One of the best ways to put a new twist on your home or the final touch on a newly-improved room is to decorate!
Start by shopping your garage for old favorites that you maybe haven’t seen for a while. Or, you can loan and swap items from family or friends. Next, browse garage sales, antique shops, and thrift stores for used furniture and decor that fit your style or can be refinished to match with your theme.
Items made from real wood (not fiber-board or particle-board), metal, or glass are preferable because they reduce plastic waste. In terms of wood, when possible, choose furniture and decor made from lumber from sustainable forests.
A relatively affordable and effective way to update a room is to put on a fresh coat of paint. However, one of the main contributors to pollution and toxins in your home is house paint. Most mainstream house paints can release toxins such as volatile organic compounds, VOC’s, for years. Check for items on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Home Guide to Paint, like Green Seal-11 certified and low VOC content.
When buying new upholstered furniture, consult the EWG’s Home Guide to Upholstered Furniture, and choose items that have no flame retardants, stain-guards, or water-repellants with low-VOC certified foam.
Try look for furniture and decor pieces from local artists, craftspeople, and businesses. In addition to supporting your local economy, you will likely be purchasing higher quality items and cutting down shipping emissions.
Furniture and decor from local shops can be more expensive. Ultimately, it will last longer which is better for the environment, but we understand sometimes you can’t front money for expensive items. Thrifting or buying from Craigslist is the first option for cheaper furniture.
Ikea also has a section in their product information online about environment and materials, so if you have to buy new but are strapped for cash, you can check out their information. It will tell you what the materials are and you can determine for yourself which product might have the least environmental impact.
The best decor is natural, so consider centering your room around house plants or windows to outdoor gardens. Some indoor plants can even help purify the air in your home. Glass mirrors can help bring more light and outdoor greenery into a dark corner of a room. If you are going to buy art to decorate your walls, look for artists who work with sustainable, recycled materials.
Keep in mind how long you expect this item to last and how long you plan on wanting it for. Make thoughtful, purposeful purchases that you want to have in your home for many years to come.
If you are redecorating, do your best to find good homes for each of your old items. For the items you can’t pass along to friends or family, try to donate them to secondhand stores or Freecycle. If you think your items are worth selling, hold a garage sale or sell them on Craigslist, Ebay, or LetGo.