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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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