Green Room

Susan MacLeod
Photography: Neil Landino

Photography: Neil Landino
Above: A truly beautiful wood floor doesn’t have to come at a cost.

Susan MacLeod is on a mission to help her clients create beautiful yet sustainable interiors that are hypoallergenic. The Rowayton-based interior designer, who recently received her certification as a Green Accredited Professional from the Sustainable Furnishings Council, shares three ways to make your home safe and environmentally sound. Susan MacLeod Interiors; 203-945-7856;


MacLeod doesn’t recommend wall-to-wall carpeting, as it’s often made of synthetic materials or treated with toxic flame retardants. “If you’re chemical-sensitive, emissions from newly installed carpeting may cause headaches, dizziness or nausea,” she says. Instead, opt for natural fiber rugs made of wool, cotton, jute or sisal.

When purchasing new furnishings, ask, “What’s it made of?” Look for wood that’s certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), or opt for reclaimed material, recycled fiber and water-based wood finishes. Manufacturers like Lee Industries and Mitchell Gold are members of the SFC and make safe furnishings. Their sofa frames are earth friendly; they use water-based biodegradable glue; and their furniture is free of fire-retardant chemicals. As far as cushion fillings, look for ones filled with wool or a nontoxic flame retardant. MacLeod also recommends repurposing furnishings, either by reupholstering or repainting. “Vintage finds and antiques are back in vogue, and recycling furniture is a great way to be eco-conscious,” she says.

When refinishing floors, avoid toxic, oil-based stains. MacLeod likes using Monocoat, a plant-based, VOC-free wood-floor stain with great durability and over forty color choices. “Many stains contain the toxic chemical polyurethane,” she says. If you’re replacing your floors, make sure they’re nontoxic, eco-friendly and sustainably harvested, reclaimed or recycled.

A sisal area rug is a natural choice.
Photography: Neil Landino
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