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Eco-friendly design on Kitchen Tour

SHARON – Architect Lynn Gaffney believes in building green, as she proved when she designed the eco-friendly kitchen in her home. Gaffney and her husband, Bill Backus, will open their Ellsworth Road home for the Housatonic Musical Theatre Society’s fifth annual Kitchen Tour Nov. 3.

Though Gaffney handled a lot of the design, Backus, who does the cooking in the house, was instrumental in choosing the appliances for the kitchen, which are mostly Electrolux. Electrolux is a European appliance company that is noted for being energy efficient.

The kitchen makes use of florescent lighting and a smoked glass backsplash, which creates a ghostly reflection effect.

The kitchen is the place where they eat most of their meals and serve guests around a large island.

"We like to have breakfast there with any overnight guests we might have; everyone gets up and comes down to belly up to the bar so to speak."

Gaffney’s kitchen, which has been featured in magazines like Connecticut Cottages and Gardens and Dwell, is unique in its design as its countertops were constructed using recycled glass ground into a concrete mixture called icestone. Icestone is a durable, eco -friendly material produced at the Brooklyn, N.Y., Navy Yard.

Gaffney used Ikea cabinets.

"We assembled them ourselves and then had the contractor install them," she said. "They are very cost effective as they are only about a 10th of what one would normally pay for cabinets. They are also eco-friendly as they have very low levels of offgassing."

Offgassing occurs when building materials release chemicals used their during manufacture. Once released, these chemicals can continue to be inhaled even years after installation. With this in mind, Gaffney also chose not to use paint anywhere in the entire house. Instead, she chose to have plaster walls, eliminating the emission of paint toxins.

The house itself uses exposed concrete, which Gaffney said is a good material for the radiant heating system they have employed. Radiant heating uses less fossil fuel and pollutes less, creating less acid rain.

Gaffney also offered suggestions for anybody looking to take a similar approach to their kitchen design.

"All these materials are incredibly available. There are hundreds of types of material for countertops, wall surfaces and flooring that are more eco-friendly than the norm."

To get the word out about green design, Gaffney will host a lecture titled "Domestic Green: Helping the Environment Starts at Home," focusing on sustainable residential construction and renovation, at the Trinity Episcopal Church of Lime Rock Friday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m.

To see Gaffney’s kitchen first-hand, attend the fifth annual Kitchen Tour Saturday, Nov. 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 on the day of the event, with proceeds benefiting the Housatonic Musical Theatre Society; this year’s production is "Little Shop of Horrors." More information about the tour is available by calling 860-435-8842.

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