How To Create A Sustainable Interior
Updated: Jan 14
Following on from the previous post, where I attempted to briefly break down sustainability and sustainable design, I'm now highlighting the ways we can make our interiors sustainable. Just before I get deeper into this, I'm just going to mention that I personally believe that sustainable interiors are not going to be instant. In the sense that it's going to be difficult to turn every aspect of every room in your house sustainable, instantly. The only way to achieve this is if you are starting with a blank slate, which the majority of us are not. It is going to be a gradual change spread out over a few months and years.
The reason why I mentioned this, is because quite a few people have messaged me feeling disheartened and guilty that they are not really making much of a difference, just by making a few sustainable swaps. There is no need to feel guilty, every little change helps in the grand scheme of things. I understand that the start-up costs of ethical and sustainable living are very high, sustainable products tend to come with hefty price tags. Couple that with the perfect sustainable vignettes, set ups, and products that we see on Instagram and Pinterest, it is understandable how sustainable interiors can seem unattainable. My take on sustainable interior design and lifestyle is to do what you can, don't judge yourself too harshly, every change, no matter how little is relevant and you are making a difference. By making a few conscious changes in your interiors, you are paving your way to making your home more sustainable.
With that in mind, let's get right into today's post. Sustainable Interior Design is about determining the most efficient and effective way of using space and materials. Some changes are quick and easy to do, some might take some time and some might be expensive but more beneficial in the long term. I am going to list some possible changes below, it's not a fixed list and I'll probably add to it as I learn and discover more.
1. Energy consumption is a major factor in Sustainable Interior Design. Evaluate your energy consumption and see where you can reduce, especially your lighting.
2. Install energy efficient light bulbs. Upgrade your light fitting to a more energy efficient version.
3. Remove any unnecessary lamps. Recycle or sell them off.
4. Paint your walls smartly, with lighter colours to help reflect natural light better and for longer.
5. Place mirrors in strategic locations, ideally opposite windows and lighting, in order to reflect light back into the room.
6. Prevent heat from escaping through the windows by using curtains and blinds.
7. Keep hardwood, tiled and laminate floors warmer by laying down some rugs or replace entirely with carpet.
8. Recycle, up-cycle and re-purpose your existing products and furniture. If you're bored of your living room cushions, find a home for them elsewhere in your house. if you're artwork is not working in one room, hang it up somewhere else. Re-upholster old furniture with new fabric to bring them back to life again.
9. Buy products and furniture made from recycled synthetic materials.
10. Buy accessories that can be widely recycled.
11. Buy furniture, products and accessories made from organic and ethical materials.
12. Limit the amount of non recyclable materials in your interiors.
13. Find products which are made from materials that are quickly renewable such as bamboo.
14. Check the labels before you buy. There are a variety of labels and standards that give comprehensive information about the products origins and environmental impact.
15. Read up on the environmental impact of materials that you are considering to buy. Try and get information on the origins, country of source, extraction process, production, processing, transportation and recycling.
16. Try to buy local to reduce transportation impact.
17. Buy low maintenance products. People who buy high maintenance products struggle to keep up with the up-keep, so they are tempted to change. With low maintenance products that temptation is not there.
18. Focus on the durability of the product. High durability means longer lasting which means you don't to replace every few months or years.
19. Create flexible design schemes which you can change around easily. This will reduce the temptation to buy new things to freshen up a room.
20. Try to keep a specific theme throughout your house so you will be able to easily switch up your accessories from room to room.
21. Buy good quality products and furniture which will last longer. Pay attention to good craftsmanship.
22. Choose products and accessories that are multi-functional. They serve a purpose or perform a function as well as being decorative pieces.
23. Add plants into your spaces to keep your air clean and fresh.
24. Look into biophillic design and the importance of plants in interiors.
This is an ever evolving list but it is flexible and can be applied to any room, furniture, product or accessory. If you starting with a complete blank canvas and an empty room or house, refer to this list to help create your design scheme. For those of us with existing interiors, aim to make a change or two, but like I said, it is slow process and it is not something that's going to be achieved overnight. Just see Sustainable Interior Design as a long term process and goal. And the beauty of sustainable design is that it has the ability to fit in and merge with any design style, colour theme, and personalty. Just remember don't buy sustainable products to replace perfectly usable non-sustainable products. Use them until the end of their life and then replace with a sustainable alternative when the time comes.