manager for an entertainment company.

At just over 1,000 square feet, this 1917 home is typical of Bay-area Craftsman homes. Though cozy, it feels a bit dark and cramped by today’s standards. The single-pane windows are beautiful but not very energy-efficient, and the plumbing and piping are outdated.

Daria has done some renovating: She remodeled the bathroom as a Zen retreat complete with clawfoot bathtub and candles. She also recently painted the exterior a lovely sage green.

1. Create Kitchen Cabinets

Problem: Pantry storage in the kitchen is scarce—yet an entire wall is unused. Daria hides the flaking, particleboard cabinet doors with colorful concert posters.

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