An Eco-Friendly Cleaning Brand CEO’s Chelsea Loft Is Chic, Clutter-Free, and Full of Good Organizing Ideas
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Name: Sarah Paiji Yoo, Kenneth Yoo, and their 3-year-old son
Location: Chelsea — New York City, New York
Size: 1,500 square feet
Years Lived In: 5 years, owned
Welcome to Green Week at Apartment Therapy! We’re giving you advice on how to reduce waste, make eco-friendly choices, and explore what natural living really looks like. Check out all of our Green Living content here, and remember—little steps go a long way, and as always, it’s the thought that counts.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve never really considered the fact that when you buy cleaning supplies—even some of the eco-friendly ones—you’re actually purchasing mostly water. “Traditional cleaning products are over 90% water, which means that we are paying for, shipping around, carrying home, and storing a ton of water, which we already have at home,” explains Sarah Paiji Yoo, the co-founder and CEO of Blueland, a cleaning supply company that offers a solution to the wastefulness of conventional cleaning supplies. “With Blueland, you have one set of bottles that you can then reuse—so you never have to throw away another plastic cleaning bottle again. And you refill them with tablets, which come packaged in compostable paper, and add your own water at home,” Sarah explains.
Blueland isn’t the only company that offers cleaning supplies like this, and fans of these products tend to love both the green aspects of them and that the non-toxic refill tablets can be more affordable in the long run. Sarah believes in Blueland’s products so much, she uses them in her own home—an airy and minimal apartment she shares with her husband and young son, but that’s not the only way she’s created a more green home. From glass storage containers, reusable bags, cloths, and more, Sarah’s home is full of great cleaning and organizing ideas… and it’s a sleek and chic space full of decor inspiration, too.
“We own a prewar apartment in Chelsea with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. It was originally built in 1905 and gut-renovated when we moved in five years ago,” Sarah describes. They worked with their interior designer, Tali Roth, to transform the space. “My husband and I wanted a mix of clean minimal design with hints of Scandinavian influence. We originally designed the space to be large and open for entertaining, which surprisingly transitioned well for when we had our son as it also provides for a good play space for him as well in the living room. All the white furniture and low sitting glass decor has proved a bit trickier to manage, but so far all our furniture is still intact and in good condition!” says Sarah.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: I’ve always been drawn to a mix of clean, functional design paired with a warm Scandinavian touch. My previous homes were always black and white but with this home, I wanted to incorporate softer and natural elements with interestingly curated areas and art throughout to help it still feel like a “lived in” home.
Inspiration: I’m inspired by the lightness of Scandinavian and modern, minimalist design. The clean lines and organic wood are so soothing for me and help keep a space orderly.
Favorite Element: The steel and glass doors in our apartment are my favorite element since it opens up our master bedroom and living room while also allowing light to permeate and sprinkle in throughout the space.
Biggest Challenge: While I love our apartment, the master bedroom is oddly-shaped and smaller than we’re used to. We added dark paint to our master bedroom walls to curate an intimate and cozy space with some dimension, and we love how it turned out!
Proudest DIY: Pantry and under-the-sink organization!
Biggest Indulgence: This amazing live-edge dining table I got from Providence, Rhode Island. I went to visit the artisan three times in the process to pick out the wood and perfect the gray stain!
Best Advice: Don’t rush if you don’t have to. My interior designer and I are very particular and both took our time to find the right items that my husband and I truly loved. Like traveling to Providence three times to build our dining table 🙂
In honor of Apartment Therapy’s Green Week—and what’s happening in the world right now—I asked Sarah to not only give a look at her chic Chelsea loft, but also to answer some cleaning and organizing questions. Like many people, Sarah, her husband, and their young son are spending a lot more time in their home. “I never imagined our apartment would turn into my and my husband’s office and my son’s school and playroom overnight, but here we are! I’m grateful we took the time to create a home that was open and minimal, as it’s now flexible for our new at-home lifestyle.”
Apartment Therapy: What are your biggest “Don’ts” of cleaning and organizing? Your biggest “Dos”?
Sarah Paiji Yoo: Do – plan ahead to set yourself up for success. Create a proper home or space for everything and have a place for everything to belong. Equip yourself with the materials necessary to make you successful. For example, if you want to cut out plastic baggies and plastic wrap, make sure you invest in enough reusable bags and wraps to make sure you always have some clean ones on hand. Also try to be practical and invest in products that are easy to clean, such as being dishwasher safe!
Don’t – don’t just push away clutter or find temporary solutions for mess or waste.
AT: What are your favorite cleaning products—other than your own?
SY: I really love my eco-friendly sponges and brushes! Sponges are the dirtiest thing in your home (wet sponges grow new bacteria every 20 minutes!) and are essentially blocks of plastic without a good way to recycle them. So when I began cutting down on plastic waste, sponges were one of the first things I wanted to swap. I started my eco-friendly sponge journey with a silicone sponge then found it didn’t hold dish soap and foam well but it’s great for using to clean the tub and bathroom instead of paper towels. Win! I also use a compostable “unsponge” which is made of all natural, recycled materials and can be washed in the washing machine and a walnut scour pad but my fave replacement has been a dish brush made of wood and plant fiber bristles that I’ve raved about on social media.
AT: What could be improved on the consumer side in terms of buying cleaning supplies/cleaning greener?
SY: Focus on reusing before recycling whenever we can by shifting the consumer mindset from one of “single-use” to “reuse.” Whether it’s reusing your cleaning bottles, or even repurposing your pasta and jam jars to store bulk foods. This also includes other categories we forget that are heavy on single-usage such as beauty. I’ve made the switch to reusable cotton rounds from S.W. Basics that are so easy for me to use to remove my makeup and then just rewash.
AT: What is a small task or two that someone can do to keep their home cleaner everyday?
SY: We all get busy so those non-obvious areas of the kitchen where our daily use tends to build up like the backsplash, oven, sink, and stove top easily get missed and hold on to dirt and grime. An easy way to stay ahead of build-up is getting in the practice of tidying up each day; keeping the multi-purpose spray handy helps you attack mess in the moment and keep germs at bay.
- Square Mirrors — CB2 (CB2 Gallery Brass 33″ Square Wall Mirror)
- Artwork — Christian Johnson Art Prints
- Artwork — Green – By Carol Batchelor (https://www.carolbatchelor.com/)
- Cylinder Task Double Arm Wall Lamp — Rejuvenation
- Wall Light — Flos (source here)