Our top tips for sustainability in the home from the smartest new products to the simplest common sense steps
1. Take a deep breath. We have fallen in love with several low to no VOC paints of late and find the lack of smell and high quality of the product (making for fewer applications and better wear) offsets the slightly higher cost of the paint. Stark’s partnership with the UK’s Paper and Paint Library has resulted in a beautiful palette which we return to time and again. Benjamin Moore’s Natura and Aura paints can be mixed in any color from their fans or matched to a sample. Fine Paints of Europe has some great color collections and high performance no VOC lacquer-like paints
2. Pay more, buy less. Purchasing heirloom-quality antique and vintage furnishings not only brings style, life and history to a home, but it is also a smart way to support sustainable luxury. Older items are made by hand or by using traditional techniques that would cost far more to replicate today (if you could even find skilled artisans to do the work!) and you won’t have to replace these items any time soon
3. Re-purpose! A first step in many of our decorating jobs is to first assess what items should be re-used in the new design scheme. Repairing and recovering well-made upholstery or lacquering a case piece in an unexpected hue can recontextualize the piece– making it fresh and exciting in the new space and saving virgin resources from being expended in the process
5. Ditch the Windex!
Ellen has long espoused the benefits of good clean living-and cleaning! With the ever-widening variety of ecologically sensitive and chemical free cleaners there is no reason to pollute the air in your home or workplace with noxious gases in the interest of a clean and beautiful space
6. How many Federal regulators does it take to screw in a light bulb? The new-age, old dilemma is how to save energy without casting a sickly green glow. We are ever on the lookout for alternatives to the ill-designed corkscrew CFL. PLUMEN looks to be a viable contender - the sculptural design is a great sub for the stylish retro Edison bulbs many fixtures are designed to showcase. It also sports the fun, high-low, old-meets-new dynamic that can instantly update a space
7. Beware materials your grandparents would not recognize As much as possible, stick to real goods like wool, linen, fsc certified wood, etcetera. There are some high-tech products that are great like FLOR and Caesarstone but their green story is front and center so you know what you are getting. Not so with some polyester or pvc products which can actually expose us to endocrine disruptors and other toxins.
8. Let there be light. Use layered window treatments to control solar gain and heat loss. Thermal comfort =lower energy bills. Plus it’s a great way to bring beautiful textiles in to your home design
9. Hit the road. Up and coming designers are embracing new technologies for conservation of energy and raw materials. From the Milan Furniture Fair to the Architectural Digest Show to the ICFF we love seeking out the hottest new pick from a rising star. How satisfying it is to know your new find conserves valuable resources, or has a zero carbon footprint?
10. Waste not, want not Instead of using anything disposable, invest in vintage tabletop wares by the likes of Georg Jensen or Waylande Gregory. It’s exciting to not only have impressive supplies for hosting, but to also have an investment whose value will grow with time
11. Go with the Flow You never miss your water until your well runs dry. The world will be faced with severe water shortages in the coming decades. Install low flow plumbing fixtures and toilets as replacement opportunities arise around the house. A stylish favorite here at EHD is the Purist Collection from Kohler. Toto also has some smart options
12. Shop Local Sourcing furniture and accessories close to home not only means instant gratification in many cases but also greatly reduced shipping distance; this not only cuts down on your costs but also limits the carbon output and use of fuel to bring your goodies to their new home. Low carbon footprint and instant gratification; that’s a winning combination!
13. Support independent local business In addition to the aforementioned boost of minimizing the schelp, buying from small business owners in your own neighborhood not only keeps bustling storefronts open on your main street but also gives you convenient access to cool stuff (and who doesn’t love cool stuff?)