Green Remodeling Projects With Major Aesthetic Appeal
These green home renovations have big design potential!
The following is a guest post by Erin Vaughan with Modernize.com
Let’s face it: some remodeling projects are a lot more fun than others. Rearranging the living room? Count me in! But blowing in insulation in the attic? Meh, I’ll pass. And unfortunately, the home projects that have the most environmental impact usually don’t exactly let you bust out the Pinterest boards and interior design magazines. There’s nothing exciting about air sealing, after all.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any green renovations with big design potential. Upcycled and reclaimed goods especially can add a certain editorial panache to your home—while diverting cast-off materials destined for landfills. Or you can go for a new lighting feature, landscaping design, or window treatment that will help you reduce your water and electricity use. Take a look at these five remodeling projects that are all super eco-friendly and pretty easy on the eyes, too!
Redo the Kitchen Countertops in Terrazzo
Every week, US residents throw away enough glass bottles and jars to fill a 1,350 square foot building. Terrazzo, a countertop material made from crushed glass suspended in concrete, helps give some of that glass a purpose—and it has a unique, glittery look, as well. The majority of terrazzo countertops come from post-consumer products, like wine bottles or car windshields. For an extra modern edge in your kitchen, go for sharp, clean lines and install a tiled backsplash in an unexpected pattern behind it for extra oomph.
Install a Solar Tube in Place of Recessed Can Lights in the Hallway
As experts have begun to study the effect that light has on our productivity, alertness, and overall well-being, they’ve noticed that interior lighting that more closely matches the intensity and hue of natural daylight consistently demonstrates the best responses from study participants. A solar tube is what it sounds like—a small, rounded tube cut into the ceiling that reflects natural light from the outdoors into your home’s interiors. Use them in place of recessed lights in a sunroom, hallway, or powder room, and enjoy the positive affect they have on your circadian rhythm—and the electric light they offset, as well!
Repaint Your Furniture with Homemade Milk Paint
Milk paint is exactly what it sounds like—an ancient surface covering mixed from lemon juice, color pigment, and of course, milk. Painted on furniture, it gives pieces an edgy, distressed feel. And it doesn’t contain harmful fumes, like VOCs, that can affect the air quality throughout your home. You can buy milk paint ready-made, or make it yourself using this recipe. Try it on an aging bureau, dresser, or on a side table that could use a lift—and pat yourself on the back for not adding to our landfill footprint!
Install a Solar Shade to Ward Off the Heat
If you live in a warm climate, you may already be aware of how excess solar radiation can affect your cooling bills. The sun raises the interior temperature of your home, meaning your AC has to work harder to keep things cool. And if you have old or outdated windows, the environmental toll may be even greater. While eco-friendly frames and glazings do exist, if you aren’t ready to spring for new windows for your whole home, you can at least protect your HVAC and furniture from solar heat by installing a solar shade over your most sun-prone areas. These green window treatments use specialized materials to block excess light and heat from entering your home. And they come in a variety of styles and colors as well!
Replant a Patch of Lawn with Native Grasses
Here’s one just for you, green thumbs! Every year, thirsty lawns pull billions upon billions of gallons off the water table. In fact, the EPA estimates that lawn irrigation accounts for 30 percent of residential water use—or 9 billion gallons per day. That’s a shocking statistic, and it means that our outdoor spaces could really use some help when it comes to cutting back on the sprinklers. Ornamental native grasses add an eclectic verve to your landscape design—and go well with other water efficient features, like hardscaping or manmade dry creek beds. What’s native will differ according to your area, of course, but reedgrass, oatgrass, and maiden grass are all popular choices—and grow without too much encouragement in many climates. They make the perfect accent next to a line of bushes or along pathways. After all, why shouldn’t green look good?
About the Writer
Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner. She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.