Practicing Sustainability in Design

One of the first courses I took for my Interior Design degree, was a course on sustainable designs, and all the ways you can incorporate sustainability into your practice. This class was actually such an eye-opener for me that I temporarily shifted my major over to Environmental Science-but that’s a story for another day. My biggest takeaway, is just how wasteful this industry can be, and it doesn’t have to be!!

Demo Day at  project 1893

Demo Day at project 1893

From knock-down, drag-out demo days, seeing everything filling a dumpster; to single use, mass produced tchotchkes that are made to be used for a short period of time and then disposed of, a lot of our industry has a short and fast life cycle that results in dumpsters and landfills.

But it doesn’t all have to be thrown out. When we are working on a renovation, we can take stock of any pieces that we may be able to reuse either in a different room or even in the same room, and note any pieces we may want to altered with reupholstery, paint, etc., to transform their look, and then use again.

A repurposed sewing table, being used as additional storage in this family condo, and a salvaged butterfly chair frame with new cover create a cozy reading nook.

A repurposed sewing table, being used as additional storage in this family condo, and a salvaged butterfly chair frame with new cover create a cozy reading nook.

The other thing we can do to cut down on reno waste is to look over what can be salvaged prior to demo. Anything that isn’t going to be kept for the new space, but is still in decent condition can often be removed delicately to be either consigned or donated to a salvage yard, Habitat for Humanity ReUse Store, or similar in your area. This can be anything from old cabinetry, to tile, to doors! This is often just a conversation to have with your contractor. Let them know you want to salvage what you can and point out pieces in particular that you want to save to be removed with caution and stored for transport to the donation facility of your choice.

A salvaged cast iron sink, getting refinished to add a playful element and bold color to this kids bath.

A salvaged cast iron sink, getting refinished to add a playful element and bold color to this kids bath.

After demo, I like to consider these questions when selecting materials to ensure I’m making wise choices:

Where is it made? Will it have a large impact getting from the manufacturer to us?

How is it made? Is it made using materials and practices that will stand the test of time?

How’s the customer service? If something should happen down the road, will there be someone on the manufacturers side who can help us get the right parts and pieces to get it back to work? (This is particularly important with plumbing and appliances.)

What is the manufacturer’s stance on the environment? Do they have a sustainability policy in place?

This upcycled kitchen uses a combination of all things sustainable, from updating the existing cabinetry, and salvaging the grill in the island, to bringing in high quality plumbing and tiles made from recycled materials.

This upcycled kitchen uses a combination of all things sustainable, from updating the existing cabinetry, and salvaging the grill in the island, to bringing in high quality plumbing and tiles made from recycled materials.

It’s really important to me to make sure all of these things are kept in mind, and then to execute our design by selecting pieces that will stand the test of time in your home and with your lifestyle. With better quality materials and pieces made to last, we can create a wonderful space in your home and do so with a clear conscious.

Painting Ps Sugar Box: A Neutral yet Playful Color Scheme

Happy New Year! This year is one we are very much looking forward to! Last year was an incredible year of growth and big changes, all that made us stronger. This year will be the year we move into our new home and begin making memories, and what’s even better?! We will be helping our clients do the same with each of our projects on the horizon for 2019 and we couldn’t be more excited!


This weekend we are going to begin painting the sugar box (the name we lovingly use to refer to our Jersey City row house), and I thought I would share with you the neutral, light and colorful scheme we have put together for the home. I’m really excited for this palette to get up on the walls, it has an air of playfulness, especially upstairs, so while we prepare to paint, here is a look at the space and a look at the colors.


Right when you walk in the door, you are in the living room, and your eye stretches through all the way through the stairway and beyond into the kitchen. From certain angles, you can see right through to the back room as well, so it was really important that all of our choices are really symbiotic. This is something we are mindful of in all of our client projects too, we want to make sure the whole home has a flow and feels like it really all fits and works well together, like the rooms all get along, but it’s even more important when you can see all of the rooms from one another-the challenge and beauty of an open floor plan ;)


Up the stairs, the hallway splits off in both directions left to Eleanor’s room and my office/guest room; and right to the master bedroom. Again, if all the doorways are open you can see from our room all of the adjoining spaces off of the hallway, but additionally up here, we wanted to let the rooms be a little more personal through their colors. Eleanor chose the color for hers, and even though she is only 2 when she looked at the options (about 20 colors in front of her) she consistently chose the same color every time… so that’s what we are going with.



