The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

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« Induction Cooktops - Cooking Green | Main | Green Kitchen Countertops »

Designing Green Kitchens 101

It occurs to me that one of my "life philosophies" translates very well to designing a green kitchen. I'm one who tries to be aware, not only of black and white, but shades of gray in relation to an issue. The shades of gray give us freedom, flexibility, and choices to find the right path toward the right solution, in this case, designing green. It is awareness.

Once one goes into the world of "green design" it's easy to become immersed in a world, not only of green products, but of ways to have a green lifestyle in general. 

You can go down that road as slowly and as near or far as you want to. I find that it is a journey. You can choose to be more "lite green" in your philosophy than "forest green." Think of it as fluid. I am finding the more I know, the more I want to know, forming my own, personal, version of a green philosophy (which is often changing.)

Here are some easy ways to begin thinking green for a kitchen remodel. You can incorporate just some of these ideas to make a difference. Find your own shade of green! Today, I will only focus on cabinetry, appliances, and countertops. Another day, I will address other areas of the kitchen.

My intent with this information is to keep it simple. To offer an easy starting point.



  • Resue/reconfigure, donate, or sell your old cabinetry, perhaps keeping some for storage elsewhere in the home
  • If you are redesigning the cabinetry in your kitchen, look for FSC certified woods, formaldehyde free plywood, as a minimum criteria. You do not need to go with a completely green cabinet if it does not make your heart sing. Again, find your right shade of green, as this is one of your most costly investments in the project.
  • Look for no or low VOC paints and finishes
  • Look for cabinetry manufactured in a 500 mile radius
  • Design cabinetry for universal design, maximum accessibility, or, multi generational use
  • Select products which will be long lasting and durable 
  • Add in a recycling center 



  • Replace old appliances to gain far better energy efficiency
  • Buy energy star appliances
  • Seriously consider induction cooktops - fyi, the major, high end, cookware manufacturers have produced beautiful, new, cookware just for induction cooking. Induction cooking is 50% more efficient than gas or electric.
  • Get pedal or sensor activated faucets



This post on green countertops will continue to expand. Take a look, ask your designer about your options, see samples, and then "beat up" the samples to check durability, as I recommend. You want to make sure your countertop can last decades! And, you really want to love it! 

Find your own path to green. I do think this is an issue that is worthy of increasing your awareness about, absolutely. You know, with all the media focus on global warming in recent years, here's my philosophy. Few of us are scientists, of course. I'm certainly not. But, my own perception of all the attention on this issue sways me to err on the side of increasing my awareness, as well as my knowledge bank, than the other way around. You'll find the way that is right for you. I do need to advise you to beware of greenwashing. Always something bad comes with something good, it seems.

I have just added another blog link section called "Green Design Blogs" and will be adding to these over time.


Tell me about your green philosophy/thoughts, I'd love to hear them! What do you know, what do you think? What can you share?


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Reader Comments (4)

This is a great topic. Making green choices is a lot easier today than it ever was in the past and can often lead to much better design in the end!

We're in the process of rehabbing a house and our kitchen will meet quite a few of the items you listed: FSC-certified cabinets, cork floors, Energy Star appliances, and a quartz-resin countertop (Caesarstone). Being environmentally conscious was a priority for us, but good design was as well. We were able to have both with very little extra effort or research!

October 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDamon

Damon, much more to come too, thanks for stopping by. Looks like you're making good progress in your house! I vote for recessed panel doors, not raised panel!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your motivations for your kitchen remodel. It really is a lot easier, you're right about that. I like cork floors. They vary in price a lot, but they have so many good properties about them, not the least of which is comfort. They are a great choice for kitchen flooring. I'm going to follow your progress, and keep me in the loop too, please when the kitchen gets installed.

October 16, 2007 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Who makes recessed panel doors at a reasonable price? All I could find were the molded prehung stuff...

I've been a bad blogger because we have all sorts of updates. I need to get pictures of the freshly mudded, taped, and sanded drywall up!

I'll definitely let you know as we get closer and start trying to figure out what we should do for appliances. We've got gas lines for our tankless water heater and stove, so no induction for us.

The wife is still on the fence about a convection oven, though I'm all for it. Your thoughts?

October 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDamon

Good post. People do need to make their own choices and there's a lot of "faux" green out there.

A thought: What about considering green cleaning or at the very least,less dependence on harsh chemical cleaners? There are existing products on the market that one can't use on, say cabinets, right now without destroying the finish.

I'm not saying we have to go back to vinegar and baking soda (do teens under 14 even know what baking soda is? *grin*) but at least consider some of the earth-friendly cleaning products as well. :)

October 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

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