Designing Natural: “Green” Cabinetry

Designing Natural: “Green” Cabinetry

Natural Interiors® Designers’ Forum sees increase in “green” cabinet suppliers

In the beginning, there was one visible “green” cabinet company.  In 1998, we called them, in Portland, OR, if we wanted wood kitchen cabinets that emitted fewer chemicals in our homes.

But many of us had to settle for traditional cabinets. Shipping costs to the Midwest or east drove the cost of these cabinets beyond our reach.

Today, a handful of companies are trying to fill the void, and Midwestern kitchen designers who are trending natural have more choices.

We still face some freight costs, but we can get nontoxic cabinetry a little closer to home, out of New York state and other places.Long Island, NY.

Breathe Easy Cabinets

Traditional kitchen cabinets, in addition to inexpensive pieces of furniture, often are made of particleboard and compressed and veneered woods that can contain glues, which emit formaldehyde – a carcinogen. Alternatives include metal cabinets, solid wood cabinets, and wood cabinets made with low- formaldehyde or formaldehyde-free materials.

Neil Kelly Cabinets, in Portland, OR, the company that started the industry, set the bar for quality cabinets made from sustainable wood and finished with low and zero –VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) finishes.

Greenway, which began making Breathe Easy cabinets in 2004, is advertising some similar features:

—  Proprietary formaldehyde-free panel products and plywood from Columbia Forest Products.

—  Low and zero-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) stains and finishes, including some made by Sherwin Williams, and have either Green Seal or GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certification.

— Cabinets made of FSC (Forest Steward Council) certified wood at an upcharge.

—  Cabinet styles that range from traditional to contemporary.

Neil Kelly Cabinets

This is very important. Some people who have more traditional tastes are afraid of going green because they think that will lock them into a very contemporary look.  That’s not true with Breathe Easy cabinets as they have styles in all categories.

Beyond these styles, Neil Kelly also has introduced its Naturally Northwest cabinet collection made of locally available, renewable woods with less-toxic materials and finishes.  These woods include Big Leaf Maple, Oregon White Oak, Red Alder, Fir, Western Walnut and Western Juniper, which is indigenous to eastern Oregon and has taken over some areas, promoting water table depletion and soil erosion.

It is not uncommon for Neil Kelly Cabinets to be shipped to customers east of the Rocky Mountains because demand remains for quality and unique styling, says Mark Smith, Neil Kelly president.

But unlike flooring, paint and an array of other environmental products, green cabinetry in general has not yet demanded enough attention from consumers to get too concerned about whether there is local stock.

And when all is said and done, the look the consumer is after at the lowest cost possible, usually wins out.

Many consumers are not yet as focused on having green cabinetry as they are on other surfaces. We expect that to change. ©


1 Comment
  • Tom Henderson
    Posted at 10:21h, 21 March Reply

    Enjoyed the article regarding “green” cabinet suppliers.

    Wanted to let you know that we supply “green” cabinets locally. They can even be built custom on site.

    Metro denver through Boulder County.

    Thank you.


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