Make Your Home Energy-efficient Without Sacrificing Style

Vancouver design guru Jennifer Scott shares power smart tips and proves energy efficient is not style kryptonite

Vancouver designer Jennifer Scott shares energy-efficient style tips

Vancouver-based home stylist Jennifer Scott (a confessed lover of the incandescent 60-watt bulb) took to the stage at last month’s Vancouver Home and Design Show to tell homeowners that they can have it all: going green doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style.

“I wanted to think about ways to get people kind of excited or interested in energy efficiency.”

Looking at the main areas that complete the style of the home — appliances and hard materials (like fridges and floors), lighting, colour and furniture — Scott shared her energy-efficient design secrets for combining beautiful style and aesthetics that don’t necessarily “read as green at first.”

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Smart Tile Style


According to the design guru, ceramic tile ends up being much more durable than porcelain tile over its lifespan. The key is to get the treated version called an “active tile,” shared Scott.

“It removes 99 per cent of bacteria on the tiles and it also prevents bacteria from growing, so it makes it really effective in places like kitchens, bathtub surrounds and showers.”


Another of Scott’s recommendations is 100 per cent recycled marble tiles. “I really like this because I’m really seeing sort of a return to glamour and high-end finishes in homes, moving a little bit away from the concretes and more into the prettier stones.”


Glass tiles are great, but ones made from 100 per cent recycled glass are better. The product take glass from windshields or commercial windows and turns them into really pretty tiles, said the designer. “So again, it’s just a way to go for the same look you may have been looking for but to take a different approach to it.”


“This is another wall tile that I really like. It’s 100 per cent recycled plastic, and it comes in just monochromatic white, but there are all kinds of different textures.”

“You can use them as little features or you can cover the whole wall,” said Scott.  “So because they’re plastic, they would be fine to use as a backsplash either in a kitchen or a bathroom. But in a living room or a playroom, you could do a whole wall and get a really cool effect from them.”

Cork: Not Just for Floors

“A lot of people have been using cork in their homes, but as a floor application,” said Scott. “It’s durable, renewable and it’s soft underfoot. You can also use it in these amazing wall tiles.”

“I have a client who had an area [in her kitchen] that when the fridge opened, it would bang into the walls and it was scuffing up her drywall and around her bar. So we brought in this product because it’s soft and resilient, so when you bump into it or drop something into it, it bounces back. The other good thing about cork is that it adds a lot of warmth, it’s sort of an insulator, and it’s going to cut sound.”

Reclaimed Wood Works Wonders

“People use reclaimed wood for a lot of things… not just on floors. You can also do wall panels or backsplash features with reclaimed wood and it ends up being a very green process because you’re taking something that would otherwise be chucked away and you’re just bringing it into your home.”

“It adds a lot of warmth and a lot of character. You’re going to get a lot of different colour variations — it’s usually darker from being weathered.” But you can sand it down and stain it to any shade that suits your house, explained Scott.

Credit: Stock/Power Smart

Appliances = The Money Makers

“When you start to look at ENERGY STAR rated or energy-efficient appliances, they’re a comparable price point when you purchase them, they’re similar in design and they’re great on quality, but long-term they’re going to be saving you money.”

Scott said an energy-efficient dishwasher or washer can save up to 40 per cent of your water use every time you run it, so at the end of the month that’s going to be a massive savings on your bill.

Credit: Tracy Ayton Photography

Energy Efficient Lighting

“The two main frontrunners for efficient bulbs are your compact florescents (CFLs) and your LEDs,” explained Scott.

“Personally, I’m a fan of LEDs. When they’re in the space, I honestly can’t tell they’re an energy-efficient bulb so that says a lot coming from someone who’s a big fan of the old school non-energy-efficient ways. They give a nice light and it looks really natural.”

Credit: Tracy Ayton Photography

White is Efficient and on Trend

According to BC Hydro’s Power Smart team, painting your walls in whites and light greys reflects more light and is therefore the most energy efficient because you’ll need fewer lights to illuminate the space.

The good news is that on the style front, white rooms are also in fashion.

But if stark white rooms are a bit daunting for people with pets, kids or a klutzy streak, Scott suggested mixing different shades of whites and having the ivories and off-whites all play happily together. More natural tones offer more flexibility, explained the designer, allowing for the inclusion of natural woods and linens with everything falling into the same sort of colour category.

STYLE TIP: White-on-white rooms give homeowners the opportunity to highlight one item, such as a sofa, by making it a different colour than the rest of the monochromatic room.

If you want to bring in more colour, you can still keep those bright white walls, but bring in colourful accessories, artwork, furnishings and fixtures and the room will read as a really colourful room, suggested Scott.