Harmonize style and sustainability

Banish the visions of burlap and tuck away thoughts of tie-dye print — modern-day eco-friendly additions to furnish or fuel homes, from cottages to condos, are harmonizing style and sustainability.

Most Canadians are likely familiar with the how-to on energy conservation like powering down lights when not in use and keeping thermostats low.

But for DIY aficionados looking to remodel or those seeking an eco-friendly add-on, a growing number of items are emerging to ease the transition of greening the house.


EcoSmart Fire is among the models of home hearths going the green route. Fuelled by denatured ethanol, a renewable energy source, it’s said to be certified safe for burning indoors without venting since its principal byproducts are carbon dioxide, water steam and heat.

Enzo Giambattista of Concord, Ont.-based Company B Inc., the Canadian distributor of EcoSmart products, said there’s been a surge in demand, particularly among condo owners and developers.

“You don’t need any venting, you don’t need plumbing, you don’t need any piping,” he said in an interview at the recent Interior Design Show in Toronto. “A developer or condo owner can design the units to go almost anywhere in their space.”

Another draw for buyers is the fireplaces can be customized to ease into already established home decor, Giambattista said.

The core burner kit containing the fuel can be fitted in designer ranges from colourful fibreglas to stainless steel that serve as stand-alone furniture, or it can be installed in wall units constructed to include inserts, housing and glass.

Those with traditional fireplaces can slide grates into their existing openings to hold the kit instead of wood. The emphasis on pieces marrying function and sustainability with a contemporary esthetic echoed throughout the recent interior design showcase.

Nature’s Dryer, landscape metal art resembling a leafless tree, is a clothes dryer able to blend into backyard decor while accommodating a laundry load, allowing users to harness wind and solar power while reducing the need for indoor dryers.

Design firm Eauterre Studios, which focuses on creating sophisticated, sustainable design pieces, featured furnishings like a bamboo ply bed with water-based stain and chair crafted from solid maple wood with a hemp canvas fabric and natural latex foam.

John Wagner, author of Green Remodelling (Creative Homeowner), has been writing about green and energy-efficient building since 1988.

When it comes time to sprucing up the house with a new wall colour or tiling, Wagner recommends opting for products without harmful fumes such as paints, adhesives and floor finishings with low VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which evaporate at room temperature.

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