There seems to be a conflict in decorating and staying true to sustainable values. On the one hand, you want to stay green and do what’s good for the earth. But somehow, that doesn’t seem to go along with buying drapes and a new rug. Can you decorate without hurting the environment? Our answer: yes, with a little thought.
Don’t throw things out, repurpose
Have an object that just isn’t working anymore in your home? Wait - Don’t throw it out! Consider reusing it in a new way. Give an old kitchen table a coat of paint and use it as a work table in the kid’s playroom. Sand an old stool and use it as a bedside table.
Trade items you no longer want with friends
Set up an exchange with friends and neighbours when you’re in the mood to redecorate. Maybe you no longer want that flowered arm chair but maybe it will suit a friend just fine. Maybe your friend is willing to give you that lamp you’ve been coveting. Exchanges are a wonderful way to indulge redecorating fantasies without doing damage to your wallet or the planet.
Explore the less-is-more decorating aesthetic
Do we really need half the stuff we pile into our homes? Take a page out of the Scandinavian and Japanese design book and pare down. You don’t need a coffee table AND two end tables AND a console table. You don’t need curtains and valances and swags. You may not even need a bed. Rethink and defy convention.
Why buy new when you can buy a one-of-a-kind vintage piece without adding new stuff to the world? Vintage is where it’s at.
Be skeptical about green products
Green is good and sustainable is nice, but all too often, green is just another convenient sales tool that’s not doing all that much to protect the environment. So before buying 'green' consider making your own out of what you’ve got, buying vintage, or foregoing the purchase altogether.
Moving can have a big impact on the environment. First, there are all those boxes. Then, once you move, there’s the inevitable urge to redecorate. One way to avoid all that is to simply stay where you are. Nest and be happy.
Here’s something most cultures know but South Africans have yet to learn. Save up, buy something of quality that will last, and you never have to buy again. Neither do your kids, since you can pass the item down.
Buying furniture with more than one purpose not only saves on space — it saves on the need to buy more. So by all means, go for the couch that becomes a bed, the coffee table that can become a dining table, the ottoman that can do double duty as extra seating.
Buy energy efficient lighting
These days, it’s become a whole lot easier to find stylish light fixtures that consume less. It’s a great way to decorate and improve your carbon footprint at the same time.
Take your time
Rushing can be costly to the environment. For one thing, rushing often means buying into short-lived trends. For another thing, rushing often means settling for something of lower quality or from the usual furniture retailers that are not always so environmentally-friendly. So instead of feeling that you must have a perfect home NOW, relax, see decorating as a work in progress, and enjoy the hunt. If you take your time, you’ll choose quality things that you love which will result in a timeless - not trendy - home.