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Kitchen Renovation Part 4 – Big and Easy
An el:environmental language kitchen
There is no bigger decision when renovating a kitchen than choosing the cabinets, but for me, it was an easy choice.
Jill Salisbury, the principal of el: environmental language, is a furniture designer of equal parts creative genius and environmental integrity. I’ve been an admirer since I first met her and heard her story, which began with the realization that as a designer she had an important role in incorporating sustainability into her projects and a responsibility to know what kinds of materials she was putting in people’s residences and offices.
Jill’s design protocols are based on extensive research into the materials used in her products. Influenced by biomimicry expert Janine Benyus and developed in collaboration with Paul Clark, an environmental consultant and engineer, her furniture and cabinets are made from materials that meet strict criteria: natural with no additive chemical treatments, made with recycled content, recyclability, locally available, rapidly renewable and will safely return to the earth at the end of their useful life. All woods are FSC certified and free of urea formaldehyde.
It was a no-brainer for me that these were the cabinets I would use in my new kitchen. Offered in a variety of woods and finishes I chose a flat door style in rift cut oak with a stained ebony finish and bronze inlay pull. The line is also offered in walnut and bamboo, though Jill has noticed that interest in bamboo has waned considerably. (so have I – what’s up with that?)
The initial research Jill invested into her furniture line continues to apply to her cabinet line with one significant tweak. “For durability we had to find a new top-coat finish that was going to stand up to kitchen use,” she says. Following a recommendation from her workroom, she had the water-based finishes analyzed by Paul Clark to make certain they met her established protocols.
The pulls are one of the most gorgeous – and green – features of my new cabinets. Designed in collaboration with Denise Siegel of New Bronze Age Tile they are made from local scrap metals, either bronze or copper, with a closed loop process.
Shannon Johnston, el’s kitchen designer, is also part of the carefully assembled team schooled in Jill’s protocols. “I’ve learned so much from this process,” she states, “and am now able to bring environmental concerns to all our clients.”
I love my new cabinets and their environmental story. I didn’t have to choose between sustainability and beauty. I’ve got both!