Gently Green Great Design What I love Nantucket Life Please Join Me Healthy Stuff

Gently green conversations with Trudy Dujardin, FASID, LEED AP

Fall in Love with Your Bedroom

Trudy Dujardin

“When I woke up this morning, my girlfriend asked me, ‘Did you sleep good?’ I said, ‘No, I made a few mistakes.'”–Stephen Wright, American Comic

It’s hard to seriously imagine making mistakes while you’re sleeping, but if you’re designing a bedroom, there are good and better choices for your lifelong health. During sleep, your body works to remove any toxins that you were exposed to during the day.  A beautiful, serene environment that soothes you at the end of your day is best when it also supports your health.

Sleep is the time for cellular repair, for rejuvenation, for restoration of energy and health for both body and mind.That’s why, more than any other room in the house, you want your bedroom to be a pristine environment. You may be surprised to learn that your bedroom can be a repository of potentially harmful chemicals. Conventional mattresses, for example, are made with petroleum-based polyester and polyurethane foam, then treated with flame retardants. Those chemicals can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that become part of the air you breathe.

Pillows are also often made of synthetic materials that are treated with chemical finishing agents. Other sources of possible chemical contamination: Carpets, wall paint, wood furniture, even your cotton pajamas. With everything else you have on your mind, you don’t need worries about the health of your bedroom to keep you up at night.

Fortunately, there are products available to ensure your rest is undisturbed by allergens, toxins, or chemical vapors. For my interior design clients, I recommend using natural furnishings and finishes free of formaldehyde, VOCs, and petroleum-based products. Here are a few simple steps you can take to ensure a healthful night’s sleep:

Choose low or no-VOC paints for your walls and wood trim. Paints can emit VOCs over a long period of time, so just airing out the room may not be sufficient.

Choose hardwood floors (easiest to clean), finish them with water-based sealants (one of my favorites is Basic Coatings), and finally, cover them with organic wool or cotton area rugs.

Select an organic mattress, made with natural latex, wool or organic cotton. Be sure your pillows are natural as well. You can find pillows filled with organic wool or natural latex foam, and covered with organic cotton. Non-organic cotton is a heavily-toxin laden fabric. Cotton is grown in fields soaked in insecticides; dyes and color fixers use heavy metals such as chromium, copper, and zinc.

When choosing wood furniture, consider eco-friendly wood products that are FSC-certified, a designation from the Forest Stewardship Council ensuring that the wood was grown and harvested in a way that protects forests for the long term. Antique furniture is beautiful, and has the added benefit of no longer emitting harmful gases from wood or finishes.

Clear the air by adding a room air-purifier, or go one step further and install a central filtration system. Models are available that filter particulates (pollen, dander, and mold) and vapors (formaldehyde).

Remember that a good night’s sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. If you follow even one of these suggestions, you’ll be taking a step forward in improving the health of yourself, your family, and the earth. After many years of devoting my work to sustainable design, my clients tell me they sleep easy. I want that for you as well.

Tell the Good Stories

nan proj

There’s a wonderful quote by Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

IMG_1752

I felt doubly blessed after reading those words, because I’m convinced that what makes me come alive is also just what the world needs. I recently had the privilege of attending two multi-day conferences–The Nantucket Project, on Nantucket Island in September, and The Design Futures Council’s  (DFC) Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design in Dallas, Texas in October.

The speakers were among the most renowned politicians, business leaders, philanthropists and artists in the world. The topics they spoke on were self-selected, and reflected their deepest beliefs and best work.  It’s easy to become discouraged when we focus on the world’s problems, but it’s also possible to focus on solutions. Pete Seeger once said: “The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.”

everyone has a story phrase handwritten on chalkboard with heart symbol instead of O

At both conferences, I was completely captivated by the number of intelligent, thoughtful, creative and dynamic thought-leaders and life-changers on this planet, and the optimistic stories they told. I was uplifted, inspired, and re-invigorated in my desire to keep spreading the word about sustainable design. I want to do everything I can to help make the earth a cleaner, healthier place to raise our children and grandchildren, and take good care of our elders, too!

having fun in the waves

The Nantucket Project bills itself as a convener of thinkers and ideas, a think tank and an academy of learners. If you believe in being a lifelong learner, as I do, then I hope you’ll attend one of their annual island gatherings. Steve Wozniak was there, from Apple Computer, Inc., and Ben Carson, a Republican presidential candidate. Regardless of your political leanings, it’s always good to be exposed to the thoughts and ideas of people on the public stage.

nantucket projectBen Carson

Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for ten years, spoke on the Africa Governance Initiative, designed to challenge the African continent with needed reform and reduce poverty. Neil Young introduced the concept of PonoMusic, bringing high resolution music to music lovers around the world.

After that experience, I couldn’t imagine anything that could compare to what I had just seen and heard, or that any other event could match that one for integrity. But then I headed southwest, to Dallas, and to the Design Futures Council’s Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design.

dallas

The first Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design was held on Nantucket, 14 years ago. I had long had the desire to to have an “awareness-raising” conference for architects, landscapers, designers and contractors, to provide a platform for knowledge and understanding for an environmentally-conscious built environment. My friend and colleague Jim Cramer was the first to make that conference a reality by supporting it with his following in the Design Futures Council.

nantucket 2

I am deeply gratified to have been a part of this movement from the very beginning. At our first gathering we established The Nantucket Principles, offering a path for a strategic approach to sustainable design. Every year for the past fourteen, design leaders from around the world have convened to share their thoughts and ideas, to challenge outdated beliefs, and to make a positive contribution to the world.

DFC Sr Fellow right way up

At the Sustainable Design Summit, I was honored as a new Senior Fellow for the DFC, an unsought recognition that I treasure as a firm believer in the DFC’s mission.

DFC Sr Fellow 2

Here I am being honored as a Senior Fellow, with Scott Simpson, Managing Director, Greenway Group, and James P. Cramer, Chairman and Principal, Greenway Group, and President, Design Futures Council!

I was enthralled by the speakers there: Jason McClennan spoke on Living Buildings for a Living Future (watch his TED Talk here); Dame Ellen McArthur educated us on “The Surprising Thing I Learned Sailing Solo Around the World” (watch her TED Talk here), and we talked about the Building Blocks of a  Circular Economy.

dfc circular economy

Those two conferences changed my life, not by altering any of my values, beliefs or passions, but rather, by reaffirming what I already knew: that there is a world filled with possibility, that the right time to give up hope is never, and that together, we can create something beautiful. Both conferences told me a story that I could believe in: that we can change the world.

As Tom Scott, co-founder of The Nantucket Project says, “If you want to be good at making outcomes, you’d better get really good at telling a story. And you better make sure that story has integrity.”

We can all do this in our own lives. Let’s find the good stories, stories with integrity, and tell them to each other, every day.

This is Impossible Concept with Graffiti on Gray Cement Street Wall.

The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving. –Oliver Wendell Holmes

Design Futures Council: Senior Fellow

trudy headshot

This has been an especially gratifying year for me. In the past twelve months, I’ve published my design book (Comfort Zone: Creating the Eco-Elegant Interior), I’ve been named to the College of Fellows for the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), and I have just received word that the Design Futures Council has named me a Senior Fellow.

dfc

Ed Mazria reporting on the climate, 2014

The Design Futures Council (DFC) is an interdisciplinary network of leaders in design confronting global challenges. I’ve been a longtime member and contributor, happy to join with my friend and respected colleague James P. Cramer, who became the DFC’s primary founder and facilitator of information and inspiration throughout the organization.

jcramer_063_gg_indbsp_1220_small

To be named as a Senior Fellow by this highly esteemed group of professionals is recognition for “significant contributions toward the understanding of changing trends, new research, and applied knowledge that improve the built environment and the human condition.”

Jim Cramer says, “The leadership role of design is of critical importance toward the creation of a healthier and happier planet. The new Senior Fellows of the DFC have been selected for the tremendous impact they have had on our world.”

clean air post from istock

A happier, healthier planet is what I’ve worked for throughout my career. I’m proud to join the other Senior Fellows in that endeavor.

 

Make a Fresh Start!

IMG_0715 copy

From time to time, people ask me what it’s like to work with an interior designer. I can’t answer that for anyone but myself, although certainly there are industry standards that a properly credentialed interior designer adheres to. In January of this year I wrote about the inspiration for a house, and some of the design process in Every Room Has a Beginning.

work 1That post was about a very specific house, and the kinds of decisions we made with the homeowners to redesign a beloved home after it was moved cross-island to save it from eroding bluffs. Here are a few more things you should know about the design process:

Clients often say that working with Dujardin makes the design process fun again. What can become quickly overwhelming–the details, schedules, plans, and coordination, with architects, contractors, craftsmen and landscapers–are handled seamlessly, resulting in elegant and sophisticated interiors that immediately feel like home. We can incorporate varying degrees of sustainability or design a completely holistic “deep green” residence, always honoring classic tradition while achieving 21st century style.

blueprints

Whether you’re building a new home, renovating an existing building, or just designing interiors, it takes a village to create a house.  You may need contractors, architects, carpenters, painters, artists, landscapers, energy system installers, plumbers, tilers, electricians and more.

 

work 3

Having the requisite training in a home’s structure, design and function is what makes me a full and welcome partner in team meetings that include any or all of those participants.

 

Architects and Designers Working in the Office

Architects and Designers Working in the Office

I’ve devoted my life to the study and practice of interior design. I’m a professional member of ASID, and a member of their very select College of Fellows. (That’s what FASID means when you see it after my name.) I’ve just been elected a Senior Fellow for the Design Futures Council, which recognizes my contributions to the sustainable design movement.

ASID Fellows Award

I am a LEED Accredited Professional, with a specialty in Interior Design and Construction. (That’s the LEED AP + ID + C after my name). I belong to a number of professional organizations, have spoken widely about interior design, am an adjunct professor at Fairfield University, and am a professionally trained artist myself. I have a published full-color book of my design work that outlines many of the design principles I believe in.

