Eco-Friendly Decorating Ideas
Smart, simple ways to make your decorating healthier for you and the environment.
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You can decorate green and still match your style.
No matter your style, there are ways to get greener interiors without turning your home into a forest. "A really good eco-design is a design that you never have to explain," Joaquin says. If you like Shabby Chic and you need a new dining room table, "don't just think that the only choices are going to the store and buying one," Kaufmann says. Buy a table base kit and visit local wood salvage yards for reclaimed lumber to use as a top.
For any style, Kaufmann has a simple way to make your home more energy efficient. Create a water wall with colorful Mason jars on a window that gets a lot of sunlight (preferably west-facing). The water absorbs the heat during the day, keeping the house cooler, and releases it at night. Clear glass jars filled with food-coloring dyed water is another way to make the water wall playfully decorative.
By going green, you'll know what your home is made of.
Nutrition labels let us know exactly what's in our food. Wouldn't you like to know exactly what's in the materials we use in our homes? "We don't even think about it," Kaufmann says, "when in fact it impacts us to a great extent as much as food does, because we're breathing in whatever these materials are off-gassing," like formaldehyde from carpet.
For those with wall-to-wall carpeting, if it's wool and you like it, keep it. Otherwise, Greg Snowden, owner of the Green Fusion Design Center, advises it's best to use modular carpet tiles. Several eco-friendly companies, like FLOR and Shaw Carpet, offer stylish carpet squares that use non-toxic dyes and are made from recycled materials. "Carpet squares are a huge eco-improvement, because they're modular," Snowden says. "When you're done with it, you can ship it back to the manufacturer to recycle." Plus, these squares involve little labor; they are easy to lay down by yourself and don't need support from toxic padding.
Eco-friendly decorating has incentives — like tax breaks.
If you make eco-friendly improvements to your home, reporting these on your yearly taxes can earn you a tax break. But after remodeling, what should you do with all those materials you ripped out? Rather than taking them to the landfill, contact The ReUse People (www.thereusepeople.org). They check over your refuse for reusable parts, which will be shipped to their warehouse for distribution to organizations like Habitat for Humanity — while you get another tax write-off.
(Contributions to this article from Jenny Jedeikin)
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