Progress on the kitchen has been slow, or at least feels that way. I've been finalizing the layout of the cabinet design and getting estimates. Since the cabinets are major part of the expense as well as the look of the kitchen, and I can't do it myself (without a major learning curve to learn cabinet making, and a lot of time), I'm getting three estimates. I can't blame the weather (which was glacial...there was ice on the bird bath the other morning), though that has kept me away from Habitat for several Fridays. I can't even blame jury duty, since the case settled while they were calling role, so it only took a few hours out of my day.
The first estimate is from Home Depot, which had a very helpful, friendly guy help me finalize some details while he was inputting the cabinet specs into their system. KraftMaid makes nice cabinets, and has taken some green steps, but doesn't specify FSC-certified lumber and would be shipping the cabinets all the way from Ohio. They ship a lot of cabinets, so there's some economy of scale, but still not the best thing.
Another estimate is from a local green home improvement store, EcoHome. They're a great shop, with a huge selection of eco-friendly paints, flooring, cabinets, countertops, etc. We got our bamboo flooring from them, as well as all the paint we've bought in the years since they opened. They have a company make the cabinets locally, using FSC-certified wood and low- and no-VOC finishes. This will definitely be the greenest option, but probably the most expensive.
The final estimate is from a local cabinet shop here in Oakland, H&H Cabinet. They were the last on my list, so the drawings were pretty complete by the time I got to them. They've got a small showroom above their shop which is only staffed some of the time, so the hardest part was getting over there when it was. This may be the cheapest option, but we'll see.
I'm hoping that EcoHome's estimate will be reasonable enough that we can go with it. They're super-knowledgeable, always looking for new and better options, and have done a lot of work figuring out the trade-offs involved in the various options. With the recession, they've been adding more variety to the products they carry. Instead of purely high-end stuff that's as green as possible, they're also carrying some more modest stuff that may not be as green. Regardless of whether we get the cabinets from them, we'll probably get the flooring (probably natural linoleum) and countertops (maybe Paperstone or Vetrazzo; the latter is made locally).
I'm also hoping this will all be reasonable enough that we can splurge a little on some art. We recently went to a local (as in around the corner) open studio. Turns out the house with the funny sculptures in front (a couple doors over from the house that burned a while back) belongs to a local artist who works with copper. Kenneth Griswa does some very high end installs, but also does some more modestly priced work, too. His portfolio includes some boffo copper backsplashes and range hoods as art. They're decorated using a variety of techniques, and are in a word, amazing.
In any event, the basic design of the kitchen is done. It's got the classic work triangle, and despite any limitations imposed by costs, it's going to be 1000% better than our old kitchen. It'll be twice as big, with lots more counter space and storage, and open to the dining room (via a large doorway and half height walls at the counters), so it'll feel even bigger.