The Amazing Advantages of Green Interior Design

Green interior design takes advantage of recyclable materials, furnishings, and leftovers, to create a one in a million space. This style uses long-lasting and non-toxic materials, as well as renewable energy sources. When you redecorate your home with new materials every five years that is the opposite from green interior design.

The heart of green interior design is to restore and reuse everything that’s possible. Today, there is a great variety of green floor options that allow you to refinish, sand, or paint without employing toxic materials. The main materials employed in green interior design are cork, bamboo, and eucalyptus, because no destruction occurs when taking them from nature. In the same way, there are woods that have been approved and certified by environmental groups as appropriate for construction and decoration because they do not carry the devastation of millenary forests.

Green interior design cares to the core. It even pays attention to what glues and finishes are eco-friendly, since these commonly contain toxic synthetic resins that are extremely harmful. Green design is all about non-toxic cleaners, polishes, finishes, refinishing, and adhesive products, resulting in better air quality and a healthier environment at home.

The idea behind going green is to use as few chemicals as possible in everything we use and in our surroundings, while living in harmony and taking advantage of the green exterior. So it is important to use a lot of glass windows, doors, and skylights to let in natural light, helping to lower energy consumption and to avoid moisture accumulation.

Nothing is more in today than concrete floors. They are used in different colors, textures, polishes, and patterns, and are not harmful to your health because they are free from glues and finishes with chemicals. Green kitchens, bathrooms and fireplaces also showcase concrete counter tops that give a natural look and appear thoroughly modern.

Now there’s the option of recycled glass. It is very beautiful and can be found in many colors and forms to match your space and necessities.

Another important aspect of selecting a green design is in the appliances you choose. Besides budget, it is necessary to think about their functionality, style and energy efficiency. Select the ones that use less water, and recycle all your old appliances correctly. Ask for advice if necessary.

Green home designs provide for lots of ceiling and wall eco-friendly insulation throughout the entire house, turning your home into an energy-efficient one. Look for high performance windows and doors that help preserve energy very effectively.

The current global condition begs for smart choices in home interior design. Green design is such a choice, resulting in an economic and environmental advantage. Green enthusiasts think of future money savings, reduced exposure to toxic materials, and living in harmony with the environment, however, living green is not easy. It is a lifestyle that demands deep changes in your life philosophy and priorities, but it is worth it!

If you’re interested in this kind of interior design, research, ask, and learn all you can about it before deciding to implement it. Interior designers in Seattle are a great source of information and guidance, one that you should consider in order to go green all the way and in the right way.

If you liked this article, tell all your friends about it. They’ll thank you for it. If you have a blog or website, you can link to it or even post it to your own site (don’t forget to mention amelydesigns.com as the original source).

Green Design 101 With Verde Home

Determine the Project Scope
The scope of the project you are undertaking will affect the decisions you make about Green Design. We generally look at the scope of a project as being one of three types in ascending complexity.

  • Redecorate – Re-designing an existing room with no new construction will be the least intensive. The option of re-use is generally greater with existing spaces.
  • Re-model – Re-models often open up living areas and require more “net new” materials, however the potential for re-use is still an option.
  • New Home – Designing a new home will most likely require more “net new” materials than a remodel or redecoration. This “clean slate” offers opportunities to incorporate more sustainable design elements but the potential for higher environmental impact is also greater if not managed.

Determine Project Goals

Once you have determined the general scope of a project the next step would be to decide what the primary goal of your green project is. Goals will vary from project to project but can generally be broken into one of two categories:

  • Reduce the overall environmental impact that your home has. i.e. reduce the environmental footprint.
  • Create a healthy living environment, free of potential toxins.

It is important to note that these two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. However, when deciding between the pros and cons of multiple product choices it is helpful to keep in mind the ultimate goal.

