Let’s talk sustainability. It’s the topic on everyone’s radar right now, and for good reason. The notion of being more eco-friendly at home doesn’t have to stop at refill shops and recycling bins though. We’re moving into a new era of sustainable homes which thinks about the decor too, asking ourselves how we can make informed (and more importantly, realistic) choices. In this week’s blog, we’ll show you some pointers for styling your living room in a more sustainable way - with no compromises on aesthetics.
What makes a room sustainable?
In short, a sustainable room is one that’s been designed and decorated with environmental responsibility in mind. Think eco-friendly materials, long-lasting furniture pieces, and sustainably sourced decor.
1. Shop pre-owned
The retro look is back, and shopping for genuine mid-century pieces is always going to be more sustainable than a new off-the-shelf replica. It's a common misconception that pre-owned pieces can’t look new, but that's not always the case. In fact, buying second-hand can save you money, reduce landfill waste, and contribute to a more sustainable living space.
While it may require a bit more effort to find exactly what you're looking for, the end result is worth it. Consider checking out your local thrift or flea market for a variety of home decor options, such as cabinets, bookcases, and TV stands. With a bit of patience, you’ll be able to score unique mid-century pieces or smaller decor items like vases, plant stands and magazine racks, adding some sustainably sourced character to your home.
When it comes to upholstered furniture like sofas and beds, take a look at certified refurbished collections. This is a great way of getting the look you want on a budget, whilst saving returned furniture from going to waste. More often than not, refurbished furniture is brought back to equally as great condition as a brand-new version.
2. Choose multi-functional
Living in a smaller space means getting creative with it is a necessity. Being resourceful is not only practical, but it's also great for sustainability. To make the most of limited space, it's important to invest in multi-purpose items. Instead of buying lots of furniture that serves a similar purpose, try to look for pieces that can be used in different ways, such as sofa beds.
Combine storage needs with decor choices by choosing multi-functional storage ottomans. By making practical design choices like this, you’ll also be inadvertently helping to furnish your place in a more eco-friendly way.
3. Swap out synthetics
To style your living room in a sustainable way, pay attention to the materials you use. Yes, it’s tempting to go for cheaper synthetic options, but they're often not great for the environment. Rugs, in particular, are a big ticket item that can really tie a room together, so choosing the right one is key.
Instead of going for synthetic materials, consider more natural options like jute, seagrass, or even recycled wool. Not only are these materials better for the environment in terms of production, but they're also naturally durable and free of microplastics. The most sustainable product is the one you already have - so make conscious choices to buy pieces that are really going to last.
4. Find recycled fabrics
Your sofa is the biggest item in your living room, so it’s important to make sure the upholstery of it is eco-friendly. Choose recycled fabrics to reduce your environmental impact when shopping for a sofa. Discover 100% recycled wool, velvet and cotton sofas that not only look great but can be made to order in any style you’re after.
With loads of choices of recycled fabric finishes there’s something for all sustainable living room looks - whether you’re into bold, stand-out colours, or want to keep things calm and neutral.
5. Say no to single-use
Seasonal decor doesn’t have to be single-use. When adding Christmas, birthday and holiday decorations to your place, consider items you can repurpose year after year. Swap out plastic-based decorations and opt for biodegradable or recycled decor. Crafting your own garlands for a birthday celebration, or arrange a vase of locally-grown flowers to tick both boxes for style and sustainability.
6. Save energy
Changing up your lighting is the quickest way to a more eco-friendly home, and doesn’t have to be complicated. Work with the existing lighting you’ve got, and swap out the bulbs for LED options. Whilst you’re doing this, it’s a great opportunity to think about the light in your space and whether there’s enough of it, or it’s too much. Choose lamp shades in lighter colours that gently diffuse the light, rather than block it.
7. Buy for durability
This one’s all about investment pieces. Whether it’s a new throw, or an upgraded sofa, spending a bit extra on more durable items means there’s less chance you’ll need to replace them, keeping more products out of landfill. To choose what’s worth the extra cost, consider how you use your home. If you’ve got pets or kids, you might want to choose a stain-resistant fabric, for example.
For upholstered furniture like sofas and beds, go for those with a high rub count - this means the fabric’s been tested to exceed industry standards for durability. In short, buying for durability is the most environmentally friendly way to re-furnish or re-decorate your home.
8. Restore, don’t replace
We’re big fans of maintaining original features, which is good news for sustainably-minded homeowners. This one’s all about restoring details rather than replacing them. If you’re lucky enough to have original flooring, plaster details or hardware, bringing these back to life is the best eco-friendly option over replacing them. Plus, you’ll get the satisfaction of breathing some new life into older, beautiful features in your home. If you’re in a flat or modern home, think about upcycling existing elements - try giving new life to furniture pieces you already own with a lick of eco-friendly paint.
9. Shop small
For decor details, keep it planet-friendly by shopping from independent, UK-based creators. By shopping small, you’ll reduce your environmental impact and get decor that’s much more unique and original. Discover art prints, glassware, candles and soft furnishings on sites like Etsy and Instagram. Or, if you prefer to shop even more local, take a visit to a nearby craft fair to get inspiration for home decor that doesn’t cost the earth. Plus, by shopping this way, you’ll be doing your bit to support an independent artist or creator.
What is sustainable home decor?
Sustainable home decor items have caused the least environmental impact possible in their production, shipping, and materials. Simply put, sustainable home decor keeps the environment front of mind when it’s made.
What kind of furniture is eco-friendly?
There are lots of types of eco-friendly furniture, from sofas, to cabinets, chairs, tables and more. Eco-friendly furniture uses materials from sustainable sources and is manufactured in a way that reduces harm to the environment.
How can I decorate my house sustainably?
To decorate your house sustainably, buy from brands with good sustainability credentials. Look for information on recyclable packaging, product guarantees, traceable materials and carbon offsetting.
How do you design an eco-friendly living room?To design an eco-friendly living room:
- Choose sustainable materials
- Avoid buying into fad trends
- Buy durable, good quality decor and furniture
- Shop from independent creators