Principles of Sustainable Interior Design

Doing our part to help the environment is more critical than ever, so how can we reduce, reuse and recycle our way to more sustainable interior design? It’s easier than you think.

In principle, sustainable design aims to reduce negative environmental impact through thoughtful design. This means buying more energy-efficient products, reducing waste, and using limited resources throughout their life cycle. It’s considered one of the fastest-growing segments in the design industry – often referred to as “green” interior design – and it encourages more of us to create a sustainable space that helps save our environment.

Increasingly, we must consider how our daily lives impact the environment. When it comes to our homes and interior design, we should try eco-friendly strategies that optimize home efficiency and keep things green. It can sound overwhelming when we think about saving the planet with our actions, but there are things we can do to achieve (better) sustainable interior design.

Design for energy efficiency

Energy consumption is a significant contributor to climate change. There is plenty we can do in our own homes to improve energy efficiency by looking at the amount of energy we need for heating, lighting, and running our appliances. Since most heat escape through windows, your installed windows must be high quality and provide good insulation. Window coverings also keep both cold air and the sun’s heat outside. Installing home automation (often called “green gadgets”) makes it possible to control heat and lighting systems remotely – this will help you use your home’s energy more efficiently and economically. Think about intelligent bulbs, the Nest Learning Thermostat, or green apps that you can download on your phone and help monitor your energy use.

Paint with the right colours

To save on energy spent on lighting, plenty can be done in picking the right colours. Lighter colours reflect more light while darker walls (and furnishings) do the opposite and require more artificial lighting to brighten up the space. Also, this is a neat trick: Reflective surfaces, like glass, increase the amount of light in a room by bouncing around, so opt for glass tables or extra mirrors in your room to capture all of that glorious natural light. Also, most paints contain toxic fumes and chemicals, so try and opt for paint brands that offer less abrasive products that don’t harm the environment.

Opt for natural textiles

I love natural textiles in interiors, and no surprise as they’re continuing to play a major theme in this season’s design ethos. Eco-friendly and naturally-sourced fabrics are all the rage, and these can be recycled, vintage woods, banana fibre, Afghan wools, hemp, seagrass, burlap, raw cotton, or linen. Not only can they come in a variety of different textures, but they are also capable of being ethically sourced if you do your homework right.

Beyond materials for furniture or furnishings, organic materials can also be used in mattresses, upholstery, or pillows. This extensively works to reduce the production of synthetic materials that sadly end up in our landfills.

Buy lots of indoor plants.

It is aesthetically so pleasing to have a home filled with greenery and plants, and plants also work double-duty in that they give oxygen and eliminate harmful substances from the air.

Plants give oxygen and eliminate harmful substances from the air. They also provide a natural look and freshness in your home. NASA’s Clean Air Study found a number of air-purifying plants that can detoxify your home from the airborne toxins, dust, and germs found in a variety of household products, materials, and furniture. That said, to make that much of a difference to the air quality inside your home, you would need a significant number of house plants to work together to clean the air (in the ballpark of around 90!), but, with houseplants becoming an interior design trend that looks like it’s here to stay, we might as well choose one that will go some of the ways to improve the air we breathe, even if it’s not all of it.

English ivy, Snake and spider plants, and chrysanthemum help filter out toxins, including ammonia and benzene found in varnishes, floor finishes, and detergents.

Invest in vintage furniture

I love vintage furniture, and when we are making more efforts to be more mindful of the planet, we should really be aware of the furniture and décor pieces we choose. When we repurpose an old-found treasure, we immediately reduce waste, overproduction, and our footprint: all good things! I know buying a brand-new piece can be exciting, but so can sourcing and hunting for that vintage piece full of legacy and sentimentality. Browse online marketplaces or go the old-fashioned route and head to some estate sales or vintage markets: I guarantee you will stumble upon some unique finds that will give your home a new story.