Kitchen of the Week: A Clever Kitchen Built from Affordable and Recycled Materials

How do you create a spacious, affordable – and memorable – kitchen in a tiny apartment meant to be rented and then sold? Architects Ruth Mandl and Bobby Johnston of CO Adaptive in Brooklyn were still in the process of starting their business in 2014 when this order arrived. They decided to use recycled materials – they named the project The Recycled Content Apartment – and have since built an eco-responsible practice around creative renovations.

We think their kitchen solution always looks fresh and is full of ideas to consider. Film industry apple crates for overhead storage and a transformer island, anyone? Join us for a look.

Photograph by Peter Dressel, courtesy of CO Adaptive.

The architects started by opening up the space to the living room - the kitchen / dining half now measures approximately 0 square feet and includes a peninsula that serves as both a counter and table for food preparation.
Above: The architects started by opening up the space to the living room – the kitchen / dining half now measures around 100 square feet and includes a peninsula that serves as both a counter and table for food preparation.

Located in an 1868 Cobble Hill structure in Brooklyn – at the time a new model of housing for workers – the apartment had been modernized over the years and came with a worn kitchen. “We were selected by a client who wanted to renovate the space as an income rental property with the potential to sell it,” says Ruth. “She wanted to keep the budget very minimal and maximize overall space efficiency.”

The back wall is unified by cabinets clad in grade A architectural plywood that the architects paired with wall cases from New York Apple Boxes, a local workshop founded by a photographer-carpenter who uses scrap metal.  Full apple boxes, as shown here, cost $ 33 each.  The dishwasher was bought used at Build It Green, now Big Reuse, in Brooklyn.
Above: The back wall is unified by cabinets clad in A-grade architectural plywood that the architects paired with wall boxes from New York Apple Boxes, a local workshop founded by a photographer-carpenter who uses scrap metal. Full apple boxes, as shown here, cost $ 33 each. The dishwasher was bought used at Build It Green, now Big Reuse, in Brooklyn.

Thanks to the proximity of the existing window, the owner chose not to install a range hood. Ruth says that while dirt can accumulate in open warehouses, “especially on the cooktop,” it is easy to access the inside of crates for cleaning. “This solution isn’t for everyone – it works best for storing sealed cups, dishes, and food containers like mason jars that are used regularly, and yes, surface cleaning is required.”

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