Stylish Ways to Create an Eco-Friendly Home

Environmental stewardship should start at home. Don’t worry, going green doesn’t mean you have to live in a solar and wind powered hut made from straw and mud! You can introduce some simple changes to green up your home and still maintain your sense of style.

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Start with your appliances.

Are you still living with 15-year-old white, energy guzzling kitchen appliances? If you are considering a change, dress up your kitchen with brand new stainless appliances. You’ll not only get a stylish, updated kitchen, you’ll also benefit from reduced energy consumption, resulting in substantial annual savings on your electricity bill.

When shopping for new appliances, look for those sporting the “Energy Star” logo. These efficient appliances use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than your old dinosaurs.

If you can’t afford to change out all of your appliances at one time, start with the refrigerator. It is your biggest kitchen energy consumer. Take care of that one appliance and you can save $40 to $100 per year, spiff up your kitchen – plus you'll reduce your carbon footprint. It’s a win-win-win proposition. You can then replace your other appliances as the budget allows.

Reuse salvaged materials.

Good news! Incorporating furniture pieces made from reclaimed wood and architectural salvage into your home decor is a huge design trend and a great way to conserve the planet’s resources. The look is eclectic, hip and green. It works in a rustic cabin setting, a modern loft and in traditional spaces as well.

Hang a collection of vintage windows from the ceiling to create a funky room divider. Recycle old doors into headboards, work surfaces and table tops. If you know a skilled woodworker, commission a furniture piece made from reclaimed lumber.

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You can also upcycle antique floorboards by reusing them for flooring in your own home. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Mix things up by using architectural columns and molding along side modern acrylic pieces. The possibilities are endless – and super stylish!

Opt for green remodeling practices.

If you are fortunate enough to have a home remodel in your future, insist on using green materials to help the environment and make your home a beautiful and healthy place for your family. With a bit of research, you can put together a green remodeling plan that may not cost much more than a traditional remodel.

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Instead of purchasing entirely new cabinets, reface the ones you have. Better still, sand and stain or paint the cabinets, doors and all, with low VOC products. If you need more, look for salvaged cabinets that match the existing units.

Thinking about new countertops? Why not use polished concrete, bamboo or recycled pressed paper. They are extremely durable, stylish and green.

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Use a concrete mix made from an eco-friendly aggregate composed of recycled waste materials. Bamboo is a sustainable, fast-growing wood. By using it, you’ll be saving old growth forests. Pressed paper counters consist of 100 percent recycled post-consumer cardboard or paper. They’re tough as steel and absorb less water than natural stone surfaces.

Virtually any building/remodeling material you can think of has an environmentally friendly counterpart – roofing, carpeting, flooring, framing materials, siding, insulation, paint, etc. Contact a green contractor to explore the options that make sense for your home and make note of the associated costs.

Check with state and federal programs to learn about energy tax credits and rebates in effect that can help defray the cost of an energy efficient remodel. Everything from solar and wind systems to energy efficient windows may qualify.

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Use green fabrics.

Use eco-friendly fabrics throughout your home. Green fabrics limit the use of chemicals in the dying and manufacturing processes, reducing the amount of offgases in your home. The term also includes organically grown (like cotton) or sustainable fiber sources (like bamboo). They are also made from recycled materials and come in a variety of stylish textures and trendy colors.

A number of manufacturers are contributing to the green movement with furniture lines featuring eco-friendly fabrics, construction and cushion materials. You can even purchase an green bed mattress. On a smaller scale, you can easily find eco versions of dishtowels, throw rugs, pillows, bedding, curtains, shower curtains and bath towels.

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Add style and insulation to your windows. Choosing curtains, shades, blinds or shutters adds dimension and personality to your home. Window coverings can also reduce your energy consumption by preventing heating and cooling loss. The most effective window covering options include solar shades, thermal curtains and cellular shades. However, even basic mini blinds or roller shades can equate to monthly energy savings.

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Switch to sustainable home accessories.

As you search for environmentally conscious home accessories, zero in on items labeled “biodegradable”, “recycled”, “organic”, “post-consumer waste” and “sustainable”. These types of accessories are easier to find than you may think. More and more companies are including eco-friendly materials in their home accessory lines.

Choose from vintage and new treasures to add that finishing touch to your newly green home. Sustainable accessories include decorative items such as, wine bottle tumblers, candles and vases, baskets crafted from newsprint and Warhol-esque pendant lighting made from upcycled soup cans!

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And don’t forget to hit up garage sales, resale shops and flea markets. You can turn one man’s trash into your repurposed treasure. It is amazing what you can find and the prices are typically cheap. All it takes is a little elbow grease to turn a cast-aside into a real gem. Have fun!

Your stylish green home will be the envy of the neighborhood!

© 2012 lindacee

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Start a Conversation! 10 comments

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

Great green hub and I love the stainless appliances, and can't imagine they would ever go out of style.


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

I'm so glad you liked this Hub, Jackie. Stainless appliances are so clean and contemporary. I hope they're in style for a very long time. I can't bear the thought of going back to avocado or harvest gold! Thanks for stopping by!


jennyinfrance 4 years ago

Some truly brilliant advice!! I simply can't wait for more. You see we are currently building a double-skinned wooden house (although the wall overlooking the patio and pool will be entirely in glass (being made in Italy right now)). But between our wooden layers we are planning to inject recycled telephone directories (don't all laugh at once: they provide excellent insulation it seems, In fact our architect assures us the house will be 19 times more energy-efficient than a stone/brick/concrete traditional one.) We are putting solar panels on the roof, and hope to have spare electricity to sell (that'll be a refreshing change!!). However, I don't want the house to look like a Swiss chalet, but rather a bit minimalist and futuristic (apart from anything else, minimalist is all we'll be able to afford!!), so am buying most of my kitchen and bathroom fittings in Italy. I simply ADORE the combination of matte granite and brushed stainless steel. So, please, lindacee, keep the ideas flowing. In fact, let's do a deal: you keep inspiring me, and I'll keep you posted with updates about our new eco-house. OK??


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

It's a deal, Jenny! Your new house will be stunning -- and energy efficient. I love that combination. Recycled phone book insulation is a great idea. Directories are such a monumental waste of paper. What a perfect solution! I would like to be in a situation in which my utility company owed me money each month! Italian kitchen design is the best. It will be a work of art. Can't wait to hear updates all along the way!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

Great advice and ideas. Now if I can just convince my husband we need to buy a new refrigerator ;) The funny thing is we bought the white one so it would always be in style, who knew energy would be an issue 15 years later? Voted up and useful.


jennyinfrance 4 years ago

tillsontan,

Good luck with the convincing. Point out that the new eco-friendly models (ranked A, here in Europe) use just a fifth of those ranked C, and a mere 15% of those ranked D. That's the kind of info that usually works with my other half! :-)


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

tillsontitan, every time our white "monster" kicks on I see $$ flying out the window! Unfortunately we're renting right now, so an energy efficient model isn't an option. :(

Thanks for the read and the votes!!


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

Jenny, you're right. Pointing out the cost savings typically holds more weight than mere aesthetics!


The Green home builder 4 years ago

Hey Landacee,

Love this post on creating a green home with simple steps, I may include some of your ideas in my blog www.buildingagreenhome.co, of course you'll get full credit


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

I would be flattered, The Green home builder. I'm so glad you enjoyed my take on green home style. I will check out your website soon. Thanks for reading!

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