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"Live healthier with a green interior design approach."

Green interior design is about more than conserving natural resources; it’s about protecting your personal health as well.

Open Living Room

While the scent of fresh paint or new carpet may be exciting because it means that your interior redesign is nearing completion, your quality of life may be suffering. The off-gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde and other chemical substances can seriously pollute interior air.

You can reduce your exposure to pollutants and promote better resource management by emphasizing a green interior design approach.

• Low-VOC products

• Recycled materials

• Energy Star appliances

• Renewable resources

For the most positive impact on the environment, the interior of your home should be an extension of eco-friendly architecture. However, like most people, you may be approaching green interior design after the fact - your house is already built or you’ve moved into an existing home. Eco-friendly interior design is a step in the right direction. An important immediate benefit will be on your health if there are fewer toxins in the air due to your interior design choices. Here are some green interior design ideas to consider as you plan a healthier living space.

VOC Smack-Down

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) play a big part in indoor air pollution. VOCs are gaseous chemicals from paint, carpeting and furniture, for example, which can negatively affect your health.

Look on product labels for a low-VOC, or better yet, a no-VOC classification. There are various companies offering paint that qualifies. It may cost you a bit more, but at least you won’t have those nasty fumes to inhale. Manufactures with low or no VOC paint lines include Benjamin Moore, Duron and Sherwin-Williams to name a few.

When it comes to carpeting and carpet adhesives look for green classifications like the CRI Green Label Plus. (Note: Link opens new window) This certification indicates you are purchasing carpet that is among the lowest in off-gassing pollutants.

Choose formaldehyde-free plywood or medium density fiberboard (MDF) when you are building that new shelving unit or similar interior project. And when it comes to furniture, a water based topcoat can provide a durable finish with little to no VOC concerns.

Consider some natural plants for your living space. When cared for properly, plants help clean the surrounding air of toxins. Plus, they look great!

Recycled Style

Searching out products made of recycled materials is certainly another aspect of green interior design.

Green Interior Design materials

Reclaimed wood, ceramic tile and carpet made of recycled content are just a few options. The style and color choices may not be as huge as conventional flooring products, but they are available nonetheless. Recycled rubber flooring is also a possibility.

For a kitchen backsplash or a shower surround, consider recycled glass tiles in your green interior design plan. Recycled glass mosaic tile looks stunning.

Furniture recycling is another way you can have a positive impact on the environment. The old side table you picked up at a garage sale can be updated with a fresh coat of low VOC paint. And don’t throw out that hand-me-down bookcase. Give it a healthy, new finish and re-use it in your décor.

Energy Star Trooper

When it comes to buying appliances for your home, look diligently for the Energy Star label. This designation means it meets the strict energy usage guidelines established by the US Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Being more efficient to operate, Energy Star appliances use less energy and thus reduce the creation of greenhouse gasses down the line. And there is another big benefit: you save money with lower energy bills. You’ve got to love that!

Similarly, choose energy saving light bulbs. According to the Energy Savings Trust (Note: Link opens a new window), low energy light bulbs produce the same amount of light as regular bulbs but use up to 80% less electricity. That’s another win for both the environment and your pocket book.

Renewable Choices

Eco-friendly interior design flooring

Consider materials that are renewable and easily sustained as you develop your green interior design road map. Cork and bamboo, for example, are hot new choices in interior design applications because of their sustainability. Flooring is one key way these materials are used. Cork can be harvested and re-harvested repeatedly over time without destroying the tree it comes from. Bamboo is very durable, easily sustained and looks really great in interior applications. For any wood flooring product, check to see if it’s FSC-certified. The Forest Stewardship Council designation ensures that it has been grown and harvested in a way that protects woodlands. (Note: Link opens new window)

If you prefer a softer floor covering underfoot, consider wool carpeting (unless you are asthmatic). It is a durable and renewable option that looks beautiful.

Some people choose to forgo traditional floor coverings altogether and opt for concrete instead. Concrete is a sustainable material and is becoming more popular as a flooring solution on its own. For homes that are built on a concrete slab, it becomes a real opportunity for eco-friendly design because it supports a healthier and cost effective interior environment. Concrete floors can be finished in a variety of great looking decorative treatments to add wonderful character to a living space.

When it comes elements like upholstery and draperies, fabrics made of natural fibers are a greener alternative to synthetic materials because they are renewable and biodegradable. Look for textiles derived from silk, wool, linen and cotton without synthetic dyes (to avoid dangerous VOCs).

In addition to the larger design components, be conscious of the decorative items you purchase to finish and accent your green interior design space. Look for home decorating sources that carry products constructed of sustainable, earth-friendly materials.

Green interior design is a goal worthy of pursuit. Perhaps now more than ever, opportunities exist to make your living space a better place to be. Eco-friendly approaches to interior design may cost a bit more initially, but the benefits of better personal health and an improved global environment make it worth a second look.

Your design and decorating choices impact your comfort and well being. Respect your health and the planet with a green interior design approach at home.

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