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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.

Naturally Romantic Bedrooms

Union Street Inn Nantucket; Photo Credit Jeff Allen

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. That’s why recreating bedrooms is one of my favorite design projects.

 

A Dujardin-designed bedroom includes custom bedding and headboard. Photo credit Michael Partenio

Why is a healthy room 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.  I’ve studied to become a LEED Accredited Professional with a specialty in Interior Design and Construction (LEED AP + ID + C) so that I can create healthy sanctuaries for my clients.

Here’s how I design a pristine retreat:

  • Choose No VOC paints for walls and wood trim

 

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.  The VOCs last far longer than the odor, however. The air you breathe while you rest is so important.

 

Another custom Dujardin Design Associates bedroom, with one-of-a-kind bedding and headboard especially created for this client. Photo credit Marco Ricco

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 can contain fungicides and biocides, used to prevent mildew growth and extend shelf life. Working with a LEED-accredited interior designer can make choosing paints and finishes easier–there’s so much to learn!

 

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

 

master bedroom

I choose non-toxic floor finishes for my clients’ bedrooms, so they can rest easy at night.  All upholstery and bedding custom-designed and fabricated in DDA’s workroom.       Photo credit Terry Pommett

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 can be hazardous to both humans and pets.

 

  • Sleep on an organic mattress.

 

bedding 3

All bedding custom-designed and fabricated by DDA’s workroom. Photo credit Terry Pommett

Your healthiest option is an organic mattress, made with natural latex, wool or organic cotton. Be sure your pillows are all natural as well.  Make your home a holistic house!

 

  • Mix old materials with new: antiques are the ultimate in renewing resources.

 

Dujardin-designed custom bedding and window treatments, fabricated and installed by DDA’s workroom. Photo credit Jeff Allen

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.

 

At Dujardin Design Associates, creating custom looks with beautiful fabrics is only part of the wide array of services we offer. Photo credit Jeff Allen

Even in a contemporary home, the gentle lines of antique furniture can add eye-catching details to your bedroom.  I love to find the perfect antique pieces that will become family heirlooms, and blend beautifully with a modern lifestyle.

 

  • Make Your Bed with Natural, Organic Textiles

 

Choosing Dujardin Design Associates for your custom bedding, throw pillows, and window treatments allows you to have a wider range of choices in colors, fabrics, and textures. Photo credit Terry Pommett

You can find organic cotton sheets, blankets, pillows, duvet covers, shams and more, all made with natural fibers and produced using a nontoxic process. Or ask Dujardin Design Associates to create them for you!

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.

 

Monomoy Master Bedroom

A signature of my work is to include a pair of chairs where a couple can begin their day together with a cup of coffee or end it with a glass of wine. Photo credit Thibeaut Jensen

This is your private place where you go to get away from the world for awhile. A signature of my design work is to 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 is a wonderful comfort-touch.

 

I love adding final touches! All custom-designed and installed by DDA. Photo credit Terry Pommett

Part of the mystery of keeping love alive is providing a space where you can truly spend time together.

 

Union Street Inn, Nantucket; Photo Credit Jeff Allen

Valentine’s Day is a great time to create the bedroom of your dreams together. Choosing new furnishings, bedding, colors, and textiles can be a challenge for a couple with dissimilar tastes, however.  Over the course of my career, I’ve helped many couples reach agreement on the perfect bedroom for them.

I’d love to help you!

Call me for a consultation in Connecticut at 201-855-8100,

or on Nantucket at 508-228-1120.