Clean and Green

"Designed to be family-friendly, this warm and bright kitchen redo manages to be earth-friendly, too"

The best remodeling ideas often spring from sources close to home. At least that’s what Portland, Oregon, homeowners Eric Park and Grace Lee-Park discovered when they were envisioning ways to make their 1927 bungalow more livable for the long term. With expert remodeling guidance from the city’s innovative Green Building Program and the husband-and-wife design team of Sean and Lauren B. Cho, the couple found ways to use recycled, sustainable, and salvages materials for all the major elements of their new kitchen. To improve the room’s chaotic traffic pattern, they relocated the back door (formerly positioned in the path from kitchen to stove) and removed an interior wall to create an open dining area where they could enjoy casual meals with their two children. They paved the countertops with recycled-aluminum tiles and installed new cabinets with wheatboard interiors and doors of sustainably harvested red alder finished with natural plant-oil-based stain to resemble cherry. The old windows and fir floors were saved and restored. So strong was the notion of reuse that the Parks even found a new purpose for the built-in ironing-board cabinet: It now opens to reveal a message center with a chalkboard for doodles and a corkboard for reminders.

THE PLAN— Create a more efficient layout within the original footprint—and make it eco-friendly.

What they did
1. Rethought Existing Space

The driveway runs along the kitchen’s rear exterior wall, leaving no chance of a bumpout to increase square footage. Since the designers couldn’t make the kitchen bigger, they worked to make better use of the space, creating a more open floor plan by removing the wall that divided the kitchen’s work areas from a dim adjoining dining nook.

2. Kept the Old Windows
Demolishing the interior wall of the nook had the added benefit of supplementing the room’s natural light by exposing the eating area’s two windows, which were reused in the renovation and trimmed out to match the windows over the sink.

3. Created a Real Work Triangle
Closing up the back door allowed for better placement of sink, range, and fridge, which are now positioned along two walls in an efficient, L-shaped layout.

4. Rerouted the Back Entry
A space-efficient pocket door between the fridge and panty now leads to the existing hall and the relocated back door.

5. Added a Pantry
A double-door food cabinet right inside the back entry to the kitchen minimizes steps when unloading groceries. The cabinets’ interior boxes are wheatboard, and agricultural by-product made with nonformaldehyde glue that doesn’t result in off-gassing.

THE DETAILS—Recycled, reused, and sustainable materials create a welcoming, clean-lined design.

1. Thick Butcher-Block Counters from Green Mountain Woodworks are made of hard Pacific madrone wood, a native species sustainably harvested in the Pacific Northwest.

2. Architectural Glass Block forms a translucent backsplash above the new range, providing a quick-to-wipe-down surface and an unusual vantage point on the home’s new back door: the silhouettes of approaching friends and family members are visible through the glass.

3. 100-Percent Recycled Aluminum tiles by Eleek cover the countertops. Finished with a nontoxic powdercoat, they resist stains and fingerprints and are non-reactive. A durable latex sealant fills the fine spaces between the tiles.

4. The Farmhouse Sink, also made from 100-percent-recycled aluminum by Eleek, is wide and deep, measuring 36 by 18 by 19 inches. The sink’s offset drain creates more usable space in the undersink cabinetry, while the gooseneck faucet from Delta makes filling tall pots, buckets, and flower vases easier. The homeowners chose not to expose the sink’s classic apron front, preferring to let the kitchen’s cabinetry take center stage.

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