Ron Finley is a Gardening Gangsta!

As we are stuck in our winter “wonderland”, I find myself daydreaming of spring, summer, and my renovation plans for my home. The 1st goal for spring will be to build a fence for my backyard and create a private oasis where I can enjoy the sun and relax in the great outdoors.  The push for the fence is also due to my desire to add a fury friend to our family!

Ron Finlay Post 1

As I think about the layout which will include a small grassed area, a garden, and a patio, I’m reminded of a fantastic speaker I had the pleasure of listening to at Greenbuild this past November, Ron Finley.

In his own words, is a Gardening Gangsta! He describes gardening as sexy and has dreams of community rejuvenation through developing edible gardens. Ron’s first project was driven by the lack of fresh produce in his neighborhood. What was the next best thing (or perhaps just the BEST thing? He set forth to build his first garden on the curbside of his home.  This action got him into trouble with his local authorities, but through perseverance and collaboration with other environmentalists he was able to continue his efforts to create edible gardens in the desert spaces of his community.

Ron Finlay Post 2

More important than his efforts is the impact he has made on his community. He has become a leader and educator of guerilla gardening by teaching the youth of the community about ways to cultivate, harvest, and maintain a healthy & nutritious garden.

Now that IS sexy!

So what am I going to take from his lessons?

1)      Find enjoyment in cultivating an edible landscape

2)     Share my success with my neighbors, friends & family

3)     Create a space that inspires others to do the same

I also have a very small space to achieve my entire plan so here are a couple of ideas that I’m going to implement to achieve my backyard oasis.

Ron Finlay Post 3

Hanging Herb Garden

Reusing tin cans & planting a variety of herbs. I like how this idea let’s you use vertical space to gain more garden space.

Re-purposing the existing fence

We have a very small fence that exists right now. My plan is to reuse the boards to build my new outdoor sectional.  I love the image below which uses old palettes to achieve the same goal. My biggest hurdle will be learning how to manage the skill saw.

Create Seclusion & Wayfinding

Use tall trees & scrubs around the perimeter of the yard so I feel completely enclosed in my green space. Use different floor materials to create transitions between each section of the backyard

Now I just have to wait for the snow to melt!


Carrie Signature Photo

Eating an Elephant

Have you ever heard the expression, “How do you eat an elephant?”

The answer is “One bite at a time.”  (Sorry to all our vegetarian and vegan readers.)


Well that’s sometimes how I feel about the challenge of living more sustainably.  There are so many issues to tackle and sometimes they become overwhelming. It’s in those moments when I want to throw up my hands and say “what’s the use?”  But I must remember that every journey is made up of many small steps.


Since our team returned from Green Build in November, I’ve been trying to maintain the momentum we gained by making small, sustainable choices. Here are a few that I’d like to share.

  • Taking the good one-sided paper from our recycling bin and put it into our printer. Much of the printing we do is for in office use, so if the back side has printing or writing on it, who cares.  New sheets of paper go in when we print for others (double sided printing if possible).


  • Being diligent about turning the lights off when we leave a room.

Lights Out

  • Unplugging the wall charger from the socket once the devices are fully charged.


  • Using a stainless steel coffee mug when getting take-away coffee/tea (stays hotter much longer too).


  • Replacing our trash bins with super tiny ones, and using those large bins for recycling.


  • Updating the library to environmentally-friendly companies/products only.


  • Bringing in some greenery into the office…and a sustainable one at that!


These are just a few of my elephant bites.

What are yours?


Tracy Signature Photo

Make your White Christmas a ‘Greener’ one!

Are you looking to make your holidays a little more friendly to the environment? Well, I’ve got a few great tips for you to make your home a little ‘greener‘ this year!




Well friends, it seems that factory-farmed trees covered in pesticides, located miles away from civilization, chopped down every Christmas & transported into major cities might still be better for the environment than having an artificial one which uses terribly unsustainable practices to produce.

Fret not, there are some cool alternatives to the traditional tree:

1. Rented Trees:

Say wha?? Yup, rented! If you live on the West Coast, there are a couple of great Canadian companies that offer a rental service for potted trees for the holidays. They deliver a potted Christmas tree to your home, you get to enjoy the ‘live-liness‘ of a real tree, and when you’re done, they come and take it back to either plant it in nature, or store it in a greenhouse for rental the following year. Cool eh?? If you’re in B.C. check out Evergrow Live Tree Rentals or Carbonsync. Anyone know of anything like that here in Winnipeg? If not, I hope this trend makes its way here soon!

