Go Green in Style: A Guide of Eco-Friendly Interior Design

Go Green in Style: A Guide of Eco-Friendly Interior Design
  • Opening Intro -

    If you're getting ready to restore, renovate, or redecorate a space, have you considered any eco-friendly interior design options?

    In the past, eco-friendly was often associated with "green interior design" that emphasized dull, bland, or just plain weird options that were often cost-prohibitive.

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That’s not the case anymore.

What Does Eco-Friendly Interior Design Mean Now?

Did you know that the concentrations of indoor pollutants are often two to five times higher than the outdoor concentrations?

Eco-friendly or sustainable interior design focuses not only on the aesthetics of a space but also on how the design itself impacts air quality. It also aims to incorporate design elements that will help to conserve energy.

If you want to lean toward a more environmentally friendly interior, you can start by taking the following tips into consideration.

Avoid Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Walk through any hardware store and you’re bound to encounter products containing VOCs. They’re in everything from glue to cleaning products to air fresheners.

Why does this matter? Because when they evaporate at room temperature, they’re a big cause of the poor air quality we mentioned above. Furthermore, they can contribute to a number of health problems including:

  • headaches
  • nausea
  • eye and throat irritation
  • nervous system disturbances
  • liver damage
  • cancer

Two of the biggest VOC culprits in interior design are paints and synthetic fibers.

So when buying paint, look for Green Seal-certified paints and other paint-related products. And steer clear of rugs or carpets made from artificial fibers. While they will be more expensive, try to stick with rugs made only from cotton, wool, or silk.

They’ll last longer and keep you healthier.

Consider Lighting

LED light bulbs use far less energy than incandescent bulbs. That’s why they’ve become such a popular choice for homeowners and those looking to save money while being kind to the planet.

When LED lights first came on the market though, they gave off a cold, blue, steely quality of light that photo-sensitive consumers didn’t favor. Since that time, they’ve come a long way and emit a much warmer light. This is an important distinction when it comes to interior design.

Another benefit of switching over to LED is that it’s simply a matter of changing a bulb. No new light fixture is required. So if you adore that Tiffany lamp on your nightstand, or a special antique chandelier in the dining room, you’ll still be able to light up those rooms at a fraction of the cost.

The sun is another eco-friendly lighting solution.

If you currently have heavy curtains or blinds on your windows, you could swap them out for lightweight, sheer, all-natural cotton options. You’ll be using more natural light to illuminate your space.

This is especially ideal if you live somewhere with a great deal of sun every year. While you’re busy saving electricity, you’ll also get your daily dose of natural vitamin D. Plus, you could also consider installing residential solar panels to harness the energy of the sun and cut back even further on your electric bill.

Go With Bamboo or Cork Flooring

You might be drawn to the ease of vinyl floors that look like wood. But vinyl is plastic and contains VOCs. Consider bamboo or cork instead.

The cool thing about bamboo is that it looks and acts like wood, but it’s actually a grass. Bamboo only takes four years to reach maturity and then it’s ready to be harvested. Hardwood trees, on the other hand, require 60-70 years before they can be harvested.

Bamboo is significantly more sustainable. Add to that the fact that it requires very few pesticides or fertilizers and it’s just all-around more ecologically appealing.

Cork is also highly sustainable because extracting cork doesn’t require the whole tree to be harvested. It’s just the bark.

Although you might expect a cork floor to feel spongy, they’re actually designed to feel like hardwood. But they’re softer on your feet. Plus, cork is reusable. It’s not uncommon to find cork floors made entirely from recycled wine stoppers.

Think Antiques

When in the market for furniture, stick with solid woods like oak, maple, walnut, teak, or other sustainable hardwoods. Ideally, try to find furniture that’s joined with tongue-and-groove rather than adhesives that will off-gas VOCs.

antique clockantique desk

      some antique items to consider      

You may want to consider poking around in antique markets. Much of the old wood furniture in these establishments was created from old-growth forests and is therefore absent of any of the VOC ridden chemicals used today for staining.

Plus, when you buy an antique, you’ll not only get an original piece, but it’s the ultimate form of recycling. Speaking of which.

Recycle and Repurpose

Furniture isn’t the only area you can recycle and repurpose when creating an eco-friendly home design. If you’re truly focusing on environmentally friendly practices in your design, then consider using salvaged wood to create a door. Or repurpose decorative old jelly jars into light fixtures.

You may even add recycled bricks to outdoor walls or paths to give them some flair.

And don’t forget that stones, shells, or driftwood that you find out in nature could become beautiful accent pieces in your home.

Use Plants As Decor

On a purely aesthetic level, plants add beauty, freshness, and greenery to space. But they are also utilitarian.

Not only do plants provide oxygen, but they also filter out harmful chemicals from the air. And if you’re able to sustain flowering plants like lilies, you could add color while infusing sweet scents.

other valuable tips:

Replace Outdated Appliances

Do you walk past your old refrigerator every day and wonder how much time it has left? Or what about the washer and dryer that were old when they came with your home ten years ago?

Unless they’ve made a full circle to being "cool retro," old appliances look dated and give your kitchen a tired look. Plus, they’re energy suckers. Meanwhile, newer models not only look better but are far more energy-efficient. It’s a win-win.

Go Green!

Eco-friendly interior design doesn’t have to be dull and boring. With a little ingenuity and creativity, you could be saving money while helping out the planet.

So why not give it a try? And for more great articles on home improvement and remodeling, keep checking back with us.

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Image credit: go green in style by twenty20.com

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