21 April 2009

Earth Day is April 22 -- Designers Celebrate!

Designers have always put their own spin on things, so when I wanted to get the skinny on the best new green products for your homes (and mine!), I went to my designer friends, and a few other folks in the know. Here are their finds, along with a few of my favorites.


There is an unsung hero in the tile industry: Fireclay Tile. Fireclay has many "green" options available that do not sacrifice aesthetics. In fact, in the majority of projects in which I specify Fireclay, the client is unaware that it's green.

Fireclay's Debris Series recycled tile on shower walls
in a Mitch Levey-designed bathroom

Mitch Levey - Designer/Tile Specialist
Mitchell Keith Tile & Bath Collection
Tampa, Florida

My favorite sustainable product is Kirei Board. Kirei is a pre-finished sheet good that's made from sorghum straw. Unlike a lot of products that disguise the fact that they're made from agricultural waste, Kirei draws attention to the fact that it is essentially a board made out of straw. It has a natural geometric pattern to it that I find irresistible. Kirei can be used anywhere you'd ordinarily use a veneer --on cabinets, furniture walls and even floors. It's made with a formaldehyde-free, water-based bonding agent that produces zero VOCs. I sheathed a knee wall in a kitchen with it last fall and have another, similar use for it coming up in June.

Paul Anater - Designer/Blogger
St. Petersburg, Florida

I love 3form's products: Their resin-based Varia is made from 40% post consumer products. They have virtually endless finish and color choices, and each piece is made upon order. You can also place anything inside of the resin - grasses, flowers, fabrics etc. - for a truly unique look. We have used this product to replace the glass traditionally used in cabinets, wall screens, exterior canopies, and even for custom-built furniture. 3-form has truly proven to be one of the most versatile products we ever found and is specified in almost all of our projects.

Dean Larkin, AIA - Architect
Dean Larkin Design
Los Angeles, California

The gold star I would give to a green interior design product goes to the Ripple PaperForms wallcovering from MIO. It's strikingly modern and helps with both acoustics and insulation in a room. It's made with a modular design, so the tiles can be arranged to create different patterns. Because they're modular, you can also replace tiles that become damaged. And you can paint them so they can be any color needed to match the interior design scheme. The tiles are made from renewable and recycled content (100% post and pre-consumer waste paper), and are recyclable. Twelve square feet of this tile costs $32, so they're affordable in the bargain.

Nicolette Toussaint - Designer/Blogger
Living in Comfort and Joy
Comfort and Joy Interior Design
San Francisco, California

Interstyle Ceramic & Glass, one of North America’s leading glass tile manufacturers, has a new collection of linear mosaic tile with recycled content. Icestix comes in 1/2″ x 2″ and 1/2″ x 4″ tiles in straight, running bond and random stagger sheets. The collection is available in 12 textured color blends. Linear tile will be a hot trend in 2009. You can install it vertically as an accent at a range or cut up the sheets to mix it with large field tile.

Ann Porter, CKD - Designer/Blogger
Kitchen Studio of Naples
Naples, Florida


I find the new developments with concrete to be really promising. Today, we can find concrete with up to 90% fly ash content, and there is experimentation going on with tweaking the basic recipe to create new properties in the concrete."

Concrete vanity top and integral sinks
by Tampa-based Concrete-N-Counters

Mary Jo Peterson, CKD, CBD - Designer
Mary Jo Peterson, Inc. Design Consultants
Brookfield, Connecticut

My absolute favorite new green product for residential applications is Paperstone. The colors within this product line are perfectly bold and saturated and can give a kitchen or bathroom countertop a strong look, without looking busy. The best part about the Paperstone is that seven colors within the Certified Series consist of 100% post-consumer recycled content. It is spectacular to know that a countertop made of paper and resin can be just as strong and stain-resistant as the other quartz products out today. This product is truly unique.