2. Potted Herbs:

Ever think of using some of your hearty potted herbs as a Christmas tree? Grab that pot of Rosemary and add a few handmade decorations to make it more festive. Just think of the lovely natural fragrance you’d get out if it too!

3. Alternative ‘Trees’:

I think I can speak for all designers when I say, we all thrive on ‘Thinking Outside the Box‘! We’ve looked around and found some pretty creative ideas some people have done to replace their traditional holiday foliage.

Alternative Christmas Trees




Ok, this is the big one! This is a topic that all of us here love to discuss with our clients when we’re planning their home, so why not bring it up specifically for the holidays. Seems like the perfect time to look into alternative solutions to lowering energy bills.

1. LEDs:

Well, you’ve all heard it before, but LEDs are definitely the way to go at Christmas. They use less electricity & last so much longer. It’s kind of a no-brainer now that they are made in a wide variety of colour temperatures (ie. you can get that warm candle glow from days of yore).

And speaking of candles, have you seen the new LED flicker candles? They actually look pretty good and are far less messy than melty wax ones! They’re also less of a fire hazard with the kids, the pets, or even crazy uncle Bert who gets into the eggnog a little too early in the evening. In addition to the safety aspect, they are much better for your indoor air quality. Look into them! If you’re a traditionalist and would like a wick burning over the holidays, look into more sustainable options like those made from Beeswax. Wolesely Wicks here in Winnipeg is a great place to visit!

2. Exterior Decorations:

Instead of ‘keeping up with the Jones’ or Clark Griswold, think twice about decking your house with a million lights that could in actuality facilitate an airport runway. There is much wisdom to the old adage, Less is More but if you must get a little crazy with the outdoor decorations, perhaps omit the inflatable Santa operated by a motor using constant electricity. Listen, we don’t want to ‘snow’ on anyone’s parade, it’s just a little food for thought when planning your exterior this year. Don’t take our word for it…just check out your energy bills post-holiday (along with all the credit card bills) 😉




Yes!! This is the topic I love the most!

Finding creative, alternative ideas to decorate over the holidays. Best way to go about it: think about using natural materials, or ones that can be reused in many different ways over rest of the year. As a child, did you ever go out and decorate a tree in the forest or one in your back yard with strings of bird-feed and orange slices? I do, and I did, and it was one of the most memorable times I can recall over the holidays. So instead of reaching for that can of fake snow spray or plastic garland, step and back think what else can be done.

  • Stringing twinkle (LED) lights around a tomato cage (from your summer gardening of course)
  • Using pinecones to make garland, as filler for vases, or simply as tree decorations
  • Drawing your decorations on a chalkboard wall
  • Wrapping gifts with recycled paper from books, newspaper, or even with butcher paper & twine
  • Using plants, branches, fruit slices, cinnamon sticks and cloves make wreaths (and reap in the aromatic benefits)

Check out some of these beautiful projects I found on my favourite ‘everything’ site, Pinterest! It’s all on the S3 ‘Green Christmas Board’ :

S3 Green Pinterest Christmas


I hope I’ve given you some inspiration this holiday season to make some more environmentally friendly choices! It’s really not that hard, it just might take a little more effort. Well worth it in the end, I say.

Have you got some great ideas on how to spend a green Christmas? I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Holidays!


Non cropped thumbnail Elaina

S3 at Greenbuild 2013

Well friends, I have to say, Greenbuild 2013 was so amazing! The four of us spent 3 days learning about sustainable design and we’re beyond inspired!

Greenbuild Girls

In my opinion (and I’m sure the other girls here would agree), the education sessions were by far the most interesting & thought-provoking part of this conference. So many sessions were offered in so many different sectors of sustainability. For some, we paired up & enjoyed together, and for others we went off on our own where the topics peaked our interest.

