Many people have concerns about the future of the planet and are looking for ways to live greener lives. With renewable materials and energy at the forefront of green issues, one of the areas where it is possible to have a positive effect on the environment is within the home. However, eco-friendly does not mean it is necessary to compromise on style. An eco-friendly style simply means clean lines and uncluttered spaces, using sustainable and renewable materials and implementing new technology.
One way to cut down on new materials is to re-use existing fixtures and fittings. This is particularly easy when a vintage look is being considered, as items such as reclaimed chandeliers, will already have an ‘old’ look and feel and will therefore fit right in.
The kitchen is an area where it is possible to go eco-friendly when buying and installing new appliances, as they will already have ‘energy ratings’ on them. Choose products that feature sustainable materials, such as formaldehyde-free cabinet fronts; they help reduce the amount of chemicals in the environment. It is possible to salvage wood to reshape and re-use as kitchen worktops. Properly treated wood always look good and adds instant style to any room.
As far as decorating rooms go, it is possible to use an all-natural plaster that is resistant to mold and contains no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). This material has a suede-like texture and adds depth to the room’s décor. There are plenty of environmentally safe paints available, in fashionable colors; they have the added advantage of not giving off fumes or smells when being applied.
More significant changes include those concerned with the exterior structure and interior design of the home. The most obvious eco-friendly, and in the long term, cost saving, addition to the home is the installation of solar panels on the roof. Underfloor heating produces radiant heat and is eco-friendly as greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, due to energy being used more efficiently.
Home furnishings can also be eco-friendly. Upholster furniture in hemp or jute, natural fibers that are tough and hardwearing. For a softer feel, opt for organic cotton, which has been grown without the use of pesticides, or calico, also known as muslin, which is a cloth made from unbleached linen.
Wooden furniture should be made from timber obtained from sustainable sources. This includes FSC certified suppliers for custom shutters for the window dressings. Bamboo is a very good wood for interior decoration; it looks stylish and is highly sustainable, as it grows at a very fast rate. Make good use of natural light by having large windows fitted with low-emissivity units, which will also keep the room warmer when the sun shines on them.
Keep interiors natural and simple, almost casual and don’t add unnecessary flourishes to walls; if there are stud holes or other unique features, make them part of the decoration to avoid the use of unnecessary chemicals. There is nothing wrong with a home looking as though it has been around for years; if it is well-maintained, it will simply look like home.
Guest article by Aimee Claire