I have retained a new client. She came into my office a few weeks ago with a signed contract and retainer and said, “I can not wait to get started working with you on designing my dream kitchen!” How exciting, so far this New Year has brought three kitchen renovations into the office. I would like to explain how I met this woman and also how she has come to be a client.
Eight years ago, I became acquainted with Green Meadows Farm in Hamilton, MA. It had just become a certified organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and they were seeking members. I noticed that they offered a work-for-share membership in addition to a paid membership. It excited me to know that I could work four hours per week in exchange for organic produce that could sustain my family for that week. From April through October, I worked in the fields for our weekly produce pick up. I arranged my business schedule to accommodate this addition to my work day. It really wasn’t a problem, except for the days when I had a client meeting scheduled on an afternoon after working the fields and couldn’t clean the dirt out from under my finger nails! After three years of field work, I was promoted to working on the retail side. I worked and continue to work in the farm stand on Saturday mornings to better fit with my design business schedule. It has been a great experience. I have learned a lot, met some interesting people and made some lasting friendships.
One of the friends I met was the organic baker, Kim Gregory. She had previously owned a cafe that provided organic foods and baked goods to her customers. She had scaled back her business and was now providing local establishments with her wonderful baked goods. Whoopie pies, chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies, scones, brownies, etc. All made with 100% organic ingredients. She provided baked goods to Green Meadows Farm for the first several years I worked there. She then took her business in another direction and we would occasionally run into one another around town.This past spring while Juli, Matt and I were manning our Connect-The-Dots booth at the Hamilton Wenham Green Living Fair we reconnected and had time to talk about the changes she had made within her life. She had known about my business, but hadn’t really thought about how I might be able to help her until she saw several images of kitchens I had designed posted at the Fair.
She shared with me that she had recently obtained approval from the town of Beverly to build a commercial kitchen at her residence. She had pages of ideas, but needed assistance to make it all happen. Between myself and a trusted contractor, we agreed that we could construct her kitchen. She had one major requirement for going forward – to use as many reclaimed, recycled, repurposed and eco-friendly materials as possible in this design. The space she planned to use was her existing four car garage that had been originally built to accommodate her ex-husband’s custom bike shop. The structure was sound and the space was large enough to allow for a functional and creative environment.
We have had our initial meeting with the contractor and I have taken measurements of the space. I will begin design development in the coming weeks along with researching equipment, cabinetry, flooring, counter surfaces, lighting, and various other requirements. Currently from her rear windows, there are views of her backyard where there is a micro apple orchard, honey bee hives, egg laying chickens and a sustainable garden filled with vegetables, herbs, fruits and edible flowers. She would like to continue to grow her business by providing her delectable creations to restaurants and local businesses as well as provide a unique environment for offering cooking/baking classes sharing her skills with the local community.
My goal over the coming months is to share through my blog the progress of this project, including the trials and tribulations of creating an eco-friendly kitchen with Kim. It is interesting for me to reflect back eight years ago when I began my residential design business. I don’t think I ever would have envisioned designing an eco-friendly commercial kitchen for a friend! How fortunate to have this opportunity and experience.
With thoughts of kitchens, cooking and baking, what better way to end this blog than by sharing a family favorite recipe. My mother-in-law would make this wonderful strawberry pie as soon as the first strawberries of the season were ready for picking. It’s great to have at home or to bring to a pot luck. Enjoy with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipping cream!
FRESH STRAWBERRY PIE
EASY AND GOOD PIE CRUST
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients and mix in an ungreased 9” glass pie pan. Flute edges. Prick shell with a fork and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes until lightly brown. Let cool while making the filling.
STRAWBERRY PIE FILLING
Boil until thick: cornstarch, water and sugar. When thick add candy hearts and jello. Stir well until all are incorporated. Cool glaze, on counter or place in refrigerator for 20 minutes. Arrange strawberries in cooled pie shell and pour cooled glaze over entire pie. Place in refrigerator for at least an hour or more, serve with vanilla ice cream and/or fresh whipping cream.
