Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (VIDEO)




reduce reuse recycle
reduce reuse recycle

Carol doesn’t like to see anything go to waste.

“It’s a good feeling when you can reuse something and know that it’s continuing to serve a purpose, and it’s not going into a landfill,” says Carol. “I’m on a mission to use all the materials that I’ve salvaged from other houses I’ve owned.”

She also loves to cook, so friends were just slightly mystified when Carol bought a four-thousand-square-foot Northeast Portland 1892 farmhouse–with virtually no kitchen.  “My friends who live in the neighborhood said—‘Are you sure you know what you’re doing?  That house has no kitchen.”

So, combine Carol’s love of reusing materials with her need for a kitchen…and you have this—a kitchen that blends new and old—that’s functional and eclectic all at the same time. To do that, Carol enlisted the help of Neil Kelly Design Consultant, Karen Richmond. “When I first met this kitchen it was barely a kitchen,” says Karen.”

Designing a cookie-cutter kitchen for a client who is anything but cookie-cutter wasn’t an option.  The kitchen needed to reflect Carol’s desire of repurposing materials.  “She appreciates the craftsmanship of materials from days gone by,” says Karen.  “She also has the sensibility of not wanting to consume new when things are already here—and we can make good use of them.”


  • White Oak Flooring
  • Tongue-and-groove paneling from original kitchen
  • Sash lift on cutting boards
  • Butcher block Counter Top made from reclaimed wood
  • Metal mesh from original sink cabinet
  • Turquoise bookshelves from elsewhere in the home
  • Marble-top washstand used as a coffee and tea station
  • Glass paned door used as wall divider
  • Victorian outside corner protectors used as outside corner moldings on the soffit

In one case, even new materials are living a second life.  The counters are topped with colorful aqua blue recycled glass set in concrete and the curved snack counter fashioned from etched glass is new, as is the powerful Cirrus hoodless ceiling fan. “You’d better hold onto the cat when that fan is turned on,” Carol jokes. “I call it my rocket ship fan.”

reduce reuse recycle

Carol is listed as a civic leader on the website of Bosco-Milligan’s “Architectural Heritage Center”.  The AHC is well known for its efforts to conserve and preserve Portland’s historic structures and features.  “Preservation is not a game, because it’s much more serious than a game,” Carol says. “It’s a passion…and it’s fun.  I really enjoy it.”  And you may wonder if it is more challenging for an award-winning designer to plan a kitchen with repurposed material: “It is actually more fun than it is challenging,” Karen says. “And with Carol it was a lot of fun because she enthusiastically came up with some great ideas.  It turned out to be very fun.”