If you’re like me, you’re probably always looking for fun and creative ways to refresh your interior design, but also worried about the sustainability of switching things up. It’s sometimes hard enough to decide on whether we like a new design without having to worry about the environmental impact at the same time! That’s why I’ve written this handy guide with lots of eco friendly interior design tips, to help you keep your space feeling creative and exciting while ensuring a truly sustainable interior design.
What is sustainable interior design?
We all want a home to look and feel like our own space, but in our hyper-consumerist culture, we’re highly encouraged to buy new things every time we want a refresh our space. The problem is that all the things we buy have an impact on the planet - they use resources in their production, emit carbon in transportation, and create tons of waste in landfills (or end up polluting the environment). That’s why it’s so crucial to choose a sustainable interior design.
With a little bit of creativity, you can source wonderful, responsible interior design items and reduce your environmental impact, all while redesigning your space! Sustainable interior design is about choosing good materials, changing the way we purchase items, and reusing or repurposing instead of buying new each time. If you’re planning to buy new, don’t just buy from Amazon — read about some eco friendly interior design tips to find responsible brands from ethical platforms. This article will help you learn more about each of these design aspects with some eco friendly interior design tips.
Why does sustainable interior design matter?
Choosing sustainable interior design means making conscious choices to be a responsible consumer, and voting with your wallet to direct better practices and shape a better world. Every purchase we make can have a big impact on the environment, workers, and communities all over the world. It may seem insignificant, but every decision we make regarding how to spend our money sends clear signals that can shape large corporate practices to be more ethical and sustainable. Choosing sustainable interior design products can even help you conserve energy in the home!
Tips for sustainable interior design
1. Sourcing for Sustainable Interior Design
One of the most important parts of eco friendly interior design is sourcing responsible materials. Here we offer some key tips for reducing consumption, and waste, and looking for second hand sustainable interior design choices. If you’re looking to responsibly source larger furniture items, check out some eco friendly interior design tips for non-toxic rugs, sustainable nursery furniture, and well-made sofas and couches.
2. Reclaimed and Responsibly Sourced Wood
One of the most beautiful sustainable materials for interior design is wood which comes from responsible sources. Here are some eco-friendly interior design tips for using wood.
The best thing you can do when seeking wooden materials for sustainable interior design is to look for reclaimed material. Reclaimed wood and wood products are basically made of recycled wood that was previously a part of other products, so incorporating it into your sustainable interior design project helps reduce waste and save new trees from being cut down.
Reclaimed wood is full of warmth, history, and character, with a classic look and feel that will contribute brilliantly to your interior design aesthetic! You can find reclaimed wood and products online from sites like Etsy and eBay, or from local construction, salvaging, and sometimes even larger box stores.
If you are sourcing new wood, make sure to look for the Sustainable Forestry Certification (FSC). FSC-certified wood comes from responsibly managed forests where harvesting preserves biodiversity, benefits the lives of local communities and workers, and ensures the long-term continued growth of the forest.
Certifications like these can help you avoid corporate greenwashing by companies that make unverified claims about their environmental practices. Also try to select products made from fast-growing timbers like birch or bamboo, which have less destructive harvesting impacts. These are some small steps we can take toward being responsible consumers, and ensuring that our wood products don’t contribute to environmentally destructive forestry.
3. Sustainable fabrics
Sustainable interior design products incorporating natural fabrics, such as wool, linen, bamboo, silk, hemp, and pure cotton reduce your environmental footprint since synthetic fabrics often include plastic, which can break down during washing and contribute to the massive issue of microplastic pollution in the ocean. Additionally, choosing organic fabrics help ensure that your sustainable interior design products weren’t created using pesticides or herbicides which can have harmful effects on ecosystems and remain as residue on final fabric products.
Dying is another step in the process of creating a fabric that can have unhealthy environmental impacts both at the beginning and end of a product’s life cycle. Non-synthetic, naturally dyed textile products often feature earthy, natural tones, adding beauty and elegance to your sustainable interior design choices, alongside environmental responsibility. Check products for labels such as the OEKO TEX Standard 100 certification, which certifies products free of hazardous chemicals. Such fabrics, if taken care of properly, are also far more durable, lasting longer and remaining in pristine condition for many years before being compostable at the end of their life cycle.
4. Dried Flowers
I absolutely love having sweet flower bouquets, ideally from local producers, to brighten and cheer up my home. Unless you buy locally, a lot of these flowers travel long distances and have a big impact on the environment. Either way, the best thing to do is to buy less often, but fortunately, dried flowers can be a great eco-friendly interior design piece that can last for many months!
