Sustainable Interior Design Ideas


As a designer to the stars, I love introducing my clients like Jessica Alba, Kristen Bell, and Emilio Estevez to the latest innovations in sustainable interior design.But you don’t have to be an A-list celebrity or be on an unlimited budget in order to go green in your own home. There are so many ways to get creative with eco-friendly design and in the long run, it can actually save you money.

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Image Courtesy Kari Whitman Interiors.

The simplest way to start integrating sustainable design is buying used. When I was designing Jessica Alba’s Beverly Hills home, we went on “treasure hunts” all around town, hitting up antique and vintage stores, shopping on Craigslist, checking out previously-owned hotel furniture and even finding pieces on the side of the road that we had rebuilt and reupholstered. So get to scavenging online, in stores, and even take a look at pieces you already own and imagine giving them a new life with a fresh coat of paint, really cool new upholstery, or funky hardware. You’ll be doing the environment a favor and also exercising your own inner interior designer.

These are some of my other all-time favorite sustainable interior design tips and products:

1. Use local artisans and sustainable materials. I like to order sheets of gorgeous palm wood from Durapalm and have craftsmen custom build one-of-a-kind pieces. Palm wood is a wonderful renewable resource and a very versatile, very beautiful wood. I used it for Virginia Madsen’s custom dining room table which also converted into a bumper pool table for her son!

2. Use only green paint. My favorite eco-friendly paints are made by Safecoat. They reduce emissions, meet LEED standards, and also eliminate all those awful toxins you’ll still find in other so-called “zero-VOC” products. Using eco-friendly paint is not only important for people, it’s important for your pets too!

3. Recycle your jeans. UltraTouch from Bonded Logic is eco-friendly insulation made from 100% recycled denim and cotton fibers. This means no formaldehyde, no fiberglass, no VOC’s and no skin irritation. This insulation requires less energy to produce and is completely recyclable, reducing landfill waste. I used it recently in the Mulholland mansion I designed for the son of royalty and he really noticed that it had absolutely no odor. Green insulation that’s fit for a Prince!

4. Replace grass with eco-friendly turf. ForeverLawn is an amazingly realistic synthetic grass that’s made from recycled materials. It also gets rid of the need for pesticides and fertilizers, it saves water and improves air quality, and some cities will even cut your utility costs for replacing real grass with ForeverLawn. Plus, it really stands up well to doggie messes. What more could you ask for?

5. Glass over granite. Check out EnviroGLAS —their stuff is so cool! Their Enviroslab countertops look like gorgeous granite, but they’re really made from recycled windows, mirrors, and even soda bottles, saving millions of pounds of glass from landfills.

6. Paper beats rock. Paper Stone makes sustainable “stone” countertops out of 100% recycled paper. It looks like stone but has the warmth of wood, plus it’s really strong, so it’s great in kitchens and offices.

7. Save trees with Trex. I love Trex, which is a great wood alternative made out of recycled plastic and wood fibers. It will never warp, rot, or splinter and it’s also great for pets. Trex is perfect for decks and railings in any climate.

8. Support green companies. TOTO creates the most beautiful high-efficiency toilets, faucets, and bathtubs. This is a company that really thinks of the big picture when it comes to manufacturing their water-efficient fixtures. From soybean-based hydraulic oil fueling their factory forklifts to incentives for employees to drive hybrids or bike to work, they make every eco-responsible effort they can. And their products are gorgeous!

9. Get a green clean. It won’t matter what green materials you use in your home if you’re not using eco-friendly products. Mrs. Meyer’s is hands-down my favorite line of cleaning products and always on my must have list. Mrs. Meyer’s smells great, has awesome packaging, and is safe for your pets and family.

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This article was written by Kari Whitman

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