Add Green to Your Interior Design Palette
Greening you interior space can be challenging, but it can also be a creative and fun experience. There are small things that you can do to live in a more sustainable space or you can contemplate larger renovations and re-designs. Here at Low Impact Living we provide many listings of experienced sustainable interior designers all over the country, like MCM2 Design in New Jersey, Adeeni Design in San Francisco, Interior Wisdom in Florida, and Path Design in Orange County. We also feature many beautiful green products and materials. We hope to be a resource for whatever you want to accomplish in your ideal and environmentally friendly interior environment!
Seek Alternative Materials
Today, more and more manufacturers are working closely with designers to develop a wide range of options in environmentally friendly materials that are recycled, reclaimed, organic and/or renewable. For every product used in an interior environment, there is usually a greener option that can be used. In addition search for locally sourced and manufactured materials. This can save a lot of embodied energy used in the manufacturing, shipping and packaging of products.
Our sponsor for this newsletter, Carlisle Wide Plank Flooring, offers many types of beautiful wood flooring options that are made from FSC certified or reclaimed woods. The gorgeous photo above is a sample of their product. Learn more about Carlisle here.
Here is a table that will help you find good sustainable alternatives to many materials used in home design:
Lighten Up Your Life
We have all heard that the first and easiest thing we can do to lower our environmental impact in our homes is to change the light bulbs to CFLs (compact florescent bulbs). In the past, the color of these bulbs was an issue, which was not typically flattering for skin tones. Fortunately, the demand for these bulbs has caused manufacturers to create bulbs that are warmer in color and look like normal bulbs. You can check out our wide selection of efficient and aesthetically-pleasing bulbs and lighting options.
For those of you looking to do more than just change the light bulbs, there are other strategies that could improve light quality in an interior environment. You can use task lighting for specific areas of the room and not try to light the room with one large fixture. Whyr'hymer Furniture makes truly gorgeous and unique light fixtures. See them here and be amazed.
Another technique you can use is to paint the walls a lighter color which will lighten the room and reflect more of the natural light that comes into the space during the day. For added energy efficiency, put motion sensors and/or dimmer switches on all light fixtures throughout the house. See our lighting controls and motion sensors.
Or course natural light is the healthiest option and does not use any energy. If you are doing any kind of renovation, your windows should be Energy Star rated and located on the South side of the house to maximize light intake. There are also many skylight options that are inexpensive, like a tubular sky light, and can be placed into a roof very easily. They look good and will save power and money. Overall, daylighting benefits are optimized by controlling glare, using appropriate light fixtures, maximizing solar options, and utilizing motion sensors all together as an integrated system.
Paint the Town Green
There is a world of color waiting for you when it comes to eco-friendly paints. Many of the most popular names in the paint industry now offer more environmentally safe options. The main concern in paint is the VOC level (Volatile Organic Compounds) found in paints, coatings, and adhesives. VOCs affect the indoor air quality of an environment because they contain toxic substances that can be hazardous to our health. To learn more about VOCs, you can read about them in our newsletter issue on Indoor Air Quality.
Although the low-VOC or no-VOC paints may be a bit more expensive, they are well worth the peace of mind. It is refreshing in more ways than one to know that the air you breathe in a newly painted room won't make you sick. Low Impact Living offers a variety of options in low VOC and no VOC paints which include Yolo Colorhouse, AFM SafeCoat, and Bio-Shield. There are also great alternatives like Old-Fashioned Milk Paint and American Clay.
Have you ever realized that you own a lot of stuff that you don't want to throw away but are running out of room to keep? Here are some ideas to enliven your interior space and give you the chance to re-use things that you might have lying around to add decorative flair. Haven't you heard the phrase that one person's trash is another person's treasure?
- Create a feature wall using old newspaper in a paper mache technique. Leftover paper is also good for wrapping paper, packing material, and book covers.
- Create an eclectic collage on the wall using old plates and silverware.
- Use natural stone samples (e.g., marble, slate, etc) as unique serving platters for cheese, fruit, or anything you want to keep cold. The stone gets cold in the fridge and remains cold for a long period of time. Guaranteed to impress your guests!
- Break apart old ceramic tiles and use pieces as mosaics for tabletops, planters, or coasters.
- Use carpet samples for door mats, car mats, animal mats, or scratching posts.
Thanks for joining us again. There are many ways to be green in an interior space, and hopefully we have provided some ideas that will inspire you to create a space that not only looks good, but is healthy and sustainable as well.
STAY TUNED: We will be doing a future newsletter specifically on sustainable furniture in September.
Shayna Prunier, LEED AP, Director of Business Development, Low Impact Living, LLC
Do you have a topic you would like us to cover? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to incorporate it in our newsletters over the next few months.
Individual results of using green products and services listed herein may vary. Low Impact Living, Inc. takes no responsibility for individual results, nor for service providers or products listed on this website.