Archive for the ‘Kitchens’ category

VANGUARD Kitchen Designers

June 12th, 2015

I think it is time to refresh the term and our perception of Kitchen Designers and award proper recognition to the modern, progressively unconventional, VANGUARD Kitchen Designers of today, and tomorrow’s.

To do this, I dare to differentiate Vanguard Kitchen Designers from the traditional Kitchen (sales) Designers.

Sales representatives work with customers to find what they want, create solutions and ensure and ensure a smooth and profitable sales process for the business they represent.
Kitchen (sales) Designers, know their products and how to put them together to create a user-safe, functional and attractive space for their customers with the main goal of profiting the business.  They have the option to choose what products they represent, but their measure of success is -only- in the quality of sales and its profit. Kitchen (sales) designers rely on suppliers t provide affordable green choices.

This sounds good, business as usual.  After all, when a business is successful, it is good for the economy and with excess there is the opportunity to help charities and so on.

I invite you to a new chapter of thinking when kitchen designers come to mind. I also hope to influence you and change the way you want to see kitchens and their designers in the future.

But first, what is Vanguard? It means any creative group actively in the forefront of INNOVATION and APPLICATION OF NEW CONCEPTS and technologies in a given field. Vanguard is an old variation of the French word avant-garde, meaning “front-guard”.

I see Vanguard Kitchen Designers as responsible design activists, progressive decision makers, with a special attention to the changing world. They positively influence businesses, introduce and develop new ways of thinking, and drive new and better technologies to emerge. Vanguard Kitchen Designers are also customer oriented, but are very critical with  products and recommend only those that are future-friendly. In addition, Vanguard Kitchen Designers are genuinely sensitive and attentive to the ecological complexity of their design  *** Vanguard Kitchen Designers see and approach design as an ethical business practice for the benefit of all, rather than a user-centred, consumer driven privilege and indulgence. They are constantly evolving and revolutionizing their design applications to meet a much broader spectrum of social and environmental issues, beyond its traditional professional territory.

The good news for the kitchen & bath industry is that products are getting jazzier, greener and more efficient. However, Vanguard Kitchen Designers don’t take the product’s solo offerings at face-value. They consider the product from multiple angles, including its impact on society and the environment.

(TIPs for responsible kitchen design)

  • consider the environmental and social impacts of everything they design
  • think strategically instead of traditionally: see sustainability as a non-negotiable way of doing business
  • are a force in moving from well-intentioned but lightweight ‘greening’ to a deeper and  more impactful sustainability and resilience (Rob Fleming: Design Education for a Sustainable Future) Request companies to clearly identify the origin and ingredients of their product, and how to recycle/reuse them (Sustainble Products are those that provide environmental, social and economic benefits while protecting public health and environment over their whole life cycle, from extraction of raw materials until the final disposal -wikipedia)
  • they are CRITICAL OF appliances: *critical of their ever-growing size in relation to combination of waste; *critical of the positioning of appliances in their design for energy-saving purposes; *critical of the appliance built-in offerings and those increased energy-draw consequences; * critical of their potential IAQ hazards/Indoor Air Quality (see my blog
  • they are CRITICAL OF EVERY MATERIAL that goes into a kitchen and bath space from construction to decoration, and consider all aspects of a product: materials, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, usage, disposal = CO2 reduction, toxicity, less waste, renewable materials
  • ask for transparency. Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a standardised (ISO 14025) and LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) based tool to communicate the environmental performance of a product or system
  • provide transparency via design statement and back-up documentation
  • see luxury in a totally different /vanguard value system (i will write on this in more detail) promote sustainable consumption and production
  • provide COST EFFECTIVE DESIGN *optimise site potential, design to maximise energy independence to reduce energy load, increase efficiency and maximise the use of renewable energy sources:
  • identify the building’s operating and maintenance issue(s) during preliminary design for reduced energy and resource costs and prevented system failures. Specify materials and systems that simplify and reduce maintenance requirements-
  • design to protect and conserve water, reuse and recycle water for on-site use
  • design to maximise energy consumption, maximise daylighting, provide appropriate ventilation and moisture control
  • design for the future. Create beauty, flexibility that serves long-lasting satisfaction on any budget ( )
  • create ‘timeless’ that saves our planet’s resources
  • prefer local manufacturers-contributing to local economy, while save energy and resources and decrease transportation related air pollution
  • celebrate and protect history via creative solutions of re-use of existing materials for a truly unique and personal space
  • reject/boycott materials containing toxins —and with that:
  • help growing competition for healthy choices —and with that:
  • speed up the availability of more and better choices at more affordable prices, contribute to the green economy
  • enjoy sustainable choices privately and professionally

Cheers to All VANGUARD Kitchen Designers!