CZ_000-Cover copy

Once we’ve decided to work together, the planning begins. We start with measurements, and a study of your home’s traffic flow, light sources, assessment of what the room will be used for, and by whom. We talk to you about what you love, and how you envision your home. The goal is to make your home an elegant reflection of your very unique lifestyle and family.  To help you “see” the finished product, we create a beautiful binder showing you what we suggest. Here’s an example of a page showing window treatment and lamp options.

window treatments

Let’s look at one specific room together. First, we show you a layout with all the furniture we suggest, and where it will be placed.

dining room

Next, our in-house artist creates a watercolor rendering to give you a feeling for the colors and furniture we think will be perfect.

dining room sketch

We present several different styles of breakfronts. You choose which you like best.

dining room 3

And then we look at different chair styles.

dining room 4

Other pieces to be included in the room are next.

dining room 5

Finally, it’s time to look at fabrics.

dining room 6

There are thousands of choices to be made in designing a home, and mistakes can be expensive. By breaking every decision down to carefully selected options, our clients quickly feel in control of the process. They have a partner who cares as much about their home as they do, and we have a great time shopping together, talking together, and making decisions together. After several discussions about what our client likes and prefers, orders are placed. Here’s a look at the finished dining room following this process.

dining room 7

My education, training and credentials, as well as my professional team members, are all important in creating the home of your dreams. But I also believe that creating a beautiful, healthy, comfortable home should be FUN! My clients often refer to me as the “funmaker,” because I love designing homes, and we want the entire project, start to finish, to be something you enjoy. We take care of the hard work for you.

IMG_1748

Believe it or not, we’re still having fun! We love our work.

IMG_1752

 

 

 

 

Come See Me On Nantucket!

I’m excited to have two wonderful events coming up on Nantucket the first week in August. If you’re on the island, I hope you’ll come by and say hello. At both, I’ll be talking about my favorite topics: green design, healthy living, and being kind to planet earth. I welcome your questions and am looking forward to celebrating summer with all my island friends!


On Wednesday, August 5th,please come to the panel discussion on Eco-Friendly Building and Design, hosted by Audrey Sterk’s Nantucket Color & Design Studio at 18 Broad Street.


I’ll be appearing along with my good friend Tom Ayars, a renovation and restoration expert with 35 years of experience, from 5 to 6 p.m. Tom will talk about how restoration and renovation can be “green,” too. If it’s a nice day, we’ll be outside on the patio.


On Friday, August 7th, I’ll be helping to celebrate the Dane Gallery’s 20th Anniversary with a Comfort Zone book signing from 6 to 8 p.m. Please join us for refreshments and great conversations at 28 Center Street. I’ll be answering your questions about healthy homes and green design, and what I mean by “eco-elegant.” (You can have a beautiful, sophisticated home, and have it be “green,” too!)


Hope to see you all there!

Time Travel: Antiques in Design

Using antiques to create distinctive interiors for my clients is a longtime signature of Dujardin Design Associates, Inc. Striking, original looks can be achieved by blending old and new, traveling across time to access the most beautiful furniture, accessories, objets d’art, paintings and rugs.I believe that every room has space for something old, a one-of-a-kind treasure that speaks of our shared past. Above, we used a wall hanging composed of 18th century Tibetan Buddhist prayers written on bamboo to bring Far Eastern calm to a contemporary space.


My favorite thing about using antiquesin my interiors? They’re the ultimate in green! Repeatedly recycled over decades, these pieces have been made from old-growth wood, protecting today’s forests, have long ago completed any off-gassing from the finishing process, and slow the resource intensive cycle of new production. Above, contemporary lamps, sconces and tables blend elegantly with an antique German Beidermeier armoire and mirror over the mantle.


There is beauty in contrasts. Rather than trying to achieve a single, monotone look, give your living spaces the dash and dazzle of opposites. In this Nantucket home, we paired a 19th century gilt mirror with 21st century whale art in hand-blown glass by Raven Skyriver.


Just as you might add a fabulous piece of vintage jewelry to complete an outfit, your room can use some jewelry too. The room above is bejeweled with the Tang Dynasty horse on the shelf near the window and the 18th century Chinese cocktail table, along with other priceless Asian artifacts.


I love the look of this marine-encrusted, glazed stoneware storage jar, dating from the 15th-17th centuries and found in the South China Sea.

One way to showcase old pieces is to use them in unusual ways . Here we took an antique rug and hung it on the wall as a stylish piece of art.

Juxtaposing a sleek white bedside table with an elaborately carved antique bed from the West Indies is a beautifully soothing contrast.

Don’t be afraid to use color to enliven an old piece. Unless it’s a priceless treasure, go ahead and paint it, refinish it, change the drawer pulls, and make it your own. Or let it keep its timeworn patina. Either way, it’s a fascinating addition to your living space.

Let your antique collections add fun and a little surprise. These small articulated artists’ models are the whimsical touch that brings this space to unexpected life. Another wonderful thing about antiques is that they add a completely unique look to your home. You won’t find these models available in catalogs or at mass market retail stores.

Ready to go shopping? Don’t miss the The Nantucket Historical Association’s annual Antiques and Design Show, this year from July 29th to August 3rd. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Creating Comfort Zone

CZ_DUST_v2_300514 copy

Why write a book?

Writing Comfort Zone: Creating the Eco-Elegant Interior, the book that capsulizes my design work over the past decades and that shares my message on the importance of sustainable design and living, has been one of the most rewarding periods in my career. It has also been one of the most demanding, when combined with a busy professional and personal life!

Dujardin HNJ_229

At an installation on Nantucket with Senior Designer Price Connors

Here’s why I did it: I have a story to tell. Part of my story is about the importance of creating a home that is a place where we can rest and restore ourselves, a place of comfort. Part of my story is about the importance of surrounding ourselves with beauty, because beauty elevates our hearts and minds. Beautiful, high-style design is intended to both soothe and inspire.

entry

Rooms in a home are not merely functional. When properly appointed, our home’s interiors provide a true background for all the important moments of our lives. How an interior designer assembles a room, piece by piece, is always unique to the individual, and combines the best training, background and experience, our own vision and feeling for a home, and the client’s dreams.

DSC00104

Comfort Zone is a peek behind the curtain: a look at the process, and the results!

Dujardin HNJ_106

And part of my story, a very large part, is about my belief that having the best means doing the best, for our homes, our health, and the environment.

_MG_9977

As a LEED Accredited Professional with a specialty in Interior Design and Construction, a public speaker at environmental forums, as well as an adjunct professor at Fairfield University, a large part of my career has been devoted to educating clients, students and friends about the importance of living “green.” I agree with the wisdom of author Rita Mae Brown, who said, “I believe you are your work. Don’t trade the stuff of your life, time, for nothing more than dollars. That’s a rotten bargain.”

greening of the house

Comfort Zone shares my knowledge about how to create a healthy home, knowledge I’ve accumulated over a lifetime. There is a wealth of information, including step by step plans for renovating your own home sustainably. You can read it to find out more about why antique furniture is a surprisingly eco-friendly addition to your home, or why you should consider No-VOC paints, organic wool carpets and FSC-certified woods. You can learn how to make a home lightly green, moderately green, or deeply green. You can read it simply as a beautiful design book, but all the information is there to help you live more healthfully.

CZ_232-233 copy

Perhaps the most valuable page or two is a directory of green products and services, my carefully vetted list of sustainable resources.  An up-to-the-minute feature is an app called Layar, interactive print technology that adds a touch of magic. By downloading the Layar app to your smart phone or tablet, you can hover above any of six pages in the book and Layar will take you to additional on-line information. That information that will be updated regularly so that you will always have access to the latest ideas, products and thoughts on eco-elegant living.

Layar CZ_054-055 copy

Of course Comfort Zone was created using acid -free, FSC-certified cotton cloth covers and interior vellums, and printed with vegetable-based ink from renewable sources. Next month’s posts will describe more about my trip to Venice to oversee the latest in eco-responsible printing processes there.

P1050360

Last, the book itself was designed to be a lovely piece of art. Book designer Stafford Cliff, part of the wonderful team at Pointed Leaf Press, publishers of Comfort Zone, brought my ideas to life with his intuitive understanding of my work, and my passion for the earth.

cliff_stafford

He and the very talented Dominick Santise produced the stunning end papers, vellums, and details that make Comfort Zone the treasure that it is. I will always be grateful for the way their hearts and hands contributed to this work.

IMG_0852 copy

A famous American architect, Daniel Burnham, said, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood…Make big plans; aim high in hope and work.” I have aimed high in hope and work with Comfort Zone. I want you to aim high in hope and work in making your home a healthy sanctuary for yourselves, your families, your pets and your friends.

_MG_0006 preferred headshot

Because A Healthy Home is the Ultimate Luxury. (TM)

Comfort Zone: Creating the Eco-Elegant Interior is available online at Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, or through Pointed Leaf Press. You can also find it at your own local book store, or ask to have it ordered there.

Happy reading!

 

Don’t Just Sit There

seat

Whenever we sit down, to work, to eat, to meet with others, or to relax, we don’t tend to think much about what we’re sitting on. A sofa or a chair or an ottoman all have been engineered for our comfort over the years, with fabric, foam filling, and a sturdy structure to support our bodies as we rest. And since 1975, according to the Green Science Policy Institute, upholstered furniture has been designed for our (supposed) safety as well, with the introduction of flame retardant chemicals.

flame

The chemicals intended to keep our homes from going up in flames have been linked to cancer, neurological defects, developmental problems, and impaired fertility. Manufacturers first began adding fire retardants to furniture due to a California law that required foam cushions to withstand a candlelike flame for 12 seconds. A now defunct group known as Citizens for Fire Safety, led by chemical manufacturers, was instrumental in getting the law passed, according to a Chicago Tribune article. (Read it here.)

