Responsible Renovation

May 25, 2019

Interior designers have a responsibility to clients, the interior design community and the earth. At the Architectural Design Show 2019 in New York City, I had the honor of being featured as Responsible Renovator for Renovation Angel – an incredible group committed to reducing waste from kitchen renovations around the U.S.

Renovation Angel’s mission is threefold: 

1) Minimize Waste: Recycling luxury kitchens, bath fixtures, home furnishings and architectural elements diverts millions of pounds of waste from landfills.

2) Create Jobs: White-glove removal, transportation and resale of kitchens creates numerous construction, logistics and retail jobs.

3) Support Non-Profits: Proceeds earned from selling recycled luxury products creates financial support for innovative and life-changing outreach programs in the areas of addition, youth-at-risk, recovery, job creation and social entrepreneurship.

To put that mission into perspective, since its formation 13 years ago, Renovation Angel has recycled more than 6,500 kitchens, diverted 38 million pounds from landfill, donated $2.3 million to charity and generated $22 million in recycling jobs. You can see why I’m so excited to serve as an ambassador!

As a holistic interior designer, I also believe responsible renovation MUST include an integration of the natural world. I do this in several ways with my clients.

Use Renewable Materials: It goes without saying that using renewable materials is beneficial for the environment. But did you know that building materials harvested from the earth are also extremely durable and cost effective? Granite and cork are two of my favorite renewable materials to work with. Granite is the hardest and most dense natural stone, which helps maintain luster and resist staining. And cork, which is made from the bark of cork trees, is very springy and resistant to damage.

Take a Lead from Mother Nature: Interiors should be designed with humans in mind. It is a biophilic design principle that people feel most comfortable in spaces that follow Mother Nature’s lead. For example, our common desire for hardwood floors is a subconscious human yearning to replicate the “forest floor.” Hence, flooring should be darkest – like a path – mid-range, eye-level colors should be neutral, and the ceiling should be light like the sky.

Furnish Consciously: Furniture made from natural materials like rattan, wicker and hemp connect us with nature and are easy on the environment. Another responsible and eco-friendly idea is to purchase vintage furniture – lending itself to a beautiful, eclectic feel. And, of course, recycling with groups like Renovation Angel whenever possible makes the process simple and rewarding.