There are several things to take into consideration when approaching an eco-friendly home remodeling project as big as a kitchen renovation. For starters, your space must be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Second, the products and services incorporated should be environmentally sound. Finally, your plan must adhere to your budget. Incorporating all of these directives is no easy feat. But it can be done if you know what to look for.
The portion of your kitchen that gets the most wear and tear is the counter top. It is subject to cutting, staining, scalding, and any number of other unpleasant mishaps, so it must be durable. To that effect, there are several green options. The least expensive tends to be recycled ceramic tile, coming in as low as $10/square foot (or even less if you shop around for discounts). Not only is it affordable, it can be a DIY project for the frugal homeowner and the options for customization are practically limitless (you can even get tile that looks like the granite and marble used in upscale designer kitchens). It’s heat, stain, and odor resistant, and it’s not too difficult to replace if it chips or cracks. Unfortunately, other green options carry a much heftier price tag (IceStone, while utilizing 100% recycled glass, comes in at about $100/square foot while concrete counter tops weigh in with a starting price of about $65/square foot). A cheaper option would be laminate with a price tag in the $25-$50/square foot range, but it may not look as nice as other surfaces.
In terms of cabinetry, the greenest (and cheapest) option is to keep what you have and simply spruce it up with a little paint, stain, or a new veneer. However, if you’re determined to replace outdated, unstable, or non-functional cupboards, consider a store that specializes in reclamation. Merchants that deal in recycled cabinets often do repairs before they sell, so you’re getting a product that’s practically new, and they are far less expensive than buying entirely new (plus, they go in your kitchen instead of a landfill).
And no eco-friendly kitchen is complete without energy-star appliances. While it’s true that these green must-haves can carry an astronomical price tag, they do save you on your energy bill, so over the course of time, you will get back some of your initial investment. Even better, however, are the rebates offered by your utility providers when you send in a copy of your receipt. Hooray for cash back! In addition, you may be eligible for a tax credit up to $1,500, so look at all of your options before you say no to new appliances.
Although it can be difficult to reconcile your affinity for green with a tight budget when it comes to remodeling, it can certainly be done. There are many options to be weighed, but finding affordable, eco-friendly products that give your kitchen the designer look you desire is not beyond the realm of possibility. A little research and price checking can go a long way towards helping you build the green kitchen of your dreams.
Jennifer Kardish is a communications coordinator at Discount Kitchen Cabinets. You can check out their free design tips for your kitchen and home.