Eco Chic Walls

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When redecorating walls, going green might not be what one thinks of when considering a style or design scheme. Yet many companies are offering sleek and stylish ways to decorate that are distinctly ecofriendly.

There are numerous ecofriendly wallpapers and wall decorations, as well as paints and plasters, that are natural, good for you, recyclable, and/or used from reclaimed sources. Decorating doesn’t have to be another hazard to your health and the environment; it can be a project that is as green as it is beautiful.

Wallcoverings and natural wall decorations like grass cloth are current popular decorating options for wall upgrades, says Frank Cohen, president of Sun Wallpaper and Paint in Poughkeepsie. He says they are becoming popular again for two reasons: “One is the faux finishing movement is starting to wind down and that look has become a bit stagnant,” he says. “Secondly, the higher end wallpapers from England such as Farrow & Ball and Sanderson can add elegance and design to any home and really make a design statement.”

Kate Dayton, owner of Green Courage in New Paltz, says that grass cloth is popular because it provides visual interest. “It just gives a beautiful texture to a wall,” she says.

Honeysuckle vines are another natural product being used by interior decorators like Tim Button of Stedila Design. One thing Button advises to consider when designing with ecofriendly products like honeysuckle vines is durability. “If you have to replace it every year I don’t care how organic it is,” he says. “It’s a problem.”

Two wallpaper lines he uses that are “tough” are Innovations and Carnegie. He has even used Carnegie’s products in wet areas, such as bathrooms, because they are antimicrobial and because they “hold up really well,” he says.

Innovations’ “Innvironment” line includes cork and grass cloth coverings in various shades, patterned paper made from non-woven pulp, or a tiled look made from recycled paper. Some of Innovations’ products are also cradle-to-cradle certified.

Carnegie’s sustainable wallpaper line, which runs $18 top $36 per yard, is made of water-based inks and coatings that replace the hassle and smell of vinyl and adhesives.

Another staple to wall design is the transformative standard—paint. Brands like Mythic and Aura by Benjamin Moore are no-VOC (volatile organic compounds, which are harmful to health) paints that make indoor projects bearable.

“You can paint in the middle of winter and not worry that you’re harming anyone or yourself while it’s being done,” says Dayton.

Cohen of Sun Wallpaper and Paint says his store carries three lines of zero-VOC/low odor paint: Elements by California Products, Lifemaster by Akzo-Nobel, and Eco by Farrow & Ball.

From the earth to the interior, American Clay is a natural plaster from the ground that can transform a room with a Venetian stucco look. Faux stucco finishes create a look that clients have been seeking out for the past 10 years, says Carolyn Tierney of Ferrium Design Studio, ASID. Beyond its physical appeal, American Clay offers additional benefits. It is a mold inhibitor, odor absorbent, and has heat control properties that make a room cooler and warmer when necessary. “Part of being ecofriendly is creating a good air environment for our products within the home,” Tierney says. Plaster runs at about $55 to $115 per 50-pound bag and mixing pigments cost between $14 and $33.

If you’re looking for textured walls, Omnova Solutions Inc. has introduced Avant and Scion lines made through Recore and Ecore, two ecofriendly methods used to create wallcoverings. The company’s commercial wallcoverings are printed with water-based inks, are cadmium and mercury free, and do not contain or degrade to PFOAs (another potentially harmful chemical, Perfluorooctanoic Acid). They’re also made from recycled goods and are recyclable after use.

Avant and Scion offer modern and classic designs. Avant’s “Popcircles” displays circles in purples, blues, and earth tones. Scion’s “Rocco” offers a subtle geometric pattern in cool natural shades. They also have more subtle and natural looks in earthy tans, reds, grays and browns.

Reclaimed and innovative, Coco by Kirei is another alternative, a decorative tiling or paneling made out of reclaimed coconut shells. The woven basket-like tiles are available in light, dark, or mixed shades (hues of tan and brown) and can be displayed vertically or horizontally on the walls to give a beachy, organic feel.

Cheryl Terrace, interior designer and principal of Vital Design LTD, sees greening your interior as a cohesive part of being mindful about the environment and the source from which the goods come. She says one great way to make a bold statement with your wall is with a neutral background and a statement art piece by a local artist. “You can just paint your walls with Benjamin Moore Aura—a beautiful, beautiful background and then enhance that with the visuals and the creative energy of supporting local artists,” Terrace says.

Whether you’re looking to use local artwork, the decorated look of printed wallpapers, natural plaster, or classic paint, decorating your interiors and being ecofriendly can be easy, accessible, and above all, stylish.

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