April is a month when mother nature shows off her beauty in the form of flowering blooms. It’s a time when we take a step back to admire all that nature brings us in the celebration of Earth Day. And it is often when—at the promise of warmer, drier months ahead—many of us begin to think about renovating our homes. Any renovation requires careful planning and increasingly, renovators are being mindful of the environmental impact of materials and other design choices. Below, we’ve outlined some key tips that will keep your renovation fresh, modern, and #eco-friendly.
Whether it’s a few simple updates or a complete design overhaul, paint will certainly be part of the conversation. You’ll want to ensure that any paints you purchase are either VOC-free or low-VOC. Not only are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) bad for the environment, they are also harmful to our health and can contribute to headaches, nausea and dizziness.
The eco-friendliest choice when it comes to floors is to refinish existing flooring with either stain or sealer. If you select this option, you’ll want to go with a water-based, low-VOC sealer or stain for the least environmental impact. If working with current floors is not an option, consider reclaimed wood, cork or linoleum. For carpets, look for the Carpet and Rug Institute Green Label Plus logo, which adheres to the highest air-quality standards in the industry.
Reclaimed or Recycled Materials
Reclaimed or recycled materials can add style to your space without harming the planet. Recycled glass is a great solution for countertops or backsplash, while ceramic may be used in bathrooms. Greater DIY projects can benefit from a trip to the scrap yard for salvaged metal or the addition of reclaimed wood, which lends itself to a modern, contemporary aesthetic. If reclamation or recycling isn’t possible—if, perhaps a large quantity of lumber is required—be sure to purchase wood that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which requires sustainable lumber practices.
Energy-Efficient and Low-Flow Appointments
Though replacing all appliances with energy-efficient options might not be in the budget during renovation, they can certainly be considered whenever replacement is required. Look for appliances that are ENERGY STAR certified when you’re in the market for a refrigerator, washer and dryer, air conditioner, etc. There are also small changes you can make in the bathroom to conserve water, by installing a low-flow toilet, shower head and faucet—these will reduce water use, which will make both the planet and your wallet happier.
Let the Light In
Solar panels are likely the most well-known of eco-friendly solutions. As a renewable source of energy, they are good for the planet and will greatly reduce your energy bill. Another green solution is to add skylights or additional windows where possible, to bring more natural light into your home during the day and thus cut down on power use. The installation of Smart Home lighting features can also alleviate unnecessary energy use, allowing one to easily turn unneeded lights off.
If landscape updates are required, then you’ll want to turn to xeriscaping (also known as drought-tolerant or drought-resistant gardening). By utilizing native plantings and/or species that require minimal water, your landscaping will not just add an excellent frame to the exterior of your home but will require little maintenance and cut the need for extra watering.
If you consider the above in your facelift or renovation, your home’s new look is sure to impress guests and the planet with its fresh, modern, and #eco-friendly approach. And if putting in the time, research, and elbow grease isn’t for you, enlist the help of a sustainable design firm for advice and they’ll have you on the path to green living in no time.