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Sustainable Living on a Budget: Kitchen Design

There’s no doubt that sustainability is the current chosen buzzword in the world of interior design. After being homebound for a year, many of our own users have been rethinking their spending habits and evaluating their living spaces. What’s more, this month marks the World Recycling and Earth Hour Days – optimal moments to consider the environmental, social, and economic impact of your household decor over its whole life cycle, from production to disposal.

desert kitchen vibes smeg fridge

📷 Breeze


A kitchen is often viewed as the heart of the home, and increasingly as an ecosystem devoted to health and wellbeing. Therefore, it should be durable, energy-efficient, and “healthy” from foundation to furnishings. Sourcing sustainable items for kitchen renovations has historically been tough and has equated to huge amounts of waste as there are lots of different materials and elements involved.


But we can lend a helping hand. Let’s navigate the options that can help you upcycle and reuse elements in your kitchen to save money and lower your carbon footprint – from the most drastic solutions to the simplest.


Start Afresh


One approach to renovating your kitchen is to buy an ex-display model or get the entire thing second-hand. Used kitchens are sold at 50-70% less than the original cost, and you can reduce your environmental impact simultaneously. Shop local to avoid shipping costs by using sites such as eBay, Gumtree, Freecycle, and Facebook Marketplace to find complete kitchens, as well as worktops, cabinets, islands, and appliances.


modern led kitchen design with pink lighting

📷 Mallory


Your local area may also have a Buy Nothing group that operates through Facebook – a classified ads section where everything is offered and received for no cost. If you're in no hurry, you can put out a request for items and maybe even grab some free kitchen cabinets!


Rethink Your Materials: Longevity Is Key


The idea is to create a cooking environment built to last, using as little material as possible. BWP Grade or Waterproof Plywood is a good option as it is strong, durable, and budget-friendly too. You’ll find that Scandinavian and contemporary kitchens incorporate blond plywood for furniture and cabinets which could pleasantly contrast with a black marble countertop or black modern dining chairs.


repurposed green kitchen cabinetry

📷 Stacey Dyer


“The wood wastage of the plywood manufacturing process is significantly less when compared with traditional lumber practices.'' But, to guarantee ethical manufacturing and ensure it is formaldehyde-free, you must choose Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified plywood.

For worktops, make a positive environmental impact by using recycled glass, rather than concrete which has a high carbon footprint. Glass that would otherwise go to landfills is crushed and set into a resin that isn’t porous and won’t stain.


Look at eco-friendly flooring made of cork, a renewable resource, as the bark can be harvested repeatedly without damage to the tree. Bamboo also costs considerably less than traditional hardwoods and delivers the same benefits. When treated with periodic maintenance, both are durable. Plus, eco-friendly flooring uses no or limited toxic chemicals in production, which means that the harmful gases released when carpeting ages will be mitigated.


Consider Energy and Water Efficiency


Refrigerators and dishwashers are the main culprits when it comes to waste in the kitchen, so you should definitely consider upgrading. The perfect energy-saving tools are smart appliances that will ensure that you use energy and water more wisely. They can determine when household energy consumption is at its lowest and run at specific times.


teal blue kitchen cabinets with boho decorations

📷 Courtney Equall


A Grundig EcoChamp dishwasher uses low resource consumption that reduces your utility bills, while a smart refrigerator allows you to detect when food is about to expire. However, even just installing a fridge with a smaller freezer section to avoid energy spikes can have a considerable impact.


Minor Revamping and Repurposing


If you are planning to downsize to a smaller home, or are wanting to relocate in the next few years, perhaps a surface-level kitchen renovation is a more practical option:


  • Upgrade your cabinet handles with semi-circle black plywood knobs or recycled plastic Hackås handles for a bespoke feel.

  • Professionally spray-paint your kitchen cabinets and doors with sustainable raw materials, such as soy oil, to reduce the amount of solvent and swerve the need for new units entirely.

  • Look at custom corner units to maximize every nook and cranny and be space-efficient so you can implement new containers to separate compost, recycling, and waste.


small kitchen space decor with green kitchen color

📷 Courtney


Irrespective of your budget, whether you are after a whole revamp, new fridge, or just looking to repaint your cabinets, there’s always something you can do to update your kitchen while continuing to help the planet. The DecorMatters app, powered by augmented reality and artificial intelligence, will further encourage you to stay within your price range and enable you to visualize future kitchen renovations.



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