You don’t have to be a neuroscientist or psychologist to know that the way your space looks and functions affects your mood. And that’s what makes interior design not just an art, but a science too. After all, mental wellness is about more than just indulging in a relaxing massage or sipping frosé with your friends at Barton Springs—although the latter is obviously essential.

WHY IS SUSTAINABLE INTERIOR DESIGN IMPORTANT?

Interior design trends come and go, but there’s one that’s here to stay: sustainability. Going green at home can improve our collective carbon footprint by combating air pollution and wasted natural resources. Using sustainable interior design principles can also improve your indoor air quality at home, which makes it important for your personal well-being.

So what are you waiting for? Here are some easy ways to make your space as eco-friendly as it is swoon-worthy.

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Beware of VOCs

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic chemicals that easily evaporate as gases or vapors at room temperature. They can be found in many common home products including paints, coatings such as varnishes, and even furniture and carpets.

VOCs are harmful to both the environment, polluting the air as greenhouse gases, and our health. Once these chemicals are in our homes, they are released, or “off-gassed,” into the air we breathe—and they’re known to cause respiratory issues, nervous system disturbances, and other health problems when used indoors. VOCs may or may not have a detectable odor, so you may not even know you’re breathing them in!

Here’s how to avoid having high VOC content in your home:

  • Look for low- or no-VOC products for painting and varnishing in your home.
  • Stay away from carpets made from artificial fibers, as well as home scents, such as candles and diffusers, that aren’t 100% natural.
  • Make sure that your furniture and wood products don’t contain added formaldehyde (which is typically used to preserve it).
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Stick to Furniture Made from Natural Materials

Your IKEA Kallax shelf may be the perfect solution for storing your prized record collection, but it’s not doing your health—or the environment—any favors. To go the sustainable route, ditch the plastic-mold chairs and particle board tables and invest in natural wood pieces that are built to last. Oak, teak, maple, bamboo, and walnut are all more durable, and they’ll be assembled with wood joinery—as opposed to the synthetic glues and formaldehyde-laced resins that bond cheaper furniture together.

The trick here is to make sure that the wood is certified with the Forest Stewardship Council certification to ensure that you’re not using an endangered species for your furniture. If wood isn’t your jam, choose marble or stone—such as local Texas limestone—for your tables and countertops.

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Say Yes to Natural Fibers

The list of household items that ought to be crafted from natural materials goes beyond furniture. Many fabrics are made with flame retardants, which contain unnecessary additives that can hurt our lungs and eyes (and can lead to serious health problems like infertility as well as IQ and developmental impairments in children). Plus, choosing natural materials helps cut down on the production of synthetic materials that ultimately end up crowding our landfills.

  • Bedding and textiles: Organic cotton, linen, and hemp: derived from plants, these materials are made from 100% natural fiber and manufactured in environments without harmful chemicals. The result? Sheets and blankets that are soft, breathable, and eco-friendly.
  • Rugs: I hate to break it to you, but the majority of trendy rugs are made from plastic, like polypropylene. This can be potentially toxic, especially when kept indoors. Wool, cotton, and jute, however, are all natural fibers, which make them biodegradable, recyclable, and safe.
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Consider Vegan Materials

There are so many reasons why ethical design is healthier and safer for our planet and its inhabitants. It’s kinder to animals. It’s better for the environment, since the production of vegan materials doesn’t require the chemicals, non-natural dyes, fossil fuel, and excessive amounts of water that are necessary in leather tanneries, for example. And cruelty-free alternatives are every bit as durable and sophisticated.

Consider one of these alternatives:

  • Instead of leather: Faux “leather” made from pineapple leaf fiber or polyurethane pleather
  • Instead of wool: faux wools from recycled tree pulp, jute, or recycled fibers
  • Instead of silk: banana plant “silks,” bamboo silk, viscose, or organic cotton
  • Instead of animal hides: faux sheepskin rugs

Shop Secondhand

When you’re living in the vintage-store mecca that is Austin, Texas, you’re always a stone’s throw away from some of the most unique pieces that can give your space a one-of-a-kind look. And the best part is that vintage and thrift shopping is, well, the responsible thing to do.

Treat yourself to Sunday brunch and scour Austin’s countless thrift boutiques to score some pre-loved treasures for your space. You can also shop secondhand on websites such as Facebook Marketplace, One Kings Lane, and Etsy.

Be Energy Efficient

Opening your windows to the abundant Austin sunshine is the best way to conserve energy and boost your mood, but if you shop wisely, you can be energy efficient with your lighting at night, too. Simple fixes here include ditching the traditional incandescent bulbs that drain energy. Instead, switch to LED light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), or halogen incandescents. You can even try solar-powered light sources and install timers and dimmers to cut back on your energy use.

Luxury Interior Design That’s Sustainable, Too

Feeling inspired to incorporate sustainable interior design into your home? As a committed vegan and experienced designer, I’m here to help you rethink your space. No matter your taste, I’ll help you create a home that feels elegant and comfortable, while also being ethical and environmentally friendly. Contact me today, and let’s get started on your home’s new look.

Contact

J.Fisher Interiors’ studio is located in east Austin. To schedule your consultation appointment, please fill out the contact form or call us at 512.954.0904. We would love to hear from you!

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