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Decorating for a green environment

Natural or natural-feeling materials used in the home can create a reassuring, calming, secure sense of rightness.

To feel at one with nature in the home, use natural grains, natural colors, blended tones and a punch or two of color and print. Texture, soothing tones, and high-quality products stand the test of time.

We’re seeing more recycled and quickly regenerating hardwoods being used for flooring, furniture, kitchen cabinets, woven bamboo shades and drapery hardware.



Many fabrics free of carcinogenic and allergenic dyes are available now for draperies and re-upholstery projects. In addition to being friendly to the skin, they add “R-value” to the windows.

The “R” represents resistance to energy loss. R-value measures a product’s ability to keep heat in and cold out and vice-versa.




The higher the R-value, the greater the insulation value.

An R-value of 4.00 will prevent up to 75 percent heat loss through the window. Honeycomb shades with R-values ranging from 3.45 to 7.73, offer tremendous energy efficiency with distinctive fashion. These shades will pay for themselves with reduced utility bills and are highly unlikely to wear out.

Custom, lined draperies will generally last 25 to 30 years and add energy efficiency. A beautiful pattern pulls together colors and design, accomplishing two goals with one product.

Sheer draperies will add 90-percent UV protection and still allow a view, while adding even more R-value.

Split bamboo shades date back to China in 4000 B.C. and add great texture to the room. Other products with natural appearances include bamboo blinds, grasscloth wall finishings, cork flooring, and flooring made from bamboo and recycles wood.

Colors of the earth

Earthy tones are easy to live with. When choosing your colors, remember that complimentary colors promote harmony and balance.

Chocolate browns with lighter tints such as deep beige, mocha, tan and desert-toned hues are soft, warm and are great for the color-shy. They pair well with bright or deep-colored accents.

For instance, pair milk-chocolate brown with moss green and brick red accents.

Blue fits into an earth-tone color scheme as blue-based greens and slate-like grays, which are growing in popularity. Green appears in hues of moss, sage and pine.

Reds are best used as accent colors. In an earthy design, using a soft brick-red paint on one feature wall. Pair that brick-red with a gold-tan pair of stationary draperies, in an earthy pattern with touches of moss, sage green and brick-red, flanking the sides of the windows. This promotes drama and warmth in the room without an over-done look.

Continue this look in another room with gold-tan walls and brick-red, patterned-fabric window treatments with touches of gold, tan and greens. Blending and balancing colors from room to room, especially in the main living areas, extends the overall sense of harmony.

Earth-friendly furniture

When it comes to buying a sofa or chair, a smart decorator knows that buying better-quality furniture once and recovering them when needed with earth-friendly fabrics is a more sustainable path than buying three or more sets of less-expensive pieces over the years.

Long-lasting leather is a good choice for furniture, it suits our local environment perfectly and is offered in virtually every style.

A Shade Above Interiors, by Sandi and Paul Bernstein, was voted Best Interior Designer by The Union readers from 2002 through 2007. Contact them at 272-6161.


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