Broom, Dust & Fur Ball on Parquet Floor

In 2004, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) warned of high levels of toxic fire retardants found in house dust, in every single home sampled. The average level of brominated fire retardants measured in dust was more than 4,600 parts per billion (ppb). Like PCBS, the fire retardants known as PBDEs (polybrominated biphenyl ethers) are persistent in the environment and build up in people’s bodies over a lifetime. In minute doses they impair attention, learning, memory and behavior in animals.

baby

Recently the EWG released a new study done with Duke University, where they found evidence of exposure to a cancer-causing fire retardant, TDCIPP, in the bodies of all 22 mothers and 26 children tested. The children had an average of nearly five times as much as the mothers of a chemical formed when TDCIPP breaks down in the body.

seat 2

I’ve shared my concerns about chemically laden upholstered furniture before. In addition to PBDEs, your furniture likely contains formaldehyde, polyurethane and dioxins. All of these toxins infiltrate your home and the air you breathe through “offgassing,” the release of chemicals into the air through evaporation.

Today, we can choose soy-based versus foam cushions, recycled filling for pillows, water based stains and organic upholstery fabric.

In addition, the EWG shares these tips:

  • Do your homework before buying baby products. Many kinds of baby products still use harmful chemicals. Find out before you buy.
  • When buying a new sofa, choose one made without fire retardants. New regulations make it much easier for furniture manufacturers to sell products that have not been saturated with chemicals. Contact the manufacturer to ask if fire retardants are in its furniture.
  • Want to reupholster your sofa? Replace the foam, too. The old foam likely contains fire retardants. Ask your upholstery shop to find retardant free foam, or choose an organic filling.
  • Inspect foam cushioning for damage. Exposed foam can cause fire retardant chemicals to leach out more quickly. Items such as car seats and mattress pads should always be completely encased in protective fabric.
  • Use a vacuum fitted with a HEPA filter. These vacuums will remove more contaminants and allergens from your home.
  • Be careful when removing old carpeting. The padding is typically made of scrap foam that contains fire retardants. Old carpet padding can become somewhat pulverized by the time it is exposed for replacement. Isolate the work area from the rest of your home.

There’s a petition to the Consumer Product Safety Commission asking for national furniture flammability standards that do not encourage or require fire retardants. Find it here, and get toxic chemicals out of our couches!

Five New Ideas about Old Things

AAS2014

As a design advisor for this year’s Nantucket Historical Association’s annual Antiques and Design Show, I’m excited to both participate with a Dujardin Design tablescape created especially for the event, and to attend to see what the world of antique dealers and designers have to offer this year. I love using antiques in my interiors, both for my clients, and in my own home. These treasured parts of history are beautiful mixed into traditional or more contemporary designs, and as I tell my clients and friends, they are the ultimate in “green!”

antique

1) Antique furniture can be a beautiful addition to a sustainable lifestyle, as well as a link to the past. Not only do carefully selected pieces add artistry and the patina of age, they help to maintain your home’s indoor air quality. Created with less-toxic products years ago, antiques have long since completed any chemical off gassing.

antique 2

2) By restoring and repairing fine furniture, the resource-intensive cycle of endless new production is slowed, as is the fossil-fuel based packaging and delivery system.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

3) Beautiful and sturdy, wood pieces made before the 21st century were constructed with timber with tighter growth rings, which simply doesn’t exist today, enhancing its value as a treasured collectible.

antique 5

4) Antiques are recycling at its best. Beloved family pieces, delicate porcelain, fine china and the softly faded colors of aged Oriental rugs do not belong in a landfill. Treasures from another time can be loved and used again. An item that has been passed from home to home and hand to hand brings history to life, and honors the work of artisans who lived long ago.

antique 3

5) Antique collections are a very personal expression. I often find that a simple gesture, such as placing an antique tea caddy on a mantel, can inspire my clients to begin a collection of their own. Learning about the subtle differences between artisans, the period of time when an item was made, or the materials that were used to make it, gives us a greater appreciation for life. Whatever you collect, it is unique to you and your home, and cannot be duplicated.

antique scrimshaw poker chips

I encourage you to spend a summer weekend looking for old and rare treasures of your own. Being “green” has never been so much fun!

 

 

Earth Week 2014

earth

Earth Day is on Tuesday, April 22nd this year, but many organizations and individuals are celebrating the entire week as Earth Week. From Monday April 21st to Friday, April 25th, you can help mark the event in your community, your workplace and your home. Every little step counts, often for the littlest creatures among us.

butterfly 2

For a new approach to celebrating with family and friends, the Earth Day Network is suggesting an Earth Day Dinner,  prepared with as many local, seasonal and organic products as possible. Look for new sources of locally grown produce and organic meats and vegetables. Include information behind the history of each food, and if you know something about the farm where it was grown, or the farmer who grew it, share that, too.

Colorful vegetables and fruits

This is also a good week to make the switch to “green” household cleaning products.  See my March blog post on ways to Clean Green.

clean green

In this month’s What I Love, I share information on how to keep your pets free of ticks and fleas, without resorting to chemicals that are toxic to them, and to you and your family. Read it here.

itchy dogs

Seventh Generation offers excellent green living tips on their website for the entire month. Some of my favorites are:

-Open windows and doors occasionally (even in winter) to bring in fresh air and rinse out pollutants that have accumulated inside. I also suggest investing in a whole house air filtration system. Learn more here.

-If every home in the U.S. replaced just one 12-pack of 300 sheet bathroom tissue with Seventh Generation’s 100% recycled product, we could save 1.9 million trees and 690 million gallons of water.

-Dust with a damp cloth to ensure that household dust, the final resting place of many toxins that enter our homes, is removed and not stirred back into the air.

red bedroom

My five things that everyone should do to live more healthfully are here. 

Tips on creating a “green” and healthy bedroom are here.

There are many more posts on my blog about choosing non-toxic products and materials, and living a clean, holistic life. I encourage you to read through the archives and learn more!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”–Margaret Mead

garden 3

 

 

 

 

Naturally Romantic Bedrooms

Dujardin Madaket 025

If you’re half of a couple, your bedroom is more than just your sanctuary. It’s an intimate, shared space where romance takes center stage. Your bedroom should be not only your passionate playground, but also the healthiest room in your house.

Why is that important? As you sleep, your liver works to detox the body from all the pollutants and toxins you were exposed to during the day. A clean night’s rest helps to promote health, energy and happiness, and that may be the most loving thing you can do for your life partner.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Choose No VOC paints for Walls and Wood Trim

Dujardin Urban Oasis 012 compressed

Paints can emit VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) over a long period of time, so just airing out the room may not be sufficient. That “just-painted” smell is actually the off-gassing of chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, toluene and zylene.  The VOCs last far longer than the odor, however, as can vapors from floor stains, finishes, sealants and caulks.

Low or No-VOC products use water as a carrier instead of petroleum-based solvents, reducing the levels of heavy metals and formaldehyde. Look for paints with the Green Seal Standard, which certifies that they meet certain industry standards for VOCs.

Even low VOC paints can contain fungicides and biocides, used to prevent mildew growth and extend shelf life. A product I use and recommend is EnviroSafe Paints, which uses no fungicides or biocides at all.

  • Choose the natural beauty of hardwood, tile or stone floors. 

master bedroom

Finish your floors with a water-based sealant, then add softness underfoot with organic cotton or wool rugs.  As luxurious as it seems, carpet can harbor mold, dander and allergens.  Chemicals used in the manufacturing process, as well as stain retardants and fireproofing, can be hazardous to both humans and pets.

  • Sleep on an organic mattress.

bedding 3

Your healthiest option is an organic mattress, made with natural latex, wool or organic cotton. Be sure your pillows are all natural as well. Non-organic cotton is grown in fields soaked in insecticides; dyes and color fixers use heavy metals such as chromium, copper and zinc. You can request “no fire-retardant chemicals” be used on your mattress; this requires a prescription from a doctor.

  • Mix old materials with new: antiques are the ultimate in renewal and reverence for history.

Captain's Quarters Master Bedroom

Antique wooden furniture was created from old-growth forests long ago. No new resources are used in its construction, making its restoration and re-use a loving part of caring for the earth. Manufacturing plants, even the very greenest, distribute impurities into our air, waste systems and water. New furniture requires the production of finishes, dyes and sealants; they arrive in retail stores via large fossil-fuel burning vehicles. Carefully chosen antiques say “I love you” to the earth.

Even in a contemporary home, the gentle lines of antique furniture can add eye-catching details to your bedroom. Rather than a mass-produced item, your antique dresser, bed or oriental rug was likely made in a small workshop by a crafstman who made good use of few resources, making your home and bedroom truly unique to you.

  • Make Your Bed with Natural, Organic Textiles

draperies

One of my favorite resources for organic bedding is Coyuchi. You can find organic cotton sheets, blankets, pillows, duvet covers, shams and more, all made with natural fibers and produced using a nontoxic process.

  • Less is More

bedding

There’s nothing restful or romantic about clutter. If your bedroom is to be a true sanctuary, it needs to be a sacred space for you, where you find tranquility, not a stack of things you need to deal with. It should also be the cleanest room in your house, since you spend 1/3 of your life breathing its air.

Many conventional cleaning products, rather than cleaning your bedroom, will actually pollute it with a toxic mixture of petrochemicals. Synthetic fragrances are added to mask the odor of chemical vapors, implicated in headaches, dizziness, skin rashes and respiratory problems. Good commercial products are made by Seventh Generation. Or you can make your own cleaning products from items you have in your pantry, such as baking soda, kosher salt, lemon and olive oil. You’ll find instructions here.

  • Make Your Bedroom Your Retreat

Monomoy  Master Bedroom

This is your private place where you go to get away from the world for awhile. It needs to have privacy and sensuality to serve as a haven for time spent either alone or with your beloved. Add the things that will help to recharge your soul by satisfying your senses.  A comfortable chair where you can sit and read a well-loved book, lit by sunlight streaming in through a window, is a wonderful comfort-touch. Add a cashmere throw and a soft pillow, and let yourself be lulled to sleep on a quiet afternoon.

