Many of us would like to make our homes more eco-friendly without making them appear spartan or plain. With buzzwords like green living, upcycling and sustainable furnishings now serious trends in interior design circles, an eco-friendly home has never been more desirable. With green awareness in mind, here are some tips on how to remodel the various living spaces in the home to make them more eco-friendly while at the same time keeping them comfortable, stylish, and appealing.
A green home is a healthy home
An eco-friendly or green home is not only one that reduces the homeowner’s carbon footprint, it is also about making a healthier home, with improved air quality, less harmful chemicals and a better use of natural light. The products that we purchase for our homes, from paints and rugs to upholstery and furniture, can often contain harmful chemicals and pollutants, so it’s important we pay more attention to what we buy – not only for the planet but also for ourselves.
Choose eco-friendly, water-based paints rather than oil-based ones: These emit far less pollutants and are just as effective. This is also true of other wall coverings – consider using ceramic tiling or wood or cork paneling over traditional wallpaper, for a natural, warm texture.
Plants add life, color and vitality to your home, but they do much more than that: They help filter air, removing harmful chemicals from a room and providing much-needed oxygen. So choose some hardy houseplants that suit your own personal decor, whether that means colorful flowering ones or tall, elegant palms or cacti.
Save on heating and electricity bills
Maximize natural light by removing heavy drapes and installing skylights or patio doors, or consider an open plan to your house that lets light flow from one room to the other. This will raise everyone’s mood, as sunlight is known to boost happiness, but it will also help you save on electricity bills, too, as you won’t need to switch on electrical lamps as often. Remember that light colors reflect light while dark ones absorb it; so make your interiors light, fresh, and airy.
When night falls, however, the electric lights need to come on, so opt for energy-efficient bulbs and LED lighting. Similarly, remember to insulate your home to save heating costs – use green insulation materials such as recycled denim, newspapers and lambswool and replace drafty old windows with energy-efficient glazing. When it comes to window treatments, solid shutters also help retain heat, and are produced in natural materials such as FSC-certified wood.
Use organic, natural materials
Use organic, natural materials such as cork and bamboo, and linen and unbleached cotton for upholstery and drapes. Bamboo is ideal for home design because it grows quickly and what is cut down can thus quickly be reforested. It is also extremely strong and versatile, and can be used for everything from chairs and flooring to plates and bowls.
Wood is one of the greenest materials one can use, and it has wonderful, natural warmth to it that is hard to replicate with synthetic materials. Always ensure you buy FSC-certified wood, however; this has been independently checked as having been grown in sustainable forests under responsible conditions with respect for both workers and the environment.
Reuse, replace, and recycle
A green home is one that generates less waste, so work with what you already have. To ‘upcycle’ something means to remodel and reuse something in a way that improves its value, for example sprucing up your old dining chairs with new upholstery rather than buying new ones. When buying new furniture and appliances, look for stores that sell used items – even windows and doors can be reused and reclaimed.