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The recession may have you staying put instead of moving up. Let's look at what the experts say are some of the green design trends for your home in 2010.

The American Institute of Architects reports that "without the rapid appreciation in home values seen between 1995 and 2005, design of kitchens and bathrooms has recently been somewhat more modest. Functionality is now preferred to more and larger kitchens and bathrooms within U.S. homes. Households are placing a premium on products and features that promote energy efficiency, and adaptability in the use of space for seniors and those with accessibility concerns. ... Integrating kitchens with family space remains a design priority, as does including areas devoted to recycling, pantries, computer workstations, and spaces devoted to recharging laptops, cell phones and PDAs.”

This kind of "reverse growth" is a blessing when it comes to cost savings. The average U.S. household spends around $1,900 a year on utility bills. The U.S. Department of Energy says green ways can cut your bills by up to 25 percent. Functional design is a good place to make big changes.

Some other popular green trends include:

  • LED lighting: The abbreviation for "light-emitting diode," these environmentally friendly lights give off the same light as regular 40 watt bulbs, but they last 50 times longer, making them a cost-effective option for lighting your home.
  • Water saving toilets: Low flush toilets use only 1 to 2 gallons of water per flush compared to the usual 3 to 5 gallons.
  • Renewable flooring: All renewables are not made the same, and a savvy homeowner should explore what option best fits their needs. You can choose from bamboo, natural linoleum, cork flooring, and even wood floors.

Other design trends take us to color. Following the green movement, color choices for 2010 reflect the return to an earthy mentality. Earth tones are very popular, using less dye and chemicals to produce. And while global colors are also popular for design, such as yellow, orange, green, and plum, there is another issue to take into consideration when choosing them.

Green hues may be optimistic and uplifting, but recent studies have shown that the color green --outside of natures -- can itself be toxic. According to the New York Times article, The Toxic Side of Being, Literally, Green, "Take Pigment Green 7, the commonest shade of green used in plastics and paper. It is an organic pigment but contains chlorine, some forms of which can cause cancer and birth defects. Another popular shade, Pigment Green 36, includes potentially hazardous bromide atoms as well as chlorine; while inorganic Pigment Green 50 is a noxious cocktail of cobalt, titanium, nickel and zinc oxide."

The best alternative to chemicals, when it comes to paint, could be low and zero voc. As well, a wealth of organic upholstery fabrics are found on the market today. Go green!

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