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Q&A with Designer Jennifer Scott of A Good Chick to Know

The interior designer shares her tips and tricks for creating an energy efficient home that doesn't skimp on style.

It was no surprise when BC Hydro tapped local interior designer, stylist, visionary consultant, Jennifer Scott to design the BC Hydro Power Smart Pad for the upcoming Vancouver Home + Design Show (October 16 to 19, 2014). Having been selected as a finalist in the BC’s Best Young Designer competition, and acting as a reoccurring expert speaker for the BC Home + Garden Show, Scott is making a name for herself in the design community. The founder of A Good Chick To Know, Scott offers everything from personal shopping, interior design to project developer services, and delivers design advice on CTV Morning Live, CTV News at Noon and Breakfast television. We caught up with the multitasker to discuss how eco-friendly designs are a lifestyle choice that’s here to stay.

Q: What appealed to you about designing the Power Smart Pad?

A: It’s quite aligned with the niche that I see myself in, as it’s all about making conscious decisions. When I’m designing for clients I use a lot of vintage or repurposed items as it’s both from the standpoint of being green as well as power smart. I also do it from an aesthetic level because it creates more of a story and personality.

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Jennifer’s Power Smart Pad inspiration board.

Q: How can you be stylish while also saving electricity?

A: It’s interesting but I feel like the BC Hydro messaging that I’ve been familiar with in the past has always been more directed to ‘change out your windows and will give you a rebate’ or something really drastic. When I was initially asked to do this Power Smart pad, I really wanted to do something that reached the urban market, people who live in the city and condo dwellers. I’m doing a 800 square-foot set up with BC Hydro, which is fun because it shows the different ways and different levels you can be Power Smart even within something like lighting. You could use a Power Smart-approved fixture or it’s as simple as whether you buy a new traditional retailer light fixture or a vintage one and repurpose it. It’s really about the small things, like turning off your lights or opting for different light bulbs. This isn’t something where you have to redo your whole kitchen or get rid of all your windows because obviously in a condo that’s not even an option. It would just be great if everyone could take away something whether that is a big change or a small change.

Q: Why do you think eco-friendly designs are becoming more popular?

A: I think as people become educated and more aware people are taking more responsibility for what’s happening in our world. Initially it was a bit of a debate if environmental concern was something to be taken seriously but now there’s no debate, it’s a fact. Especially in Vancouver, which is such a green city, I think it’s a faux pas to blatantly not help out. It’s kind of the new age “keeping up with the Jones” of who can be more green. As it becomes more popular and people make those adjustments, the older ways of once doing things are going to fall to the wayside. In the future, the only available options are going to be Power Smart or green choices and I think that’s going to happen more and more in different facets of the industry and society. We realize that supply is limited for a lot of things so we’re moving towards using more reclaimed woods and materials in new ways to create cool designs.

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Q: What are your favourite stores, restaurants, and spots in Vancouver?

A: I have three favourite restaurants. El Camino on Main Street: I’m such a sucker for Latin American street food, I would eat that every day if I could. I love Calabash, it’s a super cool spot with amazing Jamaican food and downstairs at night the old elevator shaft in the building is turned into the DJ booth. Then there’s Nicks on Commercial Drive. I grew up with my dad taking me there when I was a little kid, so that was a stand out experience in Vancouver when I was small. Now I bring my daughter! It’s not fancy and its not cheap but the ambiance is fantastic and worth it. I feel like I’m in a 50’s mob movie. For stores, any random day you can find me at Space Lab for vintage finds as well as salvage and custom pieces. I’d be hard-pressed to say that I haven’t done a project where something isn’t from that store. Refind is great too and has more mid-century vintage, both of these stores for vintage are my favourite. For traditional retailers I love 1910, The Cross and Provide Home.

Q: What are some green trends going into fall?

A: I love that every fall we get into a cozy hunting lodge look with the antlers, skulls and warm textures. It’s not specifically a green trend but more from an animal welfare perspective but this fall I’m seeing more variety of faux options. I love that look but I never want to use a real dead animal or support hunting to achieve that vision. This year I’ve noticed a lot of faux furs and faux sheepskins, which used to be used just for blankets or rugs but now it’s moving into textiles and pillows. The other day I even saw faux sheepskin curtains which looked really, really cool. It’s not always a matter of thinking green, it’s more about making ethical, conscious choices.

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Q: What are some easy ways to incorporate green friendly designs into a home?

A: It’s super easy. I recommend using something like the BC Hydro Power Smart bars. I love lighting and use varied methods at different points of the day which means I have a lot of things plugged in; it’s nice to know there is an option where you’re saving power. I assumed that once you turned off a switch your appliance or object was off. I didn’t realize was that if my espresso machine, my coffee machine and my iPod doc was still plugged in it was draining electricity and costing me money every month. That’s why the power smart bar is so great because once you flip the switch everything is off.

Q: What’s the biggest mistake or faux pas people make when trying to go green with design?

A: I think people sometimes get a kick and try to go on a green overhaul. If you all of a sudden try and make everything in your house green eventually your going to start falling behind on those things. The key is to make changes that make your life easier. If you can see measured savings it shows that you don’t have to change every aspect. That wouldn’t be very green either if you threw away everything that wasn’t power smart in your house and replaced it with something that was eco-friendly—think about all the waste, As things wear out, for example your light bulbs, make those green conscious choices as they come up. I think if you try and overhaul everything at once it’s going to act like a fad diet, you’re in it to win it for a month or two and then you give up because it’s too much work.

Q: What’s your design motto?

A: Live what you love. When I meet clients they often say to me ‘what do you see happening in this house?’ And it’s like, ‘NO! What do you see happening in this house? What do you love?’ When you walk into a room you really get an idea of what layout or style is going to work best but the overall finishing details, the stuff that people notice, that’s all about personality. When working with clients I usually have them show me five things that they really love so we can work around that. If you were to walk into my house in ten minutes you would know a lot about me because it’s stuff that’s important to me and things I like. It doesn’t mean you have every knick-knack you’ve ever collected but it’s about grouping the things that matter to you and creating your own space. People have gotten onto the trend of making their space look like a showroom, when shopping they see something and are like, ‘oh this is in style, we’re buying this’ and I think that’s counterintuitive when building a home. Your personal sanctuary should really speak to you.

Q: If all Vancouverites could do ONE eco-friendly thing in their homes, what would it be?

A: Turn things off. It’s easy, it doesn’t cost anything and it actually saves you money. I would also say only buy environmentally green friendly cleaning products. If you think about how much we use cleaning products, whether it’s dish soap, or what we clean our showers with, all of that goes back into the environment and it’s so toxic. I think we’re at the point where there’s no excuse using harmful products anymore. The information is out there, eco-friendly products are widely available and it costs pretty much the same. It might be a dollar or two more but that’s less than a coffee.

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