What is Sustainable Interior Design

 

Interior design is not a new concept. For decades, people have been making a living by creating works of art with furniture and accessories as their palette and empty rooms as their canvas. It is probably not a surprise that fashioning the perfect design for the inside of your home is crucial to how you feel and react in your environment. Interior design is all about aesthetics. It’s about taking items that are visually appealing and combining them with your personality to create something unique and personal to you.

With consumers becoming more conscious about their impacts on our environment, it is no shock that people are starting to ask for green, eco-friendly furniture and building materials for their homes. Interior designers are capitalizing on this trend by offering environmentally friendly alternatives when creating a design for a client’s home. Now this begs the question, what exactly does sustainable interior design mean?

Basically, the difference between interior design and sustainable interior design is the difference between beauty and beliefs and how much they mean to you. Sustainable (or green) interior design can probably be broken down into 4 major components:

  • *Air Quality
  • *Energy Efficiency
  • *Building Materials and the Three R’s (Recycling, Re-purposing, Reusing)
  • *Economic Impact

Air quality is very important to interior design. The biggest decision a designer has to make is choosing pieces that are free of chemicals that can make people sick or pollute our environment. This usually means watching out for volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) that can be found in paints, primers, glues, ink and cleaning products. Luckily, you can now buy furniture that uses glues and finishes that contain little or no VOC’s.

The area of energy saving interior design techniques is very broad. It can mean anything from choosing light bulbs that use less energy (like LED) to choosing products that are produced in America to reduce the energy it takes to ship them.

We’ve all heard some form of “The Three R’s”. Now-a-days it feels like there are many “r” words related to conservation. When it comes to green interior design, it is important to remember to recycle, re-purpose and reuse. Choose materials that have been recycled, like furniture made from recycled plastic. Remember that there are many products that are made by re-purposing old materials, like Reclaimed Barnwood Furniture. And always keep in mind things that can be used again before you toss them out.

When you purchase items without checking where they are sourced from, you risk supporting imported goods, rather than supporting the local American worker. Always research where your furniture and building materials come from and support American jobs and our local economy by buying American-made.

Creating a sustainable interior design concept doesn’t mean that you have to be 100% green, but you can make smart choices that will benefit the environment in the long run. You also don’t have to overhaul your entire home to start a green interior design. Make small changes around your home, like opting for new cleaning products or donating that department store furniture piece and trade it in for one made in America that has little to no VOC’s. These little changes will someday make a big difference.

If you are an interior designer, check out the discounts we can offer on our Vermont-made fine furniture.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Stonehurst-stone-wallsIt's been a long time coming and we've tried to be quiet about it… for worry about everything that can go wrong in a real estate transaction. 

But we're now in the final countdown– just 3 more days until we close on the purchase of Stonehurst, an historic circa 1800 farmhouse and former ski area located just up the road in Vernon, Vermont.

Stonehurst will be our new showroom, office space and nature center.  It's a traditional Vermont style farmhouse that sits on 109 acres of forest and meadow, overlooking the Connecticut River.  Not your typical furniture store

We're excited that we'll finally be able to show customers a wide selection of all the custom and made to order furniture our Vermont craftspeople have to offer.  Even more exciting for me personally is the idea of conserving the property and providing eco-conscious customers a chance to see and experience the land where their furniture comes from. 

Check in after we settle on Stonehurst this Thursday for more details on our plans to make it a destination shopping experience.

 

 

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

About_fsc

If FSC certification is important to you, check out Copeland's Harbor Island Furniture collection. It's handmade here in VT with FSC certified maple from local Vermont trees.

Customers often come to us because they're shopping for eco-friendly, sustainable furniture.  At Vermont Woods Studios, our mission is founded on environmental and social responsibility so we find ourselves discussing FSC certification and other aspects of sustainable furniture almost every day.  Here are some of the basics on FSC:

What is FSC?
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent,
non-governmental, not-for-profit organization that promotes responsible
management of the world's forests. It is widely regarded as one of the
most important initiatives to promote responsible forest management
worldwide. It places a special emphasis on rainforest conservation.

Fsc-chain-custody

L to R photo credits: Reststart Forestry, Allard Lumber, Wayne Fawbush, Ellen Kahler, Copeland Furniture, via the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund.

Launched
by environmental groups in 1993 FSC manages an international standard
for well-managed forests and a process for tracking and certifying wood
furniture, flooring and other products derived from those forests. FSC
addresses numerous aspects of sustainable forestry, including ecological
issues, old-growth forests, plantations, restoration, biodiversity,
native habitat, indigenous people's rights, and sound management for
timber production.

The FSC label provides certification of the
chain of links between the forest where a product originates and the
consumer. For example with wood furniture, each of the following
businesses involved in transforming a tree into a piece of furniture
would have to be FSC certified in order for that furniture piece to be
FSC certified.  It's called the "chain of custody":

  • Certified forest owner- Must employ a professional forester and
    develop a forest management plan which meets stringent ecological and
    social criteria
  • Certified logger and sawyer
  • Certified lumber wholesaler
  • Certified lumber retailer
  • Certified furniture maker
  • Certified furniture retailer

Benefits of FSC Certification
In my opinion, FSC provides the most rigorous certification process
available. It's widely considered the gold standard in sustainable
forestry and has moved the world forward in many areas of rainforest
conservation.