A vase of fresh flowers adds both beauty and fragrance, soothing colors allow your mind and body to truly relax, paintings you love, photographs you cherish, a quilt made by your grandmother–all add to the feeling of pleasure. You can be sentimental here. It’s your safe place.

  • Reconsider the Television

bedding 2

Part of the mystery of keeping love alive is providing a space where you can truly spend time together. It’s tempting to watch tv as you fall asleep, or to catch up on the news and weather when you wake up in the morning, but technology has a way of intruding and changing the mood of a moment. Your private life together requires a commitment. Think about whether a television will add or detract from the  way you want your bedroom to feel.

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner.  If you start now, you can create the bedroom of your dreams, or at least the first stage of the bedroom of your dreams, in time to celebrate–together.

bedroom 2

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”–A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

 

LEED Accredited: Why It Matters

Dujardin Website 269

There are few people who haven’t heard the term LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) at this point, whether it is applied to a building project (LEED certified)  or an individual (LEED accredited). When a project receives a LEED rating, it signifies that the building saves energy, reduces pollution, uses fewer resources, and contributes to healthier environments.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) oversees the LEED certification and accreditation process,  They maintain an immense infrastructure to offer support to industry leaders to create innovative and cutting edge homes and buildings. I’m a longterm member of the Council.  My commitment to green building and design dates back to 1987, long before “green” or “sustainable” was a part of industry vernacular.

I’ve built, renovated, designed and lived in a number of “green” homes, and have been privileged to educate my clients and friends about the importance of sustainability. Not all Dujardin Design projects are green, but I try to incorporate green elements wherever there is an opportunity. We happily do every thing from deep green to “gently green” and everything in between.

Dujardin Website 274

I’ve studied to become accredited, and am proud to have the designation LEED AP +ID + C behind my name.  Specifically, that means that I am a LEED Accredited Professional, with a further designation in Interior Design + Construction. The LEED exam I passed measured my ability to support green design, construction and operations. (The exam is a four and a half hour, two part, two hundred question assessment of the candidate’s understanding of LEED , and requires work on a LEED registered project within the past three years.)

Why is this important?  It’s a measurement of knowledge and ability.  It reinforces a commitment to green building. And it emphasizes skills in areas such as energy conservation, reduction in water consumption, improving indoor air quality, and making better building material choices. It’s about environmental stewardship and social responsibility. The USGBC community shares a common goal: everyone learns, works and lives in a green building within this generation.

That’s a goal I’m proud to support.  I hope you’ll do your part to support LEED building projects, too.

IMG_0712

 

 

Your Sacred Space: Part Two of an Interview with Trudy and Women on Fire Founder Debbie Phillips

Debbie Phillips

This is part two of my interview with Debbie Phillips for Women on Fire, the group she founded to bring an amazing circle of fabulous women together for inspiration, strategies and support.  The following is a transcript of part two of our talk on Your Sacred Space:  How to Create an Inspired, Healthy Living Environment. Read Part One here

continued…

Trudy:  What I’m striving for is indoor air quality–whatever we put in that space.  And the only space you can really control is your own environment, your home, so that everything in there supports your health and wellbeing.

Debbie:  Right.  Well, I love that notion, and I’m sure that people listening are thinking, “Well, how can I control other environments?”  But like you said, we can control our homes.  We can also control our cars, and some of us can control our offices.  Is there any way, Trudy, to control other environments–short of wearing a mask?

Trudy:  I think a lot of it is education, and you know I’m big on that.  I’m always trying to promote how to support yourself at home through my blog and also in the lectures I do on The Holistic House.  People ask, “Where should I begin?”  Begin in the nursery because your baby is sleeping in there 20-24 hours a day and breathing in that air.  But your own bedroom needs to be almost like a bell jar–really clean and free of dust and dust mites.  Don’t have a lot of wall-to-wall carpeting because there is so much that gets trapped underneath there.

Debbie:  Really?

Trudy:  Oh, yes, microbial growth.  At least area rugs can be sent out and steam cleaned.

Debbie:  Interesting.  So choose hardwood floors and rugs over wall-to-wall carpet.

Trudy: Hardwood floors, tile floors, stone floors–those are the cleanest.  They are the easiest to keep clean and dust-free.  When people who are really allergic or who have asthmatic children come to me, I tell them to damp mop their floors–as if we have enough free time to do all this.  But try to damp mop floors twice a week.  It is believed that our livers detox somewhere between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m.  Your liver and your kidneys are really hard at work, so you want to sleep in a really clean environment so you’re not still taxing your system and your organs.

Debbie:  Trudy, I’ve seen those air filters that often can be bought at specialty stores.  is there any kind or a particular air filter that you would recommend?

Trudy:  As you know, I had such a struggle with chemical sensitivity.  I had to go through a two-year detox program, which was almost like being on chemotherapy.  It was really rough.  So I don’t want to see other people go through that.  The one filter that the environmental physicians–there are only 400 in the whole world; it is a very specialized group–like is the Austin HealthMate Plus.  And the reason for that, Deb, is that it has a HEPA filter in there to filter out particulates–dust, mold spores, animal dander, pollen in the spring.  But it also has zeolite in the carbon filtration, which filters out vapors such as car fumes.  If you have a garage that’s part of your house, car fumes can infiltrate and go right through all the little perforations into the house.  The Austin HealthMate Plus filters out all of that.  It will filter out and lower the VOCs from your furniture because all furniture finishes have VOCs.  So that’s the filter I swear by.

Debbie:  That’s great.  Is there a particular kind of mattress or pillow or bedding?  I know it should be from organic cotton, but is there any particular brand or style that you think is best?

Trudy:  There are so many out there, so I want to tell everybody:  Buyer beware.  Make sure you really go to someone who can say that a mattress is truly organic cotton or it’s truly organic wool because it has been certified.  I personally like a wool mattress that’s been tufted, and then I have it encased in organic cotton.  I get my physician to write me a prescription slip, so to speak, to give to the people making the mattresses, saying that i refuse to have it sprayed with fire retardant.  By law, they have to add fire retardant in case there is a smoker in bed and a cigarette is dropped.  But it’s a problem because the rest of us have to pay the price by sleeping on a bed immersed in that chemical, and you really don’t want that.

Debbie:  Wow.

Trudy:  The other thing you want to do–because dust mites and the little things they leave behind are what a lot of people are allergic to, especially asthmatic children–is to get an encasement, a completely zip-around mattress protector.  It’s not just a pad on the top, and it’s made out of barrier cloth.  That keeps out dust mites, bed bugs, all those things that can happen, and you are much safer.  Your pillow really shouldn’t be foam or anything made of a chemical.  it should be organic cotton or organic wool, again, in an organic-cotton encasement protector.

Debbie:  Is there anything around the waterproofing of a mattress pad?  Would that necessarily have chemicals in it?

Trudy: It could.  Until I look at the label, I wouldn’t know.  You have to be careful of chemicals, especially where you are sleeping at night.  That’s the one room to change.  People say, “I can’t afford to go through and change my whole house.”  And I completely relate to that. But try to make your bedroom as clean, organic and chemical-free as possible.  That’s the goal.

Debbie:  This is so helpful because one of the things Rob and I have done is to create a couple’s sanctuary, but we have not gone to this level. This is very inspiring.  I want to talk about something else that would potentially be a tip, Trudy, and that is because we are talking about an inspired environment with a strong emphasis on creating a healthy environment.  I want to tell you a quick little story.  When I met Rob, who is now my husband, he had this rule that one way to create a sacred environment was that all shoes were to be removed before entering the house.  it took me a little while to get used to that, but I have adopted his ways and I have to say that I love it.  And, Trudy, you are the only other person I’ve met who has a porch full of shoes. I wondered if that’s a rule at your house–a shoeless house–and is there a good reason for not wearing shoes in the house?

Trudy: Absolutely.  I think it’s sacred.  It’s respectful to remove your shoes, to not bring in all that stuff from the street.  Asians do that a lot.  But there is also a very scientific reason for it:  When we are walking around on the street, we are actually walking through viruses, bacteria, chemicals sprayed on the streets to melt ice, and all of that.  We walk through that, and we definitely don’t want to track it into the house.  People I’ve studied with have said that if you could make pesticides iridescent and if you used a black light on them, they would glow.  And if you had somebody walk through his yard after it was sprayed for ticks or mosquitoes or whatever and then you tracked him as he walked through the house, there would be footprints everywhere he went in the house.  So that’s your practical reason.  Let’s not bring all this inside.  My biggest pet peeve is pesticides, chemicals, insecticides, mildewcides, and all of that.  I understand the purpose of it and I know what people are trying to do, but I think the public doesn’t always know the horrible side effects of it.

Debbie:  Right.  It’s funny, but I wonder if you have had this experience:  both of our homes on Martha’s Vineyard and Naples are shoeless, but I still feel a little embarrassed asking people to remove their shoes. 

Trudy:  You know what I do?

Debbie:  What do you do?

Trudy:  I go to Rite Aid and buy the little cotton socklets in all sizes, and I leave them right there at the door because sometimes people don’t want to slip on slippers if they feel that somebody else’s feet have been in there.  I relate to that.

Debbie:  I do too.

Trudy:  So get a fresh, sealed bag of little socklets, and you can get the ones that the men don’t mind wearing.  They’re almost like the little things they give you in the hospital when you’re walking up and down the halls.  And that just covers it when they’re in your home, and they can choose their colors.  Then it becomes sort of fun.

Debbie:  What a great idea.  Thank you, Trudy.  That solves that problem.  What are some other ways to detox our homes or space?  And, by the way, I hear a lot about that.  People will talk about, “I’m going to clear or detox my space.”  Is there an appropriate way to clear and detox a home?

