A guide to sustainable interior design for your home

As a homeowner, you might consider solar panels, water tanks, or recycling when you think of sustainability. There are, however, other methods to live in a home that is environmentally friendly.

Sustainable interior design and decor principles contribute significantly to a healthy planet.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Sustainable Built Environment, environmentally sustainable interior design (ESID) is defined as the application of aesthetic principles and strategies that provide benefits on a global scale.

The incorporation of sustainable or green interior design is the fastest-growing category in the design world. When it comes to designing a sustainable space, there is a lot of innovation going on, from employing rainwater collection to supplement wastewater demands to incorporating sustainable materials like bamboo.

In order to make eco-friendly interior design choices for your home, you must first understand how it can be achieved. This guide provides you with a variety of interior design tips for enhancing your home's sustainability.

Here’s what this guide covers:

1. Sustainable interior design tips
  • Benefits of eco-friendly bioethanol fireplaces
  • Maximising the efficient use of space
  • Energy-efficient features for your home

3. Myths about sustainable interior design

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Sustainable interior design tips

Going green and having an eco-friendly home has become a top priority for many homeowners. They are more aware of how they can lower their ecological footprint while still incorporating aesthetic features by using sustainable elements of design.

These are some of the ways you can incorporate an eco-friendly approach into your home decor:

  • Benefits of eco-friendly bioethanol fireplaces

Whether you need a source of heat in your home in winter or want to impress your guests with a gorgeous fireplace, eco-friendly bioethanol fireplaces are a great alternative to traditional fireplaces.

The benefits of bioethanol fireplaces are numerous; nevertheless, the following are the primary reasons why you should have one in your home:

  • Little to zero emissions

Bioethanol fireplaces are an environmentally friendly and long-lasting option to heat your home. Because ethanol is created from fermented plants like maize, switchgrass, and sugarcane, it creates no harmful emissions or smoke that pollutes the local atmosphere. 

The amount of carbon dioxide released by burning this plant waste is small. In other words, the amount of CO2 released is roughly equal to the amount of CO2 exhaled by humans when we breathe.

  • There's no need for a flue or a vent

A wood-burning fireplace necessitates the purchase of an expensive fireplace, its installation into your home, and the construction of a flue to allow the smoke to escape.

You don't need to install a flue or vent because eco-friendly bioethanol fireplaces emit nearly no pollutants. They don't emit soot, ash, or poisonous fumes and, as a result, they require little to no maintenance.

  • The generated heat is retained

Another reason bioethanol fireplaces are eco-friendly is that all of the heat they generate is retained in the space. Since they are ventless all the heat stays in the room rather than escaping up a flue like it would with traditional fireplaces. Increased heat retention equates to better fuel efficiency.

renewable source of heat

Bioethanol fireplaces come in a variety of styles and designs. Each will have a different burner and heat output, so it's better to have them customised to your heat preferences.

  • A renewable source of heat

Since it does not rely on fossil fuels like gas or coal, bioethanol is the preferred renewable source of heat. It's also the result of the sun's energy being converted into usable energy. Because this sort of fuel is manufactured from natural resources like maize, potato, and sugar, it is a resource that will not run out of the natural substance used to make it.

Bioethanol also has a low environmental impact during the manufacturing process. The entire bioethanol production cycle begins with photosynthesis, which causes feedstock such as sugar cane to grow. After that, the feedstock is converted into ethanol. In essence, bioethanol is denatured alcohol that burns cleanly and produces no toxic compounds, soot, or smoke, which is something that other types of fires cannot claim.

  • Maximising the efficient use of space

Making the most of interior spaces is a crucial part of employing sustainable decorating techniques in your home. As your home should be clutter-free, you should also keep the size of your furniture and household necessities to a bare minimum. This can be accomplished by:

  • Taking advantage of vertical spaces

You've done a wonderful job of filling floor space with furniture, but don't forget to utilise your home's vertical space as well. Vertical spaces can be effectively utilised to increase the amount of usable space. Consider how you may save space in each room by stacking washer and dryer sets, filing cabinets in the home office, and other items.

Bunk beds can help you save a lot of space in your children's room. You can even install storage drawers beneath the bed to make the most of the available space.

Modular storage is a prevalent trend among homeowners who appreciate their space. Modular storage solutions are a fantastic way to save space in an organisation, whether in the kitchen, laundry room, garage, or closet.

  • Choosing eco-friendly paint colours that create the illusion of space

When it comes to painting the interior of your home, choose colours that are safe for the environment and your family's health. Certain solids or liquids emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as gases. Because indoor VOC levels can be up to ten times higher than outside, choosing a low-VOC interior paint is critical for your home's indoor air quality.

You should also find the best colours to help create the illusion of more space in the room. Even if the space has very little furniture or decorations, dark colours can make it appear cramped and congested. Paint your walls using a light colour like tan, white, or a light shade of blue or lavender. Try using these colours for furniture and decorations too.

Mirrors can also be used to create the illusion of additional space as they make a room appear larger right away.

  • Using plants as decorations

Plants are used in contemporary interior design to make places more appealing and alive. They can be utilised as accent pieces to soften places or even to portray a mood. The first step in incorporating plants into your designs is assessing the space and determining the room's strongest and weakest parts.

Large plants are ideal for minimalistic designs to create a statement in a room. They are also useful when you want to accentuate a specific aspect of the design without overcrowding the space. Small plants are perfect for just about any place in your home due to their adaptability and cheap maintenance. A cactus or an aloe is the most common of tiny plants.

Plants that are used as decorations in your home can also benefit your health.

  • Energy-efficient features for your home
4 1Energy-efficient features

When it comes to affordable housing in South Africa, many developers choose to build as cheaply as possible rather than employing a variety of energy-saving strategies.

If you're building a home from the ground up or renovating your current abode, you should think about including energy-saving features. An energy audit can be used to assess how your home currently consumes energy and the best ways to reduce usage and expenditures. 

Improving the efficiency of your home with features like insulation, water heaters, high-efficiency heating, and cooling equipment may help you save money on energy costs while also increasing the degree of comfort in your home. By consuming less energy and enhancing the efficiency of energy production, you will contribute to a cleaner environment.

It's also a good time to consider a renewable energy system that can offer power, water heating, or space heating and cooling as part of the design process.

These are some of the key features found in most energy-efficient homes:

  • Water heating solutions

Since 1889, people have been using electric geysers in their homes. It accounts for more than half of your household's energy bill. Installing a heat pump, which utilises roughly a third of the total energy and reduces your home's electricity expenses by around 50%, is today's current environmentally-friendly choice.

  • Energy-saving lighting

The usage of energy in your home can be reduced by 50-75% by replacing incandescent lights with more energy-efficient CFLs and LED lighting. Highly efficient LED lighting uses a tenth of the energy and lasts 10 times longer than traditional bulbs.

Larger windows, glass doors, and skylights in your home also reduce the need for unnecessary electrical illumination.

  • Home insulation

Different types of materