A Sustainable Kitchen Renovation in Los Angeles

Kitchen Before & After

We almost couldn't believe our eyes when we saw this kitchen renovation from Jeremy Levine Design. Levine took an old, small kitchen in Eagle Rock, a suburb of Los Angeles, and opened it up to sunlight, warmth, and space. And yet the whole renovation was done in an effort to be as sustainably-minded as possible. Also? There are three trees growing right up through this house! How cool is that? To see dramatic before and after photos of this kitchen renovation (plus one of the trees) read on...

Photo Captions

TOP ROW
1 A Los Angeles kitchen renovation by Jeremy Levine Design.
2 The original kitchen.
3 Looking from the kitchen into the dining room.
4 Under construction! The whole kitchen was gutted.
5 Looking back towards where the dining room used to be.

MIDDLE ROW
6 Rolling wood screens shade the kitchen and add the dramatic slatted shadows throughout the day. We love the idea of building light and shadow into your kitchen design. Also, you can glimpse the tree growing through the deck, just outside the door.
7 A view in from the porch. You can see how the chalkboard wall, pantry, and fridge are integrated into a "sculptural wall" that is functional in the kitchen and also divides the space.
8 A closer look at that wall. We love how the shelving is built into the wall. Great use of space.
9 Looking back to the porch and the growing tree that will shade the kitchen.
10 A closer look at the concrete countertops.

BOTTOM ROW
11 The kitchen is well-designed for interaction between the cook and the guests.
12 One of the other trees growing up through the home. Wouldn't you just love to throw a cocktail party in this room?
13 One last shot: the natural sunlight just pours across the floor of this kitchen. What a lovely place to cook!

Here are some notes on the Three Trees project from Jeremy Levine, the designer.

The Design Problem
* To maximize space and light in small home.
* To connect the indoors to the outdoor garden spaces and trees that surround the house.
* To design sustainably

The Solution
Step 1: Open up the space. We vaulted the ceiling and removed the walls that separated the kitchen and dining areas - retrofitting the structure of the house so that it could span the spaces.

Step 2: Fill the space with natural light. Add clerestory windows to bring in light and to pull your eye upward, making the space feel less claustrophobic.

Step 3: Carve up the remaining walls. Since we took the loads off the walls, we were able to carve them up with openings in order to create a visual connection between the rooms, which brings more light into each room and makes the spaces feel larger as your eye travels from one end of the house to the other. Eliminate additional shelving which would have made the space feel smaller. Instead we place the storage inside of the walls, harvesting this unused space. That little bit of difference gave us tons of extra storage and provided an opportunity to sculpt the space in an interesting way.

Step 4: Connect the kitchen to an outdoor space, creating a visual and literal connection. The back wall of the kitchen/dining is a row of French doors that open directly onto a deck with a tree growing through the center of it. As the tree grows it will shade the kitchen space. (This continues a theme that runs through the project, wherein each room opens to a garden with a tree). This literally extends the kitchen/dining so that it feels like the outdoor space is part of the house. It helps that we partially enclose the deck with the same mobile sun panels that wrap around the rest of the house.

Sustainable Design Elements

Daylighting - By carving up the walls with openings, and utilizing clerestory and transom windows - then kitchen is able to 'borrow' or 'share' it's light with the adjacent spaces. This strategy of “daylighting’ dramatically lowers the need for artificial light and consequently energy consumption.

Mobile Sun Screens - Outside the windows are Mobile Sun Screens. Simple slatted wood panels roll across the facades on metal barn door track to control the amount of light and heat gain into the house. The mobile panels also allow the front and rear decks to be enclosed for privacy while allowing light and air to pass freely, creating a retractable facade.

Recycled Coal Fly Ash Concrete - The countertops and backsplash are poured in place concrete using 50% fly ash — the non-combustible portion of coal after it is burned in a power plant. Fly ash improves the strength of concrete and allows the use of less water, while at the same time conserving resources by recycling.

Reclaimed Lumber - The ceiling is made of recycled Douglas fir from the demolition of the old house. One of the major sources of environmental waste comes from the demolition of buildings. Consider the gasoline consumed and the carbon monoxide exhausted by the trucks hauling construction debris. Or, the existing construction materials can be recycled, as in the case of our ceiling.

Materials
• Floor - Red Oak
• Ceiling - Recycled Douglas Fir
• Countertops - Recycled Coal Fly Ash and Concrete (50/50)
• Chalkboard Paint - for our chalkboard wall
• Lighting: Ikea hanging globe lights
• Cabinets: stainless steel doors, custom cabinetry

Appliances
• Stove/Oven - Jenn-Air
• Refrigerator - KitchenAid

Hardware
• Crown City hardware
• Schlage door hardware

• Find out more about this design studio: Jeremy Levine Design

Related: Rental Kitchen Makeover: Leea's Lovely Little Budget

(Images: Courtesy of Jeremy Levine Design)

Originally published 2009-08-06 - CB

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