Expert Decorating Advice From a Green Interior Designer

By Lindsey M. Roberts, Houzz 

When Emily Prugar of M House Designs in Virginia turns her eye to a new client and project, she doesn't go out and start buying furniture and fabric first thing. She instead envisions her designs through the strategies of upcycling, re-covering and buying green — while never sacrificing style. 

The results are beautiful rooms that don't off-gas VOCs, cost exorbitant dollars for design or waste a lot of materials. Prugar agreed to share some of her secrets behind these spaces so that we can beautify (and go green in) our own homes. Our favorite: window treatments. They bring fashion to a room while keeping cold air out. See more of Prugar's tips and strategies below. 

Green Designer 1
M House Designs, original photo on Houzz 

1. Ask tough questions about what you buy and bring home.

Prugar says, "I ask myself, 'Do I know what is in this product? How far did it have to travel to get to our home? Is this product designed to be safely re-covered and reused, or to return to nature? Am I using renewable energy? How clean is the water coming out of the factory, and how much paper or resources do they use? Is the product made in a socially fair way? Is this product safe for my kids?'" 

2. Check out Lee Industries for green furniture.

Lee Industries is Prugar's favorite manufacturer. According to her, it has a huge selection of furniture, provides a great product for a reasonable price and is one of the most environmentally friendly companies around. As early as 1980, it removed chlorofluorocarbon gases from its manufacturing processes. Its standard cushions are soy based. It uses water-based finishes, recycled-fiber filling in the pillows and FSC- and SFI-certified wood frames. Also, its products are made here in the U.S. 

"You can even get organic fabrics," she says. "And for every Natural Lee piece that is sold, they plant a tree. Even their springs are 80 percent recycled metal."