To some, January 1st is just another date, to many, it’s a time to reflect and plan for a new year. For those of you thinking about updating your home, and perhaps using principals of sustainable interior design to do so – there’s no better year than this one.
While sustainable products used to conjure up the image of a lackluster and low quality item, the sustainable world has pushed their way into the luxury industry. Get ready to invest in something you not only love, but is also good for the planet.
Here are six sustainable interior design upgrades that can improve your quality of living, and take care of the planet.
We promise, solar panels and LED lights aren’t on here. We’re sure you’ve already heard of those.
#1: Complement Solar Panels with a Green Roof
If you’ve ever seen plants growing off the top of a building, you know that the effects can be stunning. Green roofs attract pollinators. They grow flowers in the spring and summer. And, they provide a softer effect on the architecture they adorn.
You might be wondering how a home avoids water damage or leaking with a green roof. The answer is simple: many layers help support vegetation while also protecting your home.
The layering of a green roof includes:
- Vegetation at the top
- Growing medium (normally some kind of soil)
- Filter membrane
- Drainage layer
- Root barrier
- Thermal insulation
- Vapor barrier
- Structural support
While you may not want another plant to take care of, fear not. Green roofs come in two types, extensive and intensive.
Extensive green roofs need little maintenance once established. They often include perennials that are hardy and grow in two to four inches of soil. This roof type also requires the least amount of structural support because they’re so lightweight.
Intensive green roofs can be incredibly complex. Think of a building with a park on top of it, or a building with trees growing on it. They need a lot of structural support, maintenance, and are greater investments comparatively.
Installing a green roof provides improved air and water quality, along with stormwater management for your community. Plus, they help reduce heat islands! If that term is new to you, heat islands are urban areas that are often much hotter than outlying areas due to lack of vegetation and greenspace. According to the EPA, green roofs can be 30 to 40 degrees cooler than conventional roofs.
Green roofs also improve your home’s energy use and reduce your overall greenhouse gas emissions. These kinds of roofs have been found to improve human health, comfort, and quality of life.
#2: High Efficiency Windows and Doors, Pretty with a Significant ROI
If you’ve been thinking it’s time to invest in new windows or doors, here’s your sign to finally invest! No one wants to look at a window with rotting framing. Besides, how frustrating is it when your door won’t properly shut? A never ending draft is another good reason to invest in a door that you love.
High efficiency windows and doors aren’t only beautiful, they also have a significant return on investment in the long run. Especially in older homes with outdated windows.
There is a significant investment up front. In the long run, by investing in high-quality products, you’ll be able to make your money back, and more. Energy efficient windows and doors can help homeowners save 10% on heating and cooling – so invest in the ones you really want!
Here’s what to look for in an exterior door:
- Energy Star-Certified
- Long lifetime (20 years+)
- Multiple glass panes in any windows on the door
- Tighter fit and improved weather stripping
Here’s what to look for in a window:
- Energy Star-Certified
- Multiple glass panes (double or triple)
- High-quality window frames
- Window pane spacers
- Includes low e-glass coatings
In recent years we’ve seen black window framing become more popular. When it comes to a front door, you can never go wrong with making a bold statement. Your curb appeal is one of the first impressions of your space – what feeling are you evoking now?
What do you wish you could evoke? Let’s create that vision and feeling this year.
#3: Heated Floors: One of Our Favorite Sustainable Interior Design Products
Sustainable interior design isn’t just about how things look, it’s also about how you feel. In this case we mean how your feet feel. Whether you’re redesigning your primary residence, or updating your ski cabin, heated floors are an item to add to your list.
Picture never waking up and walking into your bathroom to step on a cold tile floor, again!
Heated floors provide a luxurious feeling to any room, and they act as a great heating source for the rest of the house. There are two types of systems, hydronic and electric. Hydronic systems use water to warm your floors, and electric (clearly) uses electricity.
Heated floors use the same amount of energy as a freezer. While a quick Google search may tell you that you can add a heated floor to any wood, tile, or luxury vinyl flooring, that’s not exactly the case. This is another great reason to work with an experienced design consultant to ensure you get the right products for your heated floor.
Then, enjoy the warm, comfortable, and cozy feeling from head to toe!
#4: Non-Toxic Carpet
Yes, this one sounds a little scary. If you don’t know what’s in your carpet you might be wondering, “Is my carpet toxic?!”
The answer is, unfortunately, most likely! There are three components to carpet to consider: the carpet itself, the padding and backing underneath, plus the adhesive used at installation.
For carpeting, look for a product that has no or low-VOC. Carpets can offgas for several years, so ensuring you have carpet that isn’t toxic is really important. The most sustainable material choice you can make is a natural one. Fibers like wool, jute, and seagrass don’t harm the environment when you’re ready to remove it down the road.
Next, the carpet padding and backing should be made of sustainable materials as well. We recommend looking for non-synthetic latex, untreated wool, recycled water bottles, or camel hair felt. Our principal designer, Megan, always recommends natural rubber padding!
Lastly, adhesives can also contain nasty chemicals you won’t want your family walking on, or your installer inhaling. Ask for water based adhesives when installing your carpeting.
To learn more about picking out and investing in sustainable carpeting, check out our blog on Eco-Friendly Carpet Options.
#5: Energy Efficient Appliances
We would never suggest replacing something that is working. Creating waste is not a principal of sustainable interior design. Salvage and reuse is always more sustainable than buying a new “green” version of what you have.
There comes a time where the dishwasher you have just you isn’t cutting it for your family of four, for example. So, if you find yourself debating upgrading appliances, like a stove, fridge, dishwasher, or washing machine, make sure your investment is a sustainable one.
When you’re ready for an upgrade but have well-working appliances, donate them to an organization that can re-distribute them to folks in your community. This helps reduce waste, and provides others with the opportunity to upgrade to an appliance they’re excited about, too! And, you’ll enjoy a nice little tax writeoff for your donation at the end of the year.
Look for Energy Star-Certified appliances, to save water, electricity, money, and reduce your carbon footprint.
For those of you that need a new stove, induction stoves have made some really incredible strides in the last year and heat up water really quickly. Not to mention they’re a great option compared to gas stoves, which are some of the most inefficient ways to cook at higher elevations, like in Colorado.
#6: Indoor Plants, Beneficial to Both Your Mental Health and Air Quality
Someone may have once told you that a six food fiddle leaf fig was an irresponsible purchase. We’re here to tell you – they were wrong. You deserve the fig. Why?
House plants have a long list of benefits when it comes to your interior design. Your new bird of paradise can filter the air, removing carbon dioxide and providing you with oxygen. They can also remove chemicals like formaldehyde, or toxins released by cleaning products.
Indoor plants have also been found to reduce stress, improve your sense of well-being, and improve our overall environmental wellness.
The way we see it, it’s really more irresponsible to not have any plants at all, rather than a few too many.
Work with an Interior Designer in Denver on Your Sustainable Interior Design Upgrades
You don’t have to live in an earthship or a passive house to take care of the planet. Don’t get us wrong, we think earth ships and passive houses are really cool. But we know they aren’t for everyone.
If we all made one intentional sustainable interior design decision with our homes this year, what would be the outcome?
How much water could we save? How much energy?
Or how much smaller would our collective carbon footprint be?
And, how much more gorgeous and comfortable would it make our homes?
We’re here to help you meet your sustainable home goals this year.