hereIt’s easy to give your home an eco friendly interior design makeover with these quick tips!
By Jody McCutcheon
They say it’s what’s inside that counts. In terms of your home, when said interior consists of sustainable options, all the better.
When it comes to home interiors, sustainability generally denotes eco-friendly decoration and design, using materials that focus on improved air quality and reduced environmental impact. Below is a list of eight sustainable strategies to make your home’s interior eco-friendly.
We asked eco-interiors company Moorehouse Family for a bit of advice for a few strategies to make your home’s interior design more eco-friendly, and they should know: the firm specialises in restoring old gems for use as boutique vacation homes, and is proud to use around 80% locally sourced salvaged and recycled materials in their re-creations.
But you don’t need to hire a professional to get a great sustainable interiors look for your home – just follow these 7 tips for an eco friendly interior design makeover.
Image below: thenordroom.com Main image: Luluandgorgia.com
How To Do A Sustainable Interior Design Makeover
1. Use more plants as decorations
This is a no-brainer! Plants provide oxygen, and filter out harmful chemicals from the air. Plus, they offer a natural beauty, ambience and freshness, bringing a little of the outside into your home.
Think: mint or pine’s refreshing scent, or any number of flowers’ lovely fragrances. Lilies, bamboo palm or gerbera daisies especially do wonders in improving air quality. One of the easiest eco friendly interior design makeover tips for sure!
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You don’t need to have loads of room or super green thumbs to have healthy plants in your house. This mini Redwood Bonsai Box is really easy to grow! Get it for around $50 here.
2. Let more light in
The right lighting can make all the difference in space. If you live in a cold climate, always try to maximise the natural sunlight in your space by freeing windows of heavy curtains and blinds.
For privacy purposes, roller blinds are more versatile than curtains, and let more light in. Just ensure that if you don’t have curtains, your windows are completely secure in terms of insulation so no heat escapes and no unwanted cold enters in.
If possible, arrange rooms so that bedrooms and bathrooms face north (with less sun) and kitchens and living rooms face the sunnier south.
Impossible to maximise light from windows? Try a skylight instead!
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Even if you don’t have huge windows, you can bring some extra light into your home with more lamps and lighting. It’s important to have a variety of lighting sources. For example, in addition to having floor or table lamps, hang some beautiful pendant lamps beside chairs and sofas some gentle, flattering light. We love this one, made from eco-friendly bamboo.
3. Avoid decorating products with VOC content
Volatile organic compounds (VOC) are organic chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature. They can be found in many common household products including paints, adhesives, household cleaning products, air fresheners, even furniture and carpets.
In the enclosed spaces of your home, VOC concentrations can be two to five times higher than they are outdoors. This is bad for homeowners, as VOC’s create many health problems, such as eye and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, liver damage, nervous system disturbances and even cancer.
It’s also important to buy furniture and wood products with no added formaldehyde (used normally to preserve it). Also check that anything made of wood has a low-VOC, water-based stain and finish.
Other notorious sources of VOCs include carpets made from artificial fibres, and home scents, such as candles and diffusers. Ensure you’re only using wool, cotton, jute, straw or silk rugs. And any home scents should be based on essential oils.
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Farrow & Ball make a wonderful selection of richly pigmented, water based paints and stains that ensure your whole family stays safe and healthy.
Image credit: Maisons du Monde
4. Use furniture made from natural materials
Take a good look around your home. If you see any plastic, polyester, nylon, or synthetically engineered material, get rid of it and replace it with natural materials like wood.
But note this: not all woods are sustainable. Look for wood with the Forest Stewardship Council certification stamp to ensure you’re not using an endangered species for your furniture. Bamboo is another suitable option, but better yet: buy antiques and used furniture whenever possible.
Additionally, keep in mind that particleboard and medium-density fibreboard (which is made from compressed shaving and sawdust) are bonded together with synthetic glues and resins that often contain formaldehyde, which is a potential allergen to humans and carcinogenic to animals.
By contrast, good quality wood furniture is held together by wood joinery, which minimizes the need for VOC-laced adhesives. Tables and countertops should also be made of organic materials such as marble and other stone.
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Proud of your state? These tables are cut into the shape of where you live, and are handmade from recycled wood. They make the ideal statement side table in the living room or bedroom!
Image: Soho House
5. Choose natural textiles & finishings
The list of household items that ought to be crafted from natural materials goes beyond furniture. Natural pillows, mattresses, upholstery and bedding reduce the amounts of synthetic materials that ultimately end up languishing in landfills.
Doing an eco friendly interior design makeover means ensuring your upholstery isn’t made from petroleum-based materials and soaked in VOC-laced flame retardants. These can lead to serious health problems like infertility and IQ and developmental impairments in children.
Wool, by the way, is a great material. It’s hypoallergenic, biodegradable and recyclable. Wool is also odour- and dust-mite-resistant, moisture-absorbent and anti-bacterial. It’s even considered the most fire-resistant textile fibre.
Another good upholstery material is natural latex made from the collected sap of rubber trees. It’s also fire-resistant and doesn’t emit VOCs.
Carpets and rugs should be created from natural fibres. These include wool, cotton, and jute. All of these are far better than VOC-filled synthetics, which are the norm.
Any wall finishings should be in wood, ceramic or cork. It may cost a bit more, but it’s better for both you and the environment.
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Love this wallhanging? Get a similar one here. For the bedroom, Avocado is just one of many brands that make organic mattresses, sheets, throws, and blankets. You can find their amazing homeware offerings here.
6. Replace vinyl floors with something more natural
When you’re doing an eco friendly interior design makeover, choose stone, ceramic, wood, or cork flooring. In other words, things you’d find in nature. Avoid vinyl (polyvinyl chloride, or PVC), at all costs, since it is made of toxic plastic.
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If your house came with vinyl floors, it’s well worth the investment to replace them!
7. Embrace wabi sabi
Give your home a gentle interior design makeover by embracing wabi sabi. This is a Japanese term that refers to the acceptance of transience and imperfection in objects. In terms of decor, this translates into accepting the fact that some stuff breaks, cracks and chips. No need to replace those items – just embrace – or even enhance – their imperfections!
You can do so by, for example, painting cracks in ceramics with gold, or repurposing things like tin cans into pencil holders. You can also using recycled and upcycled materials for furniture and decorations.
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The image below is a great example of how you can upcycle old bottles into decor or vases, and old baskets for storage.
A few other considerations
- Where possible, use local materials to cut down on transportation costs and emissions.
- Don’t clean your home with toxic cleaners, or you’ll undo all your work to be sustainable! Use old-school formulae that you can easily make at home. Try these recipes here, or try an eco friendly brand like Ecover.