Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Green Organic Family's New Eco-Friendly Home - Part 1 - Our Green Kitchen Renovation

Happy Memorial Day long weekend, everybody!

It's been a while since my last blog entry, because we've been quite happily busy, settling into our very own new home.  

While the real estate market crash turned many of our friends upside down, it was a good thing for a lot of first-time home-buyers, like us.  Thankfully, we had a month-to-month lease, that gave us the freedom to take our time shopping around, and after several months and many showings, we finally put an offer in on a short sale.  That was an adventure in itself; enough to fill a whole book (which I may eventually write... Haha) ;) Short sales are notorious for being anything but short.  From start to finish, ours took over four months to close.  That's quick in the Land of Short Sales, but I can tell you, I had to rely tremendously on my prior experience as a mortgage loan analyst, and my current experience as a licensed insurance CSR to keep things on track.  For anyone even remotely considering entering a short sale contract, be sure you have some type of experience in some part of the real estate industry, or have a close friend or relative who does.  It's a bumpy road, and you really need to know the terrain, if you want to stay on track.  Most short sales do not have a happy ending (at least, not with the first few offers), but we're happy to report a happy ending to our short sale  adventure.  We now have a lovely home of our own, that's very close to work and school, and in a wonderful, family-friendly cul-de-sac.  We absolutely love our new home.

We're also very happy that we could finally make those green changes we've wanted for so long. that we couldn't do while we were still renting.  The rental we came from was quite old, had aging appliances, no insulation, leaky Jalousie-style windows, along with inefficient window air conditioner units, and we were just helpless to watch all that money gone down the drain (literally), when the utility bills came each month.  We had to get out of that vicious cycle, and now we have, with the greening efforts in our new home.  Already, we've seen a 40% reduction in our energy consumption; a massive difference on our energy bill.  For that, we have to thank the central air conditioning with its programmable thermostat, better insulation, and newer single-hung windows already in place when we bought the house, along with some of the additional energy-saving changes we made, like installing a tankless gas hot water heater, putting in LED lighting around the home, and choosing greener options for appliances, like our new Whirlpool Duet HE washer and dryer.  I love that my new washing machine saves on energy, water, and even on our soap, too!  We've been using BioKleen Premium Plus laundry powder for years; buying a case about once a year.  Now, with our new Whirlpool washer only needing one tablespoon per load, and my doubled-up wash loads in its giant 4.4 cubic-foot drum, my current supply of laundry powder should take us right through 2012!  LOL ;)

Our favorite part of the new house has to be our new kitchen.  My friends and family know how much I love to cook, and I couldn't wait to have a functional space of my own.  The existing kitchen in this home had only one counter and one row of cabinets above it.  The other side of the kitchen had barely enough space for even a bistro table.  We needed to change things up, and this was my tentative plan, guesstimating measurements, and making use of the Mark On Call app for my iPod Touch:
In reality, we ended up having more open space behind the bar stools, so my contractor had the great idea of carrying over the wall cabinetry above the window, and putting in a small pantry on the other side.  That really completed the look of the kitchen.  This is the finished product, making use of the existing sustainable bamboo flooring, stripping the existing wallpaper and painting the walls in "Rhythm of Red" by FreshAire; a No-VOC eco-friendly paint from The Home Depot, installing custom cabinetry and a 30% recycled content, solid-surface counter top (Encore from Samsung's Staron), adding a beautiful and durable Kohler cast-iron double sink, made from 93% recycled content, and mounting new super-energy efficient LED light fixtures under the cabinets, and over the peninsula.  Top it all off with some shiny, new, stainless steel appliances, like my new over-the-range convection microwave, and convection double-oven range, and this is truly our new favorite hang out :)

We couldn't be happier with our new kitchen.  We love having this new central hub for the whole family to convene.  The peninsula's huge counter top gives me plenty of room to prep meals and snacks, and Green Organic Girl loves hanging out with mom, with ample room on her side to paint, draw, do puzzles, and roll out her homemade play dough.   I love being able to look across the counter to see what she's up to, and the easy-to-clean solid-surface counter top makes life a breeze.  Green Organic Dad loves to come in and pull up a chair, and catch up on the day's events.  We love having this great space to eat and play, and be a family :)

More to come on our adventures in our new home!

Click here to go to Part 2 - Installing a Tankless Hot Water Heater.


  1. Faye! I turned out awesome!! Everyone looks happy & content there in the kitchen ;)What is under the bar counter?

  2. Oh thank you, Rachelle :) I love how it turned out. I'm excited for your reno project too! Can't wait to see it all done up :D

    We put a counter-height bar fridge under there, as we had two fridges at the old house, and only one belonged to us. We're still part of our organic produce buying club, so I still have to deal with storing 30 pounds of fruits and veggies. Even so, we couldn't justify buying a second full-size fridge. That's what the bar fridge is for, and it's been working out perfectly :) It's just the right size, and it's conveniently located. To make up for the lost freezer space, we bought a small deep freezer, and put that out on the patio. Perfect for stocking up on organic meat when it goes on sale :D

  3. Hey Faye,

    Congratulation on your new home :)

    I certainly agreed with you in regards to having a green & environmental friendly designed Kitchen, and I love that ideas.

    My wife & I just landed in Canada, Vancouver, and we certainly understand how it was like getting the first house..we were exactly in the situation now.

    All the best, and we will revisit again:)

    Jay Chua