8 Design Tips for an Eco-Friendly Home

Building or remodeling? Become a better steward of nature with these innovative ideas.

Treehouse exterior

Photographer Tria Giovan

Eco-chic Idea #1

Save trees and trim your energy bill! The placement of this house and its decks was dictated by the trees, limiting the number that were cut during construction. In return, the trees provide shade that keeps the house cool.

Angled windows

Photographer Tria Giovan

Eco-chic Idea #2

Put your windows to work. The angled windows in the living area allow maximum light to filter in. Glass panels at the base of the windows open like trapdoors to admit breezes and eliminate the need for air-conditioning.

Window wall

Photographer Tria Giovan

Eco-chic Idea #3

Make use of Mother Nature. Windows cut in the wall bring in breezes on even the warmest day.

Cedar-plank siding

Photographer Tria Giovan

Eco-chic Idea #4

Choose durable materials. The house’s cedar-plank siding, which is resistant to pests and water, is both strong and low-maintenance. Its beautiful gray patina also means infrequent repaintings.

Kitchen with eco paint

Photographer Tria Giovan

Eco-chic Idea #5

Go low VOC. To cover the poorly maintained interior siding that had turned black, Marc chose a low-VOC white paint in a finish that allows the wood’s texture to show through. Paints like this one from Benjamin Moore (Muslin [OC-12]) contain fewer atmosphere- polluting volatile organic compounds.

Rooftop terrace

Photographer Tria Giovan

Eco-chic Idea #6

Design for a small footprint. A grid of small holes, rather than an invasive crater for a foundation, was dug for pilings that support the house’s small but tall design. These homeowners added the steel-and-cedar railing to the rooftop terrace that rises above even the tallest trees.

Living room

Photographer Tria Giovan

Eco-chic Idea #7

Opt for one-room living. Gifford designed the glass-walled living/dining/cooking space as part tree house and part loft, with a floating island and a paneled wall of storage that doesn’t look kitchen-y.


Photographer Tria Giovan

Eco-chic Idea #8

Move bedrooms to the lower level. The living space and roof deck clear the canopy of trees, while the sleeping areas are shaded by the leaves and feel more private. With mature trees so close to the house, the bedrooms also don’t need curtains.

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