If you are anything like me you are likely to be considering the environmental impact of your choices across all aspects of your life with diet, fashion and travel just for starters.
Throwing interiors in to the mix may seem like it is adding to the overwhelm but sustainable interior styling is actually easier than you may think.
As an interior designer my job is to design spaces that both function in the best possible way and of course look beautiful at the same time.
Designing interiors in a sustainable way can present challenges but it also provides an opportunity to think more creatively and as far as I'm concerned that is always a good thing!
The good news is that our awareness about sustainable design is constantly increasing and with a focus on sustainability in architecture through to product design, suppliers, manufacturers and interior designers such as myself, it is in area that we continue to learn more about with new interior design ideas, products and creative ways of improving the sustainability of our homes.
This post is specifically about sustainable interior styling, so all of the decorative additions you may want to add to your home, rather than building works or redecoration which I shall save for another post. Sustainable interior styling is the details that make our homes special and ensure they reflect our personalities.
Bring the Outside In
This is one tip you will see me repeat again and again here at Batteson Studio but that's because it's simple, effective and beautiful! Bringing something living in to your home taps in to the principles of biophilic design (which you may have heard me mention a few times and you can read more about here) but it is also an incredibly easy way to bring decoration in to your home regardless of the type of property you live in and whether you are a homeowner or you rent. So long as you have some natural light and can commit to a little watering then there's a plant for you.
When purchasing plants it is worth considering where they are coming from and opting for those that are locally grown to minimise the carbon footprint. If you have green fingered friends then look at taking cuttings from their plants and propagating which is a simple and entirely free way to extend your plant collection.
Bringing plants into your home will also improve your indoor air quality helping to eliminate toxins and making your space greener in every possible way!
Build An Art Collection
This is my favourite tip for sustainable interior styling. Collecting art is a truly individual way to bring real personality to your home as every single collection will be unique.
First things first this is not about spending lots of money. Building an art collection is not reserved for the super rich, you do not have to be investing in a Picasso or a Basquiat (although if you are please do feel free to invite me round for the private view!).
An art collection can be whatever you want it to be. It may be a collection of images torn from magazines, old advertising that you love, fantastic charity shop or auction finds. It is about keeping an eye out for the pieces that make your heart sing. My 'Travel The World' advert was torn from a tree in Krabi, my much loved Henrietta Dubrey painting purchased over Instagram during a lockdown.
You may find pieces on etsy or Instagram or in a local gallery or craft fair. Check out the #artistsupportpledge on instagram which is a brilliant initiative that supports artist and makers selling works available for £220 / €220 / $220 or less. Supporting artists and makers is in my opinion one of the very best ways to spend your money.
Remember art is hugely personal so it is not about what other people think, just you. Well and perhaps those you might happen to share your home with...
Repair, Reupholster or Repurpose
If you have pieces that are looking a little tired they may just need some TLC to give them a new lease of life. Upholstering a chair or ottoman in a new fabric can completely transform it and likewise, waxing or painting can completely update a piece. Have some fun with it, use it as an opportunity to introduce a fun print or a new colour to your space. There are tons of tutorials available online if you want to have a go at a minor repair or simple upholstery project. For a professional finish find a local restorer or reupholsterer in your local area. You are also likely to be supporting a small business owner and craftsperson.
By repurposing or repairing a piece you are extending its life cycle, avoiding it ending up in landfill and the need to buy another new piece that is likely to have been made using virgin materials. You will also end up with a piece thats truly unique to you. Hurrah!
Source Vintage Treasures
Buying secondhand furniture and accessories is a fantastic way to add character to your home and has the added bonus of being the most sustainable way of treating yourself to something new (to you!). Regardless of your aesthetic you will find things to suit you and your home. Look at which styles and era's resonate with you and use these terms when searching for pieces online. Try online auctions such as thesaleroom and sites such as ebay, etsy and vinterior.
Look in your local area to see if there are vintage markets, secondhand stores, charity shops or auctions. When you discover a seller who shares your aesthetic keep checking back to see as they get new stock in.
Whilst the term 'vintage' tends to apply to anything over 20 years old, they key point here is about buying secondhand and that may well be a far newer piece.