Rachael Clayton - Countertop Specialist
Florence Marble and Granite
Tampa, Florida

I'm a big fan of Vetrazzo recycled glass countertops. I first saw these beauties up close and personal at the 2008 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show. They'll work in traditional, transitional and contemporary rooms. My only qualification is that they need to be periodically sealed, (like granite, wood or marble.) If Vetrazzo is not available in your area, look for a similar surface called IceStone.

I also love solid glass countertops, like those produced by ThinkGlass and BioGlass. Glass is a versatile material stylistically, though I like it best in contemporary settings. It's also durable and sustainable.

Glass slab countertop from ThinkGlass

Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS - Designer, Blogger
Gold Notes
Jamie Goldberg Kitchen and Bath Design, LLC
Tampa, Florida


My favorite new product is the Lennox SunSource Solar assisted heat pump. By using a single solar panel, this unit can result in additional eight to 10 percent energy savings. Although not suitable for all situations, it just goes to show you what great innovations are possible.

Tom Rinicker - Home Inspector/Blogger
Inspector Help
Land O'Lakes, Florida

My favorite green product is the geothermal system for heating and cooling your home. I like this system from both the environmental and financial perspectives. On the front end, you pay more for a geothermal system than for a conventional HVAC system. However, you will recoup your investment while protecting the environment. There is also an energy tax credit that you can discuss with your tax advisor.

Geothermal Unit by Northern Heat Pump

Susan Lang - Designer/Blogger
Designing Your Dream Home
Design With Susan
Nashville, Tennessee


I love LED technology for many reasons. It's incredibly energy-efficient. It's cooler than incandescent or halogen lighting when installed under wall cabinets in a kitchen. It is incredibly versatile, and can be installed in ceilings, cabinets, backsplashes and countertops. It's increasingly turning up in decorative fixtures, as well.

LED Pendants from Progress Lighting

Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS - Designer, Blogger
Gold Notes
Jamie Goldberg Kitchen and Bath Design, LLC
Tampa, Florida

Eco-luz by Varaluz has stylish designs that utilize recycled or reclaimed materials in their products. This Mini Chandelier has petrified wood shades made from left-over stones from other projects, and the hand-forged frame is made with 70% (or more) recycled steel. This means that it is good for the environment, as well stylish for your home!

Abby Kluender - Lighting Specialist
Lighting Style Blog
Mendota Heights, Minnesota

You might like this related Gold Notes post:

Four Products for a Healthier, Style-Smart Kitchen


  1. Great Post! I love 3-Form. I offer my clients recycled hardware made with the Varia material.

  2. Thanks for commenting on my Earth Day post and including your link :-) I'm a colour fan too, but I think Sarah's white beach cottage is so serene and pretty, and I really admire her for recycling and reusing old stuff :-)

    I LOVE Vetrazzo countertops!! I first saw them a couple of years ago on "Living With Ed". I still haven't seen the product in real life, but if I ever build my dream kitchen, it'll look a lot like the one in the Vetrazzo picture that you posted :-)

    I also love those Icestix tiles. They look great applied vertically. I might have to re-think the backsplash in my dream kitchen... heck, I might have to just go ahead and replace the backsplash in my current kitchen!! :-)

    Kelly @ DesignTies

  3. Jamie - this post was fantastic! I've heard of some of these products before, but others are new to me and I can't wait to use them!! I'm in the process of designing a bathroom and I'm definitely going to look for linear mosaic tiles you've mentioned. I also love the look of the Kirei Board and will look for an opportunity to use it - I know a cabinet maker who may be interested in learning about it too (assuming he doesn't already).

    Thanks for the information!
    Victora: EdinDesign Interiors @ DesignTies

  4. I love the design and the material… Restaurant Furniture looks fabulous.

  5. I'd like to buy some Kirei Board. Can you tell me where to find it in the Tampa Bay area? Thanks.

  6. Anonymous, Kirei isn't available yet in the Tampa market. My suggestion is to contact the company and see whether you can buy it directly from them. There's a link to the firm in that paragraph of the posting.

  7. Simply, the best thing i have ever read/seing in my whole life!!!!!! ñ_ñ

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