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6 tips for creating a sustainable kitchen

As the heart of your home, a new kitchen is a big thing to plan.

We’re pleased to have teamed up with Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens to share their top tips for creating your own sustainable kitchen.

The kitchen is understandably a focal point during any renovation or new building project. We first worked with Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens during our Sycamore Hall project.

The open plan kitchen & living space at Sycamore Hall

Not only did the team at Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens create a beautiful mid-century kitchen for clients John & Jean, but they also created several bespoke items for the rest of the home, many of which were made using reclaimed materials.

Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens are also well-known for using sustainable materials, such as solid kitchen surfaces made from recycled paper. As a practice with a strong belief in creating sustainable buildings, we love the idea of sustainable features carrying through to the interior of the home.

Over to Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens…

Designing a new kitchen?

As with any big home improvement project, there’s a lot to consider when planning a new kitchen. The kitchen is often the most lived-in room of the house, providing a space to cook, eat, entertain, hang out and even work. Depending on your lifestyle, the kitchen is a hub for a number of activities, so getting the design right is crucial. By design, we mean how the kitchen functions, and how it works for you, not just how it looks.

Planning a sustainable kitchen doesn’t mean you have to compromise on design or aesthetics. We’ve been designing and fitting sustainable kitchens for over 10 years, to fit a wide range of budgets and styles. There are many aspects to sustainability, but here are a few you might want to consider as part of the planning process:

1. Quality

Be prepared to pay for quality and choose a solid and high-quality kitchen that is built to last. So many kitchens end up in a landfill within a relatively short period of time and by fitting a quality kitchen you automatically extend the longevity of the kitchen. Choosing a bespoke kitchen, that is tailored to your specific needs means that you’re also less likely to need bits replacing or upgrading in the future as parts don’t quite function as you would want them to.

A bespoke kitchen with a solid oak worktop and breakfast bar and solid high-quality cabinets

2. Refurbishment

Rather than just scrap everything, and start planning from scratch, see if there is anything you can salvage anything from your existing kitchen. It could be that the cabinets are solid and in good condition, but the doors and worktops need replacing. Giving your kitchen a refresh or just a few design tweaks rather than a complete overhaul can be a more sustainable option. It can also work out more cost effective for you if you are working with a limited budget.

3. Appliances

When choosing electrical appliances for your kitchen, it’s worth replacing older, more inefficient appliances. Always go for the highest energy rating appliance you can afford. Consider choosing an induction hob for your new kitchen and installing low-energy LED lighting – both energy efficient options.

An induction hob is a more energy efficient choice, and one a with integrated downdraught extractor eliminates the need for an overhead hood

4. Travel Miles

Think about material miles – how far has your kitchen travelled? We source everything we can from the UK, and ideally, as local as possible. Miles that your materials have travelled can make a big contribution to the environmental footprint of your new kitchen. Sourcing materials locally not only makes a big difference to your carbon footprint but boosts the local economy.

5. Sources

Do give the provenance of your raw materials some thought. It’s important to question where things have come from and look at supply chains. Be cautious with granite – some retailers recently stopped selling some ranges of granite due to child slavery concerns in India. Make sure you know where it’s come from and if it’s very cheap then be suspicious. Engineered stone is a better choice, but it’s worth considering recycled glass as a beautiful and highly sustainable alternative. Wood is another great eco-friendly option.

A recycled glass worktop

A freestanding oak unit with recycled paper shelves

And finally:

6. Reclaim

Have a look round reclamation yards and see what you can find. You can often pick up reclaimed worktops, handles etc. although they’re not always cheaper than buying new. Open shelving is a nice way to incorporate reclaimed timber, as is a breakfast bar.

This kitchen island was made from reclaimed oak from the Sheffield Catholic Cathedral pews

Many of our kitchens contain reclaimed materials with a story to tell, whether it’s the cabinet door fronts that were originally railway wagons, open shelving that had a previous life as a school lab bench (complete with graffiti) or worktops made from glass bottle shards set in resin.

If you want any general advice on planning a kitchen, we are very happy to chat. We’d love to help you create your new kitchen – give us a call and we’ll arrange to come out and talk things through.

A big thanks to Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens for their advice. Sign up to our newsletter to receive more tips and advice straight to your inbox.