Trudy: The biggest thing is what you put in it.  Let’s say you’re painting.  There was some wonderful person who sent me an email this morning, “How do you choose your paint?” I wasn’t sure if she was asking about color or if she wanted to know how to choose a safe paint.  For the latter, the biggest thing you can do, if you know you have oil-based paint and you’r’e going to repaint, is to go to a low-or no-VOC–again, Volatile Organic Compound–water-based latex paint.  Oil paint is a petroleum product.  People say, “Oh, my house doesn’t smell anymore.  I painted it three months ago.”  If you could dye those VOCs purple, you would see that they go on forever.  It’s truly deleterious to your health.  It’s truly injurious.  It’s not good for your lungs.  It’s just not good for a lot of reasons.

Debbie:  Do the major paint companies make those or do you have to find a special company?

Trudy: They do.  And so you don’t have to spend a fortune for that.  If you don’t have a chemical sensitivity, you probably don’t have to go as far as I do with it for my own health.

Debbie:  You were referring to a question from Jill Dulitsky, from Vernon, Connecticut.  She asked, ‘We are redoing our house and making a much more open floor plan.  How do you choose paint?”

Trudy: I emailed her back so we will continue that discussion, for sure.

Debbie:  I don’t know whether she did mean color.  Melissa McClain from Seattle, Washington, is very into color, and we should just bring up the color issue since I’m not sure what Jill meant.  Melissa asks, “What is your philosophy on finding the perfect color for your home or room?”

Trudy:  It’s really client-driven.  After I sit and talk with clients, I get a feel for what they like.  I also give them a client questionnaire.  It’s long.  I ask them, “What are your favorite colors?  What colors do you hate?” I tell them to get five of the current shelter magazines and tear out pages and write on them, saying, “Trudy, I love this.  I hate that.” By the time we’ve spoken and they’ve filled that out and I look at their tear sheets, I have a good sense of what they would thrive in.  There has been a lot of research done on people who have thyroid issues, which I do.  They thrive with the color blue.  Well, it’s no surprise that I have a lot of blue in my houses.  That’s my house in Connecticut.  Debbie would love it.  It’s more taupe and white and the sandy colors.  And say people with stomach issues really resonate to the color orange.  So, basically, what I do is interview everybody and I find out what they love.  Sometimes they don’t even really know what they’re gravitating to, but I can see it.  I can see it formulating.  Then we get a little report back to them, and we sit down and start with color swatches.  Then I see what they respond to.

Debbie:  I love it.

Trudy:  They always reach out with their hand for the things they love.

Debbie:  Really?

Trudy:  Oh, yes.  If they don’t like anything, the hand doesn’t come forward.  When they see a color they love, the hand goes out and they start rubbing it.  I say, “Oh, that’s it!  That’s the one.  That one likes Sea Glass.  She likes that color.”

Debbie:  This is why you are the genius you are.  That is really great to know.  I know you love blue. All those blues are so beautiful on your site.  What color don’t you like?

Trudy:  You know, it used to be orange, but I’m in love with that color now.  When I was going to art school, I took a course at Yale.  It was a color study course.  It forced us to become neutral about color.  Most people don’t know this–I think you might, Deb–but I was a fine arts major, and I was a painter first.

Debbie:  I did know that.

Trudy:  I approach color in a whole different way.  I had a studio in Rowayton, Connecticut, on the water.  I’m always by the water, whether it’s a river, a lake, Long Island Sound, Nantucket Sound, whatever.  I did commission paintings, and I loved it.  I taught art for a while in Rowayton, and I taught at New Canaan High School.  I loved working with the high-school students.  I just loved that.  But it was too solitary for me when I was working in the studio.  I’d come home at night and I’d think, “I didn’t talk to anybody all day.”  So I found myself gravitating toward doing rooms, and I thought, “OK, now I have to get more information about this.”  So I went back to school at Parsons in New York.  I also did a lot of on-the-job training.  I had some wonderful mentors and teachers.  You can shift course midstream.

Debbie:  Yes, you can.

Trudy:  It’s OK to do a mid-course correction.

Debbie:  Well, as I always say, we’re stomping our perimeter.  We’re building on what our interests are.  Like the fact that you were two years old and you were sketching, and then you just continued to build on that to be the person you are and create the amazing environments that you do now.

Trudy: You know, Deb, I really thought when I was younger that I was just going to grow up and be an artist.  I didn’t know I was going to go into interior design.  It just evolved.  It was an evolutionary process.

Debbie:  Melissa McClain also asked the question, “Was there a defining moment where you knew you wanted to be a designer?”

Trudy: Yes.  It was in that studio.  I said, “You know what?  I want to work with people.  I want to make rooms that they feel good in.  I want to work with fabric.”  I just jumped in and started.  I didn’t have enough training yet, so I went back and got the training that I felt I needed.  But the best training I had, Deb, was on the job, watching other designers that I really admired.

Debbie:  Oh, I’m sure.  Trudy, believe it or not, our chats just go so quickly.  In the ten minutes or so that we have left, I want to give our women some other tips for creating an inspired environment.  Are there other things, in addition to the advice that if you start with any place start with your bedroom?  Did we answer the question about what’s he right way to go about detoxing a room?

Trudy:  There are different ways to detox a room.  From a spiritual level, I like using sage.  When I first had a house in Monomoy on the water on Nantucket, I knew a wonderful woman who was a minister.  I had her come over, and she brought some other people.  We said prayers to the north, the east, the south and the west.  We asked blessings from every direction, and that was a truly blessed house.  Wonderful.  That’s one way to detox–mentally, spiritually and emotionally.  The other detox method concerns the materials you are using.  Say you bought a piece of furniture from a place where they use a lot of particleboards in the middle, and the formaldehyde levels are off the wall.  You can even smell it.  It has that kind of stinky smell.  I would get that piece of furniture right out of the room immediately.  I would stick it down in the basement until it offgasses enough.  That’s one way to detox.

Now the truth is that formaldehyde probably never offgasses enough that it’s truly safe.  But to detox a room, you have to minimize whatever is toxic in it.  So if it’s the furniture, that’s one thing that goes.  If it’s an old chemical-sprayed rug, one that you’ve used a lot of retardants for stain and stuff on, you just have to get rid of that.  It’s time to roll it up.  What people forget is that, even with area rugs, the pad underneath is disintegrating over time.  We have a friend in New York who is being treated for leukemia.  He had a stem cell transplant, and they’re calling me for a lot of advice on how to detox the home.  The big thing they talked about was that they had all of the Oriental rugs taken to be steam cleaned.  No chemicals, just steam cleaned.  But it was the pads underneath that needed to be changed.  There was too much microbial growth.

Debbie:  Interesting.

Trudy: Get a new pad for under your rug.  There are a lot of simple things you can do.  You can put a coat of nontoxic paint on the walls.

Debbie:  You’re inspiring me.  There are some really simple things like that I need to do.  I think we’ve had the pads under our rugs for ten years.

Trudy:  There’s always time for a change!  We vacuum the rugs all the time and even have them shampooed from the surface.  But it’s best to roll them up and send them out to be steam cleaned.  And we never check that pad.  I’m guilty too.

Debbie:  Hey, Trudy, I always hear about mold and how that is really dangerous in a home.  Is there anything we can do about mold?

Trudy: The minute you have heat and moisture and darkness, you have a breeding ground for mold.  Mold needs all three.  You don’t see mold growing in bright sunlight.  You don’t see mold growing where there is no moisture, and you don’t see it growing where there is no heat.  So, if it’s freezing outside, you don’t see mold growing on the rocks or anything.  Mold and pesticides–those two are my pet peeves.  It is deleterious to your health.  They affect respiratory systems. Stachybotrys atra is one.  There were some fatalities in Long Island of infants who were in basement rooms that had been paneled, and there was stachybotrys atra growing on the sheetrock behind the paneling.

Debbie:  How do you test for mold?

Trudy: You can get kits.  You can order them online.  You put these little plates out, and then you collect them and send them off to a lab.  They will tell you if you have it or not.  You can also use a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH).  They are wonderful.  These guys are like doctors.  They are just amazing.  They have so much information, and they can come and check for you.  It’s truly like having people with doctoral degrees in all these chemicals and the molds.  They are very valuable.  I have one I use all the time:  Microecologies in New York.  I’ve known them for about 15 to 20 years, and I have a lot of trust and faith in them.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, Deb, but when I walk into a moldy house, it smells sweet to me.  Have you ever noticed that?  I can smell the mold or the mildew.

Debbie:  Well, you’re such a pro, Trudy.

Trudy: I don’t know if it’s being a pro or that I have such heightened smells from being chemically sensitive.  That’s one of the downfalls of being chemically sensitive.

Debbie:  And I’m just so glad that you’ve been able to recover.  One of the reasons is because you live in this holistic house.

Trudy:  Deb, there’s one last thing I wanted to say.  We’re probably getting close to the end.

Debbie:  We are.

Trudy:  I was so torn between just talking about how to make your home pretty and beautiful and talking about it being green and healthy.  Then I realized that I want the two to go together, hand in hand.  And that’s why I talk about “eco-elegant.”  I want the two to not be separate, but to be all one.

We focused on the “green” now, because let’s start with everybody’s health.  Their environment, their built-in environment, their home, or just their bedroom, if they can do only one room in the home, is truly supporting.  It’s their underpinning.

Debbie:  Yes.

Trudy:  It’s got their back, so to speak, and their heart, as (Woman on Fire) Agapi Stassinopoulos (author of Unbinding the Heart) would say.

Debbie:  That is a very beautiful way to put that.  And, you know, Trudy, you are such a part of Women on Fire, and I’m grateful for Women on Fire to have access to your wonderful work.  I could go on and on.  I’m grateful to have a woman like you.

Trudy: Thank you.  I am so honored to be a part of this interview.

_MG_0006 preferred headshot

 

 

 

 

Decorating with Antiques: a Deeper Shade of Green

photos 88 old saugatuck 007 (2)

The Nantucket Historical Association hosts its annual Antiques & Design Show from August 1 to August 5 this year.  Dujardin Design Associates, Inc. will present a Designer’s Room Vignette with beautiful examples of treasured antiques and a display that shows them artfully placed in a room.  If you’re on Nantucket, come visit us at Bartlett’s Farm, 33 Bartlett Farm Road.  Here are all the details.   

