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Wednesday, December 3, 2014


eco art: reclaimed pallet wood wall hanging

reclaimed pallet wood wall hanging

Bring a little rustic charm into your home with an eco-friendly wall hanging made of reclaimed wood (above and below). North Carolina-based woodworking artist Jason McNeill makes a handsome array of handcrafted furniture and art primarily from reclaimed pallet wood.

eco art reclaimed pallet wood wall hanging

McNeill often paints a lovely tree and accompanying text on his pieces. Most of the work is fully customizable – with the color of the stain and hand painting customized to match the buyer’s decor. The 60″x 34″ wall hanging is perfect for a dining room or living room wall. Each tree is unique. $400 @ Indian Beach Wayfarers

By purchasing furniture and art made from reclaimed wood you can help preserve living trees, while capturing the character and charm often inherent in reclaimed wood.

related: more eco-friendly home decor items featured on The Alternative Consumer

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Go Green Indoors

green home

The environmentally friendly green movement has taken off, and it’s no longer just for cleaning products, cars and personal care products. In fact, it has become a popular topic among professional and do-it-yourself interior decorators. Many use home design software to realize their vision. Some people work tirelessly to ensure that every aspect of their indoor environment is ecologically friendly. Others incorporate a sustainable table here, a green rug there. Whether you desire to make green decorating your personal mission or just your hobby with the help of an interior design tool, there are simple ways to incorporate green décor into your furnishings to satisfy both your sense of style and Mother Nature.

Going Green Underfoot
Because traditional wall-to-wall carpeting can trap toxic outdoor chemicals and allergens deposited via your shoes or furry friends, many people are turning to eco-friendly flooring. Options come in all styles and price ranges. Sustainable flooring is typically very durable and sometimes made of recycled materials. There are four popular options: hardwood, cork, bamboo and tile.

When shopping for hardwood floors, look for products that bear the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) seal. It ensures that the wood has been produced in a forest with regenerated trees, among other factors. Cork offers elasticity, which makes it very comfortable for walking and standing. In addition, cork is fire-resistant and hypoallergenic. Bamboo floors are water resistant and also detract bugs and mildew. For a more colorful look, tile floors made of recycled glass are a great option.

Seeing Green
Going green on the walls used to mean sacrificing style and quality. That’s no longer the case. Many manufacturers now offer eco-friendly paint that boasts durability and superior coverage, plus a rainbow of options. The key is, these paints do not have damaging solvents and harmful chemicals. How do you know which paint is safe for your home and health? Be sure the items you purchase have low or no VOC in the colorant and in the paint. You can try on paint colors with an interior design tool, available on many websites, for example, Digital Decorator.

If wallpaper is more your style, you’re in luck. Wall coverings have come a long way in both look and application, and many options are available for non-PVC products. PVC is a dangerous toxin that can leech into the air. Look for wallpapers that are fully vinyl-free and made with water-based inks on organic cotton fabric.

Saving Green
Rather than purchasing all of your home furnishings and fixtures new, why not consider buying second-hand finds? This technique is easy on the environment and your wallet. Shopping vintage avoids a double hit on the great outdoors, cuts down on overconsumption and helps landfills. Suddenly, a couch can have two or more lives, mirrors can be repurposed to suit your taste and counter-tops can be re-imagined to coincide with your décor. When you think recycle, not replace, the options are nearly limitless. Garage sales, online auction sites and vintage stores are brimming with interesting, eclectic finds. If you plan to refinish furniture, look for environmentally friendly products that are water-based and free of toxins.

By incorporating a little green into your style you’ll improve your home’s air quality and reduce the negative impact that your furnishings have on the environment. It’s the most sensible, responsible kind of style, and you can watch it come to life with the help of home design software. Just put your imagination to work.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Eco-Friendly Flooring Options for Modern Homes

floor polished concrete

At one point in time, if someone mentioned the term “eco-friendly” in connection with flooring, many people would frown. While the use of eco-friendly materials is good for the environment, many people would avoid using it as flooring due to its unattractiveness. Luckily, modern design and technology is creating beautiful flooring that not only looks great, but is great for the environment. Here are a few eco-friendly, flooring options that will accent a modern home.

Cork is one of the newer types of flooring. It is made from the bark of the cork oak tree and harvested in a manner that does not involve cutting down the tree. Cork is a versatile material. It can be painted or stained to match any décor. This type of flooring is also fire retardant, naturally repels insects and is antimicrobial.

Even though bamboo has the properties of wood, it is really a grass. What makes bamboo a great alternative to wood is the fact that it has a faster regrowth rate and it does not require pesticides or fertilizers to grow. Bamboo flooring is easy to maintain and install. The variety of tones and grain patterns increases the ability to customize the flooring. The best part about choosing bamboo is the fact that is looks great with in any setting.

