Lori Dennis’ Top Product Picks
Winter (November), 2010 | By Alice Liao
While Lori Dennis, principal of the Dennis Design Group, describes herself as a high-end designer who loves ‘nice things,” her conscience is deeply green. And withgood reason. Not only did Dennis grow up in the 1970s, when the energy crisis was the talk of all media, her single mother and her grandmother taught her the value of minimizing waste, conserving re-sources and recycling. When Dennis decided to pursue a career in interior design, going green seemed a perfect fit. Recently, Dennis has poured her lifelong passion and her experience as an eco-friendly designer into a new book, Green Interior Design. A handy reference for sustainable building material and product information, it aims to show that upscale homes can be eco-friendly by offering up examples of what Dennis feels are ‘spectacular green projects.” Many of these, no doubt, incorporate ‘nice things,” but as she noted, “an important part of being green is picking products that really last and deliver good performance.” Which explains why Dennis is a fan of CaesarStone (1). Scratch resistant and able to withstand high temperatures, the surfacing material is nonporous, easy to clean—”just spray it down with vinegar water and lemon juice”—and virtually ‘indestructible: she noted. “So unless you choose it in a bright orange that’s going to go out of style in a few years, you can get some real mileage out of it.” Because Dennis often buys organic products, which tend to go bad quickly, she appreciates Liebherr refrigerators (3) for their ability to preserve freshness. At the heart of the units is the patented BioFresh system, which ensures optimal temperatures and humidity for safekeeping everything from produce and dairy to meat and fish. In addition, Dennis said, they’re ‘beautiful.” Although they tend to come with a hefty price tag, Valcucine kitchens (4) earn high marks not only for being earth-friendly in their manufacture and materials, but also for making their users more eco-conscious. According to Dennis, the cabinets are equipped with wastebaskets whose limited capacity forces users to separate their food scraps and compost. Her latest favorite from the Italian company is Invitrum (shown), a line of glass and aluminum cabinetry that can be completely recycled. In bathroom projects, Dennis frequently specifies TOTO toilets, which save water without compromising style. The multitalented NeoRest (5) is a personal favorite but, at $3,000 or more, ‘is not for everyone: she acknowledged. Water efficiency and great design, however, can be had for much less, as TOTO also offers ‘a good entry-price product.” Because storage is as important in the bathroom as it is in the kitchen, Dennis designs a lot of custom cabinetry using veneers from Brookside Veneers (2). She admires the company for its sustain-able business practices, which include sourcing FSC-certified material and planting seedlings to aid forest regeneration. To boot, ‘their product selection is phenomenal,” Dennis said. ‘I get such ‘wows’ from the cabinets that I do with them.” What more could a designer ask for?