Amy and Ed’s “Green” Remodel

Our clients, Amy and Ed, have very specific criteria around how they want their space laid out and what will be put into it. That being said, there are a lot of decisions to be made and we have labored over a few of them.

Starting with the layout and flow, they wanted an open space where the kitchen isn’t cut off from the rest of the living space. Easy enough…..take down a wall. My husband is in charge of all things construction and advised them on what wall would be the best to eliminate, although, quite honestly, it wasn’t a tough decision. For this to work we needed to re-route the electrical under the floor for the range and we had to find a range that could go in an island.

Did you know that the price difference between a range with the controls on the back and one with the controls on the front is about $1000? Ridiculous but true. A workaround for this would be to keep the wall that is going away as a pony wall and have it come up about 6 inches higher than the island countertop thus dividing the island in half. That way we could keep the less expensive range and still have a sight line to the other room but that idea was quickly tossed as Amy wanted a cleaner look. Expensive range it is!

Another decision was to go with a counter-depth refrigerator. It may only be 5 inches but it means a lot when you’re talking about tight spaces. The price tag on this was not as high as I would have thought so this was a much easier decision.

Lastly, we had to find a dishwasher and range hood. Again, a couple hundred dollars gets you a much quieter dishwasher and that is money well spent so the price tag on the dishwasher went from about $375 to $500. The range hood we found on Amazon and with Amazon Prime and points Amy got a great deal on the hood.

So with major appliance decisions out of the way we turned to flooring. Sustainable, and with very low VOC (volatile organic compounds), was the order of the day. We eliminated hardwood right away, expensive and really not eco-friendly. Tile was a consideration for about a second but it is labor intensive and requires a lot of mixing, mess, and smell. Cork and bamboo sounded very eco-friendly but upon further investigation, these options were high priced and, frankly, not the look we were going for.

Laminate was our choice. There are quite a few laminate flooring companies that are “green.” Many are “LEED” certified. Mannington is one of them, 74% recycled content, low VOC adhesives and finishes, and made in the US (this is all on their website). Armstrong and Shaw also are good candidates. Do your research and decide on one that is right for you. We were most concerned with VOC and off-gassing as Ed cannot tolerate this.

The trickier part comes with the “underlayment.” This is the padding or vapor barrier that goes underneath the flooring. We decided on a click-together laminate to avoid glue and smell and chose a felt padding that was LEED certified. Although you may find many inexpensive options for the actual flooring, there are less options for the underlayment and you go from $20/100 sqft roll to $70 or $90/100 sqft roll. If you want no VOC the higher-priced options are worth it.

Paint was the next consideration. I prefer Behr paint. I like the way it covers, plain and simple. They have a “zero VOC” paint available. If you subscribe to Consumer Reports they will tell you there is no such thing as a zero VOC paint but they rate Behr very high for quality and pricing.

Lastly, we had to decide on countertops. I suggested a recycled glass countertop and sourced a couple different companies. Vetrazzo, and Curava were the top contenders for our project; and in the end, on the installer’s recommendation, we went with Curava. This is not a cheap choice but it is a thoughtful choice and we did look at opting to put the glass countertop on the sink counter and a butcher block on the island to keep cost down, but, again, Amy wanted a cleaner look and it was glass all around. I’m sure it will look stunning!

Nancy Bradley photo

Nancy bradley

I consult, design, and remodel spaces that reflect the homeowner’s lifestyle and budget by getting the cost question out of the way and really listening to what my client wants and how much they have set aside for their project.