In celebration of the timeless beauty of long-cherished objects and our desire to live lightly on the earth, it’s time we think about antiques in a new way.  Antiques are a part of a sustainable lifestyle, as well as a link to the past.  Let’s take a look at how these enduring parts of history can elevate both your life and your home’s design!

I have always been an ardent collector of antiques, and the addition of carefully selected pieces to sophisticated interiors is a recognizable signature of my design style.  Sharing my love for classic pieces comes naturally to me.  I find that my clients quickly embrace the elegance of antique furniture, and often become collectors themselves.  Homes are brought to life when old paintings, pieces of porcelain, or folk art add their charming artistry.

As we learn more about how to assess the health of our built environments, and steps we can take to keep our homes clean and pristine, it’s important to recognize the ways that antiques can be an integral part of a green lifestyle.

Photo Seven Library

 This is a fabulous collection of treenware, dating from the 19th to the 20th Century.  Note the darning egg, and the antique stereoscope–the earliest form of television!  The book displayed is by British treenware expert Burt Marsh. Photo:  Durstan Saylor

No Chemical Vapors Are Brought into your Home

Your home’s interior should be a place of fresh air and health.  Yet any new piece of furniture, cabinetry, flooring or finished wood has some chemical overtones.  Many fine finishes release vapors in a process called off-gassing.  In a closed environment, such as an energy efficient, airtight home, off-gassing can increase indoor air pollution to levels several times higher than those detected outside.  Antiques are a healthier choice than modern furnishings because they were created with less toxic products years ago, and any off-gassing has long been complete.

antique ships model

This living room is a showcase for beautiful antique accessories, including a 19th Century ship’s model behind the sofa, and a pair of lamps made from 18th Century Chinese Export porcelain.  A pair of 19th Century British hand carved candlesticks and a 19th Century ship’s captain’s lap desk are on the cocktail table.  Photo:  Durstan Saylor

No New Resources Are Used

Every beautiful piece of wooden furniture originated from a tree.  Whenever we purchase new wood furniture, unless we choose products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), we are contributing to the deforestation of our planet.  In contrast, wooden antiques are products of trees culled long ago from old-growth forests. Old pieces add a soothing mix of periods to a room, and since no new resources were used in their construction, their restoration and re-use is a green endeavor. 

study

 This study reflects the long seafaring history of the coast, with a 19th Century ship’s telescope, and a 19th Century ship’s barometer hanging to the right of the window.  Framed antique prints are on the wall, and the mantle holds part of a collection of sea captain doorstops.  

No Negative Environmental Impact is Created

Beyond the health issues in our homes, we should consider the costs to our planet.  Even the very greenest furniture manufacturers distribute impurities into our air, waste systems and water.  New furniture requires the production of finishes, dyes and sealants.  Shipping them demands the creation of packing materials, and they arrive in retail stores via large vehicles powered by fossil fuel.  The EPA estimates that three million tons of furniture are taken to landfills every year, only to be replaced with brand new pieces that can carry a large environmental cost.

Dujardin_Mantle

An extremely rare 19th Century English scrimshaw tortoiseshell is displayed above the fireplace; on the mantle are several antique lighting devices:  a corkscrew pigtail candlestick complete with hook for hanging over a chair, a rush light holder and antique binoculars. Photo: Terry Pommett

Antiques Are Recycled Treasures

Beloved family pieces, original wooden floorboards and the softly faded colors of aged Oriental rugs do not belong in a landfill.  Treasures from another time can be loved and used again.  A federal mirror that has been passed from home to home and hand to hand brings history to life, and honors the work of long-ago artisans.

Dujardin Madaket british woolie

This is a mint condition 18th Century British Woolie, The Ship of Bengal, unusual for the ship’s identification as part of the design, and for its display of the British flag. Photo: Terry Pommett

Antiques Respect the Work of Long-ago Craftsmen 

Rather than purchasing a mass-produced item, treat yourself to something created in a small workshop by a craftsman who made good use of few resources.  In previous centuries, home furnishings were made by hand before machine-assembled items flooded the marketplace.  Artisans from years gone by had knowledge that largely disappeared during the Industrial Revolution.  Old joining techniques were abandoned in favor of more rapid assembly using staples and nails.  Fiber board was created and the beauty of the wood itself was lost.  Take the time to consider the difference between a finely hand-wrought piece and one processed in a factory.  Even contemporary rooms can be striking when modern pieces are blended with well-placed antiques. 

16-Living room Mantel After9

This Ionic columned fireplace, in the Captain Parker house on Nantucket which I painstakingly restored, still retains its Sandwich glass clothesline knobs; string was wound between them so clothes could be hung to dry. Not all antiques are furniture.

Antiques Have Stood the Test of Time

Classic pieces are sturdy and well-made, which is why they have lasted.  The quality of their wood is usually stronger, created from timber with tighter growth rings, making repair a simple task when necessary.  Furniture that is unworthy of a craftsman’s repair time adds to our cycle of wasteful consumption.  Instead, your rooms can be accented with vintage furniture that has been lavished with love and care, and that honors history and tradition. 

Adobe Photoshop PDF

An old set of nesting baskets, handmade by 19th Century basket weavers. Photo: Erik Rank

Antique Collections Are a Personal Expression

I often find that a simple gesture, such as placing an antique tea caddy on a mantel, can inspire my clients to begin collections. There is tremendous beauty in items preserved throughout the years, particularly if they illuminate another time and way of life.  Learning about the subtle differences among artisans, the period when an item was created, or the materials that were used to make it, gives us a greater appreciation for life.  

My personal collections include treenware (handcarved wooden items used in the home long ago), old hotel silver, blue and white porcelain, and things that speak to me of lives lived on the ocean, including whaling artifacts, scrimshaw carvings and sailor whirligigs.

11-Front Door Hardware After33

The foyer of the lovingly restored Captain Parker House on Nantucket, circa 1700’s.

Not All Antiques Are Furniture

You can find antique cabinetry, flooring, doors, beams, posts, mantels and other architectural pieces.  Consider a gorgeous 18th Century door to add punch and personality to your entry, or how about antique doorknobs and a doorknocker?  An old mantel delivers instant charm; remilled old timbers bring panache to the pantry.  Add the incredible details that your home may be missing.

IMG_1726

This Victorian milk glass doorknob was added to an old door to restore it to its 19th Century charm.

Antiques Add Beauty and Joy to Life

There is a thrill when you spot the perfect 19th Century French farm table, Georgian stand or double pedestal dining table.  You feel an immediate connection to the Italian walnut commode or a beautiful pair of small paintings.  Antique collectors know that old things have a soul, based on their authenticity.  Whether you fall in love with hand-embroidered vintage textiles or white ironstone pitchers, each well-chosen piece adds to the unique style that is yours alone.  

eye catching blend

Photo:  Durstan Saylor

Blending newly designed furnishings with antique collectibles is a wonderful way to express yourself.  Concrete work surfaces and stainless steel works beautifully when paired with your antique dining table and old wooden doors.  Don’t be afraid to mix periods and textures.  Contrast can be the spice of life, and add spice to your home as well!

Your Sacred Space: Part One of an Interview with Trudy and Women on Fire Founder Debbie Phillips

trudy dujardin and debbie phillips

I recently had the honor of being interviewed by my good friend Debbie Phillips for Women on Fire, the group she founded to bring an amazing circle of fabulous women together for inspiration, strategies and support.  The following is a transcript of part one of our talk on Your Sacred Space:  How to Create an Inspired, Healthy Living Environment. 

Debbie:  Hello, Woman on Fire!  Women on Fire is one of the most dynamic communities of women you will find anywhere.  And my guest today highlights the bonanza of talent and expertise we have inside our organization.  Today’s interview is part of our series on exploring Your Life.  Each month for a year, we are presenting a life topic with strategies on living your best, healthiest and most inspired life.  Last month we looked at Your Health and Wellbeing, and today we are discussing Your Sacred Space.  Our guest expert, Trudy Dujardin, is a pioneer and a leader in green design and eco-conscious living.  She is a nationally recognized interior designer who will share her valuable tips with us today for creating your own healthy, sacred environments.  And she will tell us why it’s essential to your good health and your family’s health to live this way.  

A little about Trudy before I bring her on:  Trudy Dujardin is the president of Dujardin Design Associates based in Westport, Connecticut, and on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts.  For more than 25 years, she has designed some of the most elegant homes on Nantucket, in Connecticut, and throughout the country.  Her interior design firm is nationally recognized by industry experts, the media nad her clients for her distinctive eco-elegant desings.  She is a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers, and she is a LEED Accredited Professional, recognized for her expertise in sustainable design and construction.  Trudy was one of the early pioneers to use non-toxic materials to create interiors rich in beauty and full of health.  Her personal journey includes a struggle with multiple chemical sensitivities, yet today she is fully recovered and passionately carries her message that a healthy home is the ultimate luxury to her friends and clients, and the audience of her widely read blog, HolisticHouse.com.  

Trudy is someone I know well, and I love and respect her personally and professionally.  She has influenced my taste and my style and my thinking for more than a dozen years.  Trudy is married to handsome Frank, and they have three amazing Bichon Frises, the cutest little white dogs you’ve ever seen.  Plus, I am so proud that Trudy is one of our Women on Fire members.  When I want to take a vacation, I go to Trudy’s website and blog; I’m not kidding, her work is so extraordinary that to luxuriate in her website for a while is just like going on vacation.  Welcome, Trudy Dujardin!

Trudy:  Hello! Thank you so much.  I’m thrilled to be here.

Debbie:  Aww, I’m happy to share you with Women on Fire.  I know a lot of women who have attended tea parties (Women on Fire signature gatherings) know you and you know them.  I just want to introduce you to everyone else who hasn’t had that pleasure yet.  And our first question always is–and you know this, Trudy, because you get the membership packet–our tradition:  What’s your day been like so far?

