Green Renovations & Living with the Chaos

17 Nov

Happy Wednesday team!
Today we welcome Lisa to share a few tales from her kitchen:

I love No Waste Wednesdays because I love reminders
that push me towards better choices and actions.

Here are some random thoughts and principles that have shaped my/our decisions in our home and in our recent kitchen renovation project.  Because I like lists, it is a list, in no particular order, except for number one which is actually the number one point.

1. Use what you have.

  • We had a good-sized usable space for our kitchen, but needed a better plan.
  • We considered an addition, but decided on custom redo instead with help.  The addition meant more money and more disruption.
  • We did lots of our own planning with free room planning software and experimented lots with ideas before we made a final plan and started buying things.
  • We reused our kitchen island brought from a previous home and matched cabinets to it.
  • We decided on custom cabinetry from a family member’s company in order to have good help, fair pricing, and quality work.
  • We spent time, money, and resources as we had them from a fall 2009 start to “almost done” now in November  2010.    My husband Rob did lots of the work himself with help from friends and family.  I did lots of set-up and clean-up, and some motivational talks. J

2. Seek greater efficiency in small steps.

  • We have been talking about new windows in our house, including in the kitchen, since we moved in the house in summer 1999, but struggled to find enough money to do all the windows at once.
  • We decided to redo the window over the kitchen sink as part of the reno, to improve air circulation in the room and air flow in the house overall (when combined with 2nd new window in kids room).
  • Rob asked for free help from a brother and his dad to save money, and installed it on a weekend.

3. Consider what you really need, not just what is “normal” for the room.

  • This applies especially to appliances.
  • Lots of people say, “Why no dishwasher?”  We decided not to get a dishwasher, and keep washing by hand.  It works, and it means conversation (sometimes) when someone comes to dry.
  • I did buy appliance paint to redo scratched front of the fridge versus being tempted to get a new/shiny one.

4. Change cleaning products in small steps.

  • As things become “new/newer” in our kitchen, I am more motivated to clean. As a result, I have been shifting to green cleaners one at a time.
  • I like Method products, but am on the look-out for new affordable products.
  • I occasionally go to the basics of baking soda and vinegar.

5. Share, give away, repurpose what you don’t need from the old.

  • We thought about reusing some of the old cabinets and countertops in the garage, rather than throwing it out.  We could have used some of it, but didn’t really need it all.
  • We ended up sacrificing the idea of garage cabinetry in order to give the old set to a friend redoing basement in order to rent out basement suite.  I still want to see the pictures of their suite.
  • Anyone need a quality well-loved dining table and 3-4 good chairs?
  • By reordering and storing non-daily items from the kitchen, we discovered small appliances and stuff we don’t really use much or need.  If you want to see the “free list”, let me know.

6. Plan for other good practices in a kitchen plan – such as composting and recycling.

  • I usually reuse an ice cream pail with lid, (what my family called the chicken pail) which is filled and then carried out back behind the garden shed. My compost area is old school.  A loosed fenced off area where I bring kitchen compost and mix in grass, leaf, and yard clippings. I hope to soon figure out a vermicomposting, or composting storage under the sink with more storage space.  Maybe Luke and Myriam can help me design something once the cabinet doors are installed?
  • My six year old daughter Maddie takes recycling from kitchen box (under the sink) to porch large IKEA bag until full.  Josh (3 yrs) sometimes is a recruit for this process.  Then she takes it downstairs to sort into categories about once a week.  Our downstairs recycling system includes – leaf bags which we reuse on a metal frame (for about 7 years) for cardboard, bottles/juice (which go straight to youth group/community fundraisers), paper, milk bottles, tin cans, and random plastics.

7. Cultivate contentment.

  • When it comes to renos, it is tempting to buy lots of new stuff because it’s fun to buy, it’s part of the “redo” industry, or it’s assumed “you deserve it”.
  • We decided to keep the same curtains because they still match the paint we picked.  We can close or open them easily to enjoy the sun on the south side of the house for greater heat gain in the winter.
  • We are still waiting for drawer fronts and doors, and will finish moulding around windows, ceiling, and floor later on.
  • We have still been having friends over to eat and visit during the year of work, and using our kitchen even though it wasn’t perfect, pretty, or done.  Sharing around the table is important to us – food, games, crafts, reading, computer time, homework, coffee, and more.

8.        Look for new ideas wherever you can.

By Lisa


  • Inspiration to write – Myriam – thanks for pushing me ever so gently to do this.
  • Custom cabinets by Topline Cabinetry.
  • Sink and faucet by Ikea.
  • Window by Zac’s, Hague, SK (shop local!)
  • Credit for many of these principles needs to go to my people – Margaret Nelson (maternal grandmother) and Diane Peters (mother), and now Madeline Braun (daughter) who has embraced green thinking already.

Thanks Lisa!!

4 Responses to “Green Renovations & Living with the Chaos”

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