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.
I'm really excited to begin my journey in Philadelphia with Airy Kitchens. After many years of living in very cramped quarters in Brooklyn, my husband and I (and our black lab Nashy) have moved to a beautiful stone house in Mt Airy, Philadelphia. I am the luckiest guy. I can't wait to meet and help many of the friendly people in this area.
-Sean Lewis, Lead Designer and owner of Airy Kitchens