Shopping locally is a great sustainable choice for much of our shopping and this includes homeware and interiors purchases. Look out for makers markets, small business owners, local artists, makers and craftspeople. You may often find that local makers are using reclaimed or recylced materials and minimising waste. You could also look at having a custom piece made which would make it truly special and to be treasured for a lifetime.
This one is all about finding whats in your area so keep an eye out for local adverts or look on instagram searching for your location to discover local shops and makers.
Invest In Quality
If you are looking to buy a new piece of furniture it is worth investing in quality pieces that are well made. Look for solid and sturdy pieces that ideally use dovetail or mortise and tenon joints or have been screwed or doweled rather than glued. Open and close drawers and doors and check they run smoothly. If you are buying something with cushions down cushions are a better option than foam which will lose its shape, check that cushions can be turned over which will help you maintain their shape and improve the wear over time.
A well made piece of quality furniture will out live us all... see vintage treasures! If you are concerned about pieces dating then go for clean simple lines which are far more likely to stand the test of time. As the saying goes, buy once and buy well. In the long run this is better for both your bank balance and the environment.
Getting clear on your design style will really help when it comes to choosing quality investment pieces. If this is something you would like some help with then book in a call with me to find out more.
Choose Sustainably Sourced Wood
If you are buying a new piece of wooden furniture check that the wood is certified and comes from sustainably managed forests. Look out for certification under a recognised international scheme such as the FSC Forest Stewardship Council or PEFC Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification. Most suppliers should be very clearly signposting this and if they aren't then its highly unlikely that their wood is coming from responsible sources, but you can always ask! The more we question the suppliers and manufacturers about the sustainability of their products the sooner they will realise it is a priority for consumers and hopefully make the necessary changes.
Introduce Natural Fabrics
Introducing textiles to our interiors is an incredibly effective way to soften a space. The use of textiles such as rugs, window dressings, throws and cushions breaks up all of those hard straight lines and creates tactile cosy environments that help us to relax.
Using natural fabrics is not only better for the environment but they also feel better against our skin. Linen is a relaxed and breathable choice which is perfect for bedlinen and wool provides great insulation so is ideal for cosy blankets and rugs.
Organic cottons, linen, hemp and wool fabrics bring real warmth to a home and offer beautiful organic textures. Look for textiles with GOTS Global Organic Textile Standard certification, the standard for organic textiles ensuring the organic status of the textiles with environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing.
Embrace Sustainable Materials
When making new purchases look for sustainable materials that that mean our natural resources are not being depleted. Consider homewares made from cork which is entirely natural, renewable and biodegradable and bamboo which is incredibly fast growing and highly adaptable, along with reclaimed wood, recycled glass and aluminium, all of which are more environmentally friendly options.
Jute, seagrass and sisal make beautiful natural fibre rugs and are fast growing crops which can be harvested year round. They are also highly durable and work with many design schemes.
Rattan is a fast growing naturally renewable palm which makes rattan furniture a great option for sustainable interiors.
Using natural lighting where possible is always going to be the most environmentally friendly option but of course that isn't always possible, particularly in the darker winter months when we need to rely on artificial lighting.
With energy consumption and the energy efficiency of our electrical items a key consideration we need to choose our lighting wisely. LED lighting is the most energy efficient option and comes in ..
Think about the way you use your lights and introduce lamps for accent or task lighting to create a softer atmosphere providing light where needed rather than bright and often unnecessary overhead lighting. Softer lighting is also far more flattering so it will have you looking your best too. You're welcome!
Making sustainable interior styling choices is often about slowing things down, not just going for the first thing you see that is available for delivery right this very minute.
It is about taking the time to find things, keeping an eye out for pieces of art, for a vintage fabric or commissioning a custom piece. Slowing down, saving up, enjoying the process!
Whilst we won't always know the source of everything we buy, keeping it in mind as much as possible is a big step in the right direction. With any additions to your home my best advice is to choose pieces that you really love and to then hang on to them and use them for a long time.
If you have any thoughts on sustainable interior design or living in a more eco friendly way I would love to hear from you. It is definitely a learning process for us all so the more that we discuss, question and learn the better!