Q: You can get green cabinets at Lowe's. Why go custom?

A: We wanted something ­specific: nontoxic, traditional, locally made cabinetry. So we knew we'd have to pay extra. Ours cost about 20 percent more than regular custom and considerably more than stock. But considering how well they're made, and how we maximize the space in our small kitchen, it was worth it. The delivery time was also quick—just six weeks.

Q: Was it tough finding cabinets in a period style to match your old house?

A: We definitely needed something old-fashioned-looking. Bamboo wouldn't do. But since Breathe Easy cabinets are custom, we got a traditional stile-and-rail door with a white painted finish that wouldn't clash with the kitchen's exposed wood trim. For the hardware, we used ­salvaged glass handles.

Q: How have your green cabinets held up to the inevitable leaky sink pipes or tomato-sauce splatters?

A: Our cabinets have a limited lifetime warranty, which gives us peace of mind. In retrospect, we might have asked the dealer if we could contact former customers to check how theirs were working out. But as far as messes go, our doors have a low-VOC clear coat that protects them from kitchen ­disasters. But even without the extra finish, the eco-paint should hold up.

Q: Did you save the 1970s cabinets—for garage storage, perhaps?

A: They were pretty much shot. But we did restore an original built-in hutch. Once I pried off the fake-wood paneling, it was really beautiful. I'm so glad we could salvage something. After all, preserving what's already there is the greenest thing to do.

TOH Pro Advice: Alan Baker, green contractor, New Paltz, New York, says, "Rather than buy new cabinets, you can give your existing wood boxes an eco-friendly makeover by refinishing them with a low-VOC primer and paint."

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