From living rooms to bathrooms to indoor and outdoor furniture, virtually every aspect of design and décor has been transformed by the mainstream movement of incorporating natural and sustainable elements 

by Michelle Cannon Epting

For certain local business owners, a passion for designing with quality and unique products has led to success in each of their fields. Likewise, a passion for using natural and sustainable resources also drives them as they make an environmental impact. The beauty of what they offer a customer comes through as they bring something peaceful, peerless and pure to each client’s canvas.


[singlepic id=297 w=250 float=right]For Roxanne Brilliante-Justice, owner of As Nature Intended Interiors (, incorporating green and sustainable products into residential and commercial décor has been a passion for some time. With over 25 years of interior design experience, she has been using materials such as stone vessel sinks, live plants, cork, bamboo and natural sisal floorings to transform businesses and homes into serene sanctuaries. Her stylish touches can be found in businesses, such as Essentials Spa in Viera, and homes, including her own.

Her personal residence’s “Casa Bella Courtyard” features a vintage Indonesian teak bench, vintage bamboo chairs, travertine tile floors, a vintage wrought-iron gate (now repurposed as wall art) and a driftwood-framed mirror. A bougainvillea privacy wall surrounds the outdoor space and helps to bring the outdoor feeling indoors. A key feature of her residential designs is creating indoor spaces that feel connected to nature and outdoor spaces that feel relaxing and homey.

Brilliante-Justice emphasizes that it is not necessary to incorporate exclusively all natural products into a design. She explains that sustainable design is not “all or nothing.” One can subscribe to this philosophy by simply including a living plant to clean indoor air or a seashell accent to promote a sense of harmony with nature within one’s environment.

“At this moment in time, ‘sustainable’ products to me can mean not only products derived from nature that can easily be replenished by nature, but also products that are repurposed or vintage, which also save our planet from overcrowded waste,” she explains.


Participation in the professional surfing circuit exposed April Exline to exotic locales and cultures. During these travels, Exline came to appreciate the local furniture, architecture and artwork from all over the world. She used her creative vision, the relationships established in her travels and her degree in international business and design from the University of Hawaii to create Island Inspiration ( five years ago with her husband, Lou.

[singlepic id=305 w=300 float=left]The business offers indoor and outdoor furniture, shelving and paintings featuring natural materials and themes. Exline imports items made from a variety of exotic wood and stone sources, including onyx, marble, river stone, granite, tamarind, cedar, mahogany, coffee, bamboo, teak root, plantation and reclaimed teak, naturally felled trees and petrified wood. These items come from Hawaii (where Exline still lives part-time), Thailand and Indonesia.

Exline is cognizant of both impacting ecological issues and supporting local artisans, and she purposefully chooses sustainable, reclaimed and fair-trade products in her travels.

Some of Exline’s favorite pieces are repurposed century-old fishing canoes and reclaimed wood (from buildings’ walls) used to create furniture and art.

“Island Inspiration brings ‘functional art’ to Brevard County,” explains Exline who purchases pieces to which she emotionally connects; pieces that “add character to a home and tell a story.”

Island Inspiration’s main location is in the Sun Harbor Nursery in Indian Harbour Beach. The second location is in downtown Melbourne.

[nggallery id=11]


Don Herndon brings a certain southern charm to Classic Wood Flooring ( Perhaps that is because he grew up in small-town South Carolina, where the values of hard work, doing right by people and family were instilled early.

In 1998, Herndon and his wife, Julie, opened their showroom in Suntree. The couple makes a complementary team. “It works really well, and I get to work every day with my best friend,” says Herndon.

[singlepic id=303 w=250 float=right]Classic Wood Flooring sells wood flooring, cork flooring, tile, carpet and laminate. With an onsite mill, Herndon’s teams are able to make factory cuts, yielding results in trim work, medallions and patterns that allow their craftsmanship to shine. Clients are encouraged to bring in their own design visions and the team at Classic Wood Flooring will bring them to life.

Herndon also emphasizes going the extra mile for the customer no matter what, insisting on making even the most minor modifications to a job until the customer is completely satisfied. “The job doesn’t end when the last piece is placed,” says Herndon. “We keep that relationship going and continue to take care of our customers if we need to.”

Equally important to Herndon is environmental responsibility. He promotes selective harvesting by working only with suppliers who are ecologically responsible. Trees taken must be replaced or replanted. By designing engineered floors versus solid wood floors, the trees yield three times more product. Cork flooring, for example, comes from the bark of the cork oak tree, and it is made after wine corks are made. The bark grows back within 10 years or so, thus replenishing this resource.


Upon witnessing an opportunity in the booming construction industry to be an artisan and craftsman, Cliff Hirsch officially opened Island Tile ( in Melbourne in 1984.

[singlepic id=300 w=300 float=left]Island Tile offers products from the U.S., China, Colombia, Egypt, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Brazil and India. In the 20,000-square-foot facility’s breathtaking showroom, one can find stoneware (marble, granite, coral stone and slate), tile, river rocks, porcelain, metal and glass. Hirsch has fostered relationships with international suppliers who often deal exclusively with him. The selection offered at Island Tile may be seen only in larger cities if at all. These products can be used in kitchens, baths, outdoor spaces, pool areas, in entryways and on feature walls. Island Tile also offers Kohler fixtures that complement these products.

“Many of the forward thinking companies that we are affiliated with started using 40 percent or higher recycled materials in their tiles several years ago,” says Hirsch. “Some factories have exceeded 70 percent recycled  content, keeping materials out of landfills and sustaining our natural resources.”

Hirsch explains that the digital age is affecting his business, as well. He has embraced and invested in the cutting-edge concept of using a special inkjet printer to replicate different natural stone products on a dense porcelain body that is more durable.

“All of the natural stones used in the building industry, such as marble, granite, limestone, quartz and slate, were formed millions of years ago, and there is only a certain amount of these stones left on our planet, and there will never be more,” says Hirsch. “The new technology of digitally recreating the stones on a porcelain clay body allows for use of a recycled clay base and preserves our stone resources.”