Green Interiors

Local designers work on Habitat homes
by Pamela Portwood

When people hear "interior design," they often think of expensive homes and high-ticket items, but interior designers do much more than luxury homes. Interior designers design just about everything that has an interior space from hospitals to prisons and auto showrooms to ships.

This spring I'm happy to be working on a project that challenges local interior designers to work with limited resources to do something important for the Tucson community. "ASID Interiors for Habitat" is all about designing safe, decent, affordable homes for low-income Tucsonans.

ASID Interiors for Habitat is a project of the American Society of Interior Designers Arizona South Chapter and Habitat for Humanity Tucson. Sixteen local ASID designers and 15 interior design students are doing the interior design for four Habitat houses currently under construction.

Habitat is a wonderful organization that is working to end poverty housing worldwide - one house at a time. Since 1980, Habitat has built 300 homes for Tucson families in need. Volunteers who learn construction methods on site build all of the houses.

New homeowners receive no-interest loans. They have to provide a small down payment as well as "sweat equity" by working at Habitat's construction sites or offices.

Habitat broke ground for their current project in the Corazon Del Pueblo neighborhood on Sept. 11 last year. The ribbon cutting to open those four houses will be on June 4, and there's a lot to be done before then.

The houses already have their stained concrete floors installed, and the drywall is going up as I write. The concrete floors are one of Habitat's new green features. All of their homes use many construction methods to improve insulation, and they include energy-efficient windows, low-flow toilets and showerheads as well as drought tolerant landscaping.

Every year Habitat builds a house with an all women construction crew. With solar power, a solar hot-water heater and a graywater stub out for the washing machine, this year's "Women Build" house will be Habitat's greenest Tucson house ever. Habitat is working toward certifications from the City of Tucson Residential Green Building Rating System and from LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for the Women Build house.

I'm excited to be ASID's team captain for the Women Built house's interior design. This is definitely "Design on a Dime" time. My team is busy finishing up the furniture floor plans, and we're looking for furniture and accessories. (Think Hannah Montana and pony theme bedrooms - among other things.)

All of the ASID teams need donations of furniture and home furnishings to make this project work, so if you have some things to spare, please donate them to ASID Interiors for Habitat. We need just about everything from sheets to sofas for four houses.

Part of what I love about Habitat for Humanity is that they have a lofty vision - to end poverty housing - but they do it in a very down-to-earth and personal way. I'm glad to be doing my small part in helping one family to lead a better, healthier life in a green home. After all, the core mission for ASID designers is to design safe interiors and to use the power of design to positively change people's lives.

To see photos of the completed home design, visit the Greener Lives Facebook page. You do not need a Facebook account.

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


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