5 sustainable kitchen projects with innovative ideas

Your kitchen is the hub of daily life. So, if you’re planning a redesign, it’s the perfect opportunity to implement these sustainable kitchen ideas that truly make a difference. KBB journo Charlotte Luxford takes us through how five homeowners have created their dream eco kitchens…

To create a sustainable kitchen design, it’s important to embrace a thoughtful and holistic approach from the start. Consider energy efficiency, water conservation and the use of sustainable materials.

The last few years have witnessed remarkable advancements in sustainable kitchen ideas and innovations. Not forgetting the smart appliances that are designed to minimise consumption, from fridges that optimise cooling and reduce food waste to high-efficiency dishwashers that significantly reduce water. There are also more recycled and sustainable materials on the market than ever before.

Ready to take a look at these five brilliant projects and get inspired? Let’s begin…

Future-proofed kitchen

The homeowners of this north London home wanted a future-proof kitchen design that would last throughout their lifetime and beyond. That meant using the best quality materials and creating a design that could adapt as their lifestyle needs changed. They called upon Uncommon Projects, a company made up of designers with an architectural background. “We understand that practical, ergonomic design has a longer lifespan. We completely redesigned the original layout to allow for better circulation and a more sociable space – a room created with years of family life in mind,” says the company’s co-founder Alan Drumm. 

Pink and black kitchen made from plywood. Large wine bottle storage on the end of the big island with seating.
Uncommon Projects’ kitchens start from around £30,000. Photography: Jocelyn Low.

The owners opted for Uncommon Projects’ signature material of FSC-certified plywood, which is incredibly versatile and durable thanks to its layered construction, making it ideal for a hard-working kitchen. The door fronts are veneered in an eco-friendly, carbon-neutral laminate from Arpa

A pink salmon and blue kitchen in an open and airy space with a large dining table.
Birch plywood kitchen with Arpa Bloom laminate veneers and Corian worktops. Photography: Jocelyn Low.

“Finishing touches are just as important,” says Alan. “To protect and seal our wood we use a natural hard wax instead of the popular polyurethane lacquers, and we make our own robust drawer and bin systems rather than the usual generic plastic and metal accessories.

“When it comes to appliances, we encourage our clients to buy A-rated products and strongly advise against gas hobs. This kitchen features a recirculating Bora hob with an integrated extractor. These really save on energy and noticeably improve air quality.”

Colourful and sustainable kitchen and dining room with modern finishes and sleek aesthetic.
Coloured kitchen cabinets contrast the plain white walls of the rest of the space. Photography: Jocelyn Low.

Eco-friendly wood design

The lavish proportions of this large, country manor house provided the ideal blank canvas for a show-stopping sustainable kitchen idea. At the heart of the kitchen was a large island, designed as a sculptural piece of furniture. It was cut by hand from a single section of oak. “Normally, the naturally occurring cracks in the timber would be cut out and discarded as a waste product, but we decided to celebrate them by filling them with black resin and held firm with hand-cut brass ties,” explains Matt Prall, the managing director of Bristol-based Papilio Bespoke Kitchens.

Natural timber island with oak fronts and a steel grey worktop with a integrated hob.
Natural timber was used on the doors and the sides to make a real statement. Photography: Emma Lewis.

An ultra-thin Richlite worktop sits on the island, along with the cabinet door and drawers on the base units. Richlite is an FSC-certified product made from post-consumer recycled paper. It’s extremely durable and tougher than solid oak, making it a great choice for worktops and cabinet fronts.

The island’s cascading oak side panels were deliberately selected due to their imperfections and again resin-filled. A Bora hob was selected to fit flush with the worktop. An Everhot range cooker not only offers country charm but is also the most energy-efficient heat-storage range cooker on the market, being hand-built in a carbon-negative factory in the Cotswolds.   

Dark and moody sustainable kitchen with a dark AGA oven. Steel-framed doors lead to a pantry area.
This bespoke kitchen is made with oak and plywood, limestone and Richlite worktops. Photography: Emma Lewis.

“Wherever possible we use traditional hand tools and the skill of the team, as opposed to energy-hungry machines churning out identical kitchens. For all our projects we use FSC-approved timbers and veneers, along with glues and resins that are safe for food contact and VOC-free,” adds Matt.

Natural timber island with oak fronts and a steel grey worktop with a integrated hob.
Papilio Bespoke Kitchens start from £30,000. Photography: Emma Lewis.