What is Non-Toxic Kitchen Cabinetry and Where Do I Get it (in Toronto)?

March 4th, 2015

I received a letter from a reader asking where he could find non-toxic kitchen cabinetry in Toronto. The question’s a bit more complex than it sounds. What does “non-toxic” mean? It could mean (which I think it probably does), something that doesn’t off-gas harmful chemicals, known as VOCs or volatile organic compounds. But just because something doesn’t off-gas doesn’t mean it’s non-toxic. There are lots of products out there with all kinds of poisonous chemicals in them that don’t off-gas, but you’d never want to drink them. To me, something that is truly non-toxic means that you could ingest it and it wouldn’t poison you.

So, here are my suggestions for cabinetmakers in the Toronto area whose products are low VOC. If you have any you’d like to add, please feel free to do so in the comments section.

» Read more: What is Non-Toxic Kitchen Cabinetry and Where Do I Get it (in Toronto)?

Greyhorne Interiors Now Carrying Team 7 Kitchens

August 26th, 2014
K7 kitchen

K7 kitchen by Team 7, available in Ottawa through Greyhorne Interiors

James Flynn, owner of Greyhorne Interiors in Ottawa, let me know that in addition to representing Team 7’s furniture lines, Greyhorne now carries its kitchen cabinets as well. The cabinets are made with the same care and precision as its furniture, and, like its furniture, all efforts are taken to lighten the company’s environmental footprint.

All their designs have sleek, modern lines. Greyhorne carries four Team 7 lines:

» Read more: Greyhorne Interiors Now Carrying Team 7 Kitchens

My location
Get Directions

Kitchen Cabinets from Reclaimed Wood By Inde-Art Design House

July 15th, 2014
Kitchen cabinets from reclaimed fishing boat wood

Kitchen cabinets from reclaimed fishing boat wood

Inde-Art Design House is a cabinet and furniture company located in Leslieville in Toronto. Their kitchen cabinets are beautiful in a rustic, artistic way. Sorab from Inde-Art told me that they use wood from decommissioned fishing boats  and torn down houses from India to make the cabinets. The wood is mostly teak, and, after seeing the pictures, is quite stunning.

Upper Cabinet close-up

Upper Cabinet close-up

Cabinets are either custom-built  or you can buy them directly from their showroom if you don’t need specific measurements for the space (free-standing kitchens are becoming more fashionable these days).

Cabinets can be either stained or painted depending on the look you’re after. As seen in some of the photos, they also do a distressed look, however, a natural stain will bring out the grain in the wood.

Kitchen close-up

Kitchen close-up


reclaimed carved cabinet doors

reclaimed carved cabinet doors, distressed upper cabinets

Cost: Is medium-end, however, it is dependent on the style, type of cabinet you choose (in-stock, premade or custom). Inde-Art can offer two different qualities of cabinet box and hardware depending on your budget.

reclaimed and distressed wood kitchen cabinets

reclaimed and distressed wood kitchen cabinets

 Time: Again, it is difficult to predict how long a custom cabinet will take to make. Some of them are made in India, some are made in their warehouse in Toronto, depending on the wood and design style you choose. If the cabinet is not in-stock it could take up to three months to make. The company has recently started importing drawer and cupboard doors from India and making the boxes in-house in Toronto.

For more information about the cabinets, please contact Inde-Art or visit their website.

My location
Get Directions


Greener Yet Stylish Ways to Renovate Your Kitchen

June 23rd, 2014

This is a guest post by Robert Kramer.

The modern kitchen is a very high-tech, power-hungry part of the household, but that doesn’t mean that it has to hurt the environment. As our homes improve and the world around us suffers, people are turning to greener solutions for modern living – from solar powered showers to composting – and things are no different in the kitchen. If you’re looking to renovate your kitchen then you don’t have to substitute style or function just to create a greener environment; this article will show you how to improve your kitchen and help the environment at the same time.

