We had a great time at the Philadelphia Home Show. Owner Sean Lewis created this upcycle grill cart for the Habitat for Humanity Upcycle Challenge. It was really cool being part of the home show and we even got on the morning news! The entries were auctioned off for charity (habitat) and we hope this groovy grill has gone to a good home. Unfortunately, we didn't win, but free tickets to the home show for the Airy Kitchens team and all of our clients was prize enough. Always happy to help Philadelphia Restore. Go check them out on Washington Ave!
7) Design smart and plan ahead.
Before you start picking out materials, create a design and plan a budget. Consider limiting the following: changes to load bearing walls, moving sinks and stoves, and changes to electrical and hvac components. If you are thinking of changing the layout or adding windows, consider the sunlight throughout the day and any views you may or may not want to see. If you measure twice and plan ahead, you will reduce mistakes and waste.
6) Donate used items to salvage shops and go shopping while you're there.
There's no reason to throw away old hardware, light fixtures, or cabinets. Call a salvage store to schedule a pick up or sell items on craigslist. You will be surprised how fast old hardware sells at a garage sale! Some salvage stores like Habitat for Humanity's Re-Store will give you a tax write-off. If you're at the salvage shops, look around for materials and hardware you need. Some stores even have brand new tools and supplies.
5) Refinish cabinets with paint or new doors.
New cabinetry is a huge expense, so refinish what you already own. This will cut down on costs and create less waste. Architectural details like brackets and feet can be added to existing cabinets for a fresh look. If the cabinet doors are dated, hire a pro to replace them. Used hardware can also be painted for a quick update.
4) Read up on materials and VOC's.
When deciding on cabinets, flooring and paint, it's important to know about how a material is made, whether it's recyclable, and if it's healthy to be around. How building materials effect our health is probably a topic for another, longer post, but here are a few good resources to learn more: HPDC Pharos . Although some synthetic materials may advertise being 'green', we like to source natural materials that we know are renewable and will age gracefully.
3) Up-cycle old furniture.
To create a special project, think outside the box. Repurpose old furniture like this hutch to create a unique built-in. Use old crates or baskets as drawers. Use industrial style shelves for plants or dishes. A fresh coat of paint is nice, but sometimes an old piece with the right patina is even better.
2) Use re-claimed lumber
Re-claimed lumber looks great on walls or as shelves. Consider finding old wood paneling in your home or garage and repurpose it on a ceiling or accent wall. Use a thin whitewash to give an updated look without covering the aged patina. How about cabinets made from reclaimed wood? Check out these!
1) Reuse what you already have!
Just because you're removing walls doesn't mean you can't patch existing floors. Just because you're installing recessed lights doesn't mean you have to take down the whole ceiling. Many contractors want to demo as much as possible so they can start over with a smooth and level surface, but at what cost? Old houses are imperfect and that old plaster ceiling is more soundproof and insulated than new drywall will be. Often this step is more expensive than buying new products and throwing out the old ones, but reusing existing items gives your home a sense of history and is the best sustainable decision you can make.
Here in Philadelphia, there are a lot of urban roof decks. These entertaining spaces are usually two floors above the kitchen and barbecuing becomes a marathon workout. Enter the Outdoor Kitchen. Todays home-cooks want a place to work around the BBQ, and keep their beer cold. Northeast weather is harsh though, so your indoor kitchen won't do. Here are the best (and worst) options:
Wood looks great and adds warmth to the space. Only a few wood types should be used for outdoor cabinetry, so make sure you buy from a reputable company. The negatives? Doors can warp and wood needs more upkeep than other options.
Stainless Steel Cabinets
Stainless is tough and we think it looks the best. It can be powder-coated many different colors and is low maintenance. However, it is the most expensive, and it gets hot in full sun.
Like wood, plastics come in different grades, so look for a quality material that won't fade or crack. Synthetic materials are low maintenance, easy to clean, and come in a variety of colors.
Counters, hardware and floors
We recommend a stone counter like marble, granite, soapstone or quartzite. Counters will need to be sealed for outdoor use. Avoid synthetic counters, as they can melt against a hot grill. All hardware should be stainless. Outdoor cabinet pulls can be wood or plastic, but stainless is best. Set your kitchen on a solid surface like a concrete pad or hardwood deck.
Only use outdoor rated appliances. The Northeast has harsh weather and indoor appliances won't cut it. Built-in grills can sit against stainless cabinets, but wood and synthetic cabinets should have a heat barrier. Any water will need to be shut off in the winter, so instal a shut-off valve in a convenient location.
Enjoy your outdoor kitchen. They are convenient and a great way to keep the party out of your house.