Colourful and sustainable kitchen

The homeowners of this 1960s house in Warwickshire wanted a bright and playful kitchen design that captured the era in a contemporary way. Sustainability was integral to the design and they have renovated each room to ensure everything they added would last and not end up in a skip. They approached Sustainable Kitchens because they’d fallen in love with their birch plywood designs with exposed edges. 

Green and yellow kitchen with fluted island and wooden accents.
Sustainable Kitchens start from around £45,000. Photography: Charlie O’Beirne.

“Our birch plywood kitchens are sourced from PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) and FSC-certified sources. Plus they’re designed to last a lifetime with a 30-year guarantee,” says Zoe Holland, head of marketing and creative at Sustainable Kitchens

The doors are a Medite Smartply, which is an eco-friendly plywood. Sustainable Kitchens also passes on its offcuts to an education centre that teaches woodwork to disabled and disadvantaged people and to Prior Made, in Bristol, whose products are made from waste materials.

Green and yellow kitchen with a large stainless-steel fridge and herringbone tiles on the wall.
The kitchen uses green and yellow to create a fun and playful design. Photography: Charlie O’Beirne.

A cork floor was chosen for its eco properties – made from the leftover material from the production of wine corks; it’s biodegradable, a good insulator, water resistant and anti-microbial. The units are painted in Valspar‘s Mint Zing, Golden Cupola and Dairy Belle paints. The Caesarstone concrete-effect worktop was chosen for its sustainable and long-lasting qualities.

Yellow and green kitchen with white herringbone tiles leading on to a large dining room
The colours of the kitchen match the dining area like the green wall and the yellow window frame. Photography: Charlie O’Beirne.

Birch plywood kitchen

The Clay Retreat is a modest, one-storey, three-bedroom family home, located in a rural hamlet within the New Forest National Park, which was designed by B-Corp-certified Pad Studio to blend into its natural surroundings. Internally, the home is beautifully crafted with a palate of textured, muted materials and has energy efficiency at the forefront of the design. 

Salmon pink kitchen with a large island and wooden accents.
Pad Studio collaborated with Pluck to create a stunning eco kitchen. Photography: Malcolm Menzies.

Using solar PV panels and an air-source heat pump, the new build is highly insulated, and features triple glazing. The polished concrete floor in the open-plan kitchen has heat-conductive qualities. The walls and ceilings have been treated with natural clay plaster from Clayworks, giving a beautiful textured finish that is highly breathable and doesn’t require painting, thus avoiding the use of VOCs.

Salmon pink kitchen with square handles and white tiled splashback.
The bright coral kitchens stand out against the natural clay plaster. Photography: Malcolm Menzies.

For the kitchen, Pad Studio worked with the eco-conscious firm Pluck, whose factory runs on renewable electricity. The cupboards are all made from FSC- or PEFC-certified birch plywood, with sustainably sourced wood veneers for the cupboard and drawer fronts. The brightly coloured laminate cupboard fronts were manufactured by a company that has a comprehensive environmental policy in place. However, Pluck also offers an Eco Colour range that’s entirely carbon neutral. 

Sustainable pink kitchen with wooden accents and panelling.
The designers used a mix of materials like clay-finished walls and concrete floors. Photography: Malcolm Menzies.

Mid-century aesthetic

Video game developers and homeowners Alice and Ryan Guy knew they wanted a kitchen that wasn’t run of the mill, so they approached local West Sussex kitchen makers Wood Works Brighton. The pair created a 3-D virtual space to test out their ideas, avoiding costly mistakes and to cut waste. Wood Works director and designer François Damseaux took the couple’s initial design and added curves made from birch plywood and the 1950s-style legs to make the pieces look more mid-century. 

Mid-century island in a colourful wooden kitchen with red bar stools.
Kitchens by Wood Works Brighton start at £25,000. Photography: Bee Holmes.

“Birch ply is the most efficient way to use material from a tree as it produces very little waste,” explains François. “It’s like a pencil that has been sharpened, and those shavings are then cross-laminated for rigidity.”

The couple opted for striking teal Durat worktops, which are made from post-industrial plastic waste. “We’ve actually lived plastic-free for over six years now. It’s perhaps slightly ironic that the worksurface is made of recycled plastic, but we fell in love with it from both an aesthetic and a durability point of view,” says Alice.

Large island with wooden drawers and modern looking handles.
The sustainable surfaces and terrazzo tiles contain 80% waste materials. Photography: Bee Holmes.
Sustainable kitchen counter with wine and chopping board storage.
The 1950s-style legs give the pieces a mid-century feel. Photography: Bee Holmes.

Enjoyed these sustainable kitchen ideas? Check out our guide to planning an eco-friendly renovation

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