DIY

Q & A: Getting Started with a Green Remodel

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Floor & Decor Outlets of America
Genevieve Gorder, celebrity designer, shares tips on do-it-yourself green remodeling.

Mother Earth Living recently spoke with Genevieve Gorder,
celebrity designer from television’s
Trading Spaces,
TownHaul. Genevieve grew up remodeling homes with her family and
has been preserving homes and using salvaged materials ever since.
Her fun-loving approach to interior design and working barefoot are
her trademarks.
Floor & DecorOutlets of America, specializing in hard flooring products,
recently chose Genevieve as spokesperson as the company expands
nationwide. Here’s what she had to say about do-it-yourself green
remodeling.

What is it about DIY that makes it fun and
rewarding?

I think that it can feel like a laborious process, but the
reward is that you have an environment that is designed by you for
you. That’s precious. That is absolutely what it should be. Your
personality should be tangible in a space and only you can do that.
Once you’re educated and become knowledgeable enough, it’s baby
steps. It’s going to stores like Floor & D?cor and other stores
that partner with you that make the process less daunting. And I
always recommend scouting out what you want to do online before you
go anywhere?so you know your stuff. Be smart about it. Then you can
have fun.

What would you say to people who don’t think they
have the right skills or personality for DIY
projects?

All of that is really based around fear: the fear of the unknown
and making the wrong decision with materials and design products.
People often think of all these things as having so much permanence
that they’re stuck if they make the wrong decision. The Internet
makes it a lot easier to find products. You can check out different
prices or what not. I think that the Internet is the greatest DIY
tool there is.

What are the best first steps for a DIYer or home
owner to take if they’d like to ‘go green’?

Don’t be scared. All of these products have been around for
centuries if you look at some of the really classic things. The
natural products?wood, stone, even tiling?never go out of style. Go
for things that aren’t trendy, but are classic and will stand the
test of time. It will save the environment a lot of mess and you’ll
save yourself a lot of work and a lot of money.

Where would you encourage home owners to ‘splurge’
when building green?

The first thing and probably most important, just in the quality
of your life, would be the windows; energy efficiency is something
you may have to splurge on initially, but will end up saving you
money in the end. I would start there, but I would encourage urban
beasts as well as country peeps to really look into solar options
because they’re getting more affordable.

What is your favorite green building material or
technique? Why?

Materials that are made locally. Reclaimed wood is a great
source to use on the outside or the inside of your house. It has
such soul.

Also, I can’t say enough about bamboo. It’s a material that’s
been around for centuries and used in other parts of the world very
regularly from scaffolding to flooring to exteriors of homes. It’s
just now gaining more popularity in America and it’s one of the
densest and strongest woods you can buy. And you can get, in some
states, a tax incentive when you use it in your home or business,
because it’s a green product.

What’s green about your home?

My primary residence is about 200 years old, so it’s been used a
lot. We just did some major, major renovations. We got all of our
doors, our hardware and a lot of our stone from architectural
salvage yards. It’s very eclectic and very much us, but it has the
substantial qualities of that time: thicker doors that aren’t
hollow vinyl and doorknobs that are wrought iron and have been
antiqued by 120 years of little hands in the New York public
schools.

Which project has been the most challenging/the most
rewarding?

We have a really old farmhouse in the Catskills of New York, and
we bought it with land that we wanted to save from subdivisions and
keep really open. We’re building a new house on the property as
well because the farmhouse was in such bad shape. It was almost
beyond our pocket book to salvage. Instead of making it bigger and
more grandiose with more materials, we’re making it a lot smaller,
using a lot of recycled goods, and working with Floor and D?cor and
using a lot of their products.

What’s your next big project?

I just switched networks and I will be appearing in my own show
on HGTV next year. I’m going to
have a new design show. It will explain a lot of the design logic
and science behind what we do. It’s important to explain to people
the meat of design?it takes a lot of that fear out of being your
own personal designer or DIY/construction person. That’s my goal:
to really eliminate that fear so we can all graduate to the next
level and start getting more creative.

What’s up with working without
shoes?

It’s nothing to do with any movement at all. My feet aren’t even
cute; I played soccer for way too many years. The only reason I
don’t wear shoes is that I didn’t want to wreak my shoes with all
of the materials that I’m using: paint, varnish, poly, all of that
stuff. I really like my shoes?I live in New York. That’s the way we
are. I do buy nice shoes, and I would like to keep them for a
while. And I’m very comfortable barefoot.

Why do you find DIY fun and rewarding? Share your
thoughts in the comments section below.