• Susan Van Meter

Eco-Kitchen: Cabinets & Storage



I believe our kitchens should be designed and built to last. They should be timeless, but with lots of personality and character - which can be achieved by accessories and hints of colour that can be easily changed if desired. As society starts to move away from throw-away habits and trends, I look forward to more people fostering longevity and creating lasting interiors.


I'm always on my mission to show you that sustainable can mean stylish. Here I show you how: sustainable kitchen design studios and eco-friendly materials you can use in your kitchen redesign!




SUSTAINABLE KITCHEN CABINETS.


I don’t need to tell you there are thousands of kitchen manufacturers to choose from at a whole range of price points. It can be overwhelming. Especially when you're looking for furniture and materials that tick all the right sustainable 'boxes'.


The best place to start is to first consider a kitchen that’s manufactured here in the UK and made from FSC approved timbers.


FSC stands for the Forest Stewardship Council and guarantees the woods you are purchasing come from well-managed forests that promote biological diversity and benefits the lives of local people and workers. Helping to ensure our wonderful forests are maintained and alive for future generations.

THE WAY CABINETS ARE MADE.


Unless you are purchasing a solid wood kitchen, which isn’t always recommended because of potential shrinkage and expansion from the varying temperatures in a home, most kitchens cabinets are made from chipboard or MDF and then veneered in timber or spray painted.

Of course, the construction and final finish depend on your budget and the style you want to create.

To be honest there are not many kitchen companies that supply materials and products that limit the use of chemicals and use earth-friendly manufacturing processes to choose from. If you're out there let me know, I'm always happy to add you to my list!



Quick Reference - Cabinet Material Options:
  • Solid Hardwood can be made using lots of different types of wood. Some of the most popular include oak, walnut, cherry, and maple. You should opt for FSC accredited timbers. Especially when treated, wood kitchen cabinets can last for years. However, they can be more expensive and can expand and contract over time.

  • MDF is more dense than hardwood and gives a smoother finish with no grain, making it ideal if you are painting kitchen cabinet doors yourself, to get a professional look.

  • Plywood with a hardwood veneer face layered over a softwood plywood core can produce solid slab doors. It's affordable, available in large sheets and various wood species to allow a wood-look interior to your cabinet box.

  • Chipboard is part of the same family of engineered wood as plywood, but is made from either wood chips or scraps. Another more affordable option.

  • Stainless Steel can give you a sleek modern look. As well as shiny plain steel, stainless steel cabinets can be painted for a more interesting and colorful appearance, plus it's easy to clean.


Let's take a look at my favourite eco-kitchen design studios.



SUSTAINABLE KITCHENS.


Sustainable Kitchens is based in Bristol. They produce modern, classic, and timeless kitchens using FSC timbers, water-based paint. They are committed to making the planet greener by offsetting as much carbon as possible. I particularly like their formaldehyde-free plywood cabinets. Their kitchens begin at £35,000 and upward.

Plywood birch painted cabinets, with polished brass work surfaces.


HOLTE.


Holte is the only kitchen design studio to calculate the CO2-e impact of every product they make. This unique insight allows them to spot opportunities for innovation – in refinement of materials, design or manufacturing processes – to help drive down their emissions. They work with sustainability experts MÅLBAR to accurately calculate and verify all of their data, ranging from their materials, surface treatments, production, transportation; and even down to the final disposal.



All of their woods are FSC or PEFC accredited and their Valchromat MDF core is made from woodchip waste and pallets. They're working to make all of their products circular. Quality and longevity are central to their design principles, ensuring your kitchen lasts and can be enjoyed for longer.



They can also calculate the CO2-e of each proposal. This helps you make a more informed decision about the final choice of materials and styles. Love it!








CABINET MATERIALS.


Any combination of colour and finishes are possible, so you can be as creative as you would like.

However, If this kitchen refurbishment is not in your forever home, I would recommend keeping to finishes and colours that might appeal to most people - just to be prudent. (perhaps not with a polished brass worktop or backsplash!) All that matters is that you love it and live with it.



LINOLEUM.

An interesting sustainable finish that can be applied to the face of the cabinets is linoleum - yes, you read that correctly!


It can look very sleek - giving you a contemporary, sustainable, and hard-wearing surface. Years ago we used it for floors with inlaid patterns. It's only re-surfaced (forgive the pun) recently as an interior finish again. Available in a good selection of colours, this material can give you creative free reign.


Forbo Nairn manufactures a product called Furniture Linoleum - these sage green cabinets are fronted with Forbo linoleum.


They have a wide variety of colour options and many positive sustainable benefits.



Here are the eco-benefits, taken from the Forbo Nairn website:

  • Made from 97% natural raw materials, 72% of which are renewable and will grow back within 10 years

  • The flax plant is Marmoleum's key ingredient, linseed oil.

  • Marmoleum is made with 43% recycled content to reduce the need for virgin raw material

  • Marmoleum is 100% biodegradable

  • Of all the electricity used in making the flooring, 100% comes from renewable sources.

  • Marmoleum performs well from the minute it's installed, but it also becomes stronger over time, making it more durable. And because it does not mark, any cuts will join together again and is easy to clean.

  • Topshield2 finish, which, together with natural antibacterial ingredients, means it is hygienic and needs less cleaning with fewer harmful chemicals.



The images above are credited to The Drawing Room, a Danish design firm, who have used lino on these cabinets to provide a very smart, modern look with clean lines. Gorgeous!



KITCHEN STORAGE.


If it feels like you never have enough storage in the kitchen despite tons of drawers and cabinets, it may come down to how you’re storing things. All the storage space in the world won’t help if the items inside of it are disorganized.


Here are some of my favourite kitchen storage solutions that can keep your kitchen running smoothly.

LEMANS CORNER UNIT


One of my favourite super useful devices is the LeMans corner unit, this piece of equipment cleverly optimizes those tricky corners that one can never access properly, well now you can.


LARDER CUPBOARD


If you love the idea of a walk-in-pantry, but just don't have the space, you can still have somewhere to hoard your ever-expanding collection of jams and sauces. A larder cupboard will provide plenty of kitchen storage, plus they look gorgeous. Neptune has some lovely options.



BUTCHERS BLOCK


A butcher's block is a great addition to a kitchen, they look lovely, bringing that rustic vibe, but they also add extra space to prep, plus drawers or shelves for more storage space. There are fabulous secondhand options available - sustainable and tons of character!



STORAGE CONTAINERS.


A cost-effective and plastic-free option for food storage are these containers by IKEA. Made from glass with hardwearing and versatile bamboo tops. They’re also very reasonably priced, dare I say - cheap! IKEA has gone a long way in recent months to dispel their reputation as fast furniture manufacturers for a throw-away society - to re-invent themselves as concerned stewards of the planet.


By 2030, they are committed to only using renewable and recycled materials and to reduce their climate footprint by an average of 70% per product. Let's hope they stick to this commitment.


Smart plastic-free storage.


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