Green Decorating

As discussed on the Pete and Brenda radio show on the Lifestyle network.  Stream from your computer August 4th and 5th, at 12:40 and 9:40pm PST           

Green Decorating

Green is a hot topic these days in many areas.  Interior decorators and designers look at green as much more than a color.  It is a decorating philosophy.  Green decorating and design incorporates sustainable materials and design ideas aimed at using sustainable materials, protecting the environment, and energy conservation.           

Sustainability in decorating:            

First of all sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  Sustainability in interior decorating means using resources wisely without depleting natural resources.  For example…           

  • Bamboo and cork:  Bamboo and cork for example are green materials because they grow quickly and in abundance.
  • Fuel consumption:  The amount of fuel that is used to get materials to your location is also a key factor.  To conserve fuel, try to use locally manufactured items as much as possible.  You may not have an applicable furniture manufacturer in your city, however, if they are at least on the same coast as you are, it helps!  Shipping from overseas would not be considered green.  Check out this video about a machine that converts household plastic garbage into oil: .
  • Wood in general:  Wood is a depleting natural resource and this is a good area to conserve.  Here are some ways:
    • Renew and reuse furniture pieces, such as flea market finds, and giving an old piece of furniture that appeared to be junk, a new look.  Check out my blog post on renewing old furniture.

Reusing old shutters for a shabby chic look


Another great furniture makeover example


 Below:  Not all renewed furniture has to have a shabby chic look.  Reuse old chairs by incorporating a color scheme and style that ties them all together.  Below the same look can be achieved with vinyl or stencils, and paint.       

Not all re-used furniture has to have a shabby chic look. Photo courtesy of This Old House


Cabinetry:  Refinish cabinetry rather than hauling it off as garbage, or at least recycle your old cabinetry by donating to a local resale store of recycled renovation supplies and hardware.   If it’s carefully removed, in the least parts of it can be recycled.  They take doors, light fixtures, hardware, you name it.           


A renewed look with bamboo on cabinet door


Refinishing your cabinetry doesn't have to be about stain or paint alone! Photo courtesy of DIYideas.


Update boring oak cabinets with a distressed look


Great example of refinishing an old cabinet with a great new look.  Location:  The Tole Barn, Estacada, OR.

Reclaimed wood:  Look for resources for reclaimed wood.  For example, in Portland, OR, old timber that fell off barges into the river years ago has been hauled out of the Columbia River and reclaimed for use, and the wood is still beautiful!   

Protecting the environment:           

Recyclable materials:   Consider products made from recyclable materials as well as products that can be recycled.  Here are some examples…          

  • Wall-to-wall carpeting:  Thanks to an industry/government group called the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), you may be able to recycle products, such as composit lumber and carpet padding.  There are recycling facilities in 26 states.  You can check their website to find one near you.   Home owners pay from .05 to .25  per lb., but the costs will most likely drop as they expand.  Also, ask your supplier if they will take your old carpeting to their suppliers to be recycled.  The installer may be able to help you with this as well.

  • Cut it down & bind it:   You can have smaller area rugs cut down from your wall-to-wall carpeting and the edges bound, if you’re putting in new hardwood flooring.   The carpeting could clean up well and once the bad parts are cut away, it could still be in useable form.  
  • Carpet made from recycled materials:   Check your carpeting supplier for carpeting and padding options made from recycled materials.  Also, some types of carpeting break down better than others.

  • Old carpet padding:  Old padding can be shred and made into new padding as well.  Be sure to ask your supplier and/or installer.  It’s typically the installer who hauls your old stuff away, so you can select who you work with based on how they recycle.
  • Recycled Paint:   Check for a paint recycling facility in your city who will take your old paint before you throw it out.  More and more green companies are using recycled paints these days.
  • Paint and bad fumes:   Purchase paint specifying low VOCs (volatile organic chemicals), for cleaner and better air quality when you paint.

Energy Consumption:           

  • Windows and doors:  In the last two blogs I discussed options for conserving energy in your home with energy efficient window treatments.  Don’t forget your glass doors and weather stripping as well.
  • Heat Source:  Of course the type of energy you use in your home is important also.  There are solar heating systems for pools even!
  • Insulation:  It’s easy to overlook insulation and it’s important with conserving energy in your home.  It’s very important to have proper insulation in your walls, attic, basement, flooring, and attached garages.


5 Responses to “Green Decorating”
  1. Thanks for the inspiration! I love the way you’ve remade all those furniture pieces with your own unique design. They look great!

    The green movement is gaining momentum in Sydney, Australia too.. 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing so many great recycling ideas to preserve our environment. I love the black and white painted chairs. They are perfect to fit into a contemporary decor and look very stylish. I love ideas that save money and the environment.

  3. Flos Ray says:

    You rightly said “Green is a hot topic these days in many areas. ” nowadays everybody is concerned about the planet and we should be..I agree with ‘Demir Leather’..thanks for the inspiration..

  4. Check out this video about a machine that converts household plastic garbage into oil: .

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  1. […] Green Decorating « Decorating Articles by the Interior Girl […]

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