Copeland-fsc-harbor-island

Copeland's Harbor Island Furniture collection is handmade here in VT with FSC certified maple wood from local Vermont trees.

Challenges for FSC As you might expect FSC
certification involves extensive rule-making and auditing that can be
quite expensive (and controversial) to implement. It can add up to 50% to the price of the
end product although the hope is that this cost will decrease as FSC
certification becomes more mainstream. Still many small manufacturers
are unable to assume this cost and are thus not FSC certified.

 

Another
challenge for FSC is the rampant counterfeiting of FSC documentation
accompanying raw lumber that is being illegally clear cut from the
Amazon and other endangered areas of rainforest. Also FSC has been
criticized for being too lenient,
particularly with their policy allowing limited old growth logging.

Should You Buy Only FSC Certified Furniture?
Authentic FSC certified furniture is a responsible choice for the
eco-conscious homeowner. However there are many genuinely responsible,
green, eco-friendly furniture makers who are not FSC certified due to
the red tape and expense involved. Conversely there is a large market of fake, FSC
labeled furniture that comes to us through layers of corruption
and counterfeiting.

In Vermont, many of us who were certified by FSC for years have been moving away from it lately.  Not because we don't support the ideal, but because we have so many other systems in place that effectively ensure our furniture is authentically green and sustainable.  At Vermont Woods Studios not all of our furniture is FSC certified, but it is all made from sustainably harvested wood from local and regional forests. 

If FSC certification is important to you, check out Copeland's Harbor Island Furniture collection.  It's handmade here in VT with FSC certified maple from local Vermont trees.  And let us know on our Facebook or in the comments section below how you feel about FSC certification.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

 

Green-decor-tree-house

This tree house looks a lot different from the one in my back yard. Architect Scott Anderson of The Anderson Studio of Architecture and Design created a zen-like dwelling incorporating a live-edge side table, root-ball bases on the coffee table and natural finishe into the green decor.

In browsing through my weekly Houzz Tour I came across this incredible tree house designed by architect Scott Anderson of The Anderson Studio of Architecture and Design.  Fellow green furniture fans, check it out! 

I send my thanks to blogger Becky Harris for featuring the South Carolina, Kiawah Island retreat on Houzz, the world's latest and greatest interior design website. 

I love the tree house's clean, green, Zen-like decor.  "The great room feels like some sort of natural habitat; besides the great views, a live-edge side table, root-ball bases on the coffee table, plants, natural finishes and plenty of open space connect the space to its surroundings" notes Becky.

As live edge furniture makers and natural finish afficionados we stood up and cheered when we saw this green respite in the trees of Kiawah Island.  Congratulations to Anderson Studio for achieving the ultimate in tree house decor!

And speaking of tree houses, I couldn't close without mentioning James Roth, cofounder of The Treehouse Guys in Warren, Vermont.  Roth and his company have built 34 wheelchair accessible treehouses in private camps and public parks across the country.  Have a look at some of Roths amazing works of art that let everyone, "no matter their physical ability, experience the joy of what it’s like to ‘climb’ and be at the top of a treehouse.”

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Lyndon-furniture-vt-usaYesterday I wrote about Vermont's Lyndon Furniture, one of America's most admired green furniture companies– and one that has remained in America throughout the offshoring exodus of the last 40 years.

Lyndon's owner and founder, Dave Allard is shown here in Vermont's Green Mountain Forest with some of his hardwood creations.

We interviewed Dave yesterday to learn more about why Lyndon Furniture is considered one of America's greenest furniture companies and here's the second half of Dave's response:

Sustainably Harvested Hardwoods – Lyndon furniture is made with choice hardwoods such as natural Cherry, Maple, Oak, or Walnut which are harvested through sustainable forestry practices. The predominant method is Single Tree Selection where trained foresters select individual trees for harvesting. The cut logs are then removed with the least disruption to the surrounding environment. This method creates openings in the forest canopy allowing more precipitation, sunlight, and nutrients to reach the forest floor ensuring the health of other trees. Responsible forest management takes into consideration long term timber production, while addressing water quality, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, forest aesthetics and recreational opportunities. The same can’t always be said for Asian or Rainforest woods where responsible forest management practices often take a back seat to maximizing profits.

Green Furniture Finishes – Lyndon's furniture finishes and stains are all made in Vermont. Vermont has some of the strictest environmental laws in the country which coincide with our views and respect of nature. Consequently our finishes have far lower VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and HAPs (Hazardous Air Pollutants) than current American industry standards, and far exceed the standards of imported products.

Sustainable Manufacturing – Lyndon Furniture has an extensive recycling program. We recycle paper, cardboard, metal and wood waste. Most materials (with the exception of the wood waste) are picked up by our local recycling center for proper material reintegration. Wood scrap is utilized as a biomass heating source (which has allowed Lyndon to drastically reduce oil usage) while sawdust is used by local farms for animal bedding. We have also made significant investments in energy efficiency to reduce our costs, and more importantly our carbon footprint. 

At a time when it seems every furniture company is "going green" it's nice to know that Lyndon Furniture and their fellow Vermont furniture makers actually have a history of using green practices from the start.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.