Green Decorating Can Include Repurposing Furniture
Don't send that chair to the dump—reduce waste by redecorating.
“Green” has been a buzzword in the world of interior design for a number of years.
This is not because emerald green is this year’s color of the year. Instead, we’re talking about sustainability and environmentally-friendly design elements.
What is necessary for our survival, depends directly or indirectly on the natural environment. Therefore, the aim of sustainable design is to use practices, products and materials that allow both humans and nature to thrive, while taking social, economic, aesthetic and ecological issues into account.
This may include:
- Using eco-friendly materials that are non-toxic, renewable or recycled and require little energy to produce.
- Relying on energy efficient appliances and items for the home.
- Choosing quality pieces that are durable and will last a lifetime, as opposed to cheap, throwaway items that add to waste.
- Determining the carbon footprint for any resources used.
- Using renewable materials found locally or in a nearby region.
- Repurposing and up-cycling current belongings as opposed to buying everything new.
A focus on sustainability and being green does require research. For example, bamboo, which is often referred to as a green material, is certainly very sustainable, but may not actually be green. Transporting it from far away is costly and uses a lot of fuel, a non-renewable resource.
Chemicals used to finish and install the bamboo can include VOCs, which affect the indoor air quality. The producers of the bamboo may use pesticides or clear forests in order to increase production of this desirable product, thus negatively affecting the environment as well as biodiversity.
In the end it all boils down to your priorities.
While going green is often thought of as a complete, expensive overhaul, it can actually save you money in both the short-term and long-term.
For example, decorating by updating, repurposing and re-using your existing belongings is green, adds character to your home and preserves history and memories. It can also be a lot of fun.
I included a photo of a recent project, a French coffee table that was transformed into a fun, upholstered ottoman with (zero VOC) paint and some zebra fabric.
An antique chair that was badly deteriorated was given new life instead of being discarded. A nightstand was reinvented by adding hand-sewn covers.
Not only are the results gorgeous and green, they also served as inspiration pieces for the entire space.
What is your definition of green living?
Iris Houlihan is a Hillsborough-based interior designer. Her work was named "Best Of Houzz" for 2012 in the social media website's annual survey of readers.