Trudy:  My day was pretty interesting so far.  I usually get up sometime between 3:30 and 5:00 every morning because I have, as we talked about, my three Bichons, and they’re the loves of my life.  They make me laugh out loud every day.  But two of them are almost 11, and they can’t make it through the night.  So when I wake up in the middle of the night, I worry about them.  I tiptoe downstairs, trying not to wake anybody else up, let them out, bring them in, and give them a little rice cracker.  Then I sneak back upstairs to try to catch another 40 winks.  If I have a heavy workload, I lie there and think about my day.  But I always start my day with prayers.  I have two that I say every morning, and it helps me focus on my day.  But I have another favorite, Debbie.  Do you remember Shakti Gawain?

Debbie:  Of course I do.

Trudy:  I love her, and I have an old tape of hers.  It’s not even a DVD/CD.  It’s an old audiotape, and it’s a visualization technique.  So I visualized this morning how our interview would go and our wonderful day.  Next–I don’t get a lot of points for this because I haven’t been doing this for long–but at 7:30 I got in the car and headed to the gym, where I worked out with a trainer from 8:00 to 9:00.  And so that everybody knows, I’m not a saint.  I don’t do that all the time.  I had fallen off the exercise wagon for a long time because of my business travels, and I decided on the first of the year that I needed to get going again.  So last week I began, and I’m thrilled to be back.  It just feels good.  It sets my day on the right path.  And then finally, I came back, ate breakfast, showered, and here I am with you!  And I love having you all to myself!

Debbie:  Excellent!  Well, good for you!

Trudy:  Later on, I’ll be working with a new project.  Debbie, I’ve been asked to sit on the board of a new organization called Her Haven. It’s the creation of Carey Dougherty (founder and executive director) and she is an amazing woman.  I just want to tell you about it, as I’m brand new to it.  But what Her Haven does–it’s right up your alley–is to create environments for women in need.  They get applications, and it’s kind of like makeovers, but they find out what they woman might need to do.  It could be somebody who really wants to be a writer, but she has so many kids and works, and so they create a little haven in her home.  And that’s why it’s called Her Haven.

Debbie:  I love that.

Trudy:  For the project we’re working on now, Carey has been interviewing the PTA at Sand Hook, Connecticut.  We all know what’s going on there and what a tragedy it was.  But we are trying to see if maybe they need something in the teachers’ lounge that will help comfort the teachers, a respite where they can go.  Or if there is a particular person in that town who may need Her Haven.  So that’s our mission and that’s to be continued.  I’ll fill you in on that more later.

Debbie:  Oh, I love it, and you’re such a perfect person to be on that board.

Trudy:  I’m bringing in the “green” element.

Debbie:  Well, I love it.  That’s fantastic.  So let’s talk a little bit, Trudy, about how old you were when you first knew you wanted to be a designer.

Trudy:  I’m not sure of the exact age, but what my parents told me is that I wasn’t even two and I was already sketching.  The interesting thing is I was always sketching rooms, environments.  They were almost like stage sets.

Debbie:  I just wondered, you said you were two years old and you were sketching?  Were you sketching with crayons?

Trudy:  Pencils.

Debbie:  Pencils.  Wow!

Trudy:  And then crayons.

Debbie:  Do you have any of those sketches?  Did your parents save them?

Trudy:  Oh, I’m sure there’s a box in the attic somewhere.

Debbie:  Well, tell us more about what inspired you to work in the field of design.  So you grew up loving to sketch, but then was there anything in particular?

Trudy: My uncle–my father’s brother–was a furniture designer.  So, of course, that was a direct lead in.  He had gone to the New York School of Interior Design, and back in the 1950s and 60s, when I was a tiny little kid, they used to take me to his studio in Greenwich Village.  I was so fascinated by it.  I would see these huge, thick slabs of marble and walnut.  He had a very elite clientele.  he was making racetrack-oval dining tables long before that was the fashion.  He was really ahead of his time.  We still have some of his furniture now.  It’s classic and timeless.  it should be in the Museum of Modern Art.  Just wonderful.  He was the inspiration for the art side of it.  My first present from him was his own wooden briefcase full of all his oil paints.  I carried that with me every day when I went to graduate school at New York University.  Now, for the flip side of the family, we go scientific, medical and then artistic.  My father worked for NASA.  He was in the space program, and he was a design engineer.  He designed thins such as the tile dial, as it was called for the space shuttle.  You know how the nose cone is all covered in tile for re-entry?

Debbie:  Oh, I’m quite familiar.  My brother Scott worked on the space shuttle from its inception to its last day.

Trudy:  My father designed the equipment for measuring how each tile should be slightly different.  It’s just amazing.  He also designed the Polaris Missile way back in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Debbie:  Oh, my goodness. 

Trudy:  My mother and I never knew what he was working on because he worked in a think tank with no windows.  he said if he had his life to do over again, he would get a job where he worked outside.

Debbie:  And now he can.

Trudy:  And now he can.  Right.

Debbie:  I know your father is still alive and well.

Trudy:  He is still alive and well.  He was my exercise buddy last week.  I thought, “I need someone to make me accountable.”  So, at 89 years old, he was getting up in the morning and going to the gym with me, just to keep me honest.

Debbie:  All right, Dad!  Well, Trudy, I love your motto: “A healthy home is the ultimate luxury.” Tell us a little more about that.  How did you come up with that?  What does that mean exactly? 

Trudy:  As you know, we have a lot of very high-end clients on Nantucket.  I was thinking that they have all these beautiful things, but to really make a house pay off and serve them well, it needs to support their health, which means that the indoor air quality has to be just sterling.  It has to be perfect for them, and they can afford it.  I’ve been at this since 1987.  I was very early in on it, and a lot of the builders on Nantucket thought it was a little loopy.  They’d ask, “What do you mean the paint is going to hurt you?” It’s hard for people to change.  So I had to educate my clients.  They would say, “I don’t have allergies, so that’s not important to me.” And I would say that it’s important for your long-term health.  Every item on the face of the earth emits vapors of fumes.  They’re called VOCs–Volatile Organic Compounds.  All of these things chip away at your armor.  So even if you are perfectly health, why start chipping away at it?  And then we have to think about our children and our pets and the elderly.  If we’re going to spend a lot of money, and have this luxurious home, let’s make it healthy too.  Why not?

Debbie:  Right.  And for our women, it doesn’t matter how luxurious it is.  We want to talk today about how anybody an make their home healthy.  I’d like to go back, Trudy.  How did your passion for “green” begin?  You were an interior designer, and you came upon these healthier materials and began to use them. 

Trudy:  It’s complex.  Just the other day I listened to your interview with Agapi Stassinopoulos and I was just so inspired by her and her feelings about her mother.  It jarred my memory.  But I used to think that the origin was that my former husband and I bought this beautiful piece of property on the harbor in Nantucket, and I was so in love with the island that I wanted to do this project right.  I thought it was a really healthy island, so let’s not have things silting off of the property and contaminating the water supply, hurting the scallop population  I thought that was the origin of my “greenness,” but then listening to Agapi’s wonderful message the other day, I realized that my mother was terminally ill with breast cancer.  She lived only to 51.  I helped her through those almost four years, and I realized that I just started questioning everything we were doing, having been raised on a farm in South Carolina with all the crop dusting and pesticides and insecticides.  i think I told you that I was the first-born, long-awaited grandchild, and they just cherished me.  So they would put me in a cot on a sleeping porch along a whole bank of windows to keep me cool at night.  It was nothing for it to be 105 degrees in South Carolina.  Then they sprayed my cot with DDT to keep the mosquitoes away.  That was probably the origin of the liver issues that caused my chemical sensitivity.  Am I answering your question?

Debbie:  Yes, you are.  And I want to just clarify because a lot of Women on Fire do know Agapi Stassinopoulos, and you are referring to the CD with her on it.  It’s quite inspiring.

Trudy:  But I want to backtrack a little bit.  I think “luxury” means when we luxuriate in something.  It doesn’t have to be a half-million-dollar home.  It doesn’t have to be anything.  The luxury of it is that you’re supporting your health.  To me, that’s the ultimate luxury.  I talk about how, every day, we’re in containers.  We get up in the morning, and we’re in our house.  We get in our car, and drive to work.  Then we’re in an office building.  We put the kids on a school bus and they go to a school.  We pick the kids up from school in a car and take them to the music teacher’s house or to the doctor’s office.  it’s endless.  We’re in a phone booth.  We’re in an airport.  What I’m striving for is indoor air quality–whatever we put in that space.  And the only space you can really control is your own environment, your home, so that everything in there supports your health and wellbeing.

To be continued:  in our next segment in July, I talk about my struggle with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and how I recovered, plus tips on how to make your home healthy and holistic!

 

Tales from the Crib: Tips for a Green Baby

baby

When talking about creating a healthy home, I’ve often said the first place to begin is in the bedroom.  For families with children, especially babies, the first place to start is in the nursery.  We spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping, in close contact with bedding, mattresses and the often closed-air environment of a modern bedroom; for babies, their contact with nursery materials is multiplied as they can spend many more hours in sleep.

During sleep, your body works to remove any toxins you were exposed to during the day, and to restore energy and health. Babies, with their rapidly growing minds and bodies, need a pristine environment with clean air and minimal contaminants. According to the EPA, one of the top five hazards to human health is indoor air.  Here are some simple steps you can take to keep your baby happy and healthy:

  • When painting the nursery and refinishing floors, use no VOC paints and finishes.  VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds, chemicals (such as benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, and zylene) that “off-gas” for extended periods of time into the air we breathe. Non-toxic, no-VOC paints use water as a carrier instead of petroleum-based solvents, reducing the levels of heavy metals. Look for products with the Green Seal Standard, which certifies that they meet certain industry standards for VOCs.  (One of my favorite products is Envirosafe, a company which which uses no fungicides or biocides at all)

 

  • Choose hardwood, stone or tile floors that can be easily cleaned, and cover them with an organic wool or cotton rug.

coyuchi organic baby

  • Select an organic mattress for the crib, made with natural latex, wool or organic cotton. Be sure all the baby bedding is organic as well.  Babies snuggle into their blankets and put their mouths on everything; non-organic cotton is grown in fields soaked in insecticides.  Dyes and color fixers use heavy metals such as chromium, copper and zinc.  A good source for organic baby bedding and bath items is Coyuchi.  Their products are made from 100% certified organic cotton and are produced using fair labor practices.

