Sustainable Design

Ideas for eco-friendly interior design

Sustainable interior design looks good, helps maintain the environment for future generations and needn't cost the world. The furniture you choose, the flooring you lay, the lighting that brightens up the space and the objects that decorate the room can all easily be sustainable.

Sustainable Design - Wood and bricks can help achieve eco-friendly interior design

what is sustainable design?

Being sustainable means reducing the negative impacts on the environment. It is also referred to as environmental design, eco-design or green design. For interior design and architecture, this means using efficient materials and design practices which may reduce energy consumption over the long term. It also means using materials which are sourced from renewable or environmentally-friendly sources. Alternative energy sources are part of sustainable design too and, though sometimes it can be expensive to design sustainably, it may save money in the end. Distance is another factor as reduced distance from source to manufacturer to end-user means less damage to the environment.

Recycled materials are a big part of sustainable design but distance is a factor too - shipping the materials around the world will reduce the effectiveness of the attempts at sustainable design. Durability of materials is another consideration as materials which only last a few years before needing to be replaced cannot be classed as sustainable. The manufacturing process is also important and, increasingly, manufacturers are taking care to use green energy from hydro, solar or geothermal plants in their processes.

sustainable materials

Some materials lend themselves to sustainable design more than others. Jute is one such material as it is a sustainable natural fibre which is also incredibly durable as well as being quite versatile. Carpets, sofas or drapes made from jute can add an old-fashioned but striking impression.

Brick walls, especially those made from recycled bricks, may look somewhat industrial but with good lighting and the addition of contrasting furniture and design elements it can look both bold and minimal.

Bamboo is another versatile and eco-friendly material commonly seen in shades, some furniture types, partitions and blinds. The light textures of bamboo make for a bright and calming atmosphere.

Concrete, being made mostly from cement and water, is very sustainable and suitable for spaces where cooler temperatures are needed. Maintenance is minimal, costs are advantageous and durability is high.

Terracotta flooring is very eco-friendly and the earthy tones add warmth to the space. Terracotta is also pretty durable so ideal for heavily trafficked areas such as kitchens and hallways.

Wood is the natural choice for sustainable design. A wooden ceiling or wooden false ceiling will add a traditional feel to any design. False ceilings like this prove to be excellent for heat insulation which will reduce energy bills over time. Additionally, wood also lasts a long time when looked after well. Wooden flooring is an increasingly popular choice also and will be durable if looked after well.

Sustainable Design - Natural materials are usually more sustainable and environmentally-friendly than plastics
Sustainable Design - A table made from steel and recycled eucalyptus wood

sustainable furniture

Much furniture is wooden and, as mentioned above, wood is usually sustainable and eco-friendly. Care must be taken to ensure that the wood you use is from reliable sources and recycled wood should be used when the aim is to be as sustainable as possible.

Upcycling is one method to achieve sustainability as old materials are refashioned into useful furniture. Organic furniture is that which contains no toxic dyes, is sourced locally and uses minimal resources in the production process. Fair trade furniture is typically sustainable and also ensures a fair income for those who produce the raw materials.

Though many types of plastic can be recycled, choosing furniture which is plastic-free is the best option. Bamboo furniture is a popular choice and is sustainable mainly because of the short period of time that the material takes to mature. Bamboo is also healthier compared with synthetic materials.

Smart technology is one possibility to help save money and reduce energy wastage. Smart homes can make sure that energy is only used when needed.

sustainable decoration

Nothing says sustainability like a lot of plants in your space. Indoor plants clean the interior atmosphere, look great and will blend with every interior perfectly. Modest house plants look best but larger, climbing plants can make a real impact in larger spaces.

As for lighting, there are many ways to achieve sustainability. Moving to LED bulbs will ensure at least 75% energy savings when compared with incandescent bulbs and such bulbs will last 20-25 times longer. Increased use of task lighting can help the environment as it will result in less use of ceiling lights. A dimmer switch can save energy easily while opting for lighter colored walls immediately reduces the need for artificial lighting.

Shades, blinds and curtains can play an active part in determining how sustainable the design is. Almost one third of heating energy escapes through windows so employing efficient window coverings will reduce energy consumption and save money and using eco-friendly materials for these coverings will further lessen the environmental impact - materials like bamboo or recycled wooden blinds may be best.

Sustainable Design - Plants clean the air of the room and are positively eco-friendly