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Green Design - Smart Windows

By Sarah Van Arsdale on November 17, 2008

Fabulous design. Cutting edge looks. Interesting twists in color, fabric, and texture. These are all elements inherent in design that's ecologically sound. Yes, your creativity can have free reign even as you make choices that help protect the planet. Increasingly, manufacturers are creating products that have minimal impact on the environment, whether because they're made from organically-grown cotton or because they're made with renewable resources. We think environmentally friendly design is so important that we recently added a Green Design lesson to the NYIAD Complete Course in Interior Design.

In our "Decorating Green" column we'll look at a sustainable, low-impact element of design in each issue of "Designer Monthly." We hope these articles will help us all help the planet and the many creatures that share it with us.

There is a perfect storm brewing, the confluence of A) worry about climate change and B) the economic collapse. This could be the perfect storm for getting us all to be more conscious of our energy consumption, whether our awareness is raised by worrying about the polar bears or worrying about our pocketbooks.

As we know, we now call it “climate change” rather than “global warming” because the warming, while a real downside, isn’t the only effect of that buildup of greenhouse gases. As we saw when Katrina hit New Orleans, climate change could mean more storms, and more bad weather — including cold.

What’s a fashion-conscious home decorator to do? If you grew up in New England, or Minnesota, or someplace equally frigid, you may remember the days of stapling heavy plastic to the windows, effectively cutting out any view from October to May.

Not to worry. There are several ways you can cut heating costs and keep the house toasty without sacrificing the look of your room.

First to consider are the new, tight, clear, clean-lined storm windows. These are made of a sturdy aluminum frame with two surfaces of clear glazing film, creating a pocket of air beteween them. Windotherm, makers of these insulation systems, say they can save you 55% on your annual heating bills — and without ruining the look of your home.

They can be custom made for any windows, including stained-glass church windows like these. Chances are if a company can insulate church windows while maintaining the look of the original windows, it can make your living room look good while keeping out the chilly winds of winter.

Green stain glass church windows

Heavy, insulated curtains or drapes are another way of keeping the cold out. And you can make them yourself. You can use any fabric you like for the side that faces the room, so you can make them to match any décor.

Start by measuring the windows, and decide how much you want the drape to fall below the lower window edge. Be sure to add a couple of inches on the bottom and sides for hemming, and, if you’re using a rod at the top, make sure there is enough fabric at the top to sew an open hem for the rod to go through.

Next, get thermal fabric, suhc as Warm Windows or Loc-On, and cut it to fit the first fabric, making sure the decorative fabric is about an inch bigger all the way around than the thermal fabric.

Match the wrong side of the thermal fabric to the wrong side of the other fabric; fold the decrotarive fabric around the edges, and pin the edges with about a 1” hem, and sew all the sides. Finally, fold over the top and make your top hem through which the rod will run.

And then just settle back and enjoy the warmth.


  • Windotherm
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