Sisler Johnston first became interested in eco-friendly design about 10 years ago while working with a European client building a vacation estate in Clay County. Members of the client's family had previously suffered illness as a result of exposure to toxic substances discovered in their home in Germany. Sisler Johnston worked with a "Healthy House" consultant who advised the building and design team on materials, procedures, and products to ensure the client's vacation home would be free of toxins.
Sisler Johnston's study of environmental design continues today. She recently completed continuing education in understanding green design as well as a course on renewable and sustainable floor coverings taught by Tracy Fox, a member of the Green Building Council.
One of the top public health issues in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, is poor air quality. Unfortunately, the materials used in many floor coverings often contribute negatively to indoor air quality with the release of volatile organic compounds (VOC) into the air. Sisler Johnston says non-toxic flooring materials are better choices for health and sustainability.
In the resilient flooring category, cork, linoleum, and rubber are gaining in popularity and improved marketability. Cork is harvested from the bark of an oak tree without having to cut it down. Linoleum, a product familiar to most Baby Boomers, is made of linseed oil, pine resin, cork, wood, and powdered chalk, all toxin-free, environmentally safe products. When combined with the latest photo-imaging technology, linoleum can be made to look like exotic woods, marble, tile, or slate. Sisler Johnston says linoleum is a great choice for kitchens because it is soft and comfortable to walk on.
In the hard surface category, wood is a favorite choice. Hardwood floors are natural, warm in appeal, and durable. If harvested responsibly, there is minimal environmental impact. Bamboo is a relatively new and popular flooring choice with its tropical appeal and complementary style to contemporary or Asian furnishings.
Marble, granite, and quarried stone are all 100 percent natural choices that do not emit VOCs. Most ceramic tile is manufactured from natural clay and mined minerals. Some ceramic and glass tile products also include recycled materials.
In the carpet category, there are few choices that are considered green or sustainable even though carpeting is the floor covering most preferred by homeowners. Synthetic carpets, such as nylon and polyester, are made using petro-chemicals, which release harmful chemicals. While wool carpet is more costly, it has a longer life span and naturally diffuses organic chemicals.
Although new carpeting has a distinctive smell, few realize it is due to the release of VOCs. Carpeting is often treated with chemicals to make it flame retardant or to repel stains. The backing on carpeting and carpet pads may also release chemicals. Sisler Johnston recommends having carpets cleaned and sealed with an environmentally safe sealer, which helps reduce VOC exposure.
There are many attractive natural fiber rug choices, including sisal, jute, or sea grass, derived from renewable plant sources. They are available in warm earth tones or printed, painted, or woven in bold colors with borders, fabric inserts, or fringes. Natural fiber rugs are compatible with most furniture styles and periods, especially contemporary or coastal casual. They can be used as area rugs over tile or wood flooring or installed wall-to-wall.
A licensed interior designer or ASID Industry Partner carpet supplier can answer questions and make recommendations about carpeting and carpet manufacturers. A consultation with a licensed interior designer who is knowledgeable about green and sustainable design can assist in creating beautiful and healthy spaces while respecting the environment.
The Sisler Johnston team of licensed, highly trained, and gifted designers successfully creates living spaces from concept through realization throughout the United States. Judith Sisler Johnston combines experience, knowledge, and professionalism to help clients develop their visions while analyzing their design requirements. The company has been recognized with more than 50 industry awards, including Aurora, Laurel, and Excel awards.
For more information about Sisler Johnston Interior Design, call (904) 288-0908 or visit the website at www.sislerjohnston.com.