Saturday, December 13, 2008

Home Improvement Is Good

The most important benefit of improving our homes is the added level of comfort we achieve in our space. So what solutions are available to make our homes snazzy and comfy without breaking the bank or killing our planet?

Paint! It is the quickest and least expensive way to freshen a space. There are a multitude of products on the market today in almost every price range that are environmentally friendly such as milk (casein), clay or lime wash options. Readily available (and one I can personally recommend from having used it multiple times while installing faux finishes) is Eco Spec from Benjamin Moore. Low VOC, low odor, tintable to most Benny color palates and available in three finish options (flat, eggshell and semi-gloss).

Well I mentioned it so I might as well recommend it…faux! For the cost of a can of paint, glaze, some tools of the trade and a few hours of labor it is possible to “install” various woods, stones, metals or tile, using water based paint products. Think of how great it would be to show off your loft style living room and when people go up to touch the bricks they find out it is faux. Here is one I did recently.

How many trees could be saved using glaze treatments instead of real wood? Here is a great example of mahogany wood graining from one of my favorite finishers Ron Ames.

Flooring! A new rug adds an entirely new feeling to a space and the folks over at FLOR have displayed their love for the planet by giving us gorgeous, interchangeable carpet tiles made from renewable and recycled materials. Ruin a square with an organic red wine spill? No biggie, they even take returns to be recycled into future carpet squares.

Get moving! No, I do not mean packing up and going somewhere new, I am talking about rearranging within the existing space. It might feel boring if the sofa has been placed on the same wall for ten years so why not pull it into the middle of the living room, move the entertainment center to a new wall, create angled furniture arrangements, move accessories from one room to another. Thinking creatively, our homes can feel brand new.

Lighting! Before running out to buy all new energy efficient CFL bulbs consider that light colored surfaces reflect light wonderfully. Save money, and disposal of items, by directing light upwards to reflect off a brightly colored ceiling. Add illumination in soft, creative ways by using soy based candles or from led bulbs on holiday decorations.

So when we are feeling a case of cabin fever this winter it is inexpensive and easy on the environment to make a few minor changes that will keep us feeling refreshed until the sunshine and warm temperatures return.


High Desert Diva said...


This post shares what I frequently tell clients. Re-arrange furniture, paint is the cheapest way to entirely transform a room, lighting is key.


ginger said...

okay, i have to say it: i can definitely see how milk would be a much safer option than some nasty chemical, but considering how much land space and food it takes to sustain one cow for that milk, not to mention the consequences to her and her children, i don't think i'd call it environmentally friendly.

i do like that brick wall finish though. :)