Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Creative Balance

Healthy Sustainable Bedroom Design
sleep, dream, create...

By Lorraine Alexander
Lorraine Alexander Interiors
Published by Redwood Empire Remodelers Association Newsletter April 2010, and by U.S. Green Building Council Chapter News Fall 2010

On average, we spend one third of our time in our bedroom. Many of us are completely unaware of the impact this single room has, affecting our mood and even our sleep. Creating a serene and healthy bedroom environment can greatly improve our sleep quality, while producing a positive effect on our health and well being. Our bedroom should be a place of serenity and rejuvenation, our own private sanctuary.

First and foremost, when designing a healthier environment we must consider indoor air quality (IAQ). Each selection you make will influence the air quality of your bedroom. For the best material selections choose natural organic fibers; cotton, linen, wool, hemp and jute, just to name a few. If you are a homeowner with allergies to down, find comforters filled with wool or cotton. Avoid polyurethane, synthetics or poly-cotton blends. Look for products that have not been chemically treated or bleached. Avoid wrinkle-free and stain-free finish treatments that use formaldehyde and produce off-gassing. If you are in the market to purchase a new mattress, look for manufacturers that offer healthier organic mattresses.

Dust can be problematic for many people. A quality air filtration system, regular filter maintenance, and fresh air, are essential. In addition, your room design should be simple to allow for ease of cleaning. Be aware of potential allergens you may bring into the home. Consider implementing a shoe-less policy for your home, this method used throughout Japan insures a cleaner healthier home by keeping toxins out.

When possible, eliminate electronics in the bedroom. Electromagnetic fields or EMF’s disturb deep sleep and have a negative health effect. If you cannot do without a television, place it inside of a cabinet that can be completely closed off at bedtime. Computers and cell phones should be kept in another room. Choose alarm clocks with rechargeable batteries or old-fashioned wind up. If you use an electric alarm, place it away from the bed.

For a serene and healthy bedroom, follow these simple guidelines:

  • Bedroom colors should be tranquil and uncomplicated. Basically the rule of thumb is the simpler the better.

  • Neutral monochromatic color palates are best as this will give the room a relaxed mood.

  • Use paints that are VOC-free. Benjamin Moore has a new eco-friendly paint line called “Natura”.

  • Choose accessories that are functional and simple.

  • Select art that is calm and peaceful.

  • Keep fabrics simple, stay clear of busy patterns and fussy details. Add interest with texture.

  • In general, buying quality will buy comfort and durability, a wise investment.

  • Choose window coverings made of natural materials, without treatment. Grass shades or cotton Roman shades are a few good choices.

  • Drapes made of natural fibers are also another good choice, stay simple in the design and vacuum often.

  • Select flooring materials that are natural products, wool, true linoleum (made from linseed oil), low VOC wood or bamboo. For healthier flooring choices go to http://greenguard.org/

  • To create a relaxing mood, add elements found in nature: metal, wood, living plants, and stone.

  • Add beauty and serenity through sound; a water fountain, restful music, a small wind-chime outside the window.

  • Strive for simplicity, less is more.

  • relax, rest, rejuvenate...

    For a free “Consumer Guide to Greener Home Design and Remodeling”, visit our website at:

    Visit our website at: www.LorraineAlexander.com