Interior designer Michelle Rohrer-Lauer believes that good health begins at home with eco-friendly furnishings. As principal of Michelle’s Interiors in the city and far northern suburbs, Rohrer-Lauer has incorporated this philosophy throughout her career.
Known by her team and colleagues as the “Green Queen,” Rohrer-Lauer won three interior design awards in 2020. Among them, she earned “Designer of the Year” from the Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC) and the Interior Design Society, which was presented to her during the fourth annual #GetYourGreenOn competition.
The contest honors interior designers who specify sustainable and healthful home furnishings for their clients’ residences. “Winning this award is a green dream come true,” Rohrer-Lauer notes.
“As an environmentalist and a member of SFC, I am dedicated to creating healthier homes and communities by connecting people to sensible, eco-friendly interior design solutions,” Rohrer-Lauer says.
The designer frequently advises her clients to “get their green on,” not only for the health benefits to them and the globe but for the beauty and authenticity of the design. “It is my goal to educate clients about the importance of sustainable design because they don’t often have that in mind when they come to me.”
She utilized this “green” mindset while designing a historic Highland Park home, beginning with the walnut floors used throughout the kitchen and first floor. “The vendor, Carlisle Wide Plank Flooring, uses only timber growers who adhere to sustainable forestry practices.” Rohrer-Lauer also employed an eco-friendly water-based finish to the wood.
The kitchen, which won the ASID Illinois Design Award of Excellence for “Best Kitchen” in 2018, features maple wood cabinets, one of the most sustainably harvested woods in the United States.
“When vendors use wood from a sustainably managed forest, they are essentially replacing what they take out,” Rohrer-Lauer explains. Buying locally is important to her as well, to reduce shipping distance and carbon emissions.
For kitchen appliances, Rohrer-Lauer incorporated Sub-Zero. “Seventy-five percent of the steel they use is recycled as is 50 percent of the plastic. And the company recycles 566 tons of scrap metal yearly.” She also notes that the Sub-Zero Wolf appliances have received an energy star rating that exceeds the federal minimum for energy efficiency.
Window treatments are a good insulator, Rohrer-Lauer notes. For this home, she used fabric made of natural cotton and linen, which are biodegradable. She is also a huge proponent of wool rugs. “The rugs are all-natural, stain-resistant, and provide excellent acoustics for a home.” Incorporating gorgeous glass fixtures in the home, she notes, “Glass is among the most recyclable materials on the planet.”
The master bathroom, which earned the ASID Illinois Design Excellence Award for “Best Bath for a Small Firm” in 2019, features several environmentally friendly elements. “The shower compartment is designed with a full-length glass enclosure so that when the client takes a shower, heat doesn’t escape. Therefore, the water doesn’t need to be quite as hot. I also designed the shower with age-related safety elements so it won’t have to be redone as my client grows older. The zero threshold entry eliminates a step up into the shower and I reinforced the shower walls to accommodate grab bars when necessary.”
Rohrer-Lauer calls her eco-friendly philosophy “Fifty Shades of Green” and offers seminars educating consumers. She emphasizes that our homes don’t have to be completely “green” to improve the environment. “Each small step we take can make a big difference in our health and the health of our planet.”
“It’s like buying organic foods or exercising,” says Rohrer-Lauer. “You don’t have to go completely organic or work out like an athlete to improve your health, and you don’t have to go completely “green” to help the environment. I call eco-friendly design a life insurance policy for the future. It is my way of giving back.”
For more information, visit michellesinteriors.com.