Design & Remodeling

Renewable Renovation Through Green Kitchen Designs

Portfolio Kitchen and Home of Kansas City help save the environment without sacrificing style.

When the Hargroves family decided to renovate the kitchen in their Loose Park home, they had a wish list of what they wanted: It had to be attractive, functional and suited to their lifestyle. For Amy Hargroves, the director of corporate responsibility and sustainability at Sprint, that meant her dream kitchen should be designed with the environment in mind.

Kitchen renovations are one of the best investments you can make when it comes to home improvements. And done right, they can do more than improve your home’s resale value; they can boost its green quotient too.

Portfolio Kitchen and Home made this modern kitchen eco-friendly by using sustainable materials and energy-saving appliances.

An eco-friendly kitchen renovation starts with the choice of materials, says Geri Higgins, the president and CEO of Portfolio Kitchen and Home. Cabinetry is typically the first consideration—in the Hargroves’ home, Higgins used bamboo casework with interior shelving constructed from wheatboard, a sturdy alternative to formaldehyde-emitting MDF made from recycled wheat stalks.

If bamboo isn’t your style, Higgins suggests lyptus, a hardwood from Brazil. “It’s fast growing so it’s a readily renewable material, and it has a real woodgrain so it looks very luxe. It can be stained to look just like mahogany,” she says, adding that using low-VOC stains on whatever cabinetry you opt for is not only better for the environment, it’s better for your health.

The addition of light wells brightens up the space naturally, reducing the need for electricity.

The selection of accent materials, such as countertops and tiling, can have a big impact on the appearance of your kitchen and offer another chance to choose green. Natural stone is generally a better eco option than solid-surface countertops—or go for those made with recycled glass. Vetrazzo, the brand Higgins used in the Hargroves’ kitchen, produces an extensive color palette of surfaces that practically shimmer, thanks to the 100 percent recycled glass content.

Reducing the amount of energy used in the kitchen is also key. Choosing Energy Star-rated appliances is a simple way to save energy, as is installing LED lighting. “And we almost always install a dimmer switch,” Higgins says. “It creates ambience but also extends the life of the bulbs.”

Even before the first cabinet, countertop or appliance is installed, you can make an earth-friendly move. “We donate all of our showroom samples to Habitat’s ReStore so they can be used elsewhere, and we communicate to our clients that they can do the same,” says Higgins. Out with the old, in with the renewable!