Sensitivity to the environment is a growing concern for a majority of homeowners in the New England region, Forbes reports. Sustainability preferences are driving the type of projects homeowners begin and the materials and finishes they prefer.

“We see a lot of interest in low VOC products; people care about how much their paints or carpets are off-gassing,” says Shannon Alther of TMS Architects of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. “They also like to re-use old building parts, something that was espoused but seldom done until now, especially in commercial buildings.”

Bradford Walker of Boston’s Ruhl Walker Architects sees a new interest in texture that goes hand in hand with today’s strong environmental consciousness.

“People are looking for reclaimed wood, wire-scraped oak, chunky and coarse textiles,” he says. “They are moving away from the look of surfaces embalmed in smooth polyurethane.” He points out, “My clients are trying hard to not do granite countertops,” as another example of the move away from the smooth and towards the textural.

Kelly Taylor, who operates her interior design firm out of Providence, Rhode Island, says that the shift towards sustainability is driving the biggest design trends.

“We lost 100 watt incandescent bulbs in 2012, which encouraged manufacturers to ramp up innovation with LED lights. Recessed LED lighting is amazing now,” Taylor says. “You end up with a better look, much better quality, and you replace bulbs every five years instead of every six months. When you look up, you see glass, not a bulb and space around it. And the light is so much nicer and richer.”

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