Even in “Super Natural” B.C., sustainability isn’t always an easy sell when it comes to home décor. In some circles, bottom line and overall aesthetics still trump health and well-being. But that’s not going to stop Vancouver interior designer Sarah Hollett from gently trying to nudge her clients in a greener direction whenever possible. And it’s been that way since she struck she out on her own after graduating from the BCIT interior-design program in 2007.
“I really wanted to have it as a standard, because I think some firms shy away from it just because it’s almost like telling people how to design their homes—and sometimes the cost can be a bit higher as well,” says Hollett, who’s calling from a trip to the U.K. “But it’s something that really inspired me and I really wanted to incorporate it into our work.”
With that environmental ethos in mind, Hollett launched her firm, Moor Design, which has given her opportunity to work on several green projects. And one of her crowning eco-design achievements is the Indigo Marketing workplace in East Van.
“The reason for that is even the lighting has recycled elements to it,” she says. “They really wanted all of their employees to have natural light, opening windows, and amazing air circulation.”
So to ensure there’s no “off-gassing”—or that no unhealthy gases get released into the Indigo breathing space over time—she only used paints that were free of Volatile Organic Solvents. As well, she used Marmoleum, a SMaRT-certified sustainable flooring.
When it came to decorating the space, instead of chucking out all the old furniture, Hollett reused and reinvented a lot of the already existing pieces. And from what she can tell, her efforts didn’t go unnoticed by the employees: “It created a really lovely environment that everyone’s really happy to work in, apparently.”
She also did an impressive residential job on an East Van home, using bamboo flooring, locally produced hand-painted tiles, and environmentally conscious furniture. These days, she’s busy giving an old-school fitness centre an edgy green makeover.
While many of Hollett’s projects are very green-focused, some are not so much. That’s because as a self-employed woman, she’s not in business of turning down business. That said, she certainly has a limit as to how environmentally unconscious she’ll go with a client. She just doesn’t know what that looks like yet.
“I’ve been waiting for that to happen, actually, just because I think everyone needs to have their core value or their standards put to the the test to see how far they’d go,” says Hollett. “I’d have to gauge to see if it’s absolutely horrible. Like if there’s no natural light for anyone, everything’s off-gassing and there’s no natural air flowing, then I would definitely walk away from that.”
But, as Hollett notes, ignorant customers are very few and far between.
“Clients are so educated these days with the whole design movement, if you will, on HGTV,” says Hollett, before adding with a laugh: “Unfortunately a big misconception is that it can all be done in a half an hour or summed up nicely on a TV show.”