(ARA) - “It’s not easy being green,” laments Kermit the Frog. However, today it is easy being “green” at home. Interior designers can help you make your home “healthier” thanks, in part, to a new generation of home furnishings including fabrics, wallcoverings and flooring materials that are beautiful, non-toxic and “earth friendly.”
In fact, a green interior is just like any other well-designed interior space, says Victoria Schomer, ASID, owner of a design consulting business in California. It considers good functionality and pleasing aesthetics. Schomer’s business has focused on sustainable and healthful interiors since the late 1980s.
What do you need to do to make your home green and healthy? Ask for and use sustainable products during home renovations. According to the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), many environmentally responsible home furnishings and building materials are available and affordable to consumers. Availability will increase and prices will drop even further when more consumers become aware of the many benefits of these products and purchase them. You can also work with an interior designer who specializes in sustainable design. A design professional can help you seamlessly incorporate green innovations into your home and ensure the final result meets or exceeds your expectations.
One of the first things a designer will check in determining a home’s health is its indoor air quality. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers poor air quality a top risk to human health. “At a minimum, there are key spaces in the home that should be as environmentally friendly as possible,” says Trudy Dujardin, ASID, a Connecticut-based designer and expert on sustainable design. Dujardin says because “the liver allows the body to detox during…sleep, the sleep environment needs to be as clean and pure as possible.” The addition of a room air purifier can help, as can the use of non-toxic wall and floor coverings, paints, furnishings, wood finishes and textiles, according to Dujardin.
What else can you do to green your home? Use environmentally responsible paint, textiles and wallcoverings. Manufacturers have come a long way in offering a variety of “eco-friendly” products at “consumer-friendly” prices. Ask for low VOC (volatile organic compound) paint when painting interior walls. Strides have been made in improving low VOC paint, which today is as easy to use and as high in quality as latex paint, says Ed Mattingly, ASID Industry Partner, of Mattingly Decorating in La Grange, Ill. Today stunning fabrics are being offered made from paper, recycled soda bottles, straw, wool and tires. Wallcoverings are being created using natural or recycled materials, and printed with water-soluble inks containing no heavy metals. Some wallcoverings also are “breathable,” reducing the amount of mold or mildew that can grow over time. For wallcovering installation, always ask for low VOC glues and water-soluble application products.
Floor coverings also have gone green. Installation of eco-friendly carpeting and flooring in a home can improve indoor air quality, as well as support the environment. Eco-friendly carpeting is not a misnomer, as many top manufacturers offer excellent recycled, residential products. Explore using natural flooring materials: beautiful palm, bamboo, limestone and recycled wood, to name a few. While the initial costs may be higher than other types of flooring, in the long run these materials are cost effective as well as environmentally responsible. You are installing a longer-lasting material than traditional carpet, which can end up in a landfill when replaced. Nationwide, about 4 billion tons of carpeting end up in landfills every year.
“I think people still assume doing a green interior means making a lot of compromises and not being able to have the finished result they want,” Schomer says. By becoming an educated consumer, you can learn that the opposite is true: home interiors can be green, functional and drop-dead gorgeous. It’s easy to be green. Sorry Kermit.
To find out how to locate a qualified interior designer in your community, check out the free ASID Worldwide Referral Service at www.interiors.org. To learn about the benefits of working with an interior designer and green design, go to www.asid.org.