Here’s to a wonderful summer season! If you have any questions about eco-friendly kitchen inspiration, please feel free to contact me at (978)335-1140 or email at email@example.com
This past month I participated in the Hamilton Wenham Green Speaker Series which took place at the Hamilton Wenham Public Library. My focus was Eco-friendly interior finishes for kitchen and bathroom renovations. As I was preparing this presentation, it became evident that I could stand before my audience and provide them with factual information presented in a power point format or I could share my personal story of how I became interested in specifying less toxic finishes for my clients along with the facts. The later seemed to offer a more interesting venue.
I have shared in a past blog about how I became ill after moving into two of the homes we had lived in. The focus of that blog was about the outgassing of VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) when paint dries. (Smelly walls, what’s that all about? July 2009) Upon learning about VOC’s and outgassing with respect to paint, I was then interested to find out what other items may have contributed to my illness. Through the process of Google searches, speaking with experts in the field of Green Design and reading accounts of similar chemical sensitivities, I was on my way to learning how to create healthier environments for myself as well as my clients.
The first home my husband and I purchased was in Lynn, MA in the late 1980’s. It was a Victorian that had been gutted and was in the process of being renovated when we first saw it. Not only did it have fresh paint on the walls, but there was new nylon carpeting put down with toxic adhesives, restored wood flooring with polyurethane, plastic laminate kitchen and bath cabinets and countertops with formaldehyde and toxic glues. I was ill for 3-6 months. The doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me. Could it be sinus or neurological? They gave me medication – but I think my system eventually just adapted to the environment.
Our second home was in Georgetown, MA in the early 1990’s. It was new construction. Of course, we were excited to have a new home! What we didn’t realize was that I was going to get sick again for an extended amount of time due to the finishes applied throughout this home as well. Since it was new construction, we also had a very tight house. The only difference between this home and our previous one was instead of newly finished wood floors, we had vinyl flooring and adhesives to deal with. We had the same plastic laminate cabinets and counters, nylon carpeting on the second floor bedrooms and lots of painted walls.
In 2000 we move to Hamilton, MA. The home was a Victorian summer home that had been converted to year round living in the early 1930’s. When we moved in – nothing had been done to the interior of the house for years. There were painted plywood cabinets in the kitchen, beautiful hardwood floors throughout that had an older finish on them, the paint on the walls was several months old and there was ceramic tile on the floors of the bathrooms. I was healthy for the first time after moving into a new home! I was too busy at the time to put much thought into questioning why I wasn’t getting sick with this move. That light bulb would go off in a few years.
When I decided to begin my own interior design practice focusing on residential design, I knew that I had wanted to work with clients to provide beautiful and functional spaces for them to enjoy, but I also knew there was something more. In the beginning, I wasn’t quite sure what that was, but I trusted that eventually it would come to me. The aha moment came when I started hearing about Green Design and how it was more than just specifying sustainable products, it was also about specifying healthy products. That was it: I would learn as much as I could about how to bring healthy products into my clients homes. Not only in terms of finishes, but cleaning products, fabrics, air purifiers and humidifiers and even food. (I have been a work for share/CSA member for 8 years at Green Meadow Farms in Hamilton, MA. They share with the community organic produce/meats and lifestyle choices)
Through my interior design business, I have had the privilege of designing and working to date on two Green Kitchen renovations. Here is a listing of some of the features we were able to introduce into these spaces (they go beyond just finishes): Energy Star appliances, organic wall paint, no VOC (volatile organic compounds)paint, recycled glass/ceramic wall & floor tiles, LED (light emitting diode) for under cabinet and cove lighting, energy efficient dimmable CFL (compact fluorescent lighting) lighting, Richlite (compressed paper based) countertops, poured concrete countertops, radiant heat under the flooring, cabinetry: FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) cherry and maple cabinetry, with a water based natural finish, no VOC painted finish on office, bathroom & island cabinetry, flooring: Marmoleum, linoleum product, backsplash: reclaimed tumbled stone with recycled metal and crushed glass accent tiles.
My intention is to share the information I have gathered with my clients, friends and family. There are so many products demanding our attention, why not purchase those that are not harmful to us nor our environments. I will be posting the video recorded at the library within the coming weeks that shares more information about specific companies and their products. If you are interested in viewing it now, go to: HWCAM.org, type in Lisa Kawski, it will bring up my show, click on the title, it will show the schedule, click on WATCH NOW.
As always, if you have any questions regarding green interior finishes, please feel free to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or call (978)335-1140.