Our master bedroom color was the same and Pat and I just landed on it time and again, so we knew that was the right choice. For my office though, I had a harder time. I knew I wanted it to feel like a color, but I also wanted it to be grounding, peaceful and neutral enough not to distort any samples I may be working with in the space. We did find a really pretty color and I’ll say, Pat actually found it’s sister color and I chose a shade lighter to get it to where I envisioned it for the space.


Here are the colors again altogether and I’m really pleased with how they flow. They are as follows, left to right (all Benjamin Moore): Kitchen Cabinets (Salamander), Kitchen and Family Room Walls (Cloud White), Living Room Walls (Balboa Mist), Stairway and Halls (La Paloma Gray), Office/Guest Room (Oyster), Eleanor’s Room (Woodlawn Blue), Master Bedroom (Black Pepper).


Other paint and finish details for our modern color scheme in an old house…We are going to paint any remaining trim work cloud white and then as we work through the rooms upgrading the moldings that may change. For the doors facing the hallway, I am envisioning them being stripped and wood tone but on the interior side of the room I imagine they will be white or the trim color. The powder room and basement door (the only interior doors on the first floor right now) will likely also be stripped down to wood and those can be wood on both sides.

With the whole house we are trying to balance the character and charm of the original house (built in 1896), while also updating everything to work with our more warm modern style. I think this color palette keeps things warm and harmonious throughout the space, and details like moldings and the wooden doors echo back to the original house and the history there.

What do you think of our updated color scheme? Would you use any or all of these colors in your home? I can’t wait to share updated photos of the house and the progress in the next week or so…be sure to follow along on Instagram Stories for updates while we are painting over the weekend and I will try to share some of the details to Facebook as well!

Project AND: A look at the Kitchen and Bathroom Design Plans

Project AND is a whole home renovation that is touching every room in the house of a really sweet couple. The house was purchased from family, and after 5 years of living in a home they never really loved aesthetically, they have made the decision to get rid of the popcorn ceilings and really make it their own.

I’m so excited to be the one who gets to help them on this journey, and I love their fun sense of style. They are willing to take some risks design wise, and make selections they love, but they do want to keep resale in mind, so in some areas we are taming it down and in others, we are really making our mark.

Here’s a look at some of the larger spaces before:

Our primary focuses for the project are the kitchen, dining room and hall bath. We are also fully making over the entryway, the guest room, and the master bedroom, and then the living room and office are getting facelifts through updated floors, paint and lighting.

For the kitchen, we wanted to do a warm gray cabinet color with warm brass accents pulling through in the hardware and lighting. Here’s a look at what we put together:

Perfect Warm Gray Kitchen with Brass Accents

Light, Faucet, Cabinet knobs and pulls; Counters, tile and cabinetry all ordered locally.

For the bathroom, we wanted to do something a little more funky. We went with navy blue cabinets and simple tile overall with a bold patterned tile for the niche. I can’t wait to see this space come together! We pulled out the black in the accent tile to frame out the mirrors and kept the rest of the details chrome and white to balance it out and keep it classic. Here’s a look at the selections:

Navy and Geometric Bathroom Design Plans

Lights, Mirrors, Faucets, Cabinet knobs; Counters, tile, cabinetry, etc., ordered locally.

The current status of this project is that the last few materials have been delivered and they will be installing all of the cabinetry, tile and appliances soon. That is quickly followed by counters and then all of the pretty little details!

I can’t wait to get back on site to check in and I’ll share more of the design details for the rest of the spaces as it starts coming together. You can always follow progress on our social media using the project hashtag (#dbkprojectAND). Feedback is my favorite, feel free to leave a comment here to let us know what you think!