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Lessons learned from the HGTV Green Home

Melissa Dunlap is a writer, editor and blogger specializing in lifestyle communications. Fueled by curiosity, and a tad too much coffee, Melissa enjoys dissecting current trends for the modern woman. When she's not having dance parties w...

Going green is cool

While visiting the 2012 HGTV Green Home, we picked up a few tips on sustainability and green home design. From reclaiming and repurposing to eco-friendly building materials, read about the lessons learned.

Going green is cool

Thirty minutes outside of Atlanta, Georgia, is a sweet little sustainable community known as Serenbe, home to this year’s 2012 HGTV Green Home. While previewing the 2,300-square-foot modern farmhouse, we spoke with the home’s architects, builders and designers to learn more about green design.

See our sneak peek of the 2012 HGTV Green Home >>>

Build the home around lifestyle

Designed by Kemp Hall Studio, a comprehensive architecture firm for green home design, the home demonstrates the importance of creating a lasting environment around your lifestyle. Architect Steve Kemp challenges people to "stop thinking about homes with set perimeters." He’ll talk clients out of formal sitting rooms or dining rooms if he sees a better use for that space, so that homeowners get a more efficient layout for today’s lifestyles. Rather than building a larger home with unused rooms, green design looks to create a better layout using less space.

Green design = smart design

Kemp says the key to green design is to "be green with what you build" -- and not just in the materials. For example, strategically located windows in the interior stairwell create a chimney effect that keeps the home cool. FrontPorch builder Curtis Peart points out that the windows have different glass depending on the direction they face to maximize energy efficiency. Every product in the home has some "green" aspect to it, he tells us.

The same windows also bring more natural light to the home. In addition to saving on lighting costs, Kemp’s colleague Georgia Muncaster points out that interior windows in the bathroom allow it to get natural light from the hallway windows -- perfect for putting on makeup! With design tricks like that, we totally can get on board with going green.

Reclaim and repurpose

Our favorite takeaway lesson from the green home was all the fabulous ways to reclaim old materials and give them new life.

Going green is cool

Wooden fence

Material from a salvaged wooden fence was used to create not one, but three, new accent pieces -- a large statement mirror in the living room, a coffee table for the porch and a white-washed accent mirror for the master bedroom. A seasoned DIY pro or handyman could handle similar projects to tackle at home. Designer Linda Woodrum discusses how good furniture and accent pieces can be repurposed to fit current needs rather than thrown away. For example, the blue nightstand in the bedroom was originally brown, but she had the West Elm bargain painted to better fit the room. The mirrored candle holders above the armchair originally felt disproportionate to the room so Woodrum had a wooden backing added to give them better scale.

Going green is cool

Machinery turned table lamps

Old metal parts were turned into cool table lamps. This look could easily become a DIY project with a lamp kit from the hardware store. For trickier metal pieces, consider working with a local artisan to create your own custom piece.

Metal discs as artwork

Old metal discs that hang over chicken feed to keep it dry were reused in the Georgia porch room as artwork. The aged metal beautifully contrasts with the modern seating arrangement. The simple shapes allow the rusted patina to take center stage.

Overall, the biggest lesson learned from the HGTV Green Home is how accessible green design is. Whether picking out eco-friendly materials and products or making a conscious effort to build a sustainable home, going green has never looked better.

About the 2012 HGTV Green Home Giveaway:

Viewers can enter for a chance to win the 2,300-square-foot green home in Serenbe, Georgia, from April 12 through June 1, 2012. The home will also be open for limited tours to the public. More information is available at

Going green is cool

More about green design

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Eco-friendly interior designers

Photo credits: HGTV and the author Melissa Dunlap
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