I pride myself on being green. I have my own home garden, and feed it with composted organic waste from the kitchen. I recycle everything I can. I even shop at a bulk food store to minimize waste packaging. But looking over my kitchen the other day I wondered if I could remodel it in such as way as to make it completely eco-friendly as well.
It is not a large kitchen, in a very old house, kind of boxy in shape, and has all the original cupboards and fixtures save for a new stove and refrigerator. There’s no room to install a dishwasher so I use an old roll-away. The flooring is tired linoleum grimy with the dirt of ages. The cupboards are tall and narrow but built of real wood. The countertops are battered formica. The best feature, in my opinion, is the large casement window over the sink which opens out to my flower garden. I like the porcelain sink but it is chipped and badly stained.
I resolved to do all this myself. The on-line search for ecologically friendly materials was most rewarding. My linens would be hemp, the curtains cotton or bamboo depending on which had the pattern I wanted. I resolved to ditch the formica counter, and tear up the floor. I was surprised to learn that linoleum is biodegradable, and, since I could not afford marble or clay, new linoleum would have to do. I wanted an area rug in the kitchen that would be inexpensive, eco-friendly and easy to clean. Finally, the cupboards would stay.
Low V.O.C. (volatile organic compound) paints were available at the local hardware store. The color selection was very limited compared to the more volatile brands but I managed to find a bright yellow with brownish undertones. The trim would be an olive green, the linoleum flooring a soft grey. The most expensive item was the countertop, made of Oregon white butcher block, which needed to be professionally installed. I had the nice men who installed my new countertop also patch and recoat the porcelain sink, possibly the only toxic procedure in the entire project.
I never know what to do with cupboards. Should they match the walls, should they match the counter, should I sand down the wood, what should I do? So I sanded the wood and re-varnished it with the least toxic varnish I could find. The result was antiquish and okay, and I learned textures could complement just as surely as colors.
I made the curtains and valance myself out of a nice soft flowered cotton print that tied together the colors of the wall, trim, floor, and cabinetry.
I was very pleased with my choice of area rugs. I selected a beautiful woven seagrass rug 8’ x10’ trimmed with khaki binding. It was so inexpensive and 100% biodegradable. The best part of organic area rugs is that when they get too grubby to stand, you can just replace it. Small hemp rugs were placed in front of sink and stove, also inexpensive, also 100% biodegradable.
I quickly found that area rugs were the easiest part of decorating with earth-friendly materials. Many rugs are made from organic materials, which is perfect for any eco-friendly decor.
on this article or submit your tip to CreativeHomemaking.com.
for a printer friendly version of this page.
Follow me on Pinterest
Receive new article links via Twitter
Follow Creative Homemaking on Facebook
this article to a friend!
our article archives.
to subscribe to our weekly newsletter.