A down-to-earth young family set a lofty goal: remodel and decorate their living room in the most eco-friendly way possible, without giving up comfort or blowing the budget.
When this family decided to take its dated living room from stiff and standoffish to warm and welcoming, green became a guiding principle for an environmentally -friendly upgrade. They made the most eco-conscious choices on the room's prominent elements -- the floor, walls, furniture -- and came out with a room the whole family could enjoy.
Instead of ripping out the existing bookshelves and sending them to a landfill, the built-ins stayed in place. However, the old doors were given to a Habitat for Humanity Restore, which collects cast-off building materials and resells them at a discount to fund its building projects.
With the old doors gone, the built-in got a facelift with new glass-front doors on the upper shelves and solid doors on the bottom cabinets. A pair of armchairs and an upholstered ottoman were clustered for reading or relaxing. To save money, the room was decorated with existing furniture, like the pair of leather armchairs, relocated from other rooms.
The homeowners felt passionately about air quality, so they chose a paint that contained zero VOCs -- volatile organic compounds, chemicals that give paint an odor and can contribute to poor indoor air quality.
Instead of simply painting the walls, textural interest was added with plaster made from clay and natural pigments. It costs about the same as wallpaper to install, plus the plaster produces negative ions that repel dust and pollen for cleaner indoor air. A console table made from reclaimed timber also fits with the room's eco-friendly philosophy.
To give the fireplace wall presence, it was clad in salvaged wood, which gives the room rustic character, a trait that is followed through in the accessories and furnishings.
The homeowners wanted a soft spot for the kids to play but knew that most carpeting uses petroleum-based ingredients. They kept looking until they found one made from renewable resources (this carpeting is made from corn sugars), and had it bound into an area rug.
The homeowners weren't wild about the light that CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) light bulbs gave until they found the right lampshades. Opaque, cream-colored shades warm up the light and conceal the shape of the bulb.
The reclaimed wood floor the homeowners dreamed off was too pricey, so they invested in U.S.-grown cherry wood, which was certified harvested in an Earth-friendly way. Plus, it had lower transportation costs and a lighter carbon footprint than more exotic rainforest woods.