Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Simple Living: Suggestions for Pared Down and Green Design


When I was a kid my grandpa smoked a pipe.  He would give me the cleaned out tobacco boxes to use as pencil boxes for school.  There was never any question of which box belonged to me.  I have to wonder, are kids allowed to use boxes advertising tobacco products at school today?  School administrators take note, I never became a smoker, but I did learn the value of repurposing and recycling.

A recent article in the New York Times has the media buzzing about living simply.  Advocates of simple living encourage cutting back on vanity items and minimizing possessions to the essentials, often leading to eliminating debt and a large carbon footprint for some individuals. And, perhaps you have already cut back on luxury purchases over the past few years.  Maybe you've taken your saving further by reusing takeout food containers and your grandmother’s hat boxes. But, have you considered changing your lifestyle altogether? 
Is it possible to pare down to the necessities, be green, and still keep style and design in mind in your home?

Beyond repurposing tobacco boxes, here a few richly illustrated book suggestions to help:

Simple Home: Calm Spaces for Comfortable Living
by: Mark and Sally Bailey
Helps you carefully consider colors and materials to create a comfortable but practical home with recycled and reclaimed items.



New Small Apartments = Nouveaux petits appartements = Neue kleine apartments
Illustrates with twenty different projects how to maximize the design and efficiency of a small space.




Color at Home: Creating Style with Paint
by: Meg Lesser Roberts
How to use paint colors and color palettes to create mood and drama in your home.


Green Living by Design: the Practical Guide for Eco-Friendly Remodeling and Decorating
by: Jean Nayar
A guide to environmentally-minded home building and designing to help you identify sustainable and nontoxic materials, as well as appliances and furnishings.



The Carbon Free Home: 36 Remodeling Projects to Help Kick the Fossil-Fuel Habit
by: Stephen and Rebekah Hren.
Offering an array a projects ranging from simple (planting edible perennials) to very dedicated (installing a 5-V Metal Roof), this book offers a good understanding of home energy use.



The Green Home
by Bridget Biscotti Bradley
Explains environmentally friendly, money saving options for every surface of the home ranging from wood flooring to solar panels.



New Green Homes
by: Sergi Costa Duran, Ethel Baraona Pohl, and Liliana Bollini
A good ecological home design resource containing plans, detailed drawings, and material choices.



Urban style = Maison de ville = Stdtische Hu
Examples, including plans, of ecologically designed urban buildings. From a series on Eco Architecture with text in English, French and German.



Portable Houses
by: Irene Rawlings and Mary Abel
Trailers, buses, trains, tents, and wagons are utilitarian homes that save space and materials.



Green is Beautiful
by: Claudio Santini
Discusses issues like lighting, insulation and ventilation through examples of beautifully designed eco-friendly homes.


Design for a Living World
Catalog from an exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum on sustainable design.




Design and Truth
by: Robert Grudin
A meditation on how design communicates beyond its intended functionality from a Pulitzer Prize nominated author whose audience is the everyday observer.



Green Design
Consider how the products you buy from TVs to Legos affect the environment.  Discusses green toys, fabrics, energy, paper and objects.


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

Post new comment