The Living Room...Before
When Kerry Washington's friend, designer Danny Seo, first came to see her West Hollywood apartment, he was blunt. "I told her the apartment was ugly and not even functional. It was basically a big closet with a bed.... I didn't think it reflected her appreciation for beauty and concern about the environment."
Washington, who rented the space in 2007 just after breaking up with her fiancé, admits she didn't give it much thought. "Moving usually coincides with some kind of life change, and it's important to sit back and look at how you got there, but I hadn't given myself that experience. I'm such a workaholic; I just wanted to keep moving," she explains.
She immediately went on the road to campaign for presidential candidate Barack Obama. Before she left, though, Danny convinced her to let him give the apartment an "eco-makeover." Since he had decorated the apartment Washington shared with her fiancé, she knew he would not only make her new place functional and beautiful but keep it economical (she's no spendthrift) and use materials that were aligned with her eco-conscious values. "She basically handed me the keys and said, 'Have fun!'" Danny recalls.
He injected color into the living room by draping one wall in vibrant red and white organic cotton fabric from Rubie Green and adding pillows made from recycled materials (grain bags, burlap).
Lamp, Style de Vie. Sofa, JCPenney. Pillows, Vintageweave Interiors, Vagabond Vintage, Jiti Bedding, and JCPenney. Coffee table, Baker. Rug, Vintage Textile. Paint (throughout apartment), Benjamin Moore Natura.
"People assume green design has to be super high-tech, kind of cold and gray," he explains. "But I think it can also incorporate lots of color, texture, and comfort mixed with up-to-date elements like energy-efficient appliances and countertops sourced from sustainable materials."
Since the apartment is small with plenty of natural light, Danny emphasized color—a cheery green in the kitchen, dining room, and office, a soothing blue in the bedroom—using paints free of toxic VOCs (volatile organic compounds). In the kitchen, he installed Energy Star–qualified appliances, which use 10 to 50 percent less energy than standard models, and took down the unattractive mirrors lining the wall, replacing them with pressed-flower eco-resin wallboard.
Above the dining table hangs a chandelier he created by removing the shade from a $40 Ikea light fixture, covering the frame in chicken wire, and adding branches and faux birds.
Dinnerware and table, JCPenney. Countertops, Dupont Zodiaq. Cabinets, KraftMaid Cabinetry. All appliances, Electrolux. Eco-resin wallboard, 3form.
Cheery and Bright
For Kerry, Danny's makeover was a revelation. "Redoing my apartment had a much more profound effect on the way I live than I thought it would," she says. "I love, love, love the new kitchen," says Kerry. "I'm inspired to cook, which is both economical and healthy." Steamed veggies and smoothies are her favorites.
A dowdy carpeted step that Kerry's Shorkie (a Shih Tzu and Yorkie mix) uses to climb on the bed got a revamp when Danny recovered it with a $15 woven Peruvian rug he bought at a flea market.
"These small details, especially when repurposing something old, not only solve a problem but weave in the things you love—which helps make your house a home," says Danny. A mossy green velvet upholstered headboard filled with eco-friendly soy foam, built with sustainable wood and made in America, became a focal point in the bedroom.
"When you sleep well somewhere, that's when it becomes home," says Kerry.
Bed, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. Mattress, Simmons Natural Care by Danny Seo. Sheets and pillowcases, Plover Organic. Coverlet, JCPenney. Shams, JCPenney and Rubie Green. Throw, Under The Canopy. Carpeting, Shaw Floors.
Danny also figured out a way to give new meaning to Kerry's few possessions. He chose linens made from orgnic and renewable materials like cotton and bamboo fibers. He also filled a glass apothecary lamp with shells and colored sea glass she had collected, fitted it with an energy-efficient CFL (compact fluorescent lightbulb), and placed it in the bedroom.
The updated bathroom features a driftwood mirror frame (GO Home Ltd).
Vanity and faucet, Kohler.
"I used to think, 'Who has time to care about their home aesthetic?'" Kerry says.
Space to Think
"Now I'm more inspired artistically and creatively," Kerry says. Danny organized her book collection in a library cabinet and sorted the covers by color. "I tend to remember books by their covers, so this was a creative solution. I want to be here reading scripts and watching movies. I've even started writing my own screenplay. It's a painful process, but it makes a difference to have an office that's not just a storage space but a room of my own to create in." After Danny's jump start, Kerry has continued making improvements. She added a desk for her assistant and installed more shelving.
Desk, hutch cabinet, and rug, JCPenney. Plastic chair, Herman Miller.
Kerry realized that what she had assumed was a lack of interest in interior design was really a lack of confidence about how to express herself. "I didn't feel equipped. Decor wasn't an area I had expertise in," she says.
The Green Room
"I've learned that it's a big deal to have a space that reflects who you are; it makes you feel more present and comfortable." She's also realized that being an environmental activist starts at home. "You don't have to abandon your values to surround yourself with beauty." She's especially enjoying a newly lush patio."I really love having somewhere to sit outside and read," says Kerry, here with her dog, Josephine Baker, Lanterns, JCPenney. Yellow rose-print pillow, Plover Organic. Outdoor wicker chair, ottoman, cushions, planters, all Smith & Hawken
. What's the point of a planet-friendly makeover if your castoffs end up in a landfill? We found out where to recycle the big stuff!