Green with Envy
Senior Editor Sue Bady discusses green and luxury kitchens and baths
I have a love/hate relationship with my dishwasher. I love the convenience, but I hate the noise. It groans and swooshes its way through the wash and rinse cycles and is so loud I have to turn up the volume on the TV to hear anything. I'll bet it wastes water, too.
That leads me to wonder what my new kitchen would look like if money were no object. Recently I asked kitchen and bathroom designer Mary Jo Peterson what she thought the future held in store for kitchens in luxury homes, and out popped the "g" word. Some people, she says, believe green will be the new luxury in kitchens. There's evidence that the greening of America's kitchens has already begun; just witness what's happened with Energy Star appliances. In the latest AIA Home Design Trends Survey, more than 60 percent of residential architects reported an increased use of flooring made of a renewable material such as cork or bamboo. More than 41 percent said that concrete countertops — also considered renewable — are more widespread, and natural stone countertops are still popular.
Water conservation is an area where kitchen appliances and fixtures have made great strides. Faucets with aerators and hot- and chilled-water dispensers eliminate the need to run the tap until the water reaches the desired temperature. New dishwashers use less water — especially dishwasher drawers, which are great for homeowners who usually wash small loads.
Upscale green kitchens would likely have cabinets made either from solid wood or an alternative such as wheatboard, both formaldehyde-free. Paints, stains and finishes would be water-based, with little or no VOCs. One relatively new option, LED lighting, is very energy-efficient and long-lasting. It's not widely available and can be expensive, but it's something builders may want to investigate.
Getting back to my dishwasher dilemma: what I really covet are those new models that are so quiet the only way to tell that they're operating is a small red light on the front panel. If that's not luxury, I don't know what is. CB
Susan Bady, 630/288-8194, email@example.com