A guide to living green

Easy ways to create a space that is both beautiful and kind to the environment
Chris Warnes

Decorating or reinventing an area is one of the great pleasures of making a house a home. The shift towards more sustainable furnishings doesn’t mean you need to forgo a sense of style, warmth and beauty, says interior stylist Aimee Tarulli of Thomas Archer Homes. All it takes is a little thought and creativity.

“Sustainability is here to stay, and more and more people are looking for ways to create a lighter footprint at home,”


PLANNING: Selecting interiors that are both aesthetically pleasing and kind to the environment is easier than you think. Begin by looking for vintage pieces or other carefully crafted furniture made from recycled timber or materials, like this beautifully rustic space by Amber Interiors. “It’s about choosing products that can be repurposed or reused, so that we leave the world in a healthy state and create less waste,” says Aimee. “Choosing a second-hand piece of furniture with great bones and a solid base will enable you to get creative and have a really special piece full of love and character. Your dining table will end up telling a story of where it came from and how it got to be the special piece it is today.”

“Get to know the story behind your product, meet the maker and take appreciation in the craft


It’s also important to consider what an item is made from and, if it’s a new piece, whether it was manufactured on our shores or overseas. “If you can, shop for Australian-made furniture when buying new,” says creative director Fiona Parry-Jones of Von Haus Design Studio. King Living’s resident trend expert Triana Odone adds: “If you’re looking to buy a timber product, it should be FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified, which means it’s sourced from well-managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits. On top of this, furniture packaged in recyclable cardboard boxes eliminates the need for plastic packaging.”

green living
(Credit: Mikkel Vang)

MATERIALS & TEXTILES: “There is a shift towards neutral but highly textural decorating schemes, made up of layers of natural, sustainable materials with minimal dyeing or finishing, worked back with stone, ceramics and reclaimed timbers in raw states,” says head of styling Jessica Bellef of Temple & Webster. She advises looking for on-trend pieces made from readily renewable resources such as cork, stone, wool and hemp. Organically grown natural fibres do not require the use of chemicals or pesticides to grow, are biodegradable and kind to us and the environment. Organic hemp, linen, cotton, wool, jute and bamboo are all eco-friendly ‘green’ materials that can be used in everything from sofas to soft furnishings, such as these cushions and throw rugs by Amber Interiors. “From their quick regeneration through to the harvesting and manufacturing processes, these materials can have less negative impact on the environment,” says Jessica.

“‘Green’ materials emit low to no toxins into the air once in your home


green living
(Credit: Chris Warnes)

FINISHING TOUCHES: “A quick scroll through Pinterest or Instagram will show you that indoor plants are a must-have addition,” says Jessica Bellef of Temple & Webster. “Plants purify the air, helping to reduce the VOCs [volatile organic compounds] released by synthetic products.” When it comes to choosing paint, the key is to opt for a brand that has a low or zero VOC content, the carbon-containing solvent released into the air as the paint dries. Companies such as Ecolour offer water-based non-toxic paint that is 100 per cent VOC-free. For eco-friendly lighting, less is more, so, when renovating or building, consider skylights, larger windows or even an open view to an adjacent room, to maximise natural light. In terms of artificial lighting, LED bulbs are safe, energy efficient and extremely long-lasting. Also look for ‘green’ lamps made with natural or recycled materials, which may include salvaged metal, glass or wood. And for outdoor lighting, consider solar lighting options.

“A well-considered lighting plan is vital to enhance your home’s ambience


green living
(Credit: Mikkel Vang)

BUDGET: Sustainable pieces for the living room can be surprisingly friendly – not just to the environment but also to the wallet. Spend a little time looking into which homewares and furniture companies are socially responsible. You may be pleased to discover that some of the more budget-friendly retailers are also taking a lead in environmental accountability. For example, the H&M group, one of the world’s largest users of organic cotton and recycled polyester, bans chemicals considered hazardous for use in the production process.

Think upcycling. “Before you throw out that old coffee table, look for ways to give it a facelift and bring it back to life,” says interior stylist Aimee. As for investing in sustainable big-ticket items such as sofas, armchairs and dining chairs, King Living’s Triana Odone advises choosing pieces that will stand the test of time. “The integrity of the frame is important – frames made of steel are of higher quality and are more durable, meaning they will last through the years, creating less wastage.” Also, consider sofas that incorporate clever built-in storage options. “They’re incredibly space saving and multi-functional, which ultimately allows areas to be used more efficiently without the need to increase the physical footprint,” she says.

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