Eco-Friendly Bedroom Planning and Design

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You may think there is no way to green up the bedrooms in your house, but a lot can be done to make them healthier and more energy efficient. From furniture to finishes, you can sleep well knowing your bedrooms are the best they can be for your family and the planet.

Bedroom layouts, great design, and energy efficiency

Let’s start with the actual structure of the room. If you can add insulation to the ceiling, do. Not only will it keep heat in during the winter and out during the summer, it absorbs sound and gives the room a cozy feeling. Insulating the walls is helpful, too, but it’s a bit more work, unless you are tearing down walls in your remodel.

Add a window or two for natural daylight instead of turning on electric lights. A sunny window will help heat the space during the day, and in summer windows provides ventilation, cutting down on cooling costs. Drapes can act as insulation to keep air movement to a minimum and reduce heating and cooling costs. If you have neighbors or unpleasant views, consider a skylight or tube lighting instead.

Paint and flooring in your green bedroom

Ok, now that the actual room is planned, let’s cover it! Since you spend so much time in the bedroom, it’s good air quality is important. Paints, carpet and bedding are made of toxic materials that off-gas. Some are even known carcinogens! Choose non-toxic materials for best health.

Low- or zero-VOC paints come in just as many colors as the toxic stuff. When you shop for paint, be sure you are getting what you want. I recently went to Ace Hardware. Their non-toxic paint section was a zero-VOC base, but the color additives were traditional paint! I walked out empty-handed, needless to say. Ask a lot of questions. I talk more about paints here and have listed the best ones.

I don’t care for carpet, since one of my daughters and I have allergies. My floors are bare oak and Saltillo tile. They are easy to maintain by washing with warm water. I touch up the finish on the wood once a year or so. Best of all, I can see how clean it is! You can’t say that about carpet. Bamboo and cork are durable and healthy flooring choices, too.

Throw rugs can cushion your feet on a hardwood floor and are easy to wash. If you want carpet, the best option is wool with a natural fiber backing. Steer clear of oil-based products, such as nylon, which is what most carpeting is made of. The glue in traditional carpeting will off-gas, too, reducing air quality.

Choosing a healthier and earth-friendly mattress, bedding, furniture

Believe it or not, that place where you lay your head for eight hours a day is full of toxins. Mattresses contain polyurethane and chemical fire retardants, which off-gas while you have sweet dreams. The healthiest options are wool, cotton or latex, and you don’t have to sacrifice comfort. They are more easily found today than ever, and there is even a non-toxic version of the popular memory foam. Ask your bedding retailer about these products.

Once you have a healthy mattress, you need to cover it in healthy bedding! Cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the US. It is also a big water user. Organic cotton eliminates the pesticide residue, but it still uses a lot of water, so it’s not always the best option for the planet. Organic bamboo is a better option. I have a set of bamboo sheets, and they are softer than flannel! ‘Silky’ is a good word to describe them.

A wool comforter is environmentally friendly and better for your health than polyester. Mattress pads come in wool, organic cotton, and bamboo, too.

Upcyled or recycled furniture in your bedroom is preferable to buying new, which can off-gas from the glue and finishes. Second-hand items also have a lower embodied energy while creating a unique space.

A bedroom is a place for privacy and relaxation, and making it unique and healthy adds to the joy of this sanctuary!

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.