An example of this trade off may occur when redecorating a living room. If your goal is to design for a healthy living environment it may be necessary to replace the old sofa, which is most likely made using toxic glues and cushions. However, replacing old item with new items is not always the “greenest” thing to do, as it creates more waste. A similar project with an environmental impact focus may opt to have the existing piece re-upholstered. Depending on the budget and needs of the project this process may encompass the use of organic fabrics as well as re-stuffing of the frame to capture some healthy living environment benefits or it may stay strictly focused on environmental impact and use a fabric made from recycled materials.

Tips for Environmental Impact Focused Design
A good starting point for any Environmental Impact Focused Design is to take stock of what you already have. The more that you can Re-use or Re-purpose the less new material you will have to buy, this will both save money and reduce the impact of making new goods. Some basic ideas to consider would include:

  • Have kitchen cabinets faux painted to give them a new look. Replace pulls with unique salvaged pieces or items made from recycled material.
  • Consider having countertops veneered instead of replaced.
  • Reupholster pieces that are not completely thread bare or talk to a good upholsterer about altering the lines of a piece.
  • Repurpose old rugs. Old kilim and other rug fragments can often be washed and cut down to make great pillow covers or even use as upholstery fabric.
  • Re-use old fabric. If you are having a sofa recovered, consider trying to use portions of the old fabric if possible on smaller projects.

After going through everything that you can re-use inevitably there will be some new pieces that you will need to buy in order to complete your decor. Below are some considerations when buying new items.

  • Look for local first. Items that are produced or obtained regionally generally will have a smaller environmental impact from a transportation standpoint. The added benefit is that they generally are delivered quicker and support the local economy.
  • Look for vintage pieces. No new energy will go into the production of something that has already been made (aside from transport).
  • Pay attention to what new items are made from. If it is an item made from wood, ask where the wood came from. Ideally the item will be made from FSC (Forest Stewardship Certified), reclaimed woods, or urban hardwoods (trees felled as a result of storm or other natural reasons). If these are not available look for abundant native wood species which tend to be grown in a sustainable manner.
  • Although carpet companies have made great strides in the last few years to become “green” they still don’t match the age old natural wool rug. Look for all wool rugs, preferably handmade. Unfortunately few handmade rugs are woven locally which means that they must travel distances to get here, but wool is rapidly renewable, anti microbial, naturally resistant to mold mildew and bacteria. If maintained properly a well made handwoven rug will also last a lifetime.

Tips for Healthy Living Environment Focused Design
When designing a space with a focus on healthy living a few more considerations may come into play. The designer must first take note if the client has any special allergies or chemical sensitivities that will affect the design. Below are some general tips to consider:

  • Use organic wherever possible. Where chemical sensitivity, allergies or other health issues are concerned it is always best to use natural product components. Today there are organic options available for most home furnishing products.
  • Again we would recommend wool area rugs, unless there is an allergy involved. As noted above wool rugs are anti microbial, and naturally resistant to mold mildew and bacteria. They also have the added benefit of being able to be removed and thoroughly cleaned to remove dust and dirt.
  • Using low VOC paints is recommended any time recovering a wall is required. Most major paint companies offer these now. When possible use premixed low VOC colors as VOC’s tend to be added as tints are injected to the base.
  • Look for furniture assembled with water based glues. Most manufactures are making the switch but the alternative is a formaldehyde base which becomes a gas at room temperature and can “off gas” in your home for years.
  • Where dyes are used in fabrics and rugs, look for low impact (or no) chrome dyes or natural dyes. Also referred as Swiss Dyes low impact dyes are made with high absorption rates to readily bond with the fiber requiring less dye and minimizing the use of heavy metals. Vegetable dyes on the other hand are 100% natural to the point where they are bonded with the rug. There is some debate over the “green-ness” of vegetable dyes but in all they are better than standard chrome dyes.

Getting rid of the old
If you are buying some new items you are most likely doing away with some old pieces as well. The question then becomes what to do with your old pieces. If they are still useful try one of the following:

  • Donating them to the salvation army (who will come and get them in many cases).
  • Post them on Freecycle.org if you wish to give them away
  • Sell them locally on Craiglist
  • Contact a vintage furniture store or consignment shop to see if they are interested in buying or taking the piece in on consignment.

