New clients of mine were looking to redecorate their bedroom. They wanted an eco-friendly environment and asked for my help redesigning the room. As a designer, I look to create surroundings that are safe, practical and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The task of creating an environmentally friendly attractive home design is not as difficult as you may think. Due to the growing emphasis on global warming, more and more manufacturers are developing a wider range of attractive materials from which to choose.
Paint is one of the worst of the environmental offenders. Some of the most harmful chemicals found in paint are volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs were once considered essential to the paint’s performance. It is the solvents used in paint to assist in the drying process that contribute the most to the paint’s level of VOCs. Armed with this information, consumers have begun to demand safer alternatives. Due to consumer pressure, manufacturers such as Benjamin Moore and Sherman Williams now offer low-VOC and no-VOC paints in a variety of colors. Sherwin Williams even packages its low-VOC paint in “100% post-consumer recycled packaging with labels printed in soy ink.”Flooring companies are also going green. They are experimenting with alternative, sustainable fibers, and are using more recycled materials. If you are interested in eco-friendly flooring options, bamboo, cork, reclaimed wood, FSC certified wood, natural linoleum and recycled tile are some of the eco-friendly green flooring solutions that are available. These floorings also come in attractive patterns. The same holds true for the furniture that you add to the room. Bamboo is a grass that can be worked like wood, it is fast-growing and it doesn’t require treatment with pesticides.Carpeting can fill the air with hundreds of VOCs. Carpet is often treated with toxic chemicals for mothproofing or to repel soil and moisture. Look for carpets made from natural fibers such as wool or jute or with recycled fibers. Also, make sure that natural-fiber backing with less-toxic adhesives is attached. A safe approach is to buy carpets that display a “Green Label Plus” Certification. It states that the carpet and its adhesive products meet the most stringent criteria for low chemical emissions.
Hunter Douglas has offered energy efficient window treatments for a number of years. These window treatments reduce heating, cooling and lighting energy needs by reducing heat-flow through the windows. They control heat energy from the sun by allowing it in during the winter, but reducing it in the summer and they enhance the use of natural light by diffusing and dispersing sunlight deep into a room.
There are many attractive lighting fixtures on the market that use compact florescent lighting (CFLs). They come in different shapes, sizes and the color of the lighting. They use about one quarter the energy of an incandescent, and have a much longer life. Also, because they release less heat, your cooling load in the summer is reduced.
So, turn on your energy efficient lights, and enter your beautiful eco-friendly room knowing that it is healthier, and that you made a contribution to improving the environment by “going green”.