Natural Stone Flooring
There are many benefits to using natural stone flooring. It is durable, has a long lifespan and recyclable. Natural stone flooring is made from sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rock. Because no stone is the same, this environmentally-friendly flooring will add a unique and natural look to a room. Other characteristics that make stone flooring a great choice, it is easy to care for and looks better as it ages.

alfresco polished concrete

Polished Concrete
Polished concrete floors are another popular, eco-friendly flooring choice. The concrete used is usually the sub flooring of the home or business. What makes the flooring a sustainable option is the fact that it does not use natural resources to produce and creates very little waste. Concrete also has the ability to absorb heat and keep the environment cool during the summer, reducing the need to rely on energy. Concrete polishing can create a variety of decorative effects and it can be tinted to meet any design specification. Polished concrete floors are durable, easily cleaned and does not need to be replaced.

Linoleum is comprised of biodegradable materials that include linseed oil, cork flour and limestone. This hypoallergenic flooring is water resistant, fire retardant and easy to clean. The long-lasting floor is available in a variety of colors and is coated to ensure that it lasts a long time. At one point of time, linoleum fell of favor. However, many designers are choosing to use this flooring.

Using eco-friendly flooring options does not mean sacrificing aesthetics to save the environment. There are several types of natural flooring available, each with their own attributes. Whether you are interested in concrete polishing or want a unique cork flooring, there is environmentally-friendly flooring that will increase the aesthetics wherever they are installed.

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Window Treatments: Staying Green and Keeping Bills Down

vertical blinds light filtering

The term “window treatment” may sound a little scientific – and certainly not something that you’d associate with textiles which were once solely regarded as decoration. However, we now live in a society where staying green is on the tip of everyone’s tongue and as such, making wise window treatment decisions are crucial.

If you haven’t deciphered the term just yet, we’re basically referring to blinds and drapes. Most of us usually decide on a product based upon aesthetics, but if you can follow certain tips with your blinds and curtains you can cut your heating, and possibly cooling, costs considerably. We’ll now take a look at just how you can achieve this.

reflective blinds

Consider reflective blinds
One of the recent advancements within the blinds industry is reflective products. These have been devised especially to combat the effects of energy loss and experts believe that they can do this to a mammoth 45%. They can block sunlight from entering, whilst “insulating” a room when winter arrives.

As such, if you haven’t yet purchased your window treatment, this could be something worth considering.

Always hang curtains as close to the window as possible
This is one of the more simple tips we will cover and it solely revolves around the position in which you install your curtains. Allowing them to hang as close to the window as possible will save considerable amounts of energy, simply because you are minimizing the heat exchange potential. If you can also make them overhang so they are touching the windowsill, you will again be able to stop as much heat escaping from the room when the temperature drops.

vertical blinds

Use the blinds’ flexibility to your advantage
One of the reasons why blinds have become more popular over the last few years is there versatility. It doesn’t matter whether you opt for a modern, motorized solution, or standard vertical blinds, they still offer more flexibility than curtains.

Therefore, it’s at this point that you should be using this to your advantage. Alter the position of the slats and create a balance between allowing sufficient sunlight and heat into the room, in accordance with the temperature at the time.

Keeping your curtains closed can be fashionable
We’re by no means suggesting that you should live permanently in the dark, but there can be occasions when keeping your curtains closed can prove to be a godsend from an energy perspective.

During the hot months, it should go without saying that keeping your curtains closed is going to block a lot of heat coming in. In fact, if we look at this from a statistical viewpoint, it’s understood that you can minimize this heat by 33%.

Alternatively, during the cold months, the opposite can occur. By drawing the curtains at this period of the year you can stop heat escaping, with experts suggesting that this can prevent heat loss up to 10%. Both margins are significant, over the course of a year at least, and can make a great impact to your energy bills.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to make a house a home this winter

The weather outside is frightful and these cold, dark nights are drawing in, so it’s the perfect time to make sure your house is at its coziest. Transform your home into a warm retreat so you can nest through winter in style. Here are some simple steps to make your house a warm and inviting home this winter:

  • Soft touches
  • Rugs, quilts, blankets, cushions, throws – whatever soft touches you have put away over summer, now is the time to retrieve them. A night in front of the fire isn’t complete without something to snuggle up with. Tartan patterns are on trend and mono prints are back this season. Play around with different textures, winter allows for velvets, cashmere, faux fur and wool – things that you might not get away with during the summer.

    christmas floral arrangement

  • Floral
  • Plants, flowers and trees may be bare and frosty outside but this doesn’t mean you can’t fill your home with them instead. Winter flowers evoke warmth and make any room look inviting. When it comes to Christmas decor avoid tacky and dated tinsel and baubles, instead replace them with flower arrangements. Pearly whites, flaming reds and glowing oranges will make any home look Christmassy and classy. has a great selection of Christmas flower arrangements, wreaths and plants. Including a number of table arrangements can take away the attention from even the biggest Christmas turkey.

    christmas flowers

  • Candles
  • The power of scent is underestimated and plays a major part in creating a cozy atmosphere. If you haven’t got the smell of comfort food coming from the kitchen, light a woody candle for the ultimate winter ambiance.

