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  • Writer's pictureEmily Fisher

Sustainable Interior Design: A Short and Sweet Guide for DIYers

Modern bohemian interior design by EJ Designs for Carlisle PA client including their kitchen, dining area, couch, and tables

Interior design is an art that transforms living spaces into havens of beauty and functionality. However, with the growing concern for environmental sustainability, many of our clients have been wanting to reconsider the way they approach interior design projects.

Sustainable interior design isn't just a trend! It's a commitment to reducing our ecological footprint and creating spaces that contribute positively to our planet's health. In this article, we'll explore various ways in which DIYers can include some sustainable principles in their search for the perfect items. We'll also delve into key sustainability statistics within the interior design industry - because who doesn't love some good stats?

Sustainability in Interior Design: The Need of the Hour

Before diving into the strategies for sustainable interior design, let's understand why it matters!

Resource Conservation: Interior design often involves purchasing materials and products that consume substantial natural resources. Sustainable choices help conserve these resources, reducing strain on ecosystems.

Energy Efficiency: Sustainable design can lead to better energy efficiency, contributing to reduced energy consumption and lower utility bills for homeowners.

Improved Indoor Air Quality: Sustainable materials are often low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which can lead to better indoor air quality, promoting the health and well-being of occupants.

Longevity: Sustainable choices often result in more durable and longer-lasting designs, reducing the need for frequent renovations and replacements.

Now, let's explore how we can embrace sustainability within our interior design projects.

Blue button couch in a home library

Ethical Furniture Selection

Furniture is one of the centerpieces of interior design, and making ethical choices here can have a substantial impact on sustainability. According to a study by Transparency Market Research, the market for eco-friendly furniture in 2023 is expected to close at $44 billion - which is an increase from 2022 and is projected to continue to rise to $88 Billion by 2031! If you're looking for sustainable furniture, consider the following tips:

Reclaimed and Vintage Furniture: Opt for pre-owned or vintage pieces, reducing the demand for new manufacturing. Look at the shape - like that amazing couch above that we found! You can always get it reupholstered, like we did.

Certified Sustainable Wood: Look for furniture made from certified sustainable wood sources, such as FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or reclaimed wood.

Eco-Friendly Upholstery: Choose upholstery fabrics made from natural or recycled materials. Avoid fabrics treated with harmful chemicals.

eclectic midcentury living room for harrisburg pa interior design client of EJ Designs

Eco-Friendly Decor and Accessories

Decor and accessories add character to a space. They are make the space feel like YOU! The U.S. Green Building Council reports that interior decor and furnishings contribute to about 22% of landfill waste in North America, so how can you help reduce this? Here's how to make more sustainable choices:

Handmade and Local: Support local artisans and craftsmen who create unique, handmade decor items using sustainable materials.

Repurposed and Upcycled Decor: Give a new life to old items by repurposing or upcycling them into decorative pieces.

Sustainable Art: Choose artwork created by eco-conscious artists or consider DIY art projects using reclaimed materials.

Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and other online home-sellers: We have found some fabulous pieces online from direct sellers - mirrors, art, and more!

Energy-efficient lighting fixture over a dining room table with pink and green flowers on the top

Energy-Efficient Lighting and Fixtures

Lighting and fixtures play a vital role in setting the mood and functionality of a space. You know we LOVE light! We do our best to make sustainable choices by using:

LED Lighting: LED bulbs are energy-efficient and last longer, reducing energy consumption and the need for frequent replacements.

Solar-Powered Fixtures: Consider solar-powered outdoor lighting for eco-friendly illumination.

Energy Star-Certified Appliances: If your design project involves kitchen or bathroom renovations, opt for Energy Star-certified appliances and fixtures.

>FUN FACT! Energy Star-certified lighting and fixtures saved Americans over $42 billion on utility bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 400 million metric tons in 2020. (This is the most updated info they had when we wrote this article, but you can see their current report here!)

Modern interior design featuring bamboo flooring and live plants by EJ Designs from Boiling Springs PA

Sustainable Flooring Solutions

The World Green Building Council reports that using sustainable flooring materials can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20% compared to traditional flooring materials. This does not mean you have to use other people's old flooring - though it can if you're really creative! Here's how to make eco-friendly flooring choices:

Bamboo Flooring: Bamboo is a rapidly renewable resource and makes an excellent sustainable flooring option.

Recycled or Reclaimed Materials: Consider recycled glass, reclaimed wood, or reclaimed metal for unique and sustainable flooring solutions.

Carpets with Low VOCs: If opting for carpets, choose those with low VOC emissions to improve indoor air quality.

Dark, modern, and masculine design with re-used wood boards for a sustainable design

Sustainable Paints and Wall Coverings

The colors and textures on walls can significantly impact a room's ambiance, but did you know that indoor air pollution levels can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels, partly due to VOCs released from paints and coatings? Here just a few ways on how to make eco-friendly choices:

Low-VOC Paints: Choose paints with low volatile organic compounds to minimize indoor air pollution. Those are most of the paints that you'll find at local paint shops! But you can also look for NO-VOC Paints like Sherwin-Williams Harmony.

Recycled Wall Coverings: Consider wall coverings made from recycled materials, such as reclaimed wood or salvaged metal. (Wood is super on trend, too, and looks to stay that while for a while!)

Sustainable Building Materials

If your interior design project involves structural changes, consider sustainable building materials:

Recycled Concrete: Use recycled concrete or concrete alternatives like fly ash to reduce the environmental impact of construction.

Cork Flooring and Wall Panels: Cork is a sustainable material that can be used for flooring, wall coverings, and more.

Natural Insulation: Choose natural insulation materials like sheep's wool or recycled denim for improved energy efficiency. (To be honest here, we don't often do this, but! It is a great idea!)

>SUSTAINABILIY FACT! According to the U.S. Green Building Council, the construction industry accounts for 39% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Using sustainable building materials can significantly reduce this impact.

Modern Minimalist black and white bedroom with sustainable materials inside

You can be sustainable! We believe in you!

Incorporating sustainability into interior design projects is not just responsible but also creatively fulfilling. DIYers and professional design firms (like us!) have the power to make a positive impact on the environment and the well-being of their clients. By selecting ethical furniture, eco-friendly decor, energy-efficient lighting, sustainable flooring, responsible wall coverings, and sustainable building materials, we can create spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also environmentally conscious.

Remember, sustainable interior design isn't just about making choices for today. It's about creating spaces that will stand the test of time and leave a lasting legacy of responsible design for future generations. By embrace the power of sustainable design, we can create spaces that are not only beautiful but also kind to our planet.

If you'd like to refresh a space that needs a sustainable touch, feel free to reach out to us! We would love to help you on your creative journey!


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