Reducing our impact on the environment has become a key concern in every aspect of our lives, and this should include home decoration. It is something I always keep in mind when working on a project. Unfortunately, with the amount of information available, it can become confusing and difficult to know where to start. In this blog article, I am sharing with you five very practical tips to create a sustainable, yet stylish interior.
Tip #1 - Stay away from trends
This is the biggest trap to avoid when decorating your home. It can be so tempting to update your interior with the latest trend, especially with many cheap options available. But trends pass and you will most likely want to get rid of your purchases after a couple of years.
Choose furniture and accessories that you love and not because they are on-trend. Avoid compulsive buying and think about it for a few weeks to make sure it is something you will want to keep for decades.
Favour neutral colours for large furniture, you are less likely to get bored with them, and they allow you to update your interior with just a few accessories.
Design: @kimberinteriors / Totem Road
Tip #2 - Shop with small brands
When you buy from a small brand, you’re often supporting a hard-working local family rather than benefiting foreign shareholders. Small brands are more likely to have stronger values and are less motivated by money. Where possible, choose local suppliers, so you contribute to the local economy and reduce your carbon footprint with less transport.
Design: Woodchuck / @elisabeth_heier / Malawi Cane
Tip #3 - Buy pre-loved furniture
There are many benefits to buying pre-loved items. Vintage furniture is not only good for the planet, but it can also complement a modern setting, making it look more personal and lived-in.
Opt for classic designs that will remain ‘on-trend’ for decades.
Upcycle and repurpose pieces you already own or vintage products you find. Be creative. You can paint an old desk, reupholster your grandmother's chair or even transform an old vase into a stylish lamp. The possibilities are endless!
Vintage pieces are usually of good quality (they've stood the test of time) and are often cheaper so don’t hesitate and head to your local vintage store. And once you're finished with something, always donate it or sell it instead of throwing it away.
Read our blog post ‘Why your room needs vintage furniture’ for more information on buying vintage.
Design: Margo Hupert / @joliplace
Tip #4 - Choose quality over quantity
This is true for all aspects of life! Just as we should avoid fast fashion, it’s best to stay away from cheap stores such as Target and Kmart for furniture. Their products often have low longevity and will end up in landfills after a few years (or even months). When choosing appliances, opt for energy-efficient models
Design: @byron_beach_abodes / Glen Proebstel
Tip #5 - Favour natural materials
Natural materials are better for the planet, and they look better too! Stay away from plastic and invest in furniture made from wood, rattan or glass.
Wood: While it is a natural material, wood is not always harvested sustainably. Opt for plantation wood and look for brands that follow the PEFC or FSC standards. Rattan and bamboo are great alternatives to wood as they both grow very quickly (read my post ‘Why rattan is here to stay’ to learn more about rattan). Pick solid wood over laminate and MDF.
Glass is also a good sustainable material that can be recycled.
Metal is also an option. Even though it is not the most environmentally friendly material to produce, it is very easy to recycle.
Fabric: When choosing fabric, linen, wool, organic cotton and recycled fibres are your best options. Avoid synthetic fabrics as much as possible. Goodbye polyester, vinyl and nylon!
Paint: Look for paints with low or no VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds). VOC is very harmful to both the environment and your health.
Remember to add plants to your interior. Snake plants, rubber plants and peace lilies are very easy to look after and also purify the air.
Design: Lynda Gardener / Block722 Architects / @nicole_franzen
Some of my favourite sustainable stores for furniture and homewares include:
The Dharma Door has a fantastic range of natural homewares, made by Fair Trade, female artisans in remote communities.
Mr and Mrs White is a family business that offers a range of timeless timber furniture. Their products are made in Sydney and are built to last.
Armadillo & Co pairs beautiful rugs with outstanding ethics. Their rugs are crafted by hand from natural and sustainable fibres using Fair Trade practices.
Totem Road is renowned for sustainability. They have a wide range of furniture that has been crafted from sustainably sourced oak and will stand the test of time.
I hope this post will help you buy furniture more sustainably. If you know any sustainable supplier that you would like to recommend, or have any other great tips to share, do not hesitate to comment on this article or to contact us so we can add them to the article!