Sustainable Design: The Earth-Friendly Kitchen

Here’s how rustic accents add a warm feeling to a sleek, eco-minded space.

Many eco-conscious architects today favor minimalist design. But Andrew Kotchen and Matthew Berman of the environmentally minded New York City firm Workshop/APD have made a name for themselves by mixing modern with traditional style, especially in places like Nantucket, Massachusetts. “We call it contextual modernism,” says Kotchen. Vintage-inspired accents, like panels with the look of bead board (an iconic Nantucket look) and wire-mesh-fronted cabinets add warmth to the latest earth-friendly building materials. “We really try and add as many sustainable features as possible into every home we design,” Kotchen says. “We scrutinize and evaluate every material, based on how it is made and what it is made of.”

Kitchen Details

1. Ceiling

To give this Nantucket kitchen a grand feel, Kotchen and Berman used Douglas fir beams (certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC) on the 18-foot-high ceiling.

2. Tiles

“They’re a longer, rustic take on subway tile,” says Kotchen of the hand-glazed Grove Brickworks pieces on the walls. From $18 per sq ft;

3. Countertops

Caesarstone, made with recycled materials, is “very durable and very green,” says Kotchen. From $65 per sq ft;

4. Cabinets

The grooved design resembles bead board, a Nantucket signature. The Benjamin Moore paint in Decorators White is low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

5. Appliances

Special settings for preheating, cooking and self- cleaning on Bosch’s wall oven save energy. From $2,900;

The Modular Kitchen

Sustainable Design: The Modular Kitchen
Photo © Studio Leon.

Workshop/APD spent three years designing a line of modular cabinets and kitchen islands called Timeline with Italian kitchen company Aster Cucine. The new collection uses FSC-certified lumber and recycled wood, plus aged elements like oxidized metal. The kitchens are available at Aster Cucine showrooms.

Smart Sustainable Design

Equipment Editing

“The trend is to over-appliance,” says Kotchen. “We explain to clients that having a warming drawer, double oven, convection oven and eight-burner range is probably unnecessary—especially when most people don’t even have eight pots that they use. Getting people to break those habits is one of the hardest things.”

Sustainable Design: Storage Space
Photo © T. G. Olcott.

Storage Space

“We install very few upper cabinets in our kitchens,” says Kotchen. “People don’t like reaching up that high, and we think it’s far more comfortable to keep your plates and glasses in lower cabinets. There are so many interesting dividers and racks now available that you can store almost anything in deep drawers.”

Geometry Lesson

Kotchen says, “We think the idea of the work triangle is a crock! It’s an archaic approach to kitchen design. There are some appliances that you try to put near one another, but it’s not always practical. Creating a functional kitchen is easy; the hard part is creating a space that feels inviting.”

Sustainable Design: Energy-Saving Cooktop
Photo courtesy of GE.

Energy-Saving Cooktop

Kotchen likes induction cooktops, like the GE Monogram model here, for their energy efficiency and low profile, which blends into the island top. $2,800;

Sustainable Design: Ceramic Tile
Photo courtesy of Ann Sacks.

Pattern Mixing

For a modern take on vertical tongue-and-groove paneling, the architects went horizontal on the custom cabinets. Savoy ceramic tiles from Ann Sacks, made with recycled materials, echo that pattern. From $12 per sq ft;

Sustainable Design: Bamboo Butcher Block
Photo © T. G. Olcott.

Bamboo Butcher Block

Sustainable bamboo mimics the look of traditional maple butcher block on the island. The cabinets are recessed, creating the illusion that the countertop is floating.

Antiqued Floors

To achieve the look of “fumed” wood floors, stained with a technique that involves harsh chemicals, Workshop/APD used a VOC-free stain and vegetable oil on white-oak planks.

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