7 Eco-Friendly Decorating Ideas for a Stylish & Sustainable Home
Updated: Jan 5
A common misconception about an eco-friendly lifestyle is that you must give up a “normal” standard of living. When some people think of sustainable living, visions of tree-hugging hippies come to mind - not pictures of a beautifully decorated luxury home.
A stylish and sustainable home is possible with eco-friendly decorating. These 7 ideas can get you started.
1. Add plants
When you think of home decor, you probably don’t think of vegetation. But houseplants have experienced a trend revival in recent years with the resurgence of boho design. However, style isn’t the only reason to incorporate plants into your home decor.
Houseplants can improve your mental health by reducing anxiety and boosting your mood. They convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and purify the air, which benefits your physical health, too. The moisture plants release into the air of your home is good for dry skin (a huge plus in the dry Alberta air!), sore throats, and dry coughs.
To add plants to your home decor in the most sustainable way, get a clipping or cutting from friends or neighbors. Pick up decorative pots from thrift stores instead of buying them new, or get creative and use unconventional containers as planters (like old coffee mugs, soup bowls, or jam jars).
2. Redo or repurpose instead of replace
Instead of replacing old or worn out furniture, fix it up and make it new. Reupholster or repaint it to give it new life, save yourself some money, and reduce the environmental impact of purchasing new furniture. You’ll have the added benefit of bragging rights when guests comment on your stylish “new” decor!
A little creativity can go a long way in repurposing items. Wooden cable reels, packing crates, or pallets are a prime example of stylish and sustainable repurposing. A cable reel can become a footstool or side table. Wood slats can become a bookcase. Transform pallets into a bed frame or futon base.
Reclaimed wood is another option that’s sustainable and on trend, especially for the modern farmhouse design style. Use reclaimed wood for flooring, cabinets, barn-style doors, floating shelves, furniture, or decorative pieces. You’ll get a beautiful look without hurting the environment.
3. Buy used
If DIY isn’t your thing, the next best option is to buy used. Shop secondhand at antique shops, thrift stores, consignment stores, online used marketplaces, and garage or estate sales. You’ll find home decor and furniture “gems” at a fraction of the price of buying new. And it’s eco-friendly because you’re reducing your carbon footprint and preventing stuff from ending up in the landfill.
4. Buy local
If you’re really stuck and can’t find the look you’re going for, buying new might be your last resort. But before you go to a name-brand store or buy online, shop locally. Buy artwork, pottery, and furniture from local artisans to avoid funding the shipping industry, which consumes millions of barrels of fuel and emits tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year.
For a listing of local Calgary eco-friendly retailers and markets, such as the mid-century furniture and decor shop Left and Found, see How to Be Eco-Friendly in Calgary.
5. Sustainable materials
For some home decor components, buying used doesn’t make sense, as with flooring or linens, for example. (Not everyone is comfortable sleeping in a bed with used sheets.) So when you need to buy new, look for products made with sustainable materials.
Sustainable flooring options abound! Most common is wood. But even if you choose wood flooring, you’ll likely want a few area rugs to add warmth. Look for rugs made from natural fibers instead of synthetic, such as wool, jute, seagrass, or cashmere. Alternatively, you can find rugs made of recycled materials, such as these from fishing nets.
For linens, again, choose natural fibers instead of synthetics. Cotton, wool, bamboo, and hemp are common eco-friendly materials for bed linens and bath towels, and they typically last longer than their synthetic counterparts.
For any wood home decor, look for products with FSC certification to ensure it meets sustainability standards.
An eco-friendly product is one without chemicals and pollutants that harm the planet, either during manufacturing or while in use. So, in addition to looking for sustainable materials, look for those that are non-toxic.
Paint is a huge part of home decor. Your walls are the backdrop for the entire look of your home interior. But many paints are toxic because they contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that release toxins into the air for years. Choose paints that are labeled “low VOC” for an eco-friendlier option.
A common home decor item is candles. They’re an affordable way to add ambiance to any room, but many candles are not eco-friendly. Cheap candles, in particular, are often full of harmful toxins and some contain metal in the wick. For eco-friendly candles, always choose those made from natural materials like soy or beeswax, and if you like your candles scented, make sure they’re scented using essential oils.
7. Choose timeless design
Eco-friendly home decor can be tricky because design trends change constantly. If up-to-date interior design is important to you, it’s crucial that you choose your furniture and home decor carefully.
It’s not eco-friendly to buy new every few years and discard everything you had before. Instead, invest in timeless designs. Change up the look of your home by switching out accent pieces seasonally, such as throw blankets and pillows, curtains, or even artwork. When these items are chosen strategically, they’ll last longer and carry over through multiple design trends.
If you do need to replace some home decor, be sure to donate it, sell it, or repurpose it instead of sending it to a landfill.
How to Have a Stylish & Sustainable Home
If you care enough about the environment to build an eco-friendly home, why not take it to the next level and add eco-friendly, sustainable style to your home’s interior?
Are you interested in learning more about living in a sustainable home or a sustainable community? Contact Melcom Homes, Calgary’s eco-friendly home builder, for more information.