Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cabinetry Decisions

We're beginning to seriously (re)plan a complete remodel of our kitchen, after tossing out many ideas over the past three years. While we have a designer helping us with the layout and specifications, there are some considerations we'd like to make that are more consistent with green building standards:

  • Patching and refinishing the existing hardwood floors under nasty old vinyl.
  • Instead of the standard granite countertops, using a polished concrete and recycled glass product called Ice Stone. That way when I break a beer bottle on it, it will blend right in.
  • More daylighting! We liked our suntunnels so much, we'll add one to our kitchen nook. More sunlight = less need for electricity. And a more pleasing open spaciousness.
  • On that note, upgrading the windows to highly energy-efficient ones.
  • Cabinets. This is where it gets more difficult.
On a routine trip to Menards shortly after moving into our house, Jen saw some cabinets that would match the arts and craft style of our home. The manufacturer, Medallion Cabinetry, got the product name right by naming this style of cabinets, the "Oak Park." They even have window panes mirroring the windows in the front of our house. Great!

Except now, in our quest for green building, we reach a dilemma. These cabinets are made of quarter-sawn oak, which, while beautiful, is extremely wasteful and not sustainable since oak is a very slow growing tree. So it takes longer to replenish this material than other woods such as Maple, Alder or Lyptus.

There are other options that would match the style of our home, such as Mission-style maple cabinets that would work - but not as well as the "Oak Park" line. The higher cost of these oak cabinets may ultimately prevent us from purchasing them anyway, but its very difficult to balance being environmentally-conscious renovators while matching the character of the home.