Growing up in Italy, I remember looking at the hot water boiler over the sink in the kitchen, one boiler in the bathroom over the tub and another one again over the sink of the service bathroom and thinking how ugly it was to stare at them. In my mind as a child, it would have been better to have one big boiler hidden in a closet serving the whole house, as wealthy people had it. Wrong! One of the building green idea is to let water travel a short distance and save on electricity.
In the morning, as soon as we were all awake and up, all the windows were opened to allow fresh air in the house through the morning while the house was being cleaned. Bed sheets came off the bed and were shaken, mattress was beaten to get the “bed bugs” out, technically called dust mites. It is a good idea to vacuüm the mattress every day as you vacuüm the floor to get rid of dust particles hidden in the mattress that can cause asthma problem.
The kitchen was a sanctuary. First of all it was spotless, cleaned only with natural products, like “Savon De Marseille”. During cooking all the windows were open to let the cooking vapor, steam and grease smell escape out. Many times the kitchen were built outside the house perimeter. It was called the hot kitchen, a place only used to cook, the eating happened inside the house.
It was amazing to watch food preparation and wondering if all that it was discarded would have gone into my stomach instead. I was too young to understand that wasting food was not an option. Food was not pre-made, everybody made fresh food at home every day using every bit of food that could have been used. I remember all the egg shells, coffee and tea ground, discarded vegetable leaves and stems, fruit peels and much more went into the compote pile to make fertile ground for our home grown food. Fish heads, tales and bones along with discarded peel of onions, carrots and celery became fish stock. Eatable flowers rolled in sugar became candies. Apples and various spices became vinegars and tomatoes were turned into a sauce conserved for the winter. We never had leftover food (freshly made food is good for your health and look) and there was almost nothing going into the garbage, like plastics, packages, metals and sorts of things we see in garbage today.
Kitchen and bath furniture were made of real wood without formaldehyde and lasted for generations. Note I have called it “kitchen and bath furniture”. The best kitchens and baths I have designed in 20 years of my career have been produced in real wood and still standing.
Many items of clothing, at least the manageable types were washed by hands to give them a longer life.
This contributed to a less spending and more savings. We bought only a few pieces of clothes needed to match with the existent pieces. All laundry was hung in the sun to dry. A few hours later they were ready and they smell so fresh and clean! Today, living in America, I still hang my clothes to dry in my laundry yard and I have never owned a dryer, with the shocking disbelieve of my neighbors who think I come from Mars.
We didn’t need energy-efficient appliances then, but we do today and we want to save money.
Our floors were made of stones and still are, stone floors are healthy, breathable, wash and wear. A bit of water and soap, voila’ the floor is clean.
During my growing up, we only turned on the lights in the rooms we were using and turned off all lights in the rest of the house. We still do that, electricity is so expensive in Europe.
Do you think that was living in an old world? Perhaps, but we didn’t have to care about saving the environment, because we didn’t abuse it in the first place and we saved all kinds of money, because there wasn’t much to waste. At the same time, we didn’t even know we were already contributing to saving the environment. Today we must revert to that way of living. How much money are you loosing for not being green and beautiful?
Since a few years ago, I am part of the “green concept design” helping people understanding how to build and design with the environment in mind. Talk to me about your needs, I am here to help you saving money and save the environment, the only HOUSE we have. Do you have questions? Please, leave a comment below. I will answer all of your questions within 24 hours. Ciao,
Copyright © 2010 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
Valentina Cirasola, the principal designer and owner is a trained designer and has been in business since 1990. She works on consultation and produces design concepts for remodeling, upgrading, new home design, décor restyling and home fashion.
“Vogue Italy” magazine and many prominent publications in California featured Valentina’s work . She also has made two appearances on T.V. Comcast Channel 15 and she received the award of “Best Of Local Business” July 2010 by the U.S. Commerce Association. Check out her books on