  • Lighting
  • Not only do candles smell good, they also provide great lighting. Lighting is key at any time of year but is also a great way to change your home from summer to winter. Winter is a dark time of year so rather than turning on all the lights and in turn raising your electricity bill, embrace the darkness and light some candles, light a fire, even the glow from a TV can deliver all the brightness you need. As a final touch, you could also bring in all the fire logs from outside and stack them up in a pyramid by the fireplace.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

DIY Easy Centerpieces for Thanksgiving

Now that you’ve figured out your menu, are you trying to decide what to use as a centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table? You can always take some simple on-hand items to make a statement piece sure to turn heads.

Showcased on Better Homes and Gardens, I thought I’d pass along a few fun ideas that caught my eye … they look easy to duplicate or maybe you’ll be so inspired …

diy Centerpiece 1

  • (above) Have an old globe around the house or see one in a garage sale, swap meet, or thrift shop? You can cut it in half and use it as a bowl on a pedestal. Fill it with some seasonal items like pine cones, small pumpkins, acorns, berries, twigs or fall leaves. No need for fussiness, just mix all your items together, put them in the bowl and display. Double-duty: you can also use the other half to hold fall-scented potpourri. Don’t forget you’ll need to rest it upon a pedestal.

diy bird seed centerpiece

  • (above) For the birds … You can use some narrow glass cylinder vases, and fill them with wild flower seed or bird seed. Insert some sturdy branches to make yourself a tree-like arrangement that you can leave as is or hang small pumpkins from, taking advantage of the post Halloween pumpkin sales. Glass is always a green and sustainable product that can be reused and recycled. Feed those fine feathered friends when you’re done. And if you opted for wild flower seeds just spread them all over your flower bed to enjoy colorful blooms come spring time.

statement centerpiece

  • (above) Let’s say you literally want to make a statement, and you want something a little more handmade. You can reuse glass bottles to create a fun and personalized centerpiece. Just (more…)
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

salvaged charm: elegant dining table in reclaimed wood

reclaimed wood New Orleans dining table

One-of-a-kind, and evocative of classic New Orleans style, this dining room table strikes the perfect balance between old world elegance and modern aesthetics. Rescued from the remains of Hurricane Katrina, the table top once served as the outside of an olde home in the St. Roch neighborhood of New Orleans.

reclaimed wood New Orleans table

reclaimed wood New Orleans table

Standing on stunning wrought iron which once graced the balcony railings of an 1860s Greek Revival style home in the Garden District, these newly fashioned legs hold up very nicely indeed. Upcycling what easily could have been discarded material, these textural elements speak volumes, victims of Katrina no more. Doorman Designs; (1,500)

related: more eco home decor on alternative consumer

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Ideas to Renovate Your Backyard

wicker furniture

Believe it or not, winter is the best time to buy furniture and gardening supplies in preparation for spring and summer time. Prices are low, and you can buy in bulk and store your supplies until it’s time to work. That also gives you plenty of time to go through your plans to renovate the space. Outdoor wicker patio furniture will bring a modern look to your yard, but you can add other DIY projects yourself to spruce things up.

Furniture Sets
Every back yard needs a well-designed space to relax. Patio furniture comes in many varieties, but some are more resilient than others. Without a doubt, metal is the cheapest of materials to purchase but it also rusts and needs replacing on a fairly regular basis. Wicker patio chairs are the best materials you can use. The frames are light and rust proof, and the colors rarely fade.

Build a Sunroom
Another idea is to construct a sunroom around your home. Most people have a concrete slab in their backyard. You need to build a frame, and you’ll need some full-body windows to let the sun in, but a sunroom can be an excellent space to relax at the end of your busy week. You should keep in mind that a sunroom needs ventilation, so install a ceiling fan or sliding glass window to help mitigate some of the heat that will build up.

Outside, you can construct a fire pit for yourself out of free-standing bricks, in colors of your choosing. Most of these are weekend projects too, perfect for the working professional with a DIY sensibility.

Bio: Wicker Paradise is the Web’s one-stop shop for outdoor wicker furniture, including sectionals and the new Savannah line available now.

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