Where do you spend most of your time? Indoors, both at home and at work. All the things in our indoor environments can affect our health. While we probably don’t have much control over our work environments, we can totally control what is in our homes, and we can use those things to make our homes both beautiful and healthy at the same time!
Furniture, rugs, upholstery, flooring, cabinets, and paint all affect our indoor air quality. Some of the chemicals used to keep us safe — such as flame retardants in synthetic fabrics and rugs — can also be hard on our health. Chemicals in some carpeting and flooring off-gas into the air. Adhesives used in furniture, especially particleboard, contain formaldehyde that emits harmful substances into the air.
Ways to Create Healthy Interior Spaces
Here are a few strategies for reducing or eliminating the negative effects of common products that can affect our health and still have a beautiful home.
- Choose higher quality furniture that uses wood joinery and fewer adhesives.
- Purchase rugs made of natural materials such as wool, cotton, silk or jute.
- Opt for paint brands that use fewer chemicals (low VOCs). VOCs are compounds that evaporate into the air; they smell bad and are bad for indoor air quality. Benjamin Moore’s Natura collection is low VOC and contains reduced levels of allergens and irritants.
- Buy furniture, upholstery and decor items that are made of natural materials such as wood, metal and latex foam — avoid plastic. Also, look for items that do not use fire-retardant chemicals.
- Look for pillows, mattresses, upholstery, and bedding made from wool-stuffed materials rather than synthetics.
- Consider flooring made from natural materials such as stone or wood — avoid vinyl.
- Give your space plenty of natural light and fresh air. Add plants like English ivy, bamboo palm and peace lily filter the air and use natural cleaning products that do not contain harsh chemicals.
- Use rammed earth or adobe for walls rather than plaster or cement. Rubber walkways made from recycled rubber tires make a great eco-friendly solution to concrete walking paths.
How Your Choices Help the Planet
Along with actions you take to improve the air-quality directly in your home, consider how your choices affect the health of the planet too!
- Buy high quality, long-lasting furniture rather than cheap low-quality stuff that will end up in landfills or on the street as “free stuff” in a few years. Many cities are being overwhelmed with furniture no-one wants.
- Find local products so that the shipping doesn’t contribute to emissions in the environment.
- Use energy-efficient lighting.
- Use vintage items.
- Use products made of recycled materials such as glass tiles or paper wallpaper. You can use glass in your countertops, tiles, lamps and accessories and paper for beautiful wall coverings. Even some polyester can be recycled. If you must use polyester, use rPET which can be spun into yarn and dyed without toxic properties.
- Use renewable or sustainable materials such as bamboo, cork, teak, hemp, palm, soy fabric or cotton. Bamboo is used in fabrics, flooring and window treatments. Cork is used in textiles, floor, and wall coverings. Teak is used in furniture and decking. Hemp is used in furniture upholstery, bedding, curtains, and paper products. Soy fabric is soft and silky. Palm is used in some baskets. Organic cotton can be used for upholstery fabric, bedding, pillows and more.
- Use sustainable metals that can be recycled such as copper, aluminum and steel.
- Use solar energy for your home.
Get the Look: Eco-Friendly Design
So, what does eco-friendly design look like? It can really reflect any style that you want. Most of the eco-friendly furniture produced is in a more modern style with fabrics in a wide range of colors and uses beautiful natural wood and bamboo. Ethnic rugs, pillows, and decorative accessories are often made of natural materials and can create a global style or Bohemian look.
Here is an e-design of an eco-friendly global style Mexican living room I recently did for a retired couple that loves to travel, entertain and wanted a sustainable design. To see the before and after photos, learn about the inspiration for the design, why I selected the specific products, see my blog article, Get the Look-Mexican Style.
The sofa uses natural latex cushions, wool stuffed pillows and hardwood frame from Medley Furniture. The beautiful wool Moroccan rug is from Atlas weavers. The sheepskin rug and sheepskin throw are from Arhaus. I love the copper coffee table, console table and end table, clay sconces, ceramic masks, wooden figurines and iron and onyx lighting from La Fuente. The beautiful leather Aldama and Safari chairs, palm baskets and clay and marble planters and vases are from The Citizenry. Velvet cotton pillows are from Bryar Wolf. The wall mural is from Anthropologie.
Eco-Friendly Furniture and Decor
It is easy to find beautiful sustainable products for your home décor. Sometimes these products may cost a little bit more, but it is worth it!
Here are some of my favorite companies that have fabulous eco-friendly furniture or décor. As a trade member, I was able to work out a deal to get you a discount on their products.
Medley Furniture specializes in eco-friendly furniture. Get a 5% discount on all their products with the code NLS5 at check out. They use eco-friendly materials such as certified hardwoods and bamboo, no harsh chemicals or fire retardants. Cushions are made of latex foam, pillows are stuffed with wool, cotton, hemp or down. The furniture is custom made for you within 6-8 weeks and they offer free returns. And they have some beautiful fabrics and colors!
A great way to use eco-friendly products in your home is global style rugs and pillows made from wool, silk or cotton.
Atlas Weavers will give you a 20% discount on their beautiful authentic new or vintage rugs, made from wool or animal hides. Use the code “northern lights” at check out on any non-sale item.
To learn more about Moroccan rugs, see my blog article on the Magic of Moroccan Rugs.
Kilim.com will give you a 5% discount on their huge line of gorgeous new and vintage Turkish rugs and pillows made from wool and cotton. I love their exotic and colorful designs. Use the code NLS2019 at check out.
Another source for great eco-friendly pillows from around the world is Bryar Wolfe. They have some gorgeous wool and silk pillows and rugs. You can get 5% off anything on their site with code northernlightsstaging.
Click on the pictures below to go to Pinterest and find out about some of the other eco-friendly furniture and accessories I used in my Mexican style living room design.
I am an affiliate for some of them, and they give me a small commission for sharing their products with you, at no additional cost to you. Follow me on Pinterest while you are there for daily inspiration on global design styles and eco-friendly and sustainable design.
I hope this was helpful in leading you in the right direction for a more beautiful and healthy home. If you need help in creating an eco-friendly, global style room in your home, check out my online and Edesign packages.
Mary Ann Benoit, Home Stager & Interior Designer | Northern Lights Staging
Mary Ann Benoit is President of Northern Lights Home Staging and Design. She is a professional Interior Designer, Edesigner, Color Strategist and Home Stager in Seward, Alaska.
You can email Mary Ann Benoit directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*This site may contain affiliate links to products. The designer may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.