Episode 365: Troubles with Home Gyms and Eco Friendly Furniture Options

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I am so excited to share something with you. This will come as no surprise to some of you who’ve been listening for a while and know that every quarter I go to Chicago for a business workshop. I love interior design, but equally, I love entrepreneurship. I love becoming a better business owner. I love determining how I spend my days.

I love that the more I work on myself, the more I become a better human, more efficient, more compassionate, more plugged in, a better listener, that I’m able to use those skills, that sort of personal development to turn it into profit, right? Because the business you own or run is only as evolved and only as successful as you personally are.

That’s really my biggest takeaway from my recent trip to Chicago, I realized that if I would’ve told Betsy, 25 year old Betsy who started her own business just as a hobby, was still, you know, dancing on the bar and waiting tables that she’d own her own business and she’d have a husband, she’d have the two kids, she’d have the dog, she’d have the house. Sometimes you just keep reaching and just keep striving and just keep thinking outside yourself versus saying, Hey, I’m at the top of the mountain.

I’ve arrived where I would want to have been at 25, and for all intents and purposes, I’m feeling really good where I am. I rarely stop and celebrate my wins. I rarely stop and look at my vantage point from the mountain and say, you know what? I’m already at the peak here, and any choices I make from here, while there’s still a lot to do and there’s a lot of logistics, and it’s not easy running a business, any choices I make from here, I’m either choosing to move away from my dreams or towards them.

So how many of you are in that place where now you are not making a dream come true is on you? Maybe you’re avoiding it, right? Maybe it’s just inconvenient to change your life around. 

My choice is preventing me from reaching goals versus me not being able to reach goals because of outside circumstances, which was so the case when I was 25. This was the case four years ago but now I’m in a different place and if I wanna realize things I’ve been thinking about, it’s just about changing my schedule or saying this is a priority for me, I’m not gonna push it to the side anymore and that’s kinda liberating.

So without further ado, let’s dive into the mailbag and start answering your questions. 

In this episode we discuss…

[9:33] Home Gym Design (Kara)

[16:29] Eco Friendly Furniture (Kara) 

[9:33] Home Gym Design (Kara)


We don’t know where to put our living room or home gym. Our furniture pieces are second hand and cast offs from others, nothing we are attached to. However, we both love to work out and that is important to us. We are thinking about putting the gym in one half of the large room with the fireplace and a view out the backyard. My partner purchased a larger TV and our idea is to remove part of the mantle to bring down the height and place the TV there. We would have a living room in two-thirds of the room and a gym in 1/3. The TV could then slant towards whichever function is currently being used. Is this bad? Will the house hate us for this? 



Thanks for listening, and thanks for sending in these pictures. You’re right, I don’t talk about home gyms. I do design them a lot, but I guess people just don’t write in with questions about them, and I really let your questions drive the content.

So bear that in mind I’m looking at these pictures and guys, and if you wanna look at these pictures, I would suggest heading over to our YouTube channel, Affordable Interior Design, and we post all of the pictures there as well so you can see my face. 

So basically, you’re wanting to move your home gym into the living room, and that is not something I would advise now. I’m gonna tell you why, if this is your dream house or your forever home and the most important thing with a home gym is that it gets used, so if the only way for it to get used is for you to put it in the living room, by all means.

But if this is your living room where you would bring guests, where you would entertain, where you would watch TV at night, would I want it in my living room? Absolutely not. The reason is not because I wouldn’t wanna walk on the treadmill while I watch tv but because all that equipment looks bad.

You know? It’s black, it’s silver, it’s heavy looking. It doesn’t set a great stage for just everyday living. Now when, and if I have my own furniture line, maybe I’ll make some beautiful treadmills or something beautiful.

They just don’t look good right now. And so I would not put them in the living room. In fact, what I would be thinking about is, you know, could it be in that office space? If it goes in the husband’s office space, then you could put his office space in here and it could be somewhat concealed behind the couch. I just think that it’s bringing down the vibe. 

And I also think that based on the current layout, the TV would be perpendicular to the gym equipment which means when you pull out this massive tv, it’s going to need to be quite angled. It’s gonna need to be at least like a 90 degree angle off the wall above the fireplace for you to see it. And then you’re gonna see that huge mechanism in the back. It’s gonna be a lot to pull over. Now you guys love to work out, so it’s not gonna be hard for you physically, but it’s going to look really bad.

