Home building and design trends are looking more and more towards an emphasis on eco-friendly everything, from the solar orientation of a building to the light bulbs lurking in the lamps. Clean, earth-friendly, and efficient, eco-design or eco-style is a design method that combines classical and modern elements with an underlying focus on the energy and resources that they consume, and the natural benefits that they provide. The buzzwords of this popular style include
salvaged, and many other terms that have now entered into daily design vocabulary.
Add eco-design to your home by exploring these central features of eco-friendly decor—many are easy to DIY!
Ingenuity is the main ingredient here! Eco-design focuses heavily on re-imagining the materials and resources already available, saving these precious rework able items from the landfill. No matter the raw material, something of value can be made from it, like the repurposed pallet coffee table and burlap sack pillows in this laid-back living room. The DIY craze has created a wealth of ideas for recycled, repurposed, and upcycled furniture, from easy beginner projects like these pillows, to recycling projects that require a professional interior designer.
A pleasing side effect of repurposing old furniture is the way it weaves interesting stories into your home decor. Incorporating furniture from previous eras into modern interiors is now a highly fashionable home treatment, and there's a good reason why! The juxtaposition of old and new—retro and modern, weathered and polished, etc—creates a dramatic, high energy environment with more than one story to tell. An eclectic blend of old and new, like the blend in this living room, is also a great way to personalize your space, lending the rooms character through your unique scavenged or heirloom items.
Where to find them? Old family storage, street curbs, thrift stores, estate sales, flea markets, or perhaps your very own garage of basement will often offer up an abundance of old items just begging to be reused!
For a guide to combining your old and new decor, see this ideabook on creatively combining new and old furniture.
Eco-style is not something you can easily buy as a package deal in a store. It involves creativity, planning, and patience in order to create an environment that maximizes its already-available resources. After all, eco-design is all about resources and resourcefulness. DIY whenever you can, and your home will slowly morph into an artistic vision of a sustainable, resource-friendly home. Your best friends will be a hammer, screwdriver, pliers, paint, and sandpaper.
Speaking of paint, eco-design pays close attention to the chemical composition of paints and finishing substances! The paint you use should not emit harmful chemicals during application and drying. For interiors, you should ensure that it's non-allergenic, diluted with water and not a solvent (acrylic, vinyl, and latex are good choices), and free of any carcinogens or toxic substances. Ask a painting professional or the staff at the hardware store—they'll direct to you the materials that are the most human- and eco-friendly.
Energy efficiency is fundamental to eco-design. This point focuses on lighting: there are many alternatives to traditional bulbs, and many of them are much more economical over the long run. The most popular are the compact fluorescent, LED, and halogen bulbs.
Fluorescent bulbs are the most popular replacement for incandescent bulbs and consume 75-80% less energy. Their durability is higher by about 8-12 years. They are available in different colors, they light up and cool down quickly, and they spread illumination evenly throughout a room. LED lamps and are also durable and energy efficient. Once, they were used only for decorative lighting, but today they are often used as the sole source of lighting in the room, not just as colorful decoration in a game room or basement. LED bulbs last for a very long time and save 80% of the energy used in incandescent bulbs. A typical lifespan of an LED can reach 45,000 hours, which is why they are a good option for rooms that need lighting 24 hours a day. In addition, they don't heat up and are shock resistant. Halogen bulbs are filled with gas which reflects light that is most similar to natural sunlight. Therefore, they're recommended for living spaces and rooms where you'd like to spend a lot of time in a nature-infused environment.
Liquid wallpaper? Yes, it exists! It's a modern wallpaper in liquid form which can be used on almost any typical residential building surface. Before applying the liquid wallpaper (or
substrate) the wall should be primed, clean and dry. This style of wallpaper is typically available in the form of dry mixes that, when mixed with water, reveal a liquid substance and glue that adheres to the walls like paint. Such wallpaper looks very impressive and has no visible seams like traditional wallpapers. In addition, they're easy to apply, and most importantly, all natural. These liquid wallpapers have a degree of breathability to them, helping to natural regulate small fluctuations in moisture without being damaged or growing moldy in the process.
Finally, a truly eco-friendly home would not be complete without an assortment of healthy plants! People who love to cook should consider starting a kitchen or patio herb garden, which will not only provide natural beauty but also the practical and delicious addition of freshly harvest spices. Moss terrarium and air plants have recently become popular features of eco-centric interiors, but you can also stick with staples like aloe, jade, ivy, cacti, schefflera, spider plants, and other leafy household plants that grow easily indoors.