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.

Home Improvement – Green Design for Remodeling Projects

Homeowners are going green and saving money with energy-conserving solutions and practical eco-friendly home products. Examples include energy-efficient appliances and furniture made from rapidly renewable resources, wall coverings made from 100 percent post- and pre-consumer waste paper, and water-saving shower heads.

Green design is an important element for homeowners to keep in mind as they consider a remodeling project. Green design reduces the impact on the environment and saves resources, and promotes a healthy lifestyle free of toxic materials and allergies. The increasing availability of new technology, innovative products and efficient materials is making it easier to achieve a green home.

Following are a few ideas for homeowners looking to incorporate green products and materials into their homes:

Appliances. Choose high-efficiency water heaters, low-flow toilets and shower heads, faucet aerators, energy- and water-efficient appliances. Also consider bulk-product dispensers for body care products.

Flooring. Reuse existing flooring and sub flooring when possible. For new floors, look at flooring made from natural or rapidly renewable materials. To refinish wood floors, use safe processes with green and safe materials. Don’t use carpeting in high moisture areas or where spills could occur. Consider area rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpeting.

Lighting. Supplement natural light with efficient electric lighting like compact fluorescent bulbs.

Paint. Use low or zero volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, finishes, adhesives, grouts, caulking and sealants.

Furnishings. Choose cabinetry and other furnishings made from recycled or reclaimed materials. Select compact furniture that incorporates storage. Consider reused, salvaged or antique furniture.

Water usage. Conserve water usage and set water heater temperatures no higher than necessary.

Green design is about improving your home and ensuring a better tomorrow for yourself, your family and your world. When remodeling your home, make it smart and sustainable to improve your quality of life for years to come.

Interior Redesign – Designs With Repurpose, Reuse and Recycle in Mind – Redesigning Is Green Design

Interior redesign is Green! Redesigning a room in your home does not mean spending a lot of money. Changing your interior space, costs zero, zip, nada (except for our fee – we do charge a small fee for our services). Nothing to buy or do in debt for, we can help you redesign your space using what you already own. We can envision your space in a way you have not thought of before.

Change is exciting and will give you a new outlook at how you view the things you already own.

We will repurpose items you have long forgot about or didn’t know where to put. Judy has a great eye for grouping items together. She even surprises me from time to time. For example, art does not have to be matchy in content. Black and white art can be on display with colorful art. Neither one of us does “matchy matchy” unless there is a specific request from the client.

You might have side tables or other pieces of furniture in the garage, some you may have forgotten about. We will repurpose an item saving you money and time, no shopping for new things unless you want too.

It is one day, not expensive, and the outcome is Wow! Give us a call or send an email after you visit our website. We offer Virtual Designs that will help you redesign other rooms on your own or think of giving

the “gift of design” to someone who has everything. This is a unique gift, thinking outside the box.

Redesign to help you fall in love with your things all over again!

Green Design – 12 Easy Ways To Efficiently Upgrade and “Green-Up” Your Bathrooms and Kitchens!

No matter what your favorite color is . . . when thinking of your home, it needs to be GREEN! With growing concerns over rising energy costs, global warming and protecting our environment for future generations, the desire to “Green-Up” has dramatically increased.

There are affordable ways that homeowners can upgrade their bathrooms and kitchens to make them more water and energy efficient. The following are some easy ways that have been suggested by the National Association of Homebuilders to “Green-Up” when remodeling:

Water Heater – Replace your existing water heater with a money $aving, energy-efficient tankless model.

Showerhead – A high efficiency showerhead can help you $ave on your water bill each month, making it a simple choice when remodeling.

Toilet – With the addition of high efficiency toilets to your home, you again are $aving on water usage.

Ventilation Fans – Home owners will $ave electricity by using energy-efficient exhaust fans. When remodeling your bathroom, remember to look for an Energy-Star-Rated fan which will $ave you both money and electricity over the lifespan of the product.

Bathroom Faucets – High-efficiency water faucets for sinks and tubs have been designed to give you better performance as well as $ave water consumption.

Refrigerators – Energy-$aving fridges have been designed to perform more efficiently, and for more years than older models.

Dishwashers – Again, look for Energy-Star-rated models which will use 41 percent less energy than other dishwashers.

Microwave Ovens – Energy-efficient microwaves cook much faster than conventional ovens, but also can use up to 80% less energy. While not appropriate for all types of cooking, they can $ave you both time and money!

Oven Ranges – Gas burners use 55% of the energy produced compared to 65% for electric cooktops. Additionally, self cleaning ovens tend to have more insulation, making them more efficient as well.

Countertops – Recycled glass, stone and concrete have a great modern look, and have given these old materials a new life. Many of these same products also work well as tiles for your kitchens and baths.

Cabinetry – Consider recycled or reclaimed wood which is durable and both economically and environmentally friendly.

Flooring – Renewable flooring like cork or bamboo have become quite popular for both kitchens and bath areas. They offer durability and easy maintenance with a long-lasting natural look. And of course, stone and wood floors will last you a lifetime!

It’s important for us as homeowners to realize that we ALL can help save the planet by lowering our energy bills, one at a time . . . and doing all we can to conserve our natural resources. Green Building and Green Remodeling should no longer be viewed by us as an option, but as our RESPONSIBILITY!