Materials do not need to be expensive for eco-decor designs. Interior designer Michele Chagnon-Holbrook, owner of Casabella Interiors in East Sandwich, says environmentally informed interior design can start with something as simple as “green” accent pieces for a particular space. “Soy candles made from locally grown soy are a great alternative to less eco-friendly candles,” says Chagnon-Holbrook. “The soy candles burn differently than wax candles, burning all the way down without hollowing out. Other eco-friendly accent pieces can include recycled wood frames with inspirational messages inside and old shutters that have been repurposed into decorative wall hangings. Green design can be as simple as repurposing something old into something that is new and creative.”
For those who want the ambiance that live plants bring to a design, but may not have the time or the talent to care for botanicals, Casabella carries a line of preserved greenery that Chagnon-Holbrook says offers all of the desired visual impact of live plants without the work. The designer emphasizes that these faux botanicals should not be confused with the silk flowers from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
“These flowers and foliage feel like a live plant, but they never shed and need no watering,” she explains. “They are ideal for people who like having plants in the home, but cannot be there every week to provide watering and care.” Created with a special preservative process, these stunning botanicals retain their color for five to ten years. “They are the next best thing to living plants,” the designer says. Other materials that lend themselves to green décor include grass cloth wallpaper, jute rugs, and viscose—a silk material made from bamboo. “We are seeing a lot of viscose, especially at the home shows,” says Chagnon-Holbrook.
Designer Kevin Miller who co-owns Shor Home Furnishings in Provincetown with designer Herbert Acevedo, notes that the simplistic and natural look of today’s eco-friendly designs are also a reflection of the style homeowners seek for their coastal getaways. “People are gravitating toward neutral tones and healthy fabrics such as cotton and linens, which are breathable,” Miller says.
From accessories to furniture, Shor carries a variety of eco-friendly items. “We have an Italian-designed kidney-shaped coffee table made of renewable wood. It’s beautiful. All of our overhead lights and table lamps use LED bulbs and we encourage our clients and customers to purchase LED lights,” says Miller. “We also have dishes, trays, and other accessories made from recycled aluminum.”
David Shinn, owner of VU Design in Hyannis points out that eco-friendly options are a matter of personal choice. “Some people want furniture made from renewable wood products and some want their eco-friendly furniture to be green right down to ensuring that the sheep, whose wool is used for the fabrics, were raised on sustainable farms. It can get pretty specific,” he says.
Shinn says he has seen an uptick in the number of people who want to include environmentally sensitive products in their home décor. “The more educated people become about green practices and some of the compounds contained in certain products, the more they look for organic materials,” he says. Some of these materials are far more superior. “Hemp and jute are natural fibers and they are incredibly strong and breathe better.”
Many of today’s popular decorating trends are a reflection of the rise in popularity of green materials. “Linen, which is a natural fabric, is huge and it has been that way for a few years. There is a natural palette to it and there is a real organic feel to it. People are drawn to texture. There is also a cotton duck fabric that is washable and is a great compromise between something that is totally organic and uses only water-based dyes and a cotton-poly blend that is not organic,” Shinn says.
Shinn notes that trends in accessories are also a reflection of eco-friendly attitudes. “We are seeing a lot of natural metals, untreated wall woods, and the use of reclaimed or repurposed woods such as barn wood. What we used to consider junk is now considered stylish. I think it’s a look that is going to be around for a while. It’s a whole new classic look.”
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