Primed By Design | Milton Interior Decorator

Smart Decorating is Greener than you Think

Ezine Article, April 2012
by Sharyn Kastelic

Undoubtedly, in this day and age, we are all concerned about the state of our environment. And we have come a long way in reducing our carbon footprint. We conserve energy in the home by turning off lights, use programmable thermostats; run dishwashers and laundry machines in off-peak demand hours. We take our reusable shopping bags to the grocery and other stores, use city-issued recycling bins; purchase non-toxic household cleaners and energy-efficient light bulbs, etc. We may also have arranged a home energy-audit to learn ways of making our home more energy-efficient. But hopefully, our efforts at “going green” don’t end here. There are lots more ways to consider.

Here’s my list of smart decorating practices that just happen to be green:

1. Quality Quality Quality

Investing in better quality furnishings will reduce the amount of garbage going to landfill simply because they are more durable and will last longer. Lesser quality home furnishings will have a shorter life, because they will break down, wear out, or start to look shabby. It’s true, things don’t last forever, but good quality will last longer.

Also, buying quality will save you money in the long term. By spending a bit more initially for better quality furnishings, you won’t have to spend more money down the road to replace them. If you do get tired of them, you will be able to resell them and recoup some of your initial investment. Remember, you get what you pay for in terms of quality.

2. Classic Style

Classic styles are ones that were originally designed years ago, have stood the test of time and will never really go out-of-style. They are safer purchases than trendy furnishings because they will never look “dated” and therefore won’t need to be replaced. An important styling trick is to mix classic with a few contemporary or trendy pieces to keep your look current. For example, mid-century modern furnishings mix very well with contemporary pieces.

3. Buy Less

In my business, a room doesn’t look finished until it has all the right accessories. This may seem to contradict my design mantra, “less is more”, which originated from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as a precept for minimalist design. It’s far better to make a design statement with one or two large pieces than a large number of smaller pieces. A case in point, would be a large piece of art that creates a focal point in a room. The art will always make a bigger and more dramatic design statement than a number of smaller pieces. Remember that the focal point needs space around it for the eye to perceive it as such. When a room becomes very busy with pattern and objects, the eye doesn’t have a place to rest. For this reason and as a general rule, rooms with “less” are more calming than rooms with “more”.

4. Buy Local

There are economic and environmental benefits of doing business with local manufacturers:

– locally manufactured products are usually made in smaller batches and by hand, ensuring a superior level of quality and craftsmanship;

– there is less freight and transportation costs, and less toxic carbon emissions; and

– by supporting local businesses, we support our domestic economy.

5. Buy Vintage or Architectural Salvage

With today’s eclectic mix of home furnishing styles, incorporating antiques or vintage furnishings into your rooms makes for a wonderful, warm environment that speaks about history, nostalgia and meaningful treasures. Buying vintage furniture has the added benefit of being green because it doesn’t require any energy to produce. That’s good for the environment and good for your pocket-book.

Also, there are lots of options for purchasing from artisans who craft furniture from salvaged wood, like old dismantled buildings, barns, etc. – you can’t get much greener than that.

6. Reuse, Refinish, Reupholster

If your furniture is looking tired, consider giving your wood pieces new life with a professional paint job. For your sofa or chairs, how about some fresh, organic cotton slip-covers or new fabric with recycled content. For example, the Kravet Green collection of fabrics is made of 100% recycled polyester and is not treated with additional chemicals. Then, after years of use these fabrics can be recycled again.

7. Buy Green

There is so much information available on the internet, it is easy to research companies who have adopted green manufacturing processes, like using low VOC glues and coatings (check for Greenguard certification). That is definitely a personal health benefit. The Sustainable Furnishings Council ( web site lists green furniture manufacturers.

It’s not always easy to make green or eco-friendly choices – it takes effort and a willingness to be a responsible consumer. If we consider our own personal environmental footprint, following at least some of these tips is surely a smarter and greener way to decorate.

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