Kitchen Update with Sustainability in Mind

Beloved readers-I am so excited to share with you a first for this space: another person’s project. A dear friend of mine recently replaced select portions of her kitchen. She was mindful to make choices that were both ecologically responsible and also pleasing to her esthetic. We will start with the beautiful before and after photos, and then I will share a bit of the history of her home and kitchen.

East wall, before.
East wall, after.
The stove that started the project.

The stove was in the home when my friend purchased it in 2003, and had become more worn and dysfunctional over time. It had several rust spots that had gone clear through the top, and the knob on the oven temperature selector had broken, so that it took some finesse and/or pliers to adjust the temperature. A simple fix would have been to just replace the appliance. Unfortunately, it was pinned in by the lower cabinets on one side and butted right up to the exterior wall on the other, where a window sill further hemmed it in. If the stove was coming out, so were the cabinets. As my friend began shopping for lower cabinets, the sales people pointed out that if she replaced only the lowers, they would not match the uppers. She considered it, and decided that she did want the upper and lower cabinets to match. The kitchen designers assumed “Of course, you will want to replace that tile.”” Oh No!” my friend responded, “the tile is my favorite element in the house. I don’t want to tear it out!” She would have to repeat this preference to each kitchen designer she consulted, as well as the laborers who came to do the work. The sink was also broken and needed to be replaced.

Close up of the charming retro tile.
She chose a 24″ stove, which suits her cooking sensibilities as well as fitting nicely in the 1951 era home.

Also, by placing the stove several inches from the wall and adding cabinet and counter space between, the usefulness of the space is exponentially improved. The home owner splurged on glass fronts for two of the upper cabinets to display some of her attractive dishware. The modern sink is two inches deeper than the previous one and the faucet higher, which also improves the functionality of the sink.

In order to minimize any negative environmental effects of the kitchen renewal, all salvageable materials were donated. The cabinets went to Habitat for Humanity and the stove to a local metal recycler.

No change was made to the flooring, which is still in good shape. Earlier design choices include adding an island shortly after buying the home.

This unit adds storage and work space in a sunny area.
When the previous, over-sized refrigerator stopped working in 2012, my friend replaced it with a smaller one and switched the placement of the fridge and the island, which was previously against the back wall. This simple switch improved light and traffic flow to several areas of the home. The island is now bathed in light, which filters to the nearby dining room. The larger refrigerator had overhung the door opening to the living spaces obstructing light and traffic. The smaller fridge is also short enough to house the microwave oven And everywhere in the kitchen, the walls are decorated with the sunny, beloved tile.


  1. I love the tile, and I’m so glad she kept it. I’m also glad she stuck to her guns rather than go with what the expert designers wanted to do. Very smart decision about the stove I can see how it’s more user friendly smaller and spaced a little away from the wall.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The home owner recognizes that the design experts had some great suggestions, that improved the functionality of the kitchen. She also wryly noted that many of their suggestions also would have increased the final cost of the project. Because she was so clear in her vision of what she wanted, it was easy for her to decide what to include and what to leave be.

      Liked by 2 people

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