Green Interiors

Turning a house into a home
by Pamela Portwood

Sometimes when you walk through the front door, you step into a house, and sometimes you step into a home. What transforms a house into a welcoming place often seems intangible. Somehow the space has become something greater than a mix of furniture, paint and accessories.

I think that being able to transform a house into a home - the owner's home - is at the heart of being a good interior designer. However, there are a few techniques that can help people who are not designers to create that sense of home.

An interior design should start with a good floor plan since size and scale influence the feeling of the space. Then, a furniture floor plan will establish how much furniture needs to go where. Functional needs must be addressed, but packing the space with furniture and accessories will create a completely different sense than designing a sparsely furnished space.

Setting a color palette contributes so much to the feeling of the rooms. A color palette is not just a selection of paint or upholstery colors. The palette is a spread of complementary colors that form the basis for product selections. Even if the palette is neutral with only beiges and browns, one saturated color like a chocolate brown will warm up a room.

For a green design, using a clay plaster where the pigment is actually in the plaster creates a wonderful texture and depth of color that can make even light colors feel warmer.

For flooring in your living areas, go natural. Wood or stone tile come immediately to mind, but cork often has the feel of wood, and linoleum is just fun. A rug, whether it's a traditional Oriental or a simple modern style, will create a welcoming space with its color, texture and pattern.

To design a living room that feels comfortable, it just makes sense to choose comfortable furniture for the main furniture group. That doesn't mean using overstuffed recliners - definitely not. In fact, using accent chairs and pieces that are not that comfortable is fine.

I don't think there is any simple answer to window coverings. My one piece of advice is: Don't use metal blinds. Drapes, shades, wood blinds and shutters can work in the right space, but metal blinds will always be cold. Besides there are now green options in every other type of window covering.

Using accessories that you love or that are meaningful to you makes all the difference in personalizing your home, whatever its style is. Artwork on the walls is essential, but don't clutter your public rooms with a lot of small family photos. Colored pillows on the sofa can add those splashes of color that liven up a space.

These design ideas are not comprehensive, and they won't all work for every house because everyone has different priorities. Some people want a cool, clean look or a formal, period look that doesn't fit these parameters. I do believe though that using even one or two of these elements would help any design.

However our homes may appear to others, ultimately what matters is that when we open that front door and walk into the living room, we feel that we have come home.

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Article is reprinted courtesy of The New Southwest (formerly Tucson Green Times).


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