Green Interior Design at Our Little House

Green Interior Design, Due out November 2010

Today, for a guest post, we have Lori Dennis, author of the upcoming book, “Green Interior Design.” Lori’s publisher, Allworth Press, has generously offered to give away one book before the book even hits the shelves this fall! If you win a book on Living Large this week, you will have to wait until the end of October for your prize, but the wait will definitely be worth it! Read Lori’s interview and simply make a comment on this post between now and Tuesday August 24 at 5 p.m. CST. I will draw one lucky winner and announce the winner on Wednesday, August 25. You will have until Thursday, August 26 to send me your name and snail mail address. Good luck!


Why write a book about “green” decorating?

I lecture regularly on the topic of green design.  After years of being asked by clients, designers and builders, “Isn’t there a book where we can find all of this information?” I decided to write one.

Give us an example of how “green” decorating is different from traditional methods.

When you incorporate green methods/materials into a decorating project, you select items that are healthier for the occupants, the environment and the people who make the furnishings and materials.  Going green is about choosing products that have less impact on our planet from extraction to manufacturing to transporting to installation.  It’s about living or working in a space that has less carcinogens and cleaner air quality.  It’s also about knowing that the person who made your product was paid a living wage and was not exposed to elements that make them sick.

Give an example of a good green decorating method that would work well in a little house.

My best advice for green decorating in a little house is to thoroughly select items that are useful or that bring you happiness.  Recycle, give away or sell items that do not serve a purpose. This will help to eliminate clutter, which in turn eliminates dust, resulting in more time to enjoy your life and less need to clean (hopefully using less toxic chemicals).  Look around the house for things you can reuse in more enjoyable way.  Going green doesn’t have to cost anything.  It just takes a little paying attention.

What is one green decorating method that would surprise people most?

Plants not only make a space beautiful but they help to improve air quality and your mood.  Even folks on a tight budget can afford plants.  Seeing living plants helps humans feel closer to nature.  That’s important when we spend an average of 90% of our time indoors.

Please give us one, inexpensive green decorating tip that can have a big impact in a home.

Stop using expensive (and toxic) cleaning products.  A cleaning arsenal of white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, vegetable oil and peroxide can accomplish similar results that you would get from conventional products without harmful toxins, the waste of packaging/manufacturing/transportation and the high cost you pay to help these companies to advertise.   I also recommend spending a few extra dollars per gallon on NO VOC paint.  It’s something that takes no additional effort and produces a lot less chemicals off-gassing in your home or office. That “fresh, new paint smell” is anything but fresh. It’s actually killing your brain cells. I’d prefer to let a glass of wine do that instead!

What have you done green with regards to decorating your home?

Thank you, Lori, for sharing some ideas with us! Remember, Living Large community, we’re celebrating our one-year anniversary on Wednesday. Check back to see if you’ve won Lori’s book and for another chance at a giveaway!

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38 Responses

  1. Frugal Kiwi says:

    Sounds like a great book to have. I’d love to win, if I’m eligible in the Antipodes. Happy Anniversary!

  2. Gayle says:

    Sound like an interesting book — I’d love to win a copy.

  3. Tazim says:

    One way that I like to decorate “green” is by using good quality products that can be reused or recycled when I am finished using them in a particular way. It is important to not use cheap products that need to be thrown out soon after buying.

  4. Linda Dimit says:

    I’m all for green. Right now I’m de-cluttering do I can see what I really have and really need. My 1300 sq. ft. house doesn’t seem all that big, but I’m intrigued by all the small/tiny house blogs around. Please enter me in the drawing for the book.

    • Kerri says:

      1,300 square feet isn’t that big by today’s standards, Linda. Decluttering is an excellent place to start. You’ll be surprised what you can actually live with.

  5. Angie Lipscomb says:

    My dream for a long time has been to buy some land and build a natural community. Where like minded people can live simple lives that can be shared and cherished without all the hussle and bussle. We are downsizing with the goal of building our tiny home soon. People think that stuff will fill a void in their life. It only imprisons us, and takes time from us that we could spend with those we love. The best part about this book coming out is that living smaller does not mean living without beauty or comfort.

  6. Brian says:

    Sounds like a great resource! I’m in.

