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Great Design with Trudy Dujardin, FASID, LEED AP

Five New Ideas about Old Things

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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!”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

Tales from the Crib: Tips for a Green Baby

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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.

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  • 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.

 

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  • 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.

 

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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.

 

CT Cottages & Gardens: Nantucket Style!

Join me in celebrating our eight page spread in Connecticut Cottages & Gardens Magazine.  The February issue of the magazine features my newly remodeled Nantucket home by the sea!  Completely “green” in design from front door to chimney top, all the building materials, cabinetry, flooring and finishes were carefully selected to be as healthy as they are beautiful.

Creating a home as fresh as the sea breezes that blow through the windows is easier than ever now, as eco-friendly choices in rugs, upholstered furniture, and drapery fabrics are rapidly expanding.  I invite you to pick up a copy of the magazine or visit their website for an “e-visit!’  I hope it feels like a little bit of summer for you.

The article is available now on Connecticut Cottages & Gardens’ website!

 

A Green Bedroom Says "I Love You"

“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.  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 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.

Luckily, 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 when coloring 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 to create the healthful retreat you’re dreaming of.
  • 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 all natural as well.  You can find pillows filled with organic wool or natural latex foam, and covered with organic cotton.  Non-organic cotton, by the way, is a heavily toxin-laden fabric.  Cotton is grown in fields soaked in insecticides; dyes and color fixers use heavy metals like 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 your family, yourself and our shared earth.  After many years of devoting my work to the values of sustainable design, my clients tell me they sleep easy.  I wish that for you as well.

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