The before-and-after I am sharing with you in today’s blog post is not just about making a house into a home, or about making over a home into something infinitely more beautiful, welcoming, and authentic to the family that purchased it.

Although all those things are true.

This story is also about choosing to “go green.”

Family Room, BEFORE:

Family Room, AFTER:


These new sofas are 100% green, with cushions filled with toxin-free natural latex instead of foam, covers made from organic cotton linen, and frames built with only real wood, and nails; no engineered wood products or adhesives.

The BEFORE  images in this post primarily feature retail furnishings that are considered good quality. But what we generally don’t realize, when faced with these choices in the marketplace, is that mass-produced items are commonly built with materials that are not good for our health. Particle board, plywood, and MDF, a.k.a. Medium Density Fiberboard, are all made with adhesives, and these adhesives often contain high levels of formaldehyde, which off-gasses into the indoor environment and is believed by many to be a health hazard.

Well-insulated homes with double-pane windows suffer the effects of this more intensely than older homes that have not been updated, and are drafty. In addition, many mass-produced sofas still contain hazardous flame retardant chemicals, although a newer law, TB 117-2013, which went into effect in California in January 2014, allows manufacturers the option to not inject foam with cancer-causing chemicals. According to a survey conducted by the National Resources Defense Council, only a small percentage of retailers have adopted the new standards as of January 2015. Plus, these items are generally manufactured in countries where labor is cheap, and thus the carbon footprint to get them shipped from overseas is profound.

Master Bedroom, BEFORE:

Master Bedroom, AFTER:

Bed frame and side tables fabricated by a local artisan with all natural materials and no adhesives. Mattress from McCroskey in San Francisco, a family-owned business; they use wool filling which is naturally-flame retardant.

By choosing to acquire furnishings made from solid wood and other natural or eco-friendly materials, as well as hand-hewn, locally-made, small-business and artisan-produced pieces, you not only avoid toxins, but your choice also supports independent manufacturers and artists, reduces your carbon footprint, and you get the pleasure of living in a heart-ful, soul-ful, beauty-filled environment, that is custom-designed to match your lifestyle, your tribe, and you.

Once you’ve seen, touched, sat on, held, used these items, you can feel the difference.

Master Bedroom TV, Cabinet and Dog Crate, BEFORE:

Master Bedroom TV, Cabinet and Dog Crate, AFTER:

Locally-made, from all natural and eco-friendly materials, including sustainably-farmed hardwood, no glues, low-VOC paint; and this space-saving custom-built cabinet doubles as a dog bed.

When we choose to go green, we are choosing to live healthier and lower our impact on the environment. We are choosing to live more authentically. And as many parents and parents-to-be are aware, we are choosing to create a non-toxic environment for our children, including our canine children, to grow up in.

Living Room, BEFORE:

This photo was taken mid-install, after the dining room had been furnished. Interim living room was functioning as a temporary play area.

Living Room, AFTER:

Kitchen, BEFORE:

Kitchen, AFTER:

Hillsborough modern kitchen luxury interior design.

We kept our carbon footprint light, reusing and refinishing the cabinets with low-VOC paint and adding new pulls, and refinishing the existing hardwood floors in a durable and fast-drying water-based low-VOC sealant. Floor runner acquired at the Alameda Flea Market.

To view the entire portfolio of AFTER photos from this Hillsborough interior design project in our portfolio, click here.

AFTER photo credits: Eric Rorer

BEFORE photo credits: Ramona d’Viola

Portions of this blog post were originally published as a column in the Piedmont Post