Sunday, June 29, 2008

Not easy being green

Once upon a time, I took on a client who wanted a clean, simple kitchen to accompany her gorgeous one bedroom, pre war co-op unit. I admired her views from our humble queens to the glitz and glam of Manhattan, and wanted to use that inspiration through out the work on her home. We longed to merge the decorative with the clean modern aesthetic that’s oh so very now.

And so for almost a year we worked…
…visiting kitchen showrooms the client insisted she loved that would make your skin crawl. Cheap materials. Poor planning. High pressure sales. Trying to make their plastic lacquer and fake wood work for us…
….deciding on custom cabinets, stained a lovely walnut. Cabinets (from local woodworkers!) to the ceiling for extra storage, counters in marble (from local suppliers!), shelving for her pottery collection in stainless steel (from IKEA…we’re practical after all!!)

And then I made the biggest mistake of my professional career. I brought her to our local green peddler, Build It Green, amazing expansive warehouse space filled with salvage items for just about any building project. We were looking for something to use as a work table, an island. A stainless part? A salvage kitchen bit? An old science lab table?

And then she spotted The Kitchen. It looked, even to my trained eye, like a large game of culinary Tetris. Counters, cabinets, islands, screws, hinges, and doors heaped on top of one another. It was clearly a kitchen of impressive means: Italian pedigree, fine woods, stainless steel counters with built in sinks (yes, SINKS). By the looks of it, The Kitchen was meant to be a U shaped set up with an amazing island fit for royalty in the center. Space for appliances was well spaced, one item per leg. It was the perfect kitchen for a loft or perhaps a little McMansion on the island.

And my client bought it the second she saw it. I begged her not to- I stood dazed that she was throwing out a YEARS worth of work to be green. I explained the ramifications, but the seemingly low price and oh, the GREEN of it all- I want to be green, we should all be green!!- took over her better judgment.

The contractor and I have had several meetings now, trying to figure out how The Kitchen is going to work in the clients 60 sq. ft. kitchen, when clearly it wants more like 400 sq. ft. to really work. We cannot find parts, and these kitchens are not stocked in America. The contractor will have to take it off site to cut down or alter most pieces. And, frankly, at the end of the day, I just don’t think it’s going to look that good or function any better than the horrible layout the client has now. The proportions are wrong, we’ve had to remove the dishwasher, and the client may have to settle for a 24” stove so that the behemoth pieces can be used. And we have not even started to install The Kitchen yet. It is still sitting in her living room, where its been for many months. And let’s not even talk about the cost of shipping, installing, and altering The Kitchen.

And people wonder why it’s so hard to be green? I don’t.

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