collage of sustainable decor ideas including bamboo, repainted vintage chair

It sometimes seems hard to balance a love of beautiful interiors and home decorating with the need to be more sustainable. With some thought and planning, it is easy than you may think to make choices that are kinder to the planet. Even small steps to make greener, more eco-friendly, choices in your decorating can make a difference. Explore 9 small ways you can chose more sustainable home decor but still create beautiful spaces.

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#1 – Accept that Style takes time

I am a firm believer that personal style can’t be bought in a package deal. It may be tempting to completely redecorate a space in your home by buying everything at once. However, your own sense of style is something that evolves over time.

Even if you have just moved into a new home, don’t rush out to the shops to buy an ‘instant room’. Take the time to collect items you love, and will continue to love for a long time.

#2 – Invest in Quality over quantity

Another benefit of collecting pieces over time is that you may be able to invest in better quality items. These will generally last longer and not need to be replaced as often. For example, spending a little more for furniture made by a skilled tradesperson will pay off in the long run. Even decorator items like pillows or cushions will last longer if made with quality fabrics.

#3 – Look after what you have

Maintenance is a key element to sustainable home decor. This goes hand in hand with the idea of buying good quality, long lasting items.

If you invest in well made furniture and good quality soft furnishings, be sure to look after them. Use the furniture polish. Hand wash the pillow covers and throws (with eco-friendly products). Clean rugs, carpets and window treatments regularly. By looking after what you have, it will last longer and won’t need to be replaced as quickly.

White vintage chair with paint and brush with text "How to choose more sustainable home decor"

#4 -Stick to Timeless Design and Colours

When decorating your home, choose classic design elements that you know you will love for a long time to come. This includes choosing a colour palette that will last the test of time. Don’t chose Pantone’s colour of the year for expensive items like furniture and window treatments if you will want to change it just as quickly as next year’s colour comes along.

That’s not to say you can’t update your home with colour. It’s very easy to inject colour with cushions, soft furnishings, and decor items. But if you are choosing something permanent like kitchen cabinets or countertops, or bathroom tiles, or an investment piece like a sofa, choose a colour you will love forever. Often that is a neutral shade, which is why whites, timber, blacks and greys are so common. It could also be a bold colour that you will be happy to live with long term (like green!)

#5 – Incorporate Antique and Vintage Pieces

Don’t be afraid of buying or keeping ‘older’ pieces. Old and modern often look fantastic together, no matter what your decorating style. A lot of satisfaction can come from finding the perfect piece at an auction, an antique or thrift store, or sourcing from a friend or family member.

Some of my favourite pieces of furniture are antique and vintage items. Our dining table is an old French extension table with wooden parquetry. I fell in love with a carved wooden drinks cabinet at a local auction, which now houses our drinks and glassware. And when furnishing our sitting room, I chose to reupholster a classic 1950s wing back chair salvaged from a vintage shop. It was in great condition, but just needed some lovely new fabric and a change of front legs to better fit the style of our room.

Other items scattered throughout our home once belonged to parents or grandparents. These inherited items can be both a sustainable home decor choice and sentimental too.

Reupholstered 1950s wing back chair
Reupholstered wing back chair

#6 – Buy locally made

Think about the ‘travel miles’ of your furniture pieces. Are they made overseas and have to be shipped or imported? I love interesting global items, but am uncomfortable at the thought of buying large furniture items from overseas when the same thing can be made locally.

I’ve always wanted library bookshelves with a ladder. The ones sold in our local ‘French provincial’ type stores are all manufactured overseas and not particularly well-made. Instead, I found a local cabinet maker to build exactly what I wanted. Not only could we get custom dimensions and colours, but the price was honestly comparable with the imported products. And we had the satisfaction of supporting our local businesses. We did the same with our modular sofa, and were able to get a fully customised piece from a local furniture maker.

#7 – Consider eco-friendly materials

If you are making an effort to choose more sustainable home decor items, it’s important to think about the materials used. What is it made of and how is that material sourced?

Is your timber item made from wood soured from managed forestry? Bamboo is a fast-growing resource that looks beautiful and can be used in everything from furniture to flooring and even fabrics. Or consider cork, which is harvested from the cork tree without cutting it down.

Choosing natural materials rather than synthetic can also reduce toxins and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in your home.

#8 – Rearrange and repurpose

Are you feeling the need to refresh or redecorate a room? Instead of rushing out to purchase new items, think about using what you already have in a different way.

Often you can get a ‘new room’ feel simply by rearranging the furniture. Or repurpose items you already have in the home for interesting storage, vases or focal pieces. Repainting old pieces for a colour change can also be a good way to switch up the look of your room.

#9 – Decorate with Plants

Decorating with indoor house plants is my favourite way to change up a space. Think of plants as living decor. Choose trailing plants like a golden pothos (devil’s ivy) to place up high on a shelf and add visual interest. We have one on the top of a bookshelf in our living room. Plants with tall structural foliage can be useful to fill a small narrow space.

Indoor plants have a huge range of shapes and textures and you are sure to find something to suit your space. House plants are even suitable for people like me with allergies and asthma, provided you choose the right ones and care for them appropriately.

Not sire if you have a green enough thumb for house plants? It’s easier than you think, but if you are just getting started I recommend the book The New Plant Parent for helpful tips.

Indoor house plants o white shelves including trailing pothos or Devil's Ivy
Trailing Devil’s Ivy adds interest to a bookshelf

More ways to be Green

It’s easy to make small everyday choices that are more sustainable. Even small tings like choosing better alternatives to plastic clothes pegs or a phone case that’s completely compostable .

And if you are already decorating your home with indoor plants, make sure to read our tips on caring for house plants when you go away.

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