Sustainability Drives Kitchen Remodel

A Seattle couple minimizes waste by finding ways to reuse materials throughout their kitchen.


Photography by Lisa Warninger; styling by Chelsea Fuss

Photography by Lisa Warninger; styling by Chelsea Fuss

By: Jen Jafarzadeh L'Italien

Ryan Wiedemann and Joleen Borgerding instantly fell in love with their midcentury-modern home in Lake Forest Park, just north of Seattle.



Ryan and Joleen had fun working on the remodel together. They love the open floor plan they've created for the space.

Ryan and Joleen had fun working on the remodel together. They love the open floor plan they've created for the space.

The house was built in 1959, and almost everything inside was original, including the former stove. The previous owners had only replaced the refrigerator.

"Sure, the house was dated in a lot of areas, but I knew that I loved the shell of it, as well as the property," says Ryan.

Ryan and Joleen naturally aspire to a sustainable lifestyle, so the couple made sustainability a top priority for their kitchen remodel. With each update to their kitchen, they thought about whether materials could find a second life to avoid adding more stuff to landfills. "I feel like it's a responsibility to minimize our impact on the earth," says Ryan.

As a designer/builder by day, Ryan set out to tackle most of the remodeling himself, except for the subs he hired to do the plumbing, electrical and drywall. Joleen helped with the painting and staining, and filled in as an extra pair of hands.

Ryan used his background as a product manager to help plan the remodeling projects and follow a construction calendar. "I sequenced out the whole project to make sure we had a proper budget and met it at the end," he says.

Sustainable Kitchen With Open Design

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Dim Beginnings

The main goal for homeowners Ryan Wiedemann and Joleen Borgerding was to make their kitchen feel open. The original kitchen was walled off from the rest of the living space, which deterred them from enjoying the pretty outdoor views from the living room. To open up the space they removed two walls as well as pocket doors, which separated the kitchen from the living space.

After: Opening Up the Space

"There was a big space along the wall that was underutilized," Ryan says. Shuffling the cabinets to a different layout allowed for more storage and created additional floor space. Ryan framed out a handy cleaning closet to the left of the refrigerator using pocket doors that formerly were used as an entrance to the old kitchen.

Salvaged Cabinets

The couple refinished the original cabinets. "There's a certain choice to reusing the cabinets," says Ryan. "They're functional, good cabinets and we thought there's no need to fill a landfill with them."

Rich Wood Textures

Ryan built additional cabinets with sustainable bamboo plywood and lined the hearth with local cedar planks. The dark lines between the planks is painted sheetrock. "I wanted to add some different textures and colors and add some depth to the wood-paneled hearth wall," he says.

Efficient Appliances

Energy-efficient appliances replaced the outdated refrigerator, dishwasher, sink and faucet, range and range hood.

Recycled Countertop Materials

The countertops are Cradle-certified Cosentino, which are made of 75 percent post-consumer materials with bits of glass, porcelain and mirrors.

Double-Duty Sink

Ryan and Joleen wanted an under-mounted sink to make it easy to clean the countertop. "We chose a double-bowl sink because we wanted to dry our hand-washed dishes below counter to free up countertop space and minimize the visual clutter in the kitchen," says Ryan.

Upcycled Backsplash

The backsplash behind the sink is a leftover piece of the granite riverbed remnant.

Back to Natural

The central ceiling beam is the apex of the kitchen, living room and dining room. Ryan refinished the beam to its natural color by stripping, sanding and staining it. "That was one of the hardest projects in the remodel," he says.

Reclaimed Kitchen Bar

Ryan found the reclaimed wood slab from a local woodworking shop. He cut, sanded and installed it as a countertop for the kitchen bar.

Defining the Space

The couple contrasted the kitchen floors from the living space by using sustainable cork floors.

Light-Fixture Finds

The amber glass pendants in the kitchen are one-of-a-kind glass-blown lights that the couple bought at a tag sale from their neighbor.

Scope of Project

Ryan and Joleen thoughtfully planned every detail in the kitchen with sustainability and function in mind, taking six months to complete the project.

With each update, they thought about whether materials could find a second life instead of ending up in a landfill. In the end, they decided to:

  • Refinish the original cabinets
  • Reuse the wood from the framing studs in the ceiling
  • Use two pocket doors to frame out a new cleaning closet
  • Refinish the central beam in the kitchen

What's New and Sustainable

"Our first hope was to be able to reuse anything within reason," says Ryan. "For anything we decided to buy new, we tried to get things that are sustainably minded."

Their shopping list included:

  • Eco by Cosentino countertops made of recycled materials
  • Cork floors
  • Bamboo plywood for new cabinets
  • Energy-efficient appliances and light fixtures
  • Glass light pendants handmade by a neighbor
  • Low-VOC paints and water-based stains

Aside from sustainability, the main goal of the remodel was to make the space feel more open. This was accomplished by removing two walls and pocket doors, allowing for a direct path to the kitchen from the stairs.









Ryan rearranged the cabinetry and maximized the floor space. After repositioning and refinishing the original cabinetry, the homeowners installed additional bamboo storage and cork flooring to create a unified style.

"It's a nicer space to be in now," says Ryan.

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