What Did We Learn:

  • Biophilia: Moving from Theory to Reality
  • After the Storm: Recovering (Materials) from a Natural Disaster
  • Motivating Green Building Around the World
  • The Light Stuff: Energy-efficient Lighting for a Healing Environment
  • Power & Responsibility: Visual Stories as Agents of Change
  • Introducing Passive House Standard– A Valuable LEED Partner
  • Dematerializing the Built Environment: In Theory & Practice
  • Sustainable Design: Can Performance and Beauty Co-Exist?
  • Marketing Green Building: A Competitive Advantage Without Greenwash
  • Net-Zero-Energy Affordable Housing, Philly Style!

Stayed tuned for upcoming blog posts that will feature some of these topics in details. 


Expo Hall

The Expo Hall was also pretty great! A huge room filled with all the industry-leading products and technologies in sustainable building just begging to be explored.

Some of our favourites include (but are definitely not limited to):

Expo Products (1)Eco-Walls  |  Shaw Carpet  |  FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)

Expo Products (3)Interface Flooring  |  Finium (Repurposed Wood Panels)  |  Hemcrete

Expo Products (2)Green Roofs  |  Davies Office (Furniture Renewal)  |  Boomerang (Recycled) Paint


Apart from the sessions and the expo hall, we were lucky enough to attend an evening at the Liacouras Centre, at Temple University to hear Hilary Clinton speak on her thoughts on Greenbuild and sustainability around the world. She was great and presented a very inspirational speech.

This really is a powerful movement and I think I speak for all of us here at S3 when I say that we are truly honoured to be a part of it.

As an added bonus to the night, we got to hear a special concert by Bon Jovi, who in their own right, are great philanthropists and advocates of sustainability as well.

Liacouras Centre


And lastly, as part of Greenbuild, we had the pleasure of taking a couple of tours around Philadelphia to see what they have to offer in terms of sustainable design.

I, myself, took the Lighting & Garden Design Tour along the World-Class Benjamin Franklin Parkway. I visited many of the art galleries that line this famous strip, including The Barnes Foundation, The Rodin Museum as well as the Philadelphia Museum of Art (you know the steps from the Rocky movies…ya, that one!). I also got to see the Fairmount Water Works as well as get a first-hand tour of Philadelphia’s noted Boathouse Row.

TF 02photo courtesy: greenbuild 2013 half-day tours

Annie and Tracy took a tour called, Sustainable Urban Living at Any Age and were lucky enough to visit 4 of Philadelphia’s LEED certified homes from 4 different neighbourhoods. Hazel House, a LEED Platinum residence, the McBee-Sheeks Residence in Powelton Village, a LEED Platinum Pine Street Residence near Fitler Square, and lastly the Todd Residence in Queen Village (where, incidentally, is the neighbourhood in which we stayed while in Philadelphia).

TF 01photo courtesy: greenbuild 2013 half-day tours


Again, stay tuned for some detailed blog posts on these tours & topics.

For now, I think I’ve chatted enough about our wonderful experience at Greenbuild Philadelphia 2013. Already looking forward to next year’s conference at Greenbuild 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana!

Have any questions or thoughts on our trip, we’d love to hear from you! As you can tell, we love chatting sustainability!


Non cropped thumbnail Elaina

New Website Launch + Greenbuild Bound

I’m Elaina, one of the designers here at S3 Interior Design and I’m here to tell you that we’re all really proud to have launched our new + improved website!



The ‘S’s in the ‘S3’ have now evolved to Smart Sustainable Spaces. It’s really the mantra here in the office nowadays and we’re all more than excited to share our knowledge with you. I hope that you’ll take the time to browse through the new site. Check out WHY we do what we do. Read about HOW we go about doing it. Find out WHO we are. See what kind of projects we’ve been working on and discover why we’re so passionate about sustainable design.

But what’s more exciting than this new little space we call home in cyberspace?

Well, what better way to launch S3 Interior Design into the sustainable design community than to head on out to Greenbuild International Conference & Expo in Philadelphia. That’s right, as you read this, the four of us are heading to the city of brotherly love to learn as much as possible about green building practices. That’s 3 days filled with attending education sessions, checking out industry exhibits and taking tours of sustainable green buildings. What a great opportunity! Thank you Tracy for helping us get there. We all hope to come back with more passion than ever!

Never heard of Greenbuild? Click the link below to see what it’s all about. It’s going to be fabulous, if you ask me!


Please follow S3 on Facebook, Twitter + Instagram to share in all of our adventures along the way.

See you in Philly!


Non cropped thumbnail Elaina