Podcast, Ep. 249: A Sustainable Approach to Design with Laurence Carr

Sustainable Designer Laurence Carr

Sustainable Designer Laurence Carr

Today we are discussing the very important and fast-growing topic of sustainability in design with expert, Laurence Carr. Laurence is the creative director and CEO of her award-winning New York-based design studio Laurence Carr Inc. Her signature style blends well-being practices with contemporary design and smart technology. She shares with us her passion for educating the design community on its impact on the environment, how our well-being is inextricably intertwined with our surroundings and materials, and where we can focus our efforts to design with sustainability in mind.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • When did Laurence first combine her design, wellness, and environmental work?
  • What does it mean to design a healthy interior?
  • Biophilic design and how Laurence uses it.
  • What is “forest bathing” (Shinrin-yoku in Japanese) and how does it relate to design?
  • In the practice of engaging every sense in design, how can you incorporate scent?
  • What it means to buy sustainable items.
  • Materials and fabrics that are more sustainable.
  • Are solar panels on your home worth it and what needs to be considered in the installation?
  • The best way to upcycle your home goods.
  • How does smart technology tie into sustainable design?
  • The #1 wellness item in Laurence’s home that has made the biggest difference.

Decorating Dilemma


My husband and I just bought our first home, and I am trying to plan the layout our future family room. The house is a 60s split level, and this family room is on the first floor directly back from the entryway. We are replacing the paneling with drywall, ripping out the built-ins, and stripping the mantel to a natural wood finish with limewashed brick.

We are totally stumped with how the room should be laid out. This will be our main family gathering and play space for our young kids. We want to put a TV in the room but aren’t big TV watchers and don’t want that to be the room’s focal point.

  • What should I do about a TV in this space?
  • How do I distract from the bulkhead?
  • Any ideas for where to put a couch and armchairs?
  • Would a sectional or regular sofa work better for flow?
  • What can I do to incorporate hidden storage for books and kids toys?

The pictures attached are from the prior owner since it’s currently a construction zone.

Thank you so much!


Hi Kimberly,

My first inclination would be to mount the TV on the orange painted wall so it’s not a focal point, is easy to watch, and is out of reach for young kids. To distract from the bulkhead I would find a way to incorporate it into the design of the living room. You can paint it the same color as the ceiling, use recessed LED lighting to highlight parts of the mantle, or you can decorate it to make it look like a wood beam. Or even replace it with an actual wood beam! No matter what you need to paint that current wood trim so it blends instead of sticks. For the best flow, I would have a sofa that faces the fireplace with armchairs on either side instead of a sectional. Your final question about hidden storage for kids’ books and toys, I would suggest putting a wall system in that very long wall where the fireplace is. You can make the height go up to the height of the mantle and you can play around with doors, movable shelves, etc. The key is making it easy to reach while also reducing clutter. You want efficiency but also for it to be multi-purpose for longevity purposes; you want to be able to use it for built-ins after the kids outgrow this phase. Don’t forget to of course use GREENGUARD gold-certified materials!

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Happy Decorating!

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Abbey Nolte

Abbey is a homegrown Georgia peach who loves a fresh take on Southern design. When she’s not working behind the scenes of the How to Decorate blog and podcast, you can find her cheering on the Appalachian State Mountaineers and spending time with her wheaten terrier, Charlie.