 

baby organic cribs

  • Choose eco-friendly wood furniture that is FSC certified, a designation from the Forest Stewardship Council ensuring that the wood was grown and harvested in a way that protects forests for the long term. Chemicals such as formaldehyde and polyisocyanurate can also be emitted from plywood and manufactured wood products.The Organic Mattress Store offers maple, oak, ash or cherry cribs made without plywood or particleboard; it comes unfinished or with a Green Seal Tung Oil organic finish.  It’s also the place to get organic baby mattresses, made with natural rubber and organic wool, a natural fire deterrent.

 

  • Invest in a good air-filtration system. Clear the nursery air by adding a room purifier, or go one step further and install a central filtration system. Models are available that clear particulates that can’t be seen by the naked eye, such as dust and pet dander, along with mold spores, pollen and chemical gases such as sulfuric acid, ammonia and formaldehyde.

 

  • Be clean and green with non-toxic cleaners.  Many conventional cleaning products actually can pollute baby’s room with a toxic mixture of petrochemicals.  Seventh Generation has created a line of safe, natural baby products, as part of their “Campaign for a Toxin-Free Generation.”  You can purchase everything from  safe nursery and household cleaning products to diapers, baby laundry detergent and gentle skin care.

 

baby 2

Other important Green Baby Tips:

  • Be sure to use glass baby bottles, never plastic.  When plastic is heated, it can leach a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) into baby formula at forty times the safe limit, potentially disrupting baby’s endocrine system.  

 

  • Dress baby in non-toxic sleepwear.  There are options which use acrylics and natural materials with tight weaves that can pass flame retardancy standards without the use of polybrominatd diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), a chemical which is now found worldwide in dust, indoor and outdoor air, and waterways.

 

  • Make health and wellness as natural a choice in your daily life as the love and attention you so effortlessly give your precious children.  A healthy child is raised in a healthy home, and a healthy home is the ultimate luxury.

 

Connecting the Dots

There’s so much information about health risks bombarding us every day, warning us to avoid things or add things, do this and don’t do that.  It can make your head spin.  Scientists and environmental physicians agree that exposure to chemicals can be dangerous for your long term health.  The problem is that illnesses, including cancer and degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, can take decades to develop.  We’re all exposed to thousands of toxins both inside and outside our homes:  how do we connect the dots and protect ourselves and our families from harmful chemicals?

You wouldn’t take a bath in paint thinner or breathe gas fumes for fun, as Mehmet Oz, M.D., and Michael Roizen, M.D. said in a recent article they wrote for Real Age.  But little risks, such as breathing paint fumes one day and cleaning with ammonia another, may add up.  Melanie Haiken wrote a wonderful informative piece on how to cancer proof your home, including how to replace seven carcinogens you may not have recognized for Yahoo Health.

To keep it simple, here are my top five things I believe everyone should do.  Remember that a healthy home is the ultimate luxury!

1. Make your bedroom the cleanest room in the house.

During sleep, your body works to remove any toxins you were exposed to during the day, and to restore energy and health for body and mind.  Replace your mattress and bedding with an organic mattress, made with natural latex, wool or organic cotton.  Be sure your pillows are all natural as well.  Non-organic cotton is grown in fields soaked in insecticides; dyes and color fixers use heavy metals such as chromium, copper and zink.  You can request “no fire retardant chemicals” be used on your mattress; this requires a prescription from your doctor.

2. Keep the air in your house pure.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America rates indoor air quality as one of the top five environmental health risks.  Clear and purify your air by adding a room air-purifier, or go further and install a central filtration system.  Models are available that can remove particulates such as dust and pet dander, along with molds, spores, pollen and chemical gases such as sulfuric acid, ammonia and formaldehyde.  Commercial cleansers are often overlooked culprits in polluting indoor air; some of their ingredients are carcinogenic and toxic to the lungs, liver and kidneys.

3.  Reduce or Eliminate VOCs with Water-Based Paints.

That just-painted smell is actually the off-gassing of chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, toluene and zylene.  The Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from paints last far longer than the odor does, as can vapors from floor stains, finishes, sealants and caulks. According to the EPA, some of these VOCs are known to cause cancer.  Low- or No-VOC products use water as a carrier instead of petroleum-based solvents, reducing the levels of heavy metals and formaldehyde. Even low VOC paints, though, can contain fungicides and biocides, used to prevent mildew growth and extend shelf life.  A product I use and recommend is EnviroSafe Paints, which uses no fungicides or biocides at all.

4. Be Clean and Green with Non-Toxic Cleansers
Many conventional cleaning products, rather than cleaning your home, actually pollute it with a toxic mixture of petrochemicals. Experts say chemicals inside our homes may have concentrations of up to 100 times higher than outdoor air. Synthetic fragrances are added to mask the odor of chemical vapors, implicated in headaches, dizziness, skin rashes and respiratory problems, as well as deadly diseases.  There are many good green cleaning products on the market made from natural ingredients, such as Seventh Generation:  look for products containing citrus oils and enzymes.  You can also make your own from items you have in your pantryI’ve given instructions on an earlier post.  Read it here.


5.  Protect your lawn and garden from contaminants.

Once you’ve made your home a safe-haven from fumes and toxic chemicals, you won’t want to live surrounded by pesticides and harsh fertilizers.  Lawn and garden chemicals are poisons to things that live, including you and your pets.  The residue from these products are too easily tracked into your house, polluting your pristine space.  A study from the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) found pesticides in 100% of the people who had both blood and urine tested.  Many of these chemicals are linked to cancer, birth defects, and liver or kidney damage.  Learn to tolerate a few weeds, or get the family outside in the fresh air to dig them out by hand.  Healthy soil is “alive,” so boost your soil’s health by spreading organic compost or alfa meal.

To do even more for your health, be vigilant about BPA in plastic bottles and pitchers, and in canned goods.  Cook with glass, cast iron or porcelain or ceramic-coated pans rather than old nonstick cookware.  And choose skincare products made from natural and organic ingredients.  Doing just these few things will help to minimize the effects of unavoidable exposure to toxic chemicals and fumes.

Finally, believe, like I do, in the Power of One:  the power each of us has to make an impact, create change, and help heal the earth.

 

 

 

 

 

Creating Beach House Style

There’s a period of time that comes at the tail end of winter, when it isn’t quite spring, but it seems the daffodils are urging themselves forward with unseemly haste, the snowdrops are dipping their heads before the last of the north winds, and the scudding clouds in an impossibly blue sky can only signal one thing:  the return of warm weather, and time to open the beach house.

I watch the horizon for the later setting sun, and find my thoughts drawn to the elegant Grey Lady far off in the Atlantic Ocean, my home away from home:  Nantucket.  For anyone fortunate enough to own a beach house, the sand you build your castles on is real for you all year long.  It’s not just the warm weather months that restore us; it’s the anticipation of the season we long for.  In my basement there are canvas bags, ready to be filled with things for the summer house.  As the cold weeks drift into warmer, sunnier days, slowly the bags are being filled.  And my eagerness grows.

Inevitably, my mind turns to the harbor, the water, the sea.  The array of constantly changing shades of blues, greys and greens.  The piercingly clear cobalt blue sky, the sparkle of the sun and light on leaves and water, the shimmer on the white trim of weathered shingle houses, the glistening sand where the waves have receded:  all create the vision for me of a perfect “Nantucket Day.”  Home is where the heart is, and everyone who knows me says, “Trudy goes home to Connecticut, but she leaves her soul on Nantucket.”

Because my beach house is on Nantucket, it’s that island’s unique slant of light (rivaling Giverny) that I draw upon for inspiration in my design work. In decorating no two projects are alike.  They’re client-driven, personal and unique.  But there’s a reason for my love of blue and white (Chinese Export Porcelain) with touches of pink (New Dawn roses) and yellow (daffodils dancing down Milestone Road on the island.)  There’s a reason for my love of sand and sea colors:  to forget the shades of water and sky is impossible when your home is nestled somewhere near a beach.

My color palette comes from the infinite blueness of sea and sky, the velvety grays of the fog, the bleached white of seashells, the sandy beige of the beach, the soft greens of the pines and bayberry. Beach house style blends all these hues. The essence of summer near the ocean, I believe, is serenity, and a beach house should embody this.

Clean interiors, free of clutter except perhaps a stack of first edition books on life at sea, art that reflects a sense of place, and special niches for prized collections, whether Lightship baskets or whalebone scrimshaw, are key to achieving the simple life summer demands.  Window treatments should be designed to let as much light and air into the rooms as possible.  Accessories are best when they are memories of special days and nautical nights:  shells from beach walks, models of sailboats, antique sea chests, and paintings of schooners.

Whether you’re ready to open your beach house for the first time, or the fiftieth, here are some tips to help you create the perfect summer home:

  1. Blues are serene because they evoke the sea and the sky, but I wouldn’t use an intense marine blue on a wall.  I’d reserve it for accents such as pillows, china or curtains.
  1. Carry your main colors throughout the house.  Even in a rose room, I would include touches of blue to pull things together and help lead you from room to room.
  1. I love juxtaposing rich color with white:  in a white room, I might use ivory woodwork.
  1. Go with soft, muted shades in bedrooms; saturated colors in living areas.
  1. Add color with flowers.  Sunflowers or pink roses are wonderful in a blue and white room.
  1. Don’t attempt too much in one room; your eye needs a place to rest.
  1. Remember that a healthy home is the ultimate luxury.  See my post on spring cleaning for ideas on cleaning without harmful chemicals.

May summer be a delightful sojourn of rest and repose for you, wherever you find your heart and home!