Just Because Your House Is Old Doesn't Mean Your Kitchen Has Look That Way

Mary Butler

As much as you may love your old home, if its kitchen hasn't been upgraded in the last decade or so, it might not be your favorite room in the house. While time adds charm to other aspects of an older home--such as high ceilings, wood floors and crown moldings--it generally does not treat kitchens well--particularly the cabinets.

Old Homes and Kitchen Cabinets

Even if you have your historic home's original wood cabinets, you may prefer the adapt them or swap them out with something that better suits your modern lifestyle. Who doesn't enjoy pull-outs for garbage and recyclables, Lazy Susans, rolling shelves, and a depth that accommodates larger plates and serving bowls?

But here's the problem: How do you replace them and do it in an ecologically conscious way?

Today's cabinets, while available with every bell and whistle, also come with formaldehyde typically used in adhesives and off-gassing volatile organic compounds found in many paints. And then there's the issue of where they're made. If a product has to be shipped halfway across the world to be installed in your home, is it green?

New Cabinet Ideas

Penelope Sheely and her family faced their dilemma after purchasing a 1907 Colonial Revival in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. Sheely told This Old House she found a solution, thanks to a green design firm that turned them onto a custom cabinet maker.

The craftsmen at Breathe Easy used ¾-inch plywood held together with water-based adhesives. Solid wood, bamboo, or formaldehyde-free ­medium-density ­fiberboard (MDF) were offered as options for cabinet doors. There was a cost differencebout 20 percent more than other custom cabinets, Sheely told This Old House. But the cabinets also come with a lifetime warranty and were built to last.

Sheely was also able to have the cabinets fashioned to match the style of the home, adding even more longevity. And they used salvaged glass door handles to finish the look.

While not all custom cabinet makers may be following in the footsteps of Breathe Easy in New York, that's doesn't mean they couldn't, or wouldn't if asked to.



About the Author
Mary Butler is a Boulder, Colorado based writer and editor, who spends much of her free time remodeling an old house.

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