One Interior Designer’s evolution in becoming green

Can the decoration of a home be as sustainable and healthy as the home?

It didn’t seem that way when I started developing the sustainable side of my practice. Commercial manufactures had started working towards sustainable goals but residential was far behind and few sources existed. In my heart I knew it was possible though.


A little background on me, Carolyn Tierney.

I had been recycling for years as I am part of first generation of modern recycling programs it feels like.

My next move was to begin to use eco-friendly cleaning products (much to my disappointment a lot of the times) Professionally I was spending many hours search out materials I could use that were “green” for my designs. I wanted them to be beautiful but not look industrial or commercial. Everyone thought “green” had a defined look and I was fighting that.

My favorite mantra became:

“I want fabrics that you would want to sit down on, something that doesn’t look recycled from tires or old siding, something that fits in a house that isn’t modern or retro in style.”

Shortly into my new journey in 2005 we welcomed our first child into the world. Now I became a Mom Designer with too much knowledge and an industry that was not quite caught up and a baby’s room to design. Knowledge makes you confident yet can put you in fear of everything! Especially when you start reading about how bad crib mattresses are or that baby bottles have BPA (what is that?). Aagh!

In fairness I blame an industry that didn’t have enough options to satisfy the designer in me, we can be tough!

photo courtesy of DucDuc   -

photo courtesy of DucDuc –

Photo courtesy of DucDuc –

(Someone did satisfy this crazy designer – Thank You to DucDuc I have found and loved my son’s beds!)

Now back to can interiors being healthy….

I took a deep breath and thought. I needed more information about ECOlogical and Sustainable practices. So the reading began. . My friends in the architectural world had solutions first and that intrigued me.

I began to look at certification programs and what education was associated. Like many things in my life I decided not to take the quick way out and just study for a test. My decision was to take a 10 month course with SBAi, the Sustainable Building Advisor Institute and then sit for a lengthy and difficult accreditation exam. While this education mainly focused on building methods and materials I was constantly trying to bring it back to my industry in my mind and practice. This gave me a great base of knowledge and taught me the right way to analyze and review both building and now interior projects.

I also supplemented with course work and accreditation with Sustainable Furnishing Council. And courses developed by ASID.

The good news… Each year and each trade show I now find more and more like minded vendors and specialty tradesmen. I can happily say I am a designer confident in our market, my abilities and now I can deliver a healthy well designed home and it looks great!

How have you participated in “green” or healthy design?

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