Elements of an Eco Friendly Kitchen: Countertop and Tiles

Eco friendly kitchen via mindfulmomma.com Designing a new kitchen is something I have dreamed about for a very long time. Long before I owned my own home, I subscribed to magazines like Metropolitan Home (anyone remember that one?) and oogled over photos in the New York Times Home & Style sections. I’ve kept folders full of inspirational ideas and more recently become addicted to Houzz.com. And now, almost 23 years after purchasing our first home, my husband and I are embarking on the BIG KITCHEN REMODEL!! We’ve been working for months on floor plans, interviewing contractors and slowly but surely choosing appliances and materials. As you can imagine, given my eco-minded bent, I’ve been trying to make this as green a project as possible. I wish I could say we’re building a LEED certified kitchen, but we’re not. We’re doing what we can, while balancing costs and all the many factors that come into play in a project this big. Throughout the project, I’m planning to give a few updates on some of the choices we’re making and materials we’re choosing. Let’s start with counters and tiles! Minnesota granite via mindfulmomma.com

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Countertop Materials

What constitutes an eco friendly countertop? Recycled materials? Something repurposed? Easily renewable materials? Or is it simply something that will last for a very long time? It’s hard to pinpoint one “best” choice and the truth is, most of the popular eco choices just won’t work in our kitchen. We’ve already done Paperstone (love it but it needs a lot of maintenance) and recycled glass countertops (beautiful but spendy/trendy) in two different bathrooms in our home. For the kitchen, we need something super durable (we’re going to work this kitchen hard!) and with classic good looks for resale value (not that we’re planning to sell anytime soon but you have to think about these things). In the end, we decided to go with granite for the kitchen. To lighten the footprint a bit we chose granite mined locally in Minnesota rather than far away in Brazil or India. We picked two colors –  Rockville White for the island and Lake Superior Green (the darker color) for the perimeter countertops. Even though the material is mined, I feel confident that its durability makes granite a good choice for the long run. If you want to dive a little deeper, check out these articles on eco friendly countertop materials and popular countertop materials on Houzz or best eco friendly countertops on Apartment Therapy. Elements of an Eco Friendly Kitchen Remodel via mindfulmomma.com

Backsplash Tiles

For the most part, our kitchen colors will be pretty neutral but the backsplash is where we’ll introduce a little color. I’ve been having so much fun looking at tiles – there are so many beautiful choices! On the eco side, we’re considering tiles made from recycled clay as well as handmade tiles from craftspeople with small businesses. I’m drawn to the crackle glaze – can you see that in the photo above? It adds a little movement without being too busy. We haven’t finalized our choices but we’re leaning toward 3 x 6 subway tiles made on a recycled clay body from Fireclay Tile. We plan to also use a few handmade decorative tiles from North Prairie Tileworks – which is just up the street from our house.  I love supporting small, creative businesses when I can! Here’s a fantastic list of eco friendly tile options. The article mentions Fireclay as well as Blazestone recycled glass tiles, which we used in our bathroom remodel a few years ago.

The Remodel

Wish us luck as we attempt to live without a kitchen for a good part of the summer. We’re no strangers to remodeling – we redid the exterior of our house a couple of years back, so we know what it’s like to deal with chaos for a while. But we love to cook and eat good food so it’s going to be hard! Construction is set to start in mid to late July and I’ll be posting updates about our remodeling adventures on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter. Follow along!

Have you remodeled your kitchen? What eco friendly elements did you use?

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  1. The counter top which you’ve chosen is beautiful! We’re in the process of building a new home. We’re trying to make it as Eco-friendly as possible but, like you, we’ve found some problems. It’s a hard balancing act to use “green” materials that are affordable and will last a long, long time! I’ve also discovered that even when I find a material that is green, it’s not always available locally and, when it is, it often takes special knowledge to install … and most of the builders in our area don’t know a thing about it. On the plus side, we are finding builders who are very familiar with things like solar, insulation, etc. So, in the end, we just do the best that we can and try to make our home as green as possible. Thank you for sharing your experience … I’ll be taking note of the other things you do in your kitchen!

    1. Wow – a whole home – that is a big undertaking! I hope you’ll write about your experiences on your blog – I’ll follow along!

  2. Micaela, This post is so timely for me! We are spending July renovating our kitchen for the first time and are busy looking at countertops and tiles. Thanks for the great info, I’ll be sharing it with my hubby!

    1. Cool! I’ll be curious to know what you choose for your kitchen Sara!

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