Smart Design With Suzette: Interior Finishes – Paint & Wallcoverings

Smart Design with Suzette
Interior Finishes – Paint and Wallcoverings

In an eco-friendly world interior finishes should be earth-sensitive, meaning they should be safe for people and the environment.

We have come a long way in the last few years. There are many eco-friendly choices to make.

Wallcoverings – What to look for:

This photo demonstrates an inspiration piece (pillow) in choosing paint color and spreading accent colors around the room. Courtesy/

Today’s wallcoverings come in modern, eye-catching designs made from green materials that are perfect for your home and your health. Here’s a simple guide to know what to look for:

  • Natural fibers like seagrass, bamboo and reed. These are commonly referred to as grass cloth, it adds a warm feeling and is biodegradable. However, this material is not recommended for anyone with cats.
  • All natural materials are a great environmental choice. Think about cork with its superb sound absorption and natural microbial qualities. Even leather is an option as long as it is minimally processed with natural tannins.
  • Recycled paper or FSC-certified paper are a great choice and readily available. FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council refers to its being harvested from sustainably managed forests.
  • Water based inks, paints or dyes are some of the most beautiful wallpapers on the market today. Be sure to opt for non-toxic, low VOC paste as well. Most people understand the term VOC. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. VOC’s are organic chemicals in household products. Reducing exposure to VOC’s by buying limited quantities and following label directions carefully.


Before choosing a paint color, there are a couple of things to do for safety:

  • Check that the wall to be painted is lead free. If it is not, use appropriate action.
  • Select appropriate paint. Low VOC has little or no formaldehydes. Zero-VOC does not contain petroleum-based solvents. Natural paints and finishes are available with colors that are made from natural plants and minerals. These are the least toxic to use and biodegradable.

Many clients have no idea where to start when choosing a paint color for a room. Color affects our mood and energy. Color accounts for up to 60 percent of our response to an object or a place.

Design Tips:

  • Start with an inspiration piece
  • This usually, in a bedroom, is your comforter or duvet cover. In a living room, it might be an area rug or a piece of artwork that you love.
  • Pull colors for walls and accents. From your inspiration piece, choose your main color and paint the walls with it. Then add accent colors spread around the room in your pillows, rugs, curtains, headboard and artwork.
  • Consider the mood you want to create. If it is your bedroom, it should be your sanctuary. Don’t choose colors that will keep you up all night. Pick colors that are restful and soothing. Blues, greens and neutrals are calming. Currently, neutrals are grays and whites, not creams or tan. I’ll never forget experimenting by painting my bedroom red to create passion, but unfortunately passion turned into anger. I’ll never do that again!

Finally, have fun with it. A space should reflect who you are. It needs to feel like you and your family so your house becomes your home.

Feel free to contact Los Alamos Interior Designer Suzette Fox to suggest specific design topics or for help with your home. For more information, find her on Facebook at and on her website

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