July 20, 2024


Design with distinction

5 Kitchen Design Ideas for a Cleaner, Greener Space

5 Kitchen Design Ideas for a Cleaner, Greener Space

When it comes to finding fresh kitchen design ideas, we could spend an age scrolling through the Niche Interiors Instagram—a stunning mood board of sun-drenched coffee nooks, swanky cocktail bars, and dreamy Californian dining rooms. Mastermind behind the account and namesake business is owner and principal designer Jennifer Jones, whose signature style seamlessly blends restrained elegance, family-friendly playfulness, and an unwavering commitment to sustainability. In addition to running San Francisco–based Niche Interiors since 2007, she’s a LEED-accredited professional, ambassador for the Sustainable Furnishing Council, and a founding member of the Good Future Design Alliance. Here Jones shares five kitchen design ideas for building a sustainable (and chic) space.

Photography by Paul Dyer

1. Start With Safer Storage

“Sustainable design,” Jones explains, “is not just about how your choices affect the environment; it’s about creating healthy homes.” In the kitchen that starts with storage. “Cabinetry can be the biggest offender in terms of off-gassing,” she says, referring to the noxious chemicals released by the materials in many furnishings. She suggests using timber that is free of urea-formaldehyde (a toxic resin) and labeled as FSC-certified, like the ApplePly birch used for this Aptos, California, home.

Photograph by Paul Dyer

2. Make a (Subtle) Splash

“Be careful with color in the kitchen,” Jones says. “People’s tastes change.” Rather than commit to cabinets or appliances in trendy hues that come and go, she delivers color in small
er doses—like the backsplash tile in this Sonoma kitchen. Choose brands that are committed to recycling waste, such as Heath Ceramics. Looking for a low-stakes color fix? Start here.

Photography by Paul Dyer

3. Think Long-Term

“Replacing countertops is one of the worst things for the environment,” Jones says. For clients who fret over stains, she suggests resilient solid surfaces like Cambria, Silestone, and Caesarstone. “Know your limits and pick something that will last years.” Still, that doesn’t mean shunning marble altogether. In this Bay Area kitchen, statuary slabs clad just the backsplashes.

Photograph by R. Brad Knipstein

4. Breathe Easy

Jones tends to favor induction cooktops, which have the least impact on air quality. But for clients who insist on gas, a powerful vent (like the Wolf hood in this Napa kitchen) helps minimize the effect of any CO₂ emissions—no matter what it is you’re cooking. “Anytime you light your stove, use the vent.” Not ready to go all in on induction? Start here:

5. Make Simple Swaps


Chestertown Buff Zero-Voc Paint

“There’s no excuse not to use it,” Jones says of paint made without harmful chemicals known as volatile organic compounds. Her fave? “I’m a Benjamin Moore girl.”

Energy Star

GE Profile 4-Door French Door Refrigerator

“This [federal program] refers to appliances that are more energy-efficient, often 10% more.”

Zero Waste

Sanxenxo Ceramic Tile

When possible, source from companies that are zero waste, or entirely offset their carbon emissions.

Stay Green:

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