Emerald Green Part II: Celebrating Earth Day & Green Design

Moss Chair

Happy Earth Day!

Today we think about our carbon footprint, sustainable living, and a greener planet. It’s a wonderful day to celebrate the earth and focus on a healthier and more responsible lifestyle.

In our continued efforts to “think green”, what are small changes we can make to incorporate some of these aspects into our own homes? And still come up with beautiful design? Even Designers struggle with how to do this on some levels. When I think of green design, I think of LEED certified commercial spaces that are clean and modern and have the coolest sustainable technology.

Roof top green space

Designed by: Frits de Vries Architect Photography by: Lucas Finlay

A few years ago, a group of designer got to tour the Adam Joseph Lewis Center at Oberlin College for Environmental Sustainable studies. It is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in the green design world. With a living “Green Machine” that recycles wastewater, and a climate controlled system that continually regulates the balance of “energy used to energy produced”, this is the pinnacle of green living. A building that supports its own functionally and leaves no impact on the environment. If you are in the Cleveland area…worth the visit…a must!

But reality wise – how do we add a little “emerald” to our lives on a daily basis?

1) Walls: Zero VOC paints – this past week was “National Paint Week”, a good opportunity to try the new Sherwin-Williams paint – Emerald, or Benjamin Moore – Aura. Both high quality, good for your home choices. Be smart about what you put on the walls in your home, its good for the environment and your family.

Green walls and furnitureDesigned by: Kishani Perera

2) Lights: LED and CFL bulbs – We are all trying to save on energy-efficiency and switch to better lighting options. CFLs are a good alternative for closets, garages, basements, and storage areas. CFLs are not a good choice for table lamps, foyers, ceiling lights, bathrooms and kitchens. They turn our skin, paint colors, and food green…not something we want. LEDs are still directional in their light output. So they are a good choice for recessed lights, under cabinet lights, outdoor lighting, and art lights. Still not a good choice for table lamps. But this technology is truly something that is developing at an incredible pace. stay tuned… www.energystar.gov

3) Water: Plumbing fixtures– We all need to replace a toilet or faucet occasionally. Even when we aren’t in the mist of a major renovation. I spend a lot of time thinking about toilets believe it or not. And the world is switching to duel-flush options…yes this means what it says…you figure it out. But seriously, between that and faucets and showerhead with flow restrictors, you can majorly cut down on your water usage. I’ve been to Kohler, WI. Some amazing options there. Even one change here can drastically reduce your water bills.

BathroomImage Source: Linen and Lavender

4) Glass: Window Treatments – This isn’t just about how your windows are constructed; it’s how you cover them. Many clients don’twant window treatments to cover their pretty windows. But controlling the sun exposure into your home, helps nature save on your heating/cooling bills. Major coverage such as black-out roman shades, can significantly block drafts and sun. But even gauzy casement panels absorb a lot of heat transfer. Plus they add a decorative element that softens up the room. Window treatments aren’t just pretty they are functional. Window films also add a huge benefit in cutting heat transfer, and protecting your lovely fabric investments; in today’s world they are clear and pack a huge technological punch in greening up our homes.

michaelabramsDesigned by: Michael Abrams Limited

5) Décor: Furniture, fabrics and flooring – So many to choose from. It’s not just about bamboo flooring anymore. Some of my favorite green residential companies are Hartmann and Forbes for natural woven shades, Interface Flor for carpet tiles, Cambria for quartz countertops, Pollack textiles for fabric, and Lee Furniture Industries. All these companies have green philosophies that are integral to their design aesthetic. Something we can truly appreciate to save our planet!

lee industries furniture shot

Designed by: Allison Jaffe Photography by: Brio Photography

6) Bring the Outdoors In – simply said, outdoor organic elements in the home will add to indoor air quality, improve our stress levels, and help us commune with nature, its good feng shui! Bring it rocks, water, branches, or plants, natural green materials add life and wellness to our homes.

A lot of this is nothing new, but real design. It’s conversations I have on a daily basis with clients, vendors, and other Designers. Today we may not be able to incorporate “the green machine” but we can all try on a little “Emerald Green” and make our homes a better place.


  • Ellen the paperhanger April 23, 2013, 12:04 AM

    Hmm, no mention of “green” or sustainable wallcovering? What about textiles & non pvc vinyls?

  • Dawn April 23, 2013, 12:15 AM

    Yes Ellen you are right! Sorry to leave out the ever important wall covering – many options there!! Probably more than the others:-)

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