Green For Everyone, Not Just the Modern Folks

Unless you have been living in a cave for the last few years- you know what “Green” is (its been elevated out of mere colorhood). Green is literally everywhere. Its in magazines and commercials. Its slathered on every imaginable household product. Its the topic of conversation and news sources from here to high heaven (Mea culpa, by the way). Its the pet subject of the Architecture and Design field. Green is what you should be. Its what you should be buying. Its what you should be doing.

I think that Sustainability and Green platforms are very valid. However, with so much media saturation and “green washing”, it can be really hard for the average person to navigate this new world of green and white, (rather than shades of gray, we now have shades of mint green and sea foam). What most people don’t know, is that there are a lot of bona fide ways to institute green practices and purchases when building, designing and living in a house.

Here are ways that everyone can be green. These considerations are things that anyone can integrate into a construction or design project, regardless of style preferences, (its not just for the modern folks!).

-Buy Quality Products.When you purchase something of great quality, you increase the longevity of that item. When you purchase an item that will become dated or wear out in a few short years, you increase waste by throwing out the old and you increase consumption by buying new again. Buying for the long term is earth friendly. In the long run, you also end up spend less on great quality because you don’t have to replace it time and time again. Consider purchasing the best quality seating, carpet/rugs, and case goods your budget allows for.

-Use quality materials with longevity. When you are selecting surface materials, think longevity and quality. Use materials that are durable and will stand the test of time. Consider materials that won’t look dated in the future. Not everything needs to be made from recycled materials to be considered green (in fact, a lot of the hottest “green” materials of today will look dated in the not too distant future). Using and properly maintaining natural stone for counter tops and flooring is, indeed, a green practice.

-Use Green building materials and systems.This is attainable when involved with new construction and additions. When you start a project, tell the architect or designer that you care about the siting and natural heating and cooling of your home. Also ask them to specify green materials (such as formaldehyde free plywood, recycled insulation materials, etc.) and green systems (HVAC vent placement, lighting, window planning, solar panels, etc.) . Green design features that are laid out in planning and green materials that are utilized during construction can be applied to ANY home style. Green building materials are also better for your health (one very important component to the Green movement).

-Buy a built home. When you can, strive to buy an already built home. It is estimated that for every new home, 2.5 tons of construction waste and materials are used. If you buy an already built home, you reduce waste and evade using new resources.This option is not always desirable, but its worth heavy consideration when you are planning on buying a home.

-Buy antique and vintage furnishings.This goes hand in hand with buying an already built structure. By buying vintage and antique furnishings, you prevent using new resources and also prevent the waste  associated with producing new furniture. Become familiar with local antique shops, tell them what you are looking for. If you are intimidated, hire a designer to walk you through the ins and outs of buying antiques. Its nothing to be afraid of! (Warning- it can become addicting!). Even people with modern tastes can think about integrating Bauhaus, Mid Century Modern, Art Deco or Post Modern vintage finds.

-Refrain from buying products that use endangered resources. Look for products that use reclaimed wood or other reclaimed materials. Avoid products that use endangered or rare species of wood, stone or metal. The general definition of Sustainable is: “providing for present needs without detracting from tomorrow”. Use products that source not only from sustainable materials, but sustainable forests as well (contrary to popular thought, not everything has to be bamboo!).

-Use low or no Volatile Organic Omissions (VOC) paint. Everyone uses paint. May as well use the healthiest option. Check out Benjamin Moore’s line of green paint called Aura.

-Use natural cleaning products. Stop buying household brand cleaning products and laundry detergent. They contain lots of chemicals and fragrance that are slowly degrading your health. Use basic cleaning methods and natural, fragrance-free products. Just because a product has a little green “seal” or earth-friendly looking logo does not mean its truly green. Start reading ingredients and do some homework when in doubt.