Healthy, Green Design: Decorating With White

Reader Contribution by Stephanie Nickolson
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Stephanie Nickolson has designed residential, commercial and eco-conscious environments for more than 24 years. Her firm, Stephanie Nickolson Design, promotes the use of sustainable, non-toxic, recyclable and environmentally-friendly products and services. The firm works largely with clients who have allergies, chemical sensitivies or who have children with special needs.

As I look out my window and all that’s visible is white, white and more white, I feel it appropriate to dedicate this blog to the Midwest’s wintertime and the color white. Let me preface this by saying that I do not have a white interior and I’d like to issue this WARNING to readers: Do not attempt to decorate your interior in all white, or maybe even partially white, if you have children, pets or a not-so-neat-spouse or other permanent home dweller. White is beautiful to look at, but not always so practical. In some cases though, you can brave the white urge and go for it.

When painting walls and trim, the dilemma becomes, which shade of white? With such choices as Sherwin Williams’ “Snowbound” and “Moderate White” or Benjamin Moore’s “Decorator’s White” and “China White,” it’s no wonder the redecorator may question her selection. The good news is that  paint companies such as Sherwin Williams have apps that can help you forsee your interior color future. The one offered by Sherwin Williams, Room Visualizer, works where you snap a photo of your room and enter a color selection. You can then preview what the room will look like enhanced in that color. Other paint companies such as Benjamin Moore offer similar apps. This company’s version is called Color Capture. It’s cost efficient to use these apps, as color mistakes can be avoided.

Flokati rugs are very soft and cozy. Photo Courtesy
Shown in the photo above is a white flokati rug, a favorite to many. Originally from Greece, these soft comfy rugs are so inviting and have become so popular that some synthetics that are not so eco-friendly have entered the marketplace. A greener choice is to go with the ones made of 100 percent wool. One company that offers these in wool is Flokati

A variety of sizes are available, and they’ll also fabricate a custom size if you need it. By placing a flokati rug in the center an area, with furniture around and on it, you can avoid the problem of people (and animals) walking right across it. Wool has a natural characteristic of being cleanable, so no “stain-somethings” are applied to it. I do not recommend wool products for dog owners, however, as pet stains are almost impossible to rid from this fiber.

Beautiful and ethereal, this wallcovering is made using real mother of pearl. Photo By Frederick Charles.

A gorgeous look for the wall is Chicago’s own Maya Romanoff’s you-can’t-get-any-eco-than-this-wallcovering, “Mother Of Pearl”. The product is water-based, heavy metal-free, formaldehyde-free and non-woven paper-backed. I always recommend using a low-VOC adhesive to hang it on the wall. I love this product; it has such an ethereal look to it and looks stunning in a bedroom, as shown, dining room or powder room.

For the bedroom, take a look at these eco-friendly bedding products by Magnolia Lane, a soft good fabricator located in the San Francisco Bay area. This company fabricates custom draperies, shades, pillows, bedcovers, slipcovers, table covers and cushions.

Magnolia Lane makes soft home furnishings. Photo Courtesy Magnolia Lane.

The founder, Kathleen Redmond, introduced her “Eco-Naturals Collection” line in 2007 with the environmentally conscious in mind. You can view them at Magnolia Lane’s website

Although white is wonderful, it is nice to accent a room with some color, whether it be with accessories, a piece of artwork or accent pillows. By utilizing this consistent color or colors, rooms can be unified and appear seamless.

Not up to redoing an entire room? Here are some smaller tips for eco, white products that can be simply added to a room just by changing out a detail or two.

• Products made with shells such as capiz shells. There are some very neat capiz shell lamps offered by the company Palecek.  

• For a bathroom or powder room, fill glass jars with cotton balls, white soaps or shells. You can also display a grouping of white candles on a shelf or around a tub that has a ledge. 

• Paint a piece of accent furniture with no-VOC white paint and finish it off with an utrasuede fabric; it’s extremely durable and washable.

• Visit your local flea market to search for treasures that you don’t paint that are already white. Some antiques are great finds and blend into most interiors. Make it an all “Shabby Chic” with distressed white furniture and 100 percent cotton fabrics or give a room an eclectic feeling by throwing in some antique pieces along with some very contemporary selections.

• Put some live green moss or plants inside white containers; a vase, a bowl, etc. The green with white looks fresh and will suggest spring!

Editor’s Note: Natural Home does not recommend, approve or endorse the products/services offered by companies guest bloggers review online. You should use your own judgment and evaluate products and services carefully before deciding to purchase.

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