  7. Laura says:

    We are currently planning our move to a smaller house (2300 sq ft down to 1100 sq ft). We are making the move for both simplicity as well as environmental reasons but I hadn’t considered the green implications in decorating choices.

    • Kerri says:

      Good luck with your move, Laura! Glad to hear you will be downsizing and living large! 🙂 Thanks for entering the drawing.

  8. Michweek says:

    Wow, I can’t wait for this book! My boyfriend, two cats, a rabbit and I live in just under 500 sq ft. I am always looking for books that’ll help us live happily, healthfully and eco-friendly in this small space. It’s difficult to find smart ways to save on space and storage designs without first spending a ton at Ikea or Storables (ugh!).

  9. Michelle says:

    My husband and I just bought our first home, out in the mountains of Alaska. It’s a beautiful little place and greening it up is #1 on the priority list! We’re really looking forward to the process. (And that book could be a huge help! 😉 )

  10. Kim says:

    I saw an amazing talk on TED.com by Kamal Meattle about improving indoor air quality with 3 common houseplants, and immediately started buying a “mother-in-law’s tongue” plant whenever I spotted an inexpensive one at good shape when I was out shopping. They live outside on our porch during the summer (when our windows are open in the bedrooms), but spend the winters in our bedrooms to improve the oxygen concentrations there while we sleep. I’ve never liked the look of the plant all that much, but the benefits of upping your oxygen level are hard to ignore. Look up the talk!

  11. Olivia says:

    We always have used low VOC paint and kept plants around the house. Low flow showerheads, too as well as energy efficient appliances. Never use chemicals to clean. Biggest new green investment was using cork flooring when we laid down new floors.

    • Kerri says:

      The shower heads are a good idea, Olivia. I would have loved to have gone with cork flooring or bamboo, but read neither hold up under big dogs.

  12. Alexandra says:

    No VOC paint, and energy efficient ventilator fans. When we renovated a room in our B&B, we made it as green as possible, with salvaged tile. We call it our Green Room.

  13. This was a nice interview. I’m all for the Green interior design because you don’t have to compromise style and it’s good for the environment at the same time.

    Juliette Samuel

  14. Kristi says:

    What a great idea for a book. It is good to know what products to use as well as how to responsibly dispose of products being removed, such as old carpets.

    I can’t wait to read it when I win the drawing!

  15. Heather says:

    I love the idea of green interior decorating. Decluttering is a great way to begin. I think I’ll try that.

    • Kerri says:

      Decluttering is always a good place to start, Heather, good luck with that. It’s a never ending battle here at our little house. Thanks for entering.

  16. Rhonda Mock says:

    Hi, Kerri….
    I’m working on a project to build a non-profit Observatory here in Mena. The plans are to build as green as possible, using environmentally safe, repurposed, recycled products, solar power, and causing as little disruption to the area as possible, which won’t be hard as it is an established area. The hope is to make it cutting edge, so we educate children not only to the stars and planets, but to the environment as well.
    Can’t wait to see this get off the ground.

    • Kerri says:

      Wow, what a project, Rhonda! I love stargazing. You’ll want to see my post on Friday. 🙂 Thanks for entering the giveaway.

  17. Missy H says:

    Decorating green is something I have been interested in for a while. While I haven’t had the chance to actually do it yet, I will in the next month when I finally buy my 1st home. The interview with Lori made me aware that I am on the right steps to decorating green by decluttering and having plants around. Now if I could only turn my black thumb to a green thumb and not kill every plant I have.

    • Kerri says:

      Congratulations on your first home, Missy! I don’t know what happened, but I finally got most of the plant thing down without killing them all. Maybe it’s the watering that helped! 🙂 Thanks for entering.

  18. S.A.B.L.E. says:

    I have a number of agave plants that I are currently in pots. I’ve decided I want to put them in the ground and create a small “desert garden” area. Rather then buy rocks, I’ve been slowly harvesting rocks from the pastures for this. As far as inside, I try to recycle or repurpose items as much as possible while cleaning out the clutter. And the use of chemical cleaners is very limited.

    • Kerri says:

      Hi, S.A.B.L.E., That sounds great. We don’t have to buy decorative rocks here either, we joke they grow from our ground! 🙂 Thanks for entering.

  19. Kerri says:

    You’re in the drawing, Maria. Thanks for reading!

  20. Maria Widén says:

    I´d love to have this book! /Maria