After Photos by Jill Tiongco Photography
By Jesse Bratter
It’s easy to dream up an eco-friendly bedroom. That’s because this space provides several opportunities for eco-friendly materials in the furnishings and linens. Mattresses, for one thing, typically give off toxic chemicals that we breathe in night after night. Since we spend a third of our lives sleeping, that’s a whole lot of chemicals to inhale over time.
So when Elemental Green set out to renovate the bedroom inside a penthouse apartment at University Park Condominium, eco-friendly materials, starting with a nontoxic mattress, were high on the priority list. It’s also beneficial to reuse existing furniture and materials wherever possible. Older furniture has likely off-gassed most VOCs; plus, this means you’re not using more raw materials and energy to manufacture new pieces.
These were the goals that Elemental Green set out to achieve during #EcoRenovate, the sustainable makeover inside this historic 1960s residential complex originally designed by noted architects I.M. Pei and Araldo Cossutta.
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BEFORE: A BLANK CANVAS BEDROOM
The original bedroom gave Elemental Green a clean slate to infuse nontoxic materials and to make improvements in the way of indoor air quality and energy—important factors in a building that wasn’t built sustainably from the start. Like in the living room, the walls were coated in layers of harsh white paint and the poorly insulated windows had window treatments that hid the star arches.
Before Photo ⓒElemental Green
AFTER: A SUSTAINABLE BEDROOM WITH NONTOXIC MATERIALS
The first area of concern in the bedroom was to make sure the bed offered an eco-friendly place to sleep. We achieved this by placing a nontoxic Avocado mattress on a platform bed frame from Thuma. Handcrafted and produced in small batches, Thuma beds use upcycled materials and Japanese joinery to ensure long-lasting, quality designs.
Recycled paint from Recolor in a Dove colorway freshened the walls and helped improve the indoor air quality along with a Molekule air purifier. That’s good news, since indoor air is up to 5x more polluted than outdoor air. (We were shocked when we first learned that too.)
We reused existing accent tables as nightstands as well as an existing piece for the dresser. And a sustainably made vanity, designed by Ladies & Gentlemen Studio based in Brooklyn, now offers a sunny spot for beauty routines or work-from-home sessions. The closet, too, received a makeover, using California Closets’ new Everyday System, a collaboration with Martha Stewart. And, to better highlight the window arches, Cellular Shades from The Shade Store now open either up or down; plus, they are insulating for those cold Chicago winters.
In the end, the original bedroom gave Elemental Green a clean slate to infuse nontoxic materials and thoughtful furnishings that support a healthy night’s rest and an invigorating morning.
READ ON TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BRANDS USED IN #ECORENOVATE AND WHAT MAKES THEM A SUSTAINABLE, SMART CHOICE.
What We Chose: The Avocado Latex Mattress, manufactured from GOLS organic certified Dunlop latex rubber that is eco-INSTITUT, STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®, and MADE SAFE® certified. It also features GOTS organic certified wool and cotton. Avocado offers both hybrid mattresses with an internal, zoned, pressure-point system made from recycled steel, and organic latex mattresses. They’re free from adhesives (the button tufts are done by hand), and free from toxic flame retardant chemicals while still meeting tough federal flammability standards.
Why We Love the Brand: We love a nontoxic mattress that achieves the richest set of third-party certifications to ensure their healthy materials standards are valid. Not only has Avocado gone this extra mile, but they also own their own ethical wool and latex farms. As an added and important bonus, they are Climate Neutral Certified: a member of 1% for the Planet; use CarbonFund to offset emissions; are Green America Business Certified; a U.S. Green Building Council Member; and a Sustainable Furnishings Council Member.
Update: Regrettably, this line is no longer available
What We Chose: The Composed Vanity II by Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, from DIMS. Doubling as a desk, the vanity is crafted from ash wood sourced from sustainably managed forests that are certified by the Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers.
Why We Love the Brand: DIMS works with artisans around the world to bring us thoughtful furniture, accessories and lighting for the home with a focus on cultural equity and environmental ethics. The UN Sustainable Development Goals include equity and diversity, so DIMS’ commitment to shining a light on previously underrepresented talent has us swooning over their selections.
In that vein, the brand is working toward becoming a certified B Corporation, pledging to include 15-percent Black-owned brands in their offerings, and having transparent Declare labels on all products manufactured by DIMS.
What We Chose: Recolor Paints’ Dove on the walls. In a world where 70 million gallons of paint end up in our landfills and waterways each year, Recolor is a bright spot in the building industry. They take unused post consumer and post industrial latex paint, screen it, consolidate it, filter impurities, remove contaminants, add antimicrobial and preservative agents, and render an upcycled paint. The process of using paints that have been opened and reprocessed naturally eliminates much of the VOCs in the paint.
Why We Love the Brand: In addition to helping clear our waterways, Recolor also partners with Habitat for Humanity, selling their paints through Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore and thus helping to build houses and support the local community.
What We Chose: A queen-size platform bed in a walnut finish with a pillowboard in Light Linen.
Why We Love the Brand: Thuma beds are handcrafted using Japanese joinery techniques that eliminate the need for excess hardware. Produced in small batches, the beds use upcycled and repurposed rubberwood sourced close to the factory, minimizing their carbon footprint and waste by reducing transportation. The upholstered headboard features a nontoxic CertiPUR-US foam fill and dons a linen cover that can be removed and washed. The beds are GREENGUARD Gold certified, and their ultra-low VOC levels (<0.004 mg/m³) mean better indoor air quality.
That’s enough for us to love the brand, but what’s even better is their commitment to countering reforestation. They’ve partnered with One Tree Planted and for every bed sold, a tree is planted through the nonprofit.
What We Chose: A Molekule air purifier, which breaks down harmful microscopic pollutants like allergens, mold, bacteria, and even airborne chemicals, and inactivates flu virus and Coronavirus. Molekule’s patented technology, Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO), uses free radicals to disassemble and convert pollutants into harmless elements that are safe for us to breathe.
Why We Love the Brand: Molekule is a family-owned business—just ask Dilip Goswami, his sister Jaya Rao, and their father Dr. Yogi Goswami—built on 20 years of research in search of a solution for Dilip’s asthma and allergy challenges. Together, they’re on a self-proclaimed mission “to harness the power of science to improve lives and solve some of the world’s greatest problems, beginning with indoor air pollution.”
What We Chose: The Everyday System by California Closets in collaboration with Martha Stewart.
Why We Love the Brand: California Closets not only offers smart storage solutions, which was helpful in this urban space, but they also use eco-friendly materials throughout their collections. Their board materials are compliant with the tough-on-emissions California Air Resources Board (CARB). And their composite wood doors and drawers are made from recycled or reclaimed wood fiber, qualifying them to become part of LEED equations. Best of all, The Everyday System is designed to adapt to your changing needs and move with you over time. They’ve truly thought about the future and the product’s lifecycle and staying power.
The Shade Store
What We Chose: The Shade Store’s Cellular Shades in Tan Heather with Top Down Bottom Up to create a clean line above the arched windows or open from the top to allow in light and views while preserving privacy.
Why We Love the Brand: The Shade Store offers shade collections that have obtained Greenguard, Microban and Oeko-Tex certifications. But we especially love their commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility. Among other initiatives, they sponsor the Black Interior Designers Network and plant a tree for every order placed through their Gift of Shade program.
Eucalyptus Bedding from Sijo. TENCEL™ lyocell is hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, and Oeko-Tex Certified
Modal Long Robe by Hass is cellulose-based, thermoregulating, Climate Neutral Certified, and MadeSafe certified