Counter Tops

Don’t worry, green countertops have nothing to do with color, but rather they indicate a product that has been created using sustainable materials and has been bound using non-toxic glues. A common misconception is that the standard of these are often on the poor side, that not only do they look cheap but they feel it as well. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Many of these products are painstakingly designed and made, ensuring that only the finest, sustainable materials have been used, and more often than not they are more durable than many of the standard countertops you can buy from your local DIY store.

A great example of this are the products produced by Green Building Supply, a company that specializes in creating highly durable and naturally beautiful countertops made from recycled glass, paper, wood and other materials.

A reclaimed and beautifully designed shelf made and sold by Squak Mountain Stone

A reclaimed and beautifully designed shelf made and sold by Squak Mountain Stone

Kitchen Sinks

Although selecting kitchen sinks of the right style is important, there are a number of options which offer sustainable use of materials.

Antique and rustic sinks are very much the “in” thing, so when selecting the design you can pick from a huge variety of refurbished sinks that suit this style. These are generally made from recycled materials, with everything from glass, ceramics and metals being used to craft the perfect environmentally friendly sink for your kitchen. Concrete sinks – from ceramic cement, which creates less carbon emissions than its age-old counterpart – are also becoming increasing popular and are easy to source, available to buy from companies such Just Manufacturing.

These aren’t just specialist manufacturers either, even the big manufacturers are following suit, and wherever you are in the world your local DIY will stock an assortment of eco-friendly cabinets, flooring, appliances, sinks and countertops. It is taking some of them longer to catch up than others, but the industry is moving at a very quick pace and many shops can provide the products that you need.


Green kitchen cabinets, just like countertops, are ones that have been created using sustainable and non environmentally toxic materials. Cabinets made with chipboard are commonly found in modern kitchens, but these are cheaply made and will need to be replaced or fixed (due to warping) on a regular basis. Chipboard is made using an industrial strength solvent that contains formaldehyde. This breaks down over time and is gradually released into the atmosphere, making these products as toxic as they are ineffective.

Low VOC Plywood (which stands for Volatile Organic Compound) provides a cleaner and stronger solution. As the name suggests, these materials release very small amounts of gas compared to chipboard and other woods, and they are also very durable.

Kitchen cabinets can be bought secondhand and refurbished, or they can be crafted by experts who specialize in turning old and recycled materials into new and exciting products.


The flooring is one of the most important parts of a kitchen renovation and yet the one that many people overlook. You’re going to spend a lot of time traipsing across it and cleaning it, so you want something that looks good but is also highly durable. Linoleum is made from renewable sources and can provide a good addition to a green kitchen, but it can also be difficult to clean and require a lot of maintenance. It is prone to stains from spillages which can also warp the material, so any spilled liquids need to be mopped up quickly to prevent the linoleum from swelling.

Cork is another good choice, but it needs to be regularly treated to make sure that it stays in tip-top condition throughout the life of your kitchen. If it is not treated every few years then moisture and general wear and tear can destroy it.


Treated and varnished cork floor.

Kitchen Appliances

Once the basics are done then you need to work on filling your kitchen with all of the essentials. All kitchen appliances will use a certain amount of energy, but these days you can choose from a huge number of energy efficient options.

You should always look out for the energy star rating when buying an appliance, this will tell you how much energy it consumes. The better the rating, the less energy it will use. A good rule of thumb to follow when buying new appliances for a green kitchen is that the newer they are, the more energy efficient they are likely to be. Older appliances use a lot of energy and create a hefty carbon footprint, but manufacturers are constantly devising new technologies and new ways to reduce the energy output.


A guide to the power in your home, courtesy of:

The options are there for a completely green approach to your kitchen renovation.

Its not just specialist manufacturers supporting the movement, even the big manufacturers are following suit. Although a movement like this takes time to filter through, wherever you are in the world your local DIY will likely stock an assortment of eco-friendly cabinets, flooring, appliances, sinks and countertops.

To a greener, susustainable home!

Post written by Robert Jacob an interior renovation enthusiast who loves to blog about tips and ideas.

%d bloggers like this: