“Everybody’s eco all of a sudden,” as Cheryl Terrace puts it, quite excited at the thought that so many people are “jumping on the band wagon” in choosing to create greener homes, something she’s been in the business of since 1997. “‘Green’ is a very complex term,” says the founder of Vital Design Ltd. She explains that what some may call green interior design can also be known as mindful, thoughtful, authentic, integrity-driven, or environmentally responsible. But essentially, as many designers would agree, the degree to which a client chooses to be ecofriendly is up to them, and Terrace says, “Like any good designer, you’re working with a client’s lifestyle choices.”
If you happen to be, like Terrace, a self-proclaimed environmentalist, green and environmentally-sound practices may be a way of life. If not, architect and interior designer Carol J.W. Kurth says one big push when going green is allergies. “Indoor air quality is a pretty major thing,” she explains. The most common fumes are the ones that are most obvious, she adds, referring to those that are off-gassed from carpeting, paints, and glues.
It’s no wonder that in response to this desire for a healthier living space, Kurth says the most requested green design elements are the low- and no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints. Choosing paints by Mystic or Aura by Benjamin Moore can be the “simplest and best” way to make your home a little more ecofriendly, Kurth says. Other simple green steps include changing your light bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diode (LED) lights, choosing carpeting without backing or padding, or reclaiming antiques. But more significantly, these changes can also provide a better quality of life for the most important part of the home—the residents.
Tim Button, whose daughter suffered from dust allergies as a child, has seen the push toward green in the last 10 years, he says. “It started to become something I focused on from a personal environmental view,” he says. But it is not just his experience as a concerned parent that makes him qualified; Button is a partner of Stedila Design, the interior designers for the Solaire, the Verdesian, and most notably, the Visionaire, Battery Park’s LEED Platinum certified condominium.
“The Visionaire is the most recent and the greenest by far,” Button says of his major developments in Battery Park, which under former Gov. Pataki’s mandate in the late1990s must be built to a higher environmental standard than just code as it is situated on state land, Button adds. In what he calls a “sophisticated design culture,” the Visionaire is still “very competitive” in the New York market with studios starting at $750,000 and penthouses going for a few million. “They had to be beautifully designed,” he says, comparing these condos to something one could find Midtown, “why would I want to do anything else?”
When designing the Solaire, a LEED Gold rental apartment building in early 2000, Button says the market for green products was nowhere near as staggering as the availability there was when designing the Visionaire. Some of his favorite vendors whose products are found in his developments include Plyboo’s bamboo plywood and flooring by Smith and Fong Co.; Bentley Carpets made from recycled yarns; Innovations in Wall Coverings, which feature materials such as honeysuckle vines and straw; Oceanside Glasstile; 3form USA, whose materials are not only recycled but recyclable; Kirei Board made from reclaimed sorghum straw, and Carnegie Fabrics. “All of these materials I would use even if I didn’t care [about the environment],” says Button. “They’re beautiful.”
Many of these products follow cradle-to-cradle, Button says, describing this principle as “sustainable to the end” and leaving little or no residue after its life cycle. Interior designer Terrace says that while some clients are looking for this, others are just looking for something that won’t make their children sick, referring back to the issue of indoor air quality. Green interior design, as she describes, is essentially healthy interior design. In choosing a compatible green interior designer, ideally they should have the resources and information to help their client chose what green products are compatible to their home, to their daily life, and to their budget.
Also one of the most important things to look for in an interior designer, green or not, is certification from the National Council for Interior Design Qualification, says Kurth. Interior designers who graduate with a degree, she says, should have passed their NCIDQ. However, Kurth and other registered architects are not mandated to take the exam which she calls “the defining standard” for the interior design profession.
As far as a special certification for being an environmentally-conscious designer, there is none at the time. Kurth says the responsibility of the designer is to introduce green elements into the practice and educate clients. Adds Terrace, who calls herself the “godmother of green,” “It’s something you either get or don’t get. But the thing now is that there’s a sense of awareness.”
Whether you are working with a brand new development or are looking to revamp your current home, any of the interior designers from New York House’s resource list are a good starting point. Your best green interior designer is one that understands your needs, your style, and your commitment to a green environment.
