Simple Ways to Decorate “Green”.

Considering the environment when designing a home has become more and more important to people as we understand the greater impact how we live has on the environment.  It’s no longer “trendy” but something every person should think about when building and decorating their space- from tiny to big!  One of the reasons I partnered with resource Natural Spring Water  on their eco home remodel sweepstakes (you can still enter until May 12th! NO PURCH NEC. 18+. ENDS 5/12/15. Rules here) was to help spread the word about green design.  So here are some quick and easy tips that help incorporate green design into your space in big and small ways- every little bit counts!

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1. Low VOC Paint– Using this type of paint reduces the amount of volatile organic compounds in your air, and in turn is far less smelly! Almost every major brand has a low or no VOC formula, so pick your favorite color and have it mixed in that formula! This is a very easy choice to make when doing home renovations.

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2. Energy Efficient Lighting- When replacing fixtures think about using energy efficient ones (and LED bulbs).  The not only make great looking fixtures now that use less energy, but also bulbs that emit soft, lovely light, unlike the first generation LED’s which were harsh and ugly! They may be more expensive up front, but last far longer and reduce your energy bill.

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3. Adding Greenery– Simple adding a few houseplants to your home can help you have cleaner air, while adding great color to your space! Types that help eliminate VOC’s from your home’s air include the spider plant, aloe plant, snake plant, ficus and bamboo palm.  Plus every space needs a little green life to make it look complete.

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4. Low Flow Showerheads, Faucets and Toilets –  You can find showerheads and faucet that help conserve water while maintaining nice, strong water pressure! Look for items with the WaterSense mark for those approved by the EPA.  There are SO many choices available from all the best brands.

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5. Reclaimed Wood Details- From reclaimed wood for flooring, beams and construction materials to using old barn wood tables decoratively, using older wood is both green and an amazing way to add texture and depth to your home. As you know from reading this blog, I LOVE reclaimed wood furniture and beams, so there is no compromise here!

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6. Employ Antiques– Nothing is greener than using something that already exists instead of buying something new! Shopping online vintage sources like Etsy, eBay and 1stDibs is great, as is scouring your local flea market and tag sales.  And don’t be afraid to paint something with great lines that is an off-putting color (with low VOC paint of course, if you want to be really green.)  Every home should have something antique or vintage in order to keep the space interesting and unique!

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7. Buy Organically Made Furniture–  There can be a lot of icky chemicals in furniture (especially true with upholstery and mattresses) but there are some great companies that construct their furniture from environmentally friendly materials. All you have to do is a little bit more research into what goes inside those cushions!


8. Be wary of furniture made of MDF- Of course, a piece of furniture here and there made of MDF is fine (and helpful to the old decorating budget).  But too much in your home can be unhealthy as MDF can emit formaldehyde into the air, which is a known human carcinogen.  Budget furniture companies like IKEA are looking into using alternatives to make their furniture, so this may be a thing of the past with some inventiveness.

Window Drama.

Having an abundance of windows in your home is a blessing.  But sometimes, especially in older homes, those windows are in places that really junk up your interior design plans.  You try to work around them, but they keep jumping out and wreaking having with your perfect furniture layouts.  Most often this is present in bedrooms and bathrooms.

“How can I do a big vanity with that damn window there?”

“How can this big room not have one wall without a window that I can put my bed on??”

Sound familiar?

Well, I’m here to help, of course. Did you know it’s now hip to put bathroom mirrors in front of windows?  And beds in front of them too? Heck yeah! Take a look at these fab examples!

LOVE this cool mirror hung over the shutters from a rod!


Get the Look: My Guest Room

Ever since my book came out I’ve been getting inquiries about the side tables in my then-master-now-guest room.  These were some old Williams Sonoma Home ones that  a client offered me.  I had always loved them, but they were no longer in production so I could not resist the offer! They were dark brown wood but I spray painted them white and I still love the way they look!  The problem is- no one was making anything like them!

Until now!

Bungalow 5 just released a near exact version of them!  Currently they aren’t on any retail sites, but you can bookmark them and Google them in a few weeks when they probably hit stores. :)  So I thought I’d I’d pull together a little board that can help you get the look of this room!
Erin Gates Newton_025

Designer Feature: Lisa Hilderbrand’s Charleston Project

When I saw this stunning kitchen in Traditional Home last month I had to know more. Designed by Lisa Hilderbrand of Welhil Interiors (and sister-in- law of famed Nantucket writer Elin Hilderbrand), this was a second project for the designer and client Sarah Hamlin after they moved from Connecticut to Charleston (which I’m considering right now with this winter weather.)  It’s such a compliment when I client hires you for a second home, and I loved to learn that the family brought many of the items Lisa purchased for their previous home with them!  This space is a great study in combining various styles, time periods and textures.

But first, let’s all have a moment of silence for this Lindsay Adelman chandelier in the kitchen.