Less space: A look at efficient kitchens
There is a move in home design towards leaner kitchens, which I think offers some pretty good opportunities to use less and be more green. If your kitchen works better, it can be more compact and will need to be updated less often.
The “loose fit” kitchen is flexible and has movable elements. Most of the early versions are quite expensive, but I can see how it could become a cost-effective option, particularly if it meant that you didn’t have to rip out cabinets to change your kitchen. You could just move the modular units around. This is described in more detail at: “Loose fit may work for jeans, but does it make sense for kitchens?” Here’s the same kitchen, with the cabinets open in “work mode”.
Ikea even has its VÄRDE line of freestanding kitchen cabinets, which is limited at this point, but these and other affordable options may increase if this trend continues.
Other trends that fit in with this concept are the use of more lower cabinets with drawers, which allows for better access to items and reduces the need for upper cabinets, which can provide opportunities to make the kitchen more open. This drawer looks entirely too organized to be believable (and who eats this much pasta?), but it does demonstrate how drawers can improve storage efficiency.
Another concept that I have been pursuing in my kitchen designs is to try to move some of the storage functions out of the food preparation portion of the kitchen. At the bare minimum, you need access to sink, work surface, and major appliances when cooking. Many of the storage functions (food, dishes, small appliances) can be elsewhere, such as in a large pantry or other high efficiency storage system. This keeps the clutter out of the kitchen and means that the kitchen can function better. As you can see in this next photo, a wall of shallow shelves can be a fantastic way to organize foodstuffs where they are easy to find. (And if you are interested in pantries, check out this collection of blog posts called “Other People’s Pantries” — an interesting look into how people organize their kitchen goods.)