by Sophie Gillet Castro & Karen Totino
Time outdoors in the summer and the beauty of nature may inspire us to
beautify our interior. It’s a great time to bring into the home colors
and textures that will sustain us in the months to come.
It might not be financially sensible however to re-decorate the entire house. So why not focus on wall treatments this summer?
Walls and ceilings contribute significantly to the mood of a space. They are the largest part of the framework of a room and they affect our overall experience.
When it comes to home renovations, in addition to visual changes one has to consider the impact on one’s health. There are now some unusual new materials that offer both aesthetic and earth-friendliness, at quite affordable prices.
Imagine a product for wall application that not only gives texture but also cleans the air. It is called ‘American Clay’. A blend of natural clay, recycled aggregates and mineral pigments that is mixed to water, it is applied like a plaster and gives your walls a beautiful warm finish. Once applied, clay produces negative ions that will work as an air filter (fighting off mold growth), and neutralize the effect of electromagnetic field created by computers and appliances.
This product is an environmentally friendly alternative to cement, gypsum, acrylic and lime plasters. It creates no waste, as you can reuse any excess of it, even after you’ve mixed it and it’s dried – you just break it up and rehydrate it with water. It comes in 43 colors that can be mixed to create many more, and 3 different finishes. ‘American Clay’ cost approximately $1.50 to $1.70 per square foot.
A fresh coat of paint is a simple way to enliven your walls. Let yourself be inventive, innovative, daring perhaps. If your walls are a dull unadorned white, break up the monotony by using a different color on the ceiling, and/or one of the walls. If the room feels too dark, lighten it up with a vibrant color. Dare stripes or borders. And remember to choose a zero VOC’s type paint (volatile organic compounds). Why? Because those chemical compounds in regular paints remain toxic for a long time, sometime years; they linger in the air and can become lung, skin, eye irritants, and affect indoor air quality.
One of our favorite non-toxic paint brand is ‘Mythic’. This paint has absolutely no toxins, VOCs, or carcinogens. What is amazing is there is no trade off for performance. ‘Mythic’ goes on smoothly and is very durable. It has 1200 vibrant colors to choose from, and your choices are endless with the ability to match almost any color. Cost ranges between $43 and $45 per gallon.
Another approach to setting a different mood and change the style of a room is by using wallpaper. It is also very useful in concealing unevenness and flaws in walls. Conventional synthetic ones contain toxic solvents and off-gas VOC’s. They end polluting land fills. Select a wallpaper that is vinyl-free, uses water-based inks on cellulose paper, and has a water-based glaze (which will tolerate light wiping). We favor ‘Mod Green Pod’ and ‘Madison & Grow’ wallpaper collections, which cost on average $15 per yard.
Finally, perhaps all you need in order to carry nature’s harmony into your home, is a few panels of Kirei board. Made from reclaimed stalks of the sorghum plant and non-toxic adhesive, it is a very attractive substitute to wood. It can be applied as a partial or entire wall paneling, or just used as small size boards to feature art. Prices are more expensive but the effect is dramatic. ‘Kirei’ board costs approximately $9 per square foot.
Changes and improvements in the home do not have to be unaffordable and out of reach. In fact, all of the products described above can be found right here, downtown Saratoga Springs, in a brand new store. Green Conscience, located on Church street, carries an array of earth friendly products for the home and the garden: flooring, cabinetry, counter tops, insulation, home accessories, kitchen compost, rain barrels, gifts, etc. Many of these products have LEED credits associated with their use.
Whether you chose to bring a subtle or dramatic change to your interior this summer, may you enjoy contributing to a less toxic environment, and may this be a creative and delightful experience.
Sophie Gillet Castro is the founder of DAYAA Design, and provides interior decorating and organizing services. She focuses on space well being, incorporating Feng Shui and Vaastu principles – www.dayaadesign.com – 518-744 2287 (member of S.O.S – Saratoga Organizers and Stagers)
Karen Totino is the owner of Green Conscience Home & Garden, 33 Church Street in Saratoga Springs.
Green Conscience strives to be the leading local source of sustainable building materials, natural products and skilled trades people, and to help customers create healthy and beautiful spaces using products from ecologically responsible sources.
518-306-5196 – email: Karen@green-conscience.com
We welcome your questions and suggestions. Feel free to email us. Thank you.