List of Green interior designers (arranged alphabetically)
Alison Miller Design Alison A. Miller, ASID PO Box 809, Woodstock, NY 12498 (845) 706-3101, email@example.com
American & International Designs, Inc. Susan Huckvale Arann, ASID 1110 South Ave., Ste. 2, Staten Island, NY 10314 (347) 273-1364, firstname.lastname@example.org designamericanyc.com B Moore Design, Inc. Barbara R. Moore, ASID 385 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11217 (718) 369-9494, email@example.com bmooredesign.com Baani Singh, ASID, LEED AP, AIA 25 Petalas Dr., East Greenbush, NY 12061(518) 729-2967, firstname.lastname@example.org John A. Buscarello, ASID 27 W. 20 St., Ste. 1206, New York, NY 10011 (212) 691-5881, email@example.com, buscarello.com D’Aquino Monaco Inc. 214 W. 29 St., New York, NY 10001 (212) 929-9787, firstname.lastname@example.org daquinomonaco.com David Bergman Architect Architecture + Interiors David Bergman, USGBC, LEED AP 241 Eldridge St. #3R, New York, NY 10002 (212) 475-3106, email@example.com, cyberg.com DeBear Designs Inc. Carol DeBear, ASID 6 Circle Rd., Scarsdale, NY 10583 (914) 725-2385, firstname.lastname@example.org debeardesign.com Design Smith Interiors Pam Smith, Owner and Creative Director 7 Knollwood Dr., Rye Brook, NY 10573 (914) 939-9033, email@example.com designsmithinteriors.com Diane Neff, Architect, PLLC Diane Neff, USGBC, LEED AP 43 Concord Ave., Larchmont, NY 10538 (917) 880-9517, firstname.lastname@example.org, dneffarch.com EcoArchitecture DesignWorks, PC Janus Welton, AIA, USGBC PO Box 86, Woodstock, NY 12498 (845) 247-4620, email@example.com janusweltondesignworks.com Hudson River Design Chuck Silver, USGBC 120 Lighthouse Dr., Saugerties, NY 12477 (845) 246-0725, firstname.lastname@example.org, chucksilver.com Interior Design Solution Susan Aiello, ASID, LEED AP, CID 300 E. 74 St., New York, NY 10021 (212) 628-3938, email@example.com interiordesignsolutions.com, idsgreen.com(blog)
Jacqueline Hosford Interior Design LLC Jacqueline Hosford, ASID 3875 Waldo Ave., Apt. 9T, Bronx, NY 10463(347) 482-1700, firstname.lastname@example.org jacquelinehosforddesign.com Lothrop Associates, LLP James D. Lothrop Jr, ASID, AIA, CID Judy Girod, ASID, CID 200 Summit Lake Dr.,Valhalla, NY 10595 (914) 741-1115 ext. 238 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org, lothropassociates.com Nirmada Interior Architecture and Design, LLC Kati Curtis, ASID, LEED AP 205 W. 54 St., Apt. 4G, New York, NY 10019(347) 374-8299 email@example.com nirmada.com, nirmada.com/blog The Office of Carol J.W. Kurth, AIA, PC Carol J.W. Kurth, AIA, LEED AP, USGBC The Arcade Building 644 Old Post Rd., Bedford, NY 10506 (914) 234-2595 firstname.lastname@example.org carolkurtharchitects.com Stedila Design Tim Button, USGBC 135 E. 55 St., 6th Floor, New York, NY 10022 (212) 751-4281 email@example.com stediladesign.com Sunflower Staging Christine Spitale, Owner, Certified Real Estate Stager & Home Stylist 3 Alloway Crest, Highland Mills, NY 10930 (845) 325-5519, firstname.lastname@example.org sunflowerstaging.com Thom Filicia Inc. Thom Filicia 270 Lafayette St., Ste. 10012, New York, NY 10012 (212) 736-6454, email@example.com, thomfilicia.com
Vital Design Ltd. Cheryl Terrace 102 W. 85 St., 2G, New York, NY 10024 (212) 799-1540, firstname.lastname@example.org vitaldesignltd.com