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Great Green Solutions to 5 Common Design Mistakes

7/28/2011 11:51:22 AM

Tags: 5 common design mistakes, eLocal, eLocal blog-off, no-VOC paint, Olympic paint, Icestone, marble and granite alternatives, build a pond, make a tabletop fountain, recycled glass countertops, Robyn Griggs Lawrence

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailAt the height of our consumer binge (not so long ago), marble and granite seemed to be on every homeowner’s wish list. Ubiquitous in high-end housing, marble and granite require a lot of energy to produce and transport and require constant maintenance. And, according to the designers and contractors who participated in this week’s eLocal Blog-off, they’ve lost their luster. Marble and granite are the top two design mistakes cited in “5 Design Mistakes to Avoid Making in Your Home,” a compilation of this week’s blog-off.

The experts say: Don’t use marble; it chips and stains and isn’t as durable as people think. Granite, which must be imported from far away, often needs to be resealed annually.

May we suggest: Check out Natural Home & Garden’s Resource Guide for environmentally friendly countertops made from recycled, reclaimed or natural materials. My personal favorite is Icestone, a composite made from 100 percent recycled glass.

design mistakes icestone 

Icestone, a composite made from recycled glass, is a much cooler alternative to granite and marble. 

The experts say: Many people are afraid of using color, and they fall into a “safe” dull color palette that can become oppressive. Take a risk with some brights and whites.

May we suggest: Check out the deep, rich no-VOC turquoise hues from Olympic Paint that former Natural Home & Garden associate editor Kim Wallace chose for her living room. Healthy paint comes in every color! If that leaves you confused, check out Rebecca Taksel’s excellent article, “5 Steps to a Perfect Pallette.” 

olympic wheel 

Olympic Paint offers every color in a low-odor, zero-VOC formula. 

turquoise paint 

Former Natural Home & Garden editor Kim Wallace found four turquoise hues that she loves. 

The experts say: Many people disregard their home’s style and period when they decorate. Unless it’s done very carefully, ignoring your home’s style will destroy the original design’s integrity.

May we suggest: At Natural Home & Garden, we’ve always believed that your personal instincts are more important than anything—even designers’ edicts about period, style and appropriate furnishings. Definitely pay attention to your home’s style when you choose furniture and colors, but your home will be most satisfying if you listen to your home and your own instincts. Rebecca Taksel helps you ask your home what it needs in “Natural Home Design: Conversations with Your Home.” 


Get quiet and let your home tell you what kind of decor is appropriate for both of you. 

The experts say: Water features can quickly get out of hand. Pools, waterfalls and jetted tubs are often underused, difficult to maintain and a bad return on investment.

May we suggest: If you really want a water feature, go natural! Build a pond following these directions in Mother Earth News.


Natural ponds are healthier and require less maintenance than swimming pools. Photo by Tim Matson 

Not feeling quite so ambitious? This sweet tabletop fountain is a simple DIY project that anyone can make, and you can change its contents to reflect your mood of the moment, from energetic in the morning to calmer in the evening. Use this fountain as the focal point for a meditation or self-reflection space—a place where you can be alone, calm and be in the moment.

tabletop fountain 

You can change the contents of this tabletop fountain to match your mood. 

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