Healthy, Green Design: Repurpose Existing Niches in Your Home

| 1/18/2011 10:07:25 AM

Stephanie Nickolson headshotStephanie Nickolson has designed residential, commercial and eco-conscious environments for more than 24 years. Her firm, Stephanie Nickolson Design, promotes the use of sustainable, non-toxic, recyclable and environmentally-friendly products and services. The firm works largely with clients who have allergies, chemical sensitivies or who have children with special needs. 

I believe it’s indicative of the times, and with winter upon us, that many homeowners are opting to stay home, settle in, or nest, having a new project or renovation in mind. This trend can also be known as staycationing, for those who choose to trade a trip somewhere to staying home, to "enjoy all that one’s home has to offer."  Personally, I like to refer to my own home as my retreat or safe haven.

built-in wood benches 
Need a winter project? Create a built-in bench with storage for your home. Photo By sierravalleygirl/Courtesy Flickr. 

After a realtor convinced my husband and I to do away with the idea of building an addition onto our kitchen, we took her valuable advice and pulled up the existing flooring (which included carpet and inexpensive builder-grade laminate) and installed hardwood floors throughout the entire first floor. By doing this, we learned that it could increase the value of our home up to 10 percent. This benefit, and adding to the eco-friendliness of our home, was quite pleasing.

Ideas to repurpose existing areas in your home abound, but first I’ll offer the idea of building a storage bed in a nook of a bedroom, as a childhood friend of mine had in her room. I have fond memories of this concept. I think of how innovative and purposeful her parents were to think of this. She had a bed built in inside a windowed-alcove with storage-enhanced drawers to store clothing. The bed was then topped with a mattress.

Another idea is to build a bench or built-in upholstered seating area. This idea is conducive to a bay window or alcove as it envelopes the people seated there. It creates a coziness and warmth, almost restaurant-like and comforting. Chairs can be used around the other sides of the table.