As our modern world seeks to balance progress with responsibility for a sustainable future, forward-thinking people and businesses, like those at University District, are marrying everyday choices about how they approach life and work with a greater conscience for the health of our planet.
Small gestures include the decision to use a refillable container for your daily coffee, riding a bike to work, swapping out traditional light bulbs for LED alternatives. Bigger decisions include choices like living near where you work or purchasing a home designed with the environment in mind.
Sustainable design decisions can be found in all types of industries, including home building and home design. Since we all love our homes and spend quality time there, our home is a great place to show we care about the planet by striking the right chord with great taste and the greater, natural good in mind.
Healthy homes and communities create a healthy planet. Can making our homes eco-friendly lead to a better life everyone and the planet? We asked a local design expert, and the answer is yes!
We connected with Ana Cummings for some ideas about everyday sustainable design. Ana has been a champion of the harmonization of home and nature for more than a decade, and in that time has served as President of the Alberta chapter of the Decorators’ and Designers Association of Canada, lent her expertise to CTV’s Homes & LIfestyles Canada, and continues to act as an advisory board member for popular home resource website Houzz.com.
Read on to see what this national award winner has to say about creating healthy, vibrant homes!
The shape of a vase, the texture of a blanket, the colour of a feature wall are some of the decisions that, when made with care and sensitivity to nature, can contribute greatly to an eco-friendly home.
This principle of thoughtful design creates an opportunity for spaces that are more dynamic, vibrant, and pleasant to be in. And it’s easy to achieve. As the saying goes, it’s like a walk in the park!
As a health and wellness advocate, Ana maintains a good diet and eating habits and this philosophy and lifestyle choices extend into her career as a designer, her workspace, her home life and home design decisions made with clients, too.
“The same way that I maintain my health, I approach my home design,” Ana explains. “If you put good things in your body and into home alike — and take consistent care — they will both provide greater satisfaction and enjoyment over the long term.”
Photo Credit: Ana Interiors
So what are some concepts that Ana is seeing put into use that reflect that principle?
“Have you ever seen a living “green wall” in a modern office lobby, commercial space or outdoor application?” she asks. “This is called “Biophilic Design,” which is the addition of greenery to generate feelings of well-being and connection to living things.
“The results are absolutely stunning and have created an entire design movement. Adding plants to our homes and offices has exploded in popularity in recent years. It may be a little Bohemian, but there’s nothing dowdy about it.”
From a single-stem orchid to a full, lush palm, a cheerful cactus on a sill to a hanging fern that evokes a woodland moment, living additions to your space can add a range of green hues, a pleasurable fragrance, and the feeling of vibrancy to where you live.
Photo Credit: Avi Urban, multi-family division of Homes by Avi
How has Ana seen this niche in the design field develop to keep eco-design fresh and exciting?
“Eco-design simply IS exciting,” she says. “While the term itself may need a refresh, today’s technology is allowing great things to happen in this field. Take for example hardwood flooring that filters the air via embedded Titanium Dioxide nanoparticles activated by light and air movement!
“But it doesn’t have to be complicated. Eco-design can also be as simple as recovering your grandmother’s sofa. Upcycling is another term used for items taking on a new life as something else.”
We love that!
Photo Credit: Ana Interiors
From the hues to the feel, it almost goes without saying that fabric and materials from natural sources are more inherently pleasing for all of us whether our tastes run traditional, modern, eclectic or shabby chic! As useful and efficient as materials like laminate flooring, linoleum and others are, they just can’t compare to the fascinating, textural, warm feel of materials derived from biological sources. Think cozy cashmere throws, crisp linen sheets, rich wood tables, natural cork decorator items, clay pottery!
“I love working with any kind of natural organic fabrics; linens, cottons, wools and silks,” says Ana. “Natural grasscloth wallcoverings are a hot commodity and more popular than ever. No VOC or low VOC paints are a must. Stone, marble and hardwood for surfaces are as easy and luxurious as ever. Bamboo and cork flooring options have come a long way as well.”
When a room or space incorporates materials that our bodies resonate with easily, our minds and bodies relax and tension releases. A large number of small choices in terms of the types of objects and materials we keep in our space can make a huge difference.
So where can people find these types of design elements?
“There are so many choices! Northwest favourites like Planet Organic, Sunnyside Natural Market and Real Deals are great choices for wholesome food options and small household items. Beyond that, there’s always Goodwill, Re-Store, consignment stores, garage and estate sales for used items. If you can’t find it locally, online works well too.”
Photo Credit: Brookfield Residential
As good as it is for our environment to use products closer to nature, it’s as good or better for our own mental and spiritual well-being. Homes in places like Calgary need to be insulated from nature because of winter, but that separation from the natural world isn’t always ideal. Embracing earth-focused home design brings us closer to organic, natural, comforting materials and objects. Embrace change and nature at the same time for a better-designed lifestyle!
Do you have any questions or suggestions, trends or topics that interest you when it comes to decorating your home in harmony with nature? Share them with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and if you have a photo to share, tag University District!
The University District blog is a resource for Calgarians who want to live, work, play, visit or buy in the northwest. We will provide you with information, stories, news and inspiration about the things that matter so you can live a more inspired, active and connected life in NW Calgary at University District… Life works here.