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Recycled Glass Countertops are a Sustainable Option

10/26/2016 11:00AM ● By Jon Lewis

Standing out on Top

November 2016
Story and Photos By Jon Lewis

Not long after Pam and Gary Kruth settled into their Lake Redding Estates home, they decided some remodeling was in order. The kitchen was a bit on the cramped side and they wanted some renovations that fit a little closer with their lifestyle and values.

At the top of their to-do list were the countertops. Inspired by an architect friend in Philadelphia, the Kruths wanted to explore some sustainable options. An Internet search for recycled glass turned up information on Vetrazzo, a Georgia-based company that uses a patented process to fashion countertops out of recycled glass, and the Kruths were sold.

The use of glass gleaned from curbside recycling programs, old traffic lights, stemware, stained glass, architectural glass from skyscrapers and other sources held a lot of appeal for the Kruths, and so did the idea of having one-of-a-kind countertops. “Every piece is an individual piece of art,” Gary Kruth says. 

Vetrazzo countertops were invented in 1996 by a graduate student in materials science, Don McPherson, who developed a process to combine a cement binder with recycled glass to produce smooth 9-by-5-foot slabs. His company, Counter Productions, was based in a historic Ford assembly plant in Richmond, Calif. The company was purchased, renamed and relocated to Tate, Ga., in 2010.

For the kitchen, the Kruths chose the “Alehouse Amber” style and had the material customized and installed by Redding Tile and Stone. The style gets its name from the use of recycled beer bottles, and the rich brown and sienna colors nicely complement the cabinets built by Beard’s Custom Cabinets in Redding.

The brown hues also are complemented by the hammered copper sink and the Jenn-Air appliances with an oiled bronze finish.

The Kruths are believed to be the first to use Vetrazzo countertops, says Liz Pearson, a sales associate at Redding Tile and Stone and a fan of the product. “I think it’s beautiful and I like that they have taken stuff that would go into our landfills,” she says. 

The material is not cheap—at about $2,300 per 9x5 slab, it’s comparable to high-end granite, plus the fabrication and installation cost another $2,500—but the Kruths feel its durable and unique nature make it a worthwhile investment.

Remnants from the slabs were fashioned into trivets and a living room table, and there was even enough left over to form one piece into the shape of a large guitar pick—a fitting symbol given the Kruths’ longtime involvement with the Oaksong Music Society and their knack for housing visiting musicians.

The Kruths also selected Vetrazzo for the vanity and shelves in the hallway bathroom, opting for the embedded shells and cooling blues and turquoise in the “Emerald Coast” style.

The focus on sustainability extends to the kitchen cabinets as well, with the use of knotty alder. “It’s a renewable resource, too,” Gary Kruth says. “It’s the first thing that comes up after they log places.” Stylish Cherner chairs with a red gum veneer also accent the Vetrazzo countertops.

The Kruths moved to Redding in 1994 when Gary Kruth, a commercial pilot, began flying for West Air, the company that contracts with FedEx for regional cargo delivery. Pam Kruth works at Mercy Medical Center as a trauma registrar. They remodeled their kitchen in May 2011; Dave Christensen and Ron Goniwicha of Best Choice Home Improvement were the general contractors.