Small Room DecoratingEco Wonder: Elegant & PracticalFall 2012



By Victoria Talbot | Fall 2012

A Sophisticated Redo Features Repurposed and Budget Furnishings


Get style on a salvaged shoestring

Lori Dennis’ projects all have a green aspect: The materials, whenever possible, are environmentally friendly and non-toxic, and there are lots of reused materials, too. All the surfaces are durable and easy-to-clean, eliminating the need for harsh chemicals cleansers. For those looking to remodel the green way, a small space is the perfect place to start.

Smaller spaces naturally need fewer materials and less energy. This leaves room in the budget to splurge on key pieces, like sofas or armoires that can travel with you if you move.

Find new ways to use old stuff. Think creatively about giving new functions to old furniture, recovering and repainting what you already have, and creating items with multiple uses.

When building, choose natural, eco-friendly materials and also use recycled content when possible. Beyond what may have come out of your own home, you can track down used building materials through local salvage and junk shops. Or, even better take a drive around town to see if you spot any dumpsters outside someone’s home. Be sure to ask before helping yourself, but take a look- you often can score free lumber, hardware and fixtures.

Eco Wonder Elegant & Practical

A sophisticated redo features repurposed and budget furnishings by Victoria Talbot

“ Building small inspires innovative solutions that are unique and interesting,” says Lori Dennis, author of Green Interior Design and star of upcoming HGTV reality series Real Designing Women. Growing up amid the architecture of New York and Los Angeles and living in a 200 year old Pennsylvania home in Amish country inspired Lori’s style decisions. Today, her award winning environmental interior design firm specializes in eco-friendly interiors.

The Challenge: This tiny early Hollywood bungalow had to accommodate a modern family of three plus occasional overnight visitors. It also needed to include a guest room. So, Lori redefined existing rooms and furnishings to create space saving solutions. Now, one room doubles as an office and a guest room. The former master bath was allocated to the two resident girls, leaving the second bath to be personalized for the owner. A butler’s pantry that was a separate service porch is now integrated into the kitchen, housing appliances away from valuable kitchen space. Though this cozy writer’s cottage was renovated from top to bottom, Lori was careful to retain what she calls it’s “Raymond Chandler charm,” including a delightfully curved wall at the center of the home.

“In the project, much of the materials and furniture were reused, repurposed, reupholstered and repainted for a modern, updated look,” says Lori. “My aesthetic is clean and uncluttered, with lots of space around furnishings. Individual pieces mean nothing they are on top of each other. I view furnishings as you would in a museum- each as a piece of collectible art. “ To achieve that effect, Lori likes open floor plans and spaces that have multiple functions.

Home office or guest room? In the girls’ room, windows and doors dictated the bed place. Lori used the windows to frame the headboards, making space for two twin beds. Painting a buffet with high gloss white paint allowed it to…