Designing an “eco-elegant home”

Interior designer Trudy Dujardin discusses what it takes to have an “eco-elegant home”:

Q. What is an eco-elegant interior?

A. I’m glad you asked! Our favorite saying at Dujardin Design is “A healthy home is the ultimate luxury.” All of us spend most of our time in containers — a house, office, school, bus, car, museum, restaurant. We feel strongly that all of these spaces/containers should support one’s health and well-being. They can be beautifully designed, but if they are not also “eco,” meaning having excellent indoor air quality, to me it’s a contradiction in terms. With every project we do, we strive to show that you can have a beautiful home that is also healthful for you, your family and the planet.

Q. My home is probably the opposite of eco-friendly, but I want to change that. What are some easy things I can do and where should I start?

A. Here are my top five suggestions to make your home eco-friendly: First, try to eliminate as many chemicals, insecticides, pesticides, etc., as possible. When chemicals are used on your lawn, they are tracked into your living space. Second is energy conservation. We can all begin to switch to LED lights over time. Caution: If you are using compact fluorescent bulbs, which is what we have all been told to do for energy conservation, dispose of them with extreme care. They need to be separated and sent to the dump as hazardous waste. Third, use water-based, latex-free, no-VOC paints and floor finishes, such as Benjamin Moore’s Natura and Basic Coatings’ StreetShoes floor finish. Even though it’s water-based, it’s highly durable and is used on basketball courts. Fourth, recycle. Fifth, check on your insulation, to reduce fuel consumption in the winter months.

Greener homes have some appeal these days, particularly for those who want to cut costs (energy is a big issue) or those with health concerns. It remains to be seen how much appeal all of this would have for the general public if they had to pay more for it. Perhaps the best way to do it is to simply build it into the house in the first place rather than having to make expensive retrofits.

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