For Earth’s Sake

A Bainbridge couple goes that extra (green) mile to better the earth–and their interior.

Written by Allison Lind
Photographs by Brian Francis

When you enter Susan and Robin Boone’s Bainbridge Island kitchen, one theme stands out: green. But it’s about more than accents that convey the color or Susan’s eye-catching collection of glass in the same hue. It?s also about the green you can’t see.

Because the Boones care about the environment, they wanted the update of their 1980s kitchen to be Built Green certified. They enlisted the help of interior designer Sandy Campbell and contractor Curt Shuck to give them their dream room–a modern space that still retains “the feeling of Grandma’s kitchen.”

That goal was achieved with a combination of certified-green or recycled details, which evoke a sense of coziness while reflecting the couple’s respect for the environment. The red oak cabinets, for instance–constructed of FSC-certified wood with Europly interiors–are finished with white, green and natural low-VOC stains, colors that all warmly coordinate with the sunshine yellow wall paint.

The green color of the cabinetry was specifically chosen to reflect a similar hue found in the cork floor: a deep evergreen mixed with a rich neutral (cork’s conventional shade) to create a mottled effect. To balance the intricate pattern of the floor, the Boones installed gray linoleum counter tops that are more sedate in nature; to add just a touch of sparkle, though, they’re banded with aluminum. In turn, a stainless-steel Wolf stove and Amana refrigerator echo the silver tones; one counter top was even created from reclaimed Boeing aluminum–a nod to the family’s love for aviation.

And the recycled items don’t stop there. Throughout the room are backsplash tiles made from recycled glass, a former schoolhouse door that now fronts the pantry, an eclectic collection of old cabinet knobs, and even recycled cotton insulation in a newly constructed wall separating the refrigerator and fireplace.

Each aspect of the Boones’ kitchen was chosen with the big picture in mind, a purpose beyond a simple room remodel. “Redoing my kitchen green is my small way of contributing to this earth,” Susan says. “Whatever I do–gardening, the clothes I buy, redoing my house–it’s for the birds outside my window, the animals, the next generation here.”

That same sentiment guides designer Campbell, too; she approaches each project with the “betterment of the earth” in full view. “We have to change the way we do things,” she says. “Green built is not a trend; it’s something that has to be done.”

WHAT MAKES THIS KITCHEN GREEN?

The Boone kitchen received a two-star rating from the Built Green Home Builders Association of Kitsap County for the many green aspects of its construction. But even if you’re not planning a complete remodel of your home, there are any number of ways to make your space more environmentally friendly.

RECYCLE

Susan hand-selected each backsplash tile at Bedrock Industries, a local company that turns recycled glass into useful household items.

CORK IT!

The Boones chose this cork pattern for its green hues, which complement Susan’s extensive glass collection. But the floor has other benefits as well. Not only is it a renewable natural resource and a sustainable material (so it’s great for the environment), cork also has a softer quality underfoot than hardwood, vinyl or ceramic floors. Plus, it’s a natural thermal insulator, so bare feet stay warm during winter.

DON’T BE FOOLED

Vinyl and linoleum are two very different products, though few recognize the difference. Vinyl, essentially a plastic product, is less environmentally friendly than linoleum, which is made from natural resources. Linoleum is also credited with having a longer lifespan than vinyl?30 to 40 years, compared with 10 to 20. Plus linoleum can be shredded and turned into compost when it’s time to remodel. For a good linoleum product, check out Marmoleum by Forbo, available at Greener Lifestyles, 5317 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle, (206) 545-4405.

CLEAN UP

The worst thing in your kitchen may be your cleaning solutions, some of which contain harsh chemicals that are tough on your health and rough on the environment. Stop by the Environmental Home Center for a variety of earth-friendly products, such as Bioshield Floor Milk, $10.09 for 1 liter.

DISPOSE ALL

Looking for an easy disposal of your old cabinets? Call Sandy Campbell at 1 Earth 1 Design (206-418-8120). Campbell donated the Boones’ old cabinets to a local needy family–something she does with all her projects.

GO FOR A FACE-LIFT

If you’re thinking about remodeling your cabinets or hardwood floors, your best environmental bet is wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, a nonprofit group that promotes responsible forestry by accrediting and monitoring certification organizations to ensure compliance with requirements designed to protect natural habitats and conserve resources. FSC-certified woods come in a variety of species, so your remodel options are nearly endless. For more details, visit fscus.org.

HIT THE GAS

Often used in cabinet construction in older homes, MDF (medium density fiberboard) slowly releases formaldehyde gasses into the air. Campbell recommends feeling underneath your cabinets; if you have exposed MDF, stop by the Environmental Home Center for an easy fix: a sealant, such as Safecoat Hard Seal, $30.90 for a gallon. If you’re constructing new cabinets, go the same route the Boones did: Have them made with a Europly interior, a sustainable, formaldehyde-free material also available at the Environmental Home Center. Beneath counter tops, ask your contractor to use a wheat board substrate; it’s a natural, renewable resource that is formaldehyde free.

KEEP IT IN LOW

Less is better when it comes to volatile organic compounds. If you’re looking to repaint a room or stain a surface, it’s worth your time–and health–to use low- or no-VOC products. They contain reduced levels of compounds that emit smog-producing pollutants into the air and have been credited with preserving both indoor and outdoor air quality, as well as reducing eye or respiratory irritation from exposure to VOC fumes.

Low-to no-VOC paints can be found at the following:

Rodda paint carries an extensive line of earth-friendly paints. For a location in your area, call (800) 452-2315.
To pick your new color, try the Ultimate Paint Chip, a paint sample the size of a poster, 18 by 24 inches, by C2, a low-VOC paint. Available at Daly’s, 3525 Stone Way N., Seattle, (206) 633-4200.
Environmental Home Center, 4121 First Ave. S., Seattle, (206) 682-7332.
Winslow Paint, 937 Hildebrand Lane N.E., Bainbridge Island, (206) 842-2227.