I’m not a fan. The big black mat, ugh. Ugh. Unless you’re going for super industrial chic, it’s not the vibe I would want in my living room. Uh, so I mean, that’s a quick answer. I wish I could spread it out a little bit more, but it’s a big no for me. It’s a big no for me and I wanna encourage you to work out.


[16:29] Eco Friendly Furniture (Kara) 



I could use your ideas around shopping. I hate shopping. I worry about wastefulness and get very anxious about labor practices and environmental impacts.

I sometimes get stuck doing tons of research and then never buying anything. Often I end up. Secondhand thing for this reason, but I’d like to buy a few things for the house that are new that we actually bought. Do you have any go-to brands that you can recommend or ideas so I can feel less worried and enjoy decorating our house more.


For most of my clients, I buy only new things because buying used things or buying antiques are very difficult because there’s only one of them, right? So if they sell out before my client can get to them, we have no options. So at my design firm, I shop exclusively retail, which does lead to waste.

Right now, when I’m looking for something environmentally friendly, I look for pieces that say they have that. California Standard approved, right, cuz California appears to have the strongest sort of environmental policies for furniture. And you can find pieces that meet those California standards at places like Pottery Barn, West Elm, Williams, Sonoma, Wayfair.

You just wanna look at the fine prints. That way you can make sure you’re not getting that formaldehyde or those other sorts of chemicals that are often found in more affordable type furniture pieces.  In terms of stores, I use a huge mix, and it’s very dependent on my client’s budget as well as their style, and when I’m shopping for them.

I don’t always think about the environmental impact, you know, it’s more about how they’re going to get rid of the pieces that they already have. Whether they’re donating, whether they’re selling them on Facebook Marketplace, and you know, with my personal clients, they’re not obligated to buy the pieces I recommend.

So if they do wanna wait to find something similar or the exact same piece on Facebook Marketplace or Cherish, or you know, first dibs, that’s completely up to them. I usually in the past have just bought retail with a sprinkling of some older pieces that align with my style. In my last home, it was very mid-century modern, so I was able to buy a few true mid-century modern pieces from that era. And then of course, mid-century modern is such a popular contemporary look right now that I was able to easily fold in those retail pieces. It all looked super cohesive and I was moving from a small apartment in Brooklyn, so I needed additional pieces. Nothing went to waste. I was able to reuse everything from our apartment, but in different rooms.

Now, when I moved to this house it is so antiquey and has such a different vibe, like there’s no mid-century modern going on organically in this house that a lot of what I selected for my previous house just isn’t gonna fly, right? It had silver metal finishes. This house is very brass, very bronze.

Um, I just wanted sort of that fresh start, especially because those previous pieces had been around since my kids were like three and four, and they’d seen better dates, so I totally understand the desire to wanna be more eco-friendly, but I think the main thing is how you get rid of your pieces. When I was moving out of our space in Dobbs Ferry, that mid-century modern type vibe, I gave away a lot on the Buy Nothing Facebook page.

I am a huge fan of the buy nothing Facebook pages from your personal area. I immediately join whenever I move, and I am very active because I hate buying things like cleats for my son, for his, um, mini sports adventures because he outgrows them so quickly and only uses them for a short time that they’re not even really fully used and they’re so expensive.

So for sporting equipment or really everything and anything including moving boxes, Buy Nothing was just a godsend. And so I think of it as truly paying it forward. When I gave away almost everything from our past house, I didn’t really sell any of it. I gave it all away to buy nothing because I wanted to just, In gratitude, thank everyone for how wonderful they’d been to me, and then it allowed me to purchase new things, um, that felt really perfect for this house versus having to compromise all the time.

So I admire your eco-friendly stance, and I think it’s really important to do a mix if that’s the style you’re going for. But if it’s not the style you’re going for, I’d rather you just have pieces that you really love, that you’re really excited about. And sometimes that means investing a little bit more so that you don’t change the piece out too soon.

Because when we do buy super cheap stuff, sometimes it means that it’s going to return to the landfill sooner. We don’t even wanna give away really cheap stuff, right? So it means that it’s going to be more trash, more waste than value in the long run. So these are all things to think about, Kara. But the bottom line is I don’t have one go-to that I’m just always looking at because no one store does everything right? So if you were saying, Betsy, where can I find a mid-century style sofa that’s high quality? Well, I could certainly point you in the direction in my personal favorite store is room and board, right? But I really need that specific thing and that specific price point as well as the style to know exactly where to direct you.









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