How to make sustainable interior design and decorating decisions
One of the trendiest words these days, sustainability, is no longer a niche pursuit. Environmental issues and concerns for the future of the planet are bringing a value shift in our society, encouraging everyone to adopt more eco-friendly practices in their everyday life. In the race for a more sustainable future, interior designers and conscious home crafters are starting to explore different ways of incorporating eco-friendly solutions into their built environments. But since all trends tend to be trivialised, and keeping in mind the fact that we still lack proper regulations in this field, let’s take a closer look at the concept of sustainable interior design and discover ways to implement it in our homes.
What is sustainable interior design?
Interior design is the art and science of building a relationship between the people and the interior space they occupy. Playing on the strings of functionality, health and beauty, the role of interior design is to enhance the quality of life and encourage specific moods.
Traditionally, tapping into environmental concerns has never really been an issue for interior designers, but the wind of change is in the air.
By incorporating sustainable practices, the role of interior design is stretching beyond practicality and aesthetics, supporting wellbeing of both people and the planet.
So the question is – what can we do to make more sustainable interior design and decorating decisions?
Shop and source locally
Try to shop local as much as you can. In this day and age, buying new furniture often equals supporting the production chains scattered all across the globe. Choosing local furniture, materials and artwork not only reduces environmental pollution caused by long-distance transportation and logistics, but it also supports the local economy.
However, if you don’t find that highly coveted piece in your neighbourhood, check international brands with nearby presence.
Other great ideas for reducing the carbon footprint of your furniture is to order online from brands who deliver in bulk to some of the local shops or warehouses where you can later go and pick it up yourself.
Consider the life-cycle
To be truly sustainable, a product needs to be made from safe and healthy materials that can ultimately be recycled, reused, repurposed or returned to the earth as compost.
A life-cycle analysis ensures that all stages of the product’s life (sourcing materials, production, transportation, use and disposal) are environmentally-friendly, while insisting on longevity of the product as the ultimate way of lowering waste, pollution and energy consumption.
Quality over quantity
Selecting quality pieces is a highroad to sustainable interior design. Before buying any kind of furniture or homeware, consider its longevity first. Never fall for the quick and disposable just because it’s trendy or if it seems inexpensive.
The good news is that the offer of magnificent, low-impact, high-quality pieces is growing and that the market for vintage furniture and decor that demonstrate fine craftsmanship skills of its creators and superior material selection is now more affordable than ever.
Choose only the pieces that are built to last.
Mindful shopping powers sustainable consumption. Engage the supplier in your environmental priorities and be sure to check if they operate their business in an eco-friendly way.
Adopting a slow, more intentional approach to decorating and learning how to sit still till the right opportunity emerges is yet another strategy that will undoubtedly result in a long-term interior solution. Don’t rush the process and allow the concept to reveal in stages without compromising on the quality and comfort.
Embrace vintage and second-hand
Cohabiting comfortably with brand new pieces, vintage furniture and decor introduce a playful spin to the otherwise dreary spaces. Apparently, Millennials have a thing for patina, antiques and one-offs as they allow them to explore environmentally conscious practices and lifestyles while at the same time showing authenticity and character.
Shopping for vintage furniture might not always be the cheapest solution (especially if you entertain the idea of filling your home collection with vintage designer furniture), but it can certainly be one of the coolest ways for reducing the pressure on the landfills.
Choosing vintage means less waste, no more production-related emissions, and finally – getting your hands on a reliable piece that already stood the test of time.
Seeing existing objects with a fresh set of eyes is yet another way to nurture sustainability in your home. Why ditch a perfectly functional sideboard just because it no longer matches your colour scheme?
With a bit of imagination, a vintage piece with good bones and solid structure can be transformed to match your new vision for the space. There are many ways to get creative with paint and upholstery, from simple restaining to a total makeover.
Follow your heart and get crafty!
Select conscious materials
Finally, getting familiar with sustainable materials and fabrics and their unique journeys and life-cycles cannot be understated.
Cutting down trees is never a good idea, so, whenever it’s possible, prioritise recycled, reclaimed or salvaged wood. But if you simply cannot avoid buying new wooden piece of furniture, make sure to double check if it was sourced from a responsibly managed forest.
Also, bamboo and rattan are considered as sustainable alternatives. They grow very fast, take less energy to produce and don’t require chemical treatment in order to grow. Bamboo and rattan furniture is durable, but it is good to know that it’s also biodegradable.
Stone may not be the brightest sustainability example as it cannot be renewed, but its benefits are numerous. It is very durable and easy to maintain and recycle.
Natural fabrics such as cotton, jute, hemp, wool and linen provide the most sustainable solutions for rugs, cushion covers, bedding, towels, drapes and throws.
Lately, many brands are starting to look into recycled materials like plastic, metal, paper and stone and explore exciting ways for giving them a second life. Once seen as expensive and limited, today recycled furniture and homeware are entering a new era of possibility and democracy in design.
Practicing sustainability without sacrificing comfort and aesthetic, or even stretching your budget is our new reality.
Let’s make the most of it!
feature image: blog.sampleboard.com