Torie Halbert – Designing for Eco-Conscious Luxury
Torie Halbert, a finalist on Home & Garden Television’s Design Star and owner of To the T. Interiors, has a favorite tip for redecorating in an eco-friendly way: repurposing. Reusing old furniture and materials is not only environmentally friendly, she says, “It’s also stylish.”
In 2009, the Houston native finished in the top four of HGTV’s Design Star reality show. Halbert has received multiple honors from PRISM, Parade of Homes, Houston’s Best Awards, and was named 2009’s Most Dynamic Woman in Houston. She works as a custom home designer and strives to be environmentally conscious with her designs.
“I like to use elements my clients already have,” Halbert says. “That’s something I’m known for.”
One of her favorite elements to re-use is wood, because of its versatility. She loves to find unique ways to use wooden kitchen cabinets in other parts of the house. Halbert has also reclaimed wood from barns and old buildings to use as flooring in a home re-design.
The acclaimed designer often repurposes chairs and mirrors in her projects. She points out that chairs can be re-upholstered in unique combinations and be a great feature piece in a space.
Halbert typically designs luxury homes, but works with Ashley Furniture once a month to give deserving budget-conscious families a home makeover. Even when designing for clients not on a budget, she still enjoys refinishing and repainting existing pieces.
“Then you’re really customizing something,” she explains. She prefers the uniqueness of pulling together a variety of older items to buying coordinated pieces at a store and simply setting them up. “Plus, everyone likes to save money,” she says.
Halbert was inspired to be eco-friendly because, in her ten years remodeling houses, she’s seen the massive trash bins outside.
“That huge dumpster is going off to the landfill and it pulled on my heart. That was many years ago. You’re just inspired, and you want to do more of that,” she says, referring to reducing the waste produced when remodeling.
The inspiration led her to endorse Nature’s Carpet. Instead of bland designs, the eco-friendly company stays on trend with various patterns. Halbert partnered with Nature’s Carpet for their Houston launch a few months ago. They offer products that are 100 percent biodegradable, made from renewable resources, and are LEED compliant.
Halbert describes her time on Design Star as a “culture shock” — she’s always lived in Texas, and the show is filmed in California. She describes her designs as traditional, old-world, and country. In California, however, the designs are very modern. The experience influenced her to incorporate more color in her remodels.
Her strongest influence comes from Ralph Lauren’s interiors. “I’m very much a Southern designer,” she says. “And his interiors are rustic and lodgy.”
A seasoned designer, Halbert uses her style and expertise to speak to young, future interior designers. She talks to them about easy ways to be eco-friendly, like incorporating bamboo and using paint that does not have volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
As someone who typically designs luxury homes but who is also environmentally conscious, she has a unique perspective on living fabulously while being responsible.
“You can go green and still look polished and high end,” she says.
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