Design 101: It’s Easy Being Green

It’s Easy Being Green 

“What is Biophilic Design? How can I save money on custom cabinets?” Interior designers deal with these and many other questions every day. This month’s column focuses on ways we can “green up” our homes.

We love the color green, but our outdoor furniture keeps fading. Do we need a different color?
Green has been used for outdoor cushions and awnings for decades. What you need to look for is a fabric with a sufficient lightfastness rating. In order to be called an indoor/outdoor fabric, a rating of between 500-1500 hours of lightfastness is required. Some of the fabric we use, regardless of color, exceeds 3,000 hours. Just remember that most of the United States receives over 2,500 hours of sunlight in a single year. Nothing lasts forever.
Pro Tip: The term indoor/outdoor doesn’t mean you can leave it unprotected outside. Rain and other elements will degrade the fabric more quickly and destroy the cushion inserts as well.

We care about the environment and want to purchase green furniture. What should we look for?
This is a big topic. We can discuss sustainable materials, reducing packaging, environment impact, and so much more. The first thing we suggest is rather than buying new furniture look to repair or repurpose your existing furniture. After that, a responsibly sourced, long-lasting, quality piece is your next option. One good way to determine that is to ask the salesperson directly. If their answer is “I don’t know, probably,” or anything other than a full explanation of how their company prides itself on sustainable practices, it is likely not. Companies that are green almost always make it a big part of their presentation.
Pro Tip: One easy place to begin is to check the list of companies that are members of the Sustainable Furnishings Council. We’ve known them for years and trust their standards.

Is Bamboo flooring green?
In general, bamboo is a commonly used material in green design. But, if it’s processed with volatile organic compounds, dyed with a toxic substance, packaged in excessive plastic, and replaced within a year, then no. Like everything, the details matter. Look for a high-quality product from a reputable manufacturer committed to environmental stewardship. Have it installed properly and enjoy it for years.
Pro Tip: One of the most frequent issues we see with bamboo floors is scratching and fading. We highly recommend avoiding topically applied dark colors, especially purple.

How can I decorate and save some green?
Step 1. Repurpose it. If you already own it then it costs nothing. Step 2. Redecorate it. A little paint can go a long way, and if you provide the labor the cost is about as low as you can go. Step 3. Purchase quality. Buy once cry once. One of the costliest mistakes we see are people trying to save a buck. The labor to install a poorly made cabinet is the same as installing a well-made one, and buying an item two of three times over is not good for your bottom line.
Pro Tip: You can also save money by asking us your questions here and getting them answered for free… That’s a Pro Tip if we’ve ever seen one.

Yaron Linett
About Yaron Linett 18 Articles
Yaron Linett is the principal designer of Formal Traditional, a full-service design firm located in Warrenton. To submit your interior design questions, drop him a note at yaron@formaltraditional.com or visit www.formaltraditional.com.

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