Jackie's Brooklyn Kitchen & Bathroom Renovation

Green Building and Renovation Month 2011

Name: Jackie Lenox
Location: Brooklyn, New York

Tell us about this home building or renovation project: We've been in our 100+ year old 4 story brick townhouse since 2004, DIY renovating room by room, sometimes floor by floor. When it was time to renovate our kitchen and bathroom we (finally!) hired a contractor and architect (my cousin). It was a huge job. Demolition down to the bare brick and floor joists, new floors windows, ceilings, walls and entirely new kitchen and bathroom materials. I had a very clear idea of the look I wanted and created all kinds of mood boards and researched the heck out of every product and material chosen. We renovated as green as possible, use some interesting materials and sources, and keep it local. And of course, we blogged the whole process!
What specific green materials, techniques, or processes went into this project?

In our kitchen:

  • All new energy efficient appliances
  • Since our floors and ceiling were pulled out we insulated with recycled denim insulation.
  • Outside facing walls and around windows we used diy 'foam it green' insulation
  • New energy efficient windows and door to the garden to replace the 1960's era terrible-ness
  • Energy efficient lighting including led under-cabinet strip lights
  • High efficiency AC
  • Cork flooring
  • Local materials and trades when possible

In our bathroom:

  • In floor energy efficient heating
  • Glass panel on bathroom door to let in natural light (in an otherwise windowless room) and reduce electrical usage
  • Flourescent lighting to reduce energy usage (plus it looks so cool as a cove light)

In both rooms:

  • Waterwise faucets
  • Low VOC paint

What green building material or product were you most pleased about?

This may sound anticlimactic but I think all the new insulation is amazing. These were previously very cold rooms due to no insulation at all and now it's so nice and toasty, quiet, and comfortable. Our bedroom is right underneath the kitchen so the insulation and cork floor has helped reduce the noise level traveling through the floor as well.

What had you less than enthused? What would you do differently?

As much as I love the look and comfort of the cork floor, the installation has to be flawless. We used cork tiles that were glued onto an extremely smooth new subfloor with concrete leveling, and waterproof coating. This was so smooth but once the tiles go on you can kind of see every little lump and bump, which we thought there would be none of since our contractor went through great pains to make sure this was as smooth as possible (3 times over).

Have any advice for readers looking to green build or renovate their home?

I think the advice would be to just be open to new and interesting things. Look into weirdo materials and use things in different ways. The internet helps but also having an architect who's up on all the new materials and can suggest a new and unexpected way to use a material is great.

Thanks, Jackie!

Do you have a home renovation or retrofit project you'd like to share with us? Submit it here.

(Images: Jackie Lenox)

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