'Eco-chic' room has teacher seeing green

Earl is a dedicated high-school science teacher who lives downtown in a lovely three-story house. He rents out the lower portion of his home, so he is limited to the upper floors for his own living space. What once was a third-floor attic is now his master bedroom that opens onto a deck where he entertains friends on warm summer evenings. To get outside, guests have to walk right through his bedroom, and Earl was unhappy with the space's shabby and outdated look.

Earl practices what he preaches to his students: "Leave as small a footprint on the Earth as possible." So when he asked me to redesign his bedroom, he requested that I make it both stylish and eco-friendly. After intensive research into environmentally sound products and suppliers, I got my team together and geared up to give Earl a completely eco-chic bedroom that would make green look great!

The first order of the day was to divide the space into three zones to make it more functional. I created a comfy sleeping area along one wall, a sitting area near the deck, and a small home office area where Earl can create mind-boggling exams for his students. Once the layout was organized, the project became all about "green" -- and ...

I'm not talking color. From the sealers to the stains, everything in this space was about reducing, reusing and recycling.

I chose a shade of light blue for the walls in an eco-friendly low VOC (volatile organic compound) paint. For the floors I opted for carpet tiles from a company that has one of the best green programs around. The recycled tiles are low in VOCs and toxic dyes, and the company will even pick them up and recycle them again when you no longer need them.

I chose a mixture of all-natural fabrics and finishes for the room -- no bleaches, no harsh dyes and no pesticides. The bedding is a mixture of blue and tan organic cotton; the bed's dramatic new headboard is a rectangular pattern of chocolate brown hemp; the window treatment mixes hemp drapes with bamboo, grass and reed blinds; and the screen used to separate the sleeping and working areas is made of beautiful bamboo stalks.

Earl wanted to minimize the use of air conditioning so I installed a gorgeous stainless steel ceiling fan to help cool down the room. To brighten things up, I used highly efficient, low-energy LED lighting.

When it came to furniture, I kept it simple: a queen-sized bed flanked with two bedside tables and mirrors, two chairs filled with soy-based foam and a few ottomans. The older pieces were taken out of the bedroom and used elsewhere.

After putting in the final accents (including beeswax candles and a vintage anatomy poster), all chosen to be both pleasing to the eye and the environment, Earl's eco-chic bedroom was now complete.

By using Earth-friendly and fabulous fabrics, furniture and finishes, I gave science teacher Earl a bedroom that has a big visual impact and a low environmental impact. It is now easy on the eyes and the Earth. Now that's divine!

Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of HGTV's "Divine Design." For more ideas or information visit www.divinedesign.tv. Her column is syndicated by Scripps Howard News Service.