You can do some at-home flower drying, which is a great way to save a special bouquet or even purchase a dried piece from a local flower store. You can even add dried indoor or outdoor flower wreaths for a wonderful wall piece. Dried flowers can be just as bright and cheerful as live bouquets, but their longevity makes them an excellent choice for sustainable interior design products.
Like fresh flowers, dried flowers need a little bit of thoughtful care, particular to their needs, including a spot out of the direct sun - to avoid fading - as well as good airflow to avoid mouldiness. Also, given their more delicate nature, they do best placed in a location where they are not frequently moved, such as a sideboard or mantelpiece, instead of on the center of a dining room table. There are lots of fun and creative choices for vases to display your dried flowers as well. Cleaned wine bottles with the labels preserved can make beautiful vases while reminding you of your favorite wineries!
5. Thrifting for inspiration
Shopping for sustainable interior design products can be a great source of inspiration when you see an item that you hadn’t even thought of before, and suddenly it fits into your new vision for a space! That’s why I love to shop secondhand at flea markets, charity shops, or through online thrifting methods. Sometimes you discover something really vintage and unique, that will fill that perfect space on a shelf or table! While you’re shopping, or even at home, try to embrace imperfection.
A little chip or crack, as long as it’s safe, doesn’t have to render something unusable. Little imperfections like these can add character and keep products out of the landfill, minimizing waste and the environmental issues associated with it.
6. Changing things up and keeping your interior design refreshing and adaptable
Changing up your interior design can be inspiring and exciting, making the same space feel reinvigorated and new all over again! Reinventing a space can also be a lovely way to embrace changing seasons, making your living space extra cozy as cooler weather comes and flinging open the windows to sunshine as spring and summer return. But can you manage these transitions in an environmentally responsible way? The answer is a resounding YES!
With many affordable yet stylish home decor options readily available it can be tempting to buy new, chuck out the old, and opt for the ease of replacing aged or seasonal aspects of your interior design to reinvent a space. Instead, equip yourself with sustainable materials for interior design, and a few types for sustainable renovations, it can be just as easy and much more fun to change things up in an environmentally responsible way!
7. Reversible throws, covers, and pillowcases
Reversible covers as well as blankets are one great place to start! With different color themes or patterns on opposing sides, you can change the vibe of a space simply by flipping things inside out. You can also add or remove covers to a chair or sofa to increase the longevity of your favorite pieces or add patches to furniture, furniture covers, throws, cushions, or their cases which can spruce these items up in a fun and funky way while sustainably increasing their lifespan.
8. Frames and wall art
One of the easiest thrift finds for sustainable interior design is a picture frame, and there are usually countless options to be found in the standard sizes for a photo or print. You can get creative by changing the frames on your favorite photos or art. Alternatively, try changing the pictures inside of the frames, maybe taking a seasonal approach with beloved family photographs, or keeping up to date with recent adventures or kids’ growth and achievements.
Art can also come in many forms, and some great eco friendly interior design tips include using mementos like ticket stubs and pretty business cards from travels or making collages with coffee bags or wine labels. Another great form of eco-friendly interior design is wall art made from vinyl records in their covers, which can be displayed on small slat shelves, providing storage for your record collection as colorful and eclectic wall art.
9. Adjustable shelving
Adjustable shelving holds endless possibilities for the way you feature a display space. You can contrast different shapes and heights this way, and easily change it up to emphasize different holiday decorations, a fresh bouquet, or a beautiful library bouquet. On the topic of libraries, they’re a great go-to for supplying your coffee table with a shifting array of gorgeous and captivating covers.
10. Simply rearranging!
You don’t even need different or altered sustainable interior design products to shake things up! Even a simple rearrangement of furniture can go a long way in changing the ambiance of a room. By creating nooks and cozy corners, or opening things up for an enhanced sense of airiness, the feel of a room can be transformed completely. You can even rearrange between rooms, move a favorite armchair, or swap out rugs. Why not try your hand at this tip next time you move furniture for a thorough vacuum?
11. Eventually retiring items — how to go about it sustainably
Of course, sometimes something just doesn’t work anymore with the aesthetic you are going for, which can especially be the case if you’ve moved or completed home renovations. When choosing to let things go, be sure to prioritize giving items another life by selling, donating, or thoughtfully giving things away. Platforms like Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji offer a second chance for used items and are highly popular for passing along used items for free, which is always better than throwing things away.
A final word on sustainable interior design
From choosing a new design to upcycling old products, there’s a whole lot to think about when it comes to sustainable interior design products. I hope this guide has helped you learn more about creative and sustainable interior design ideas while introducing you to some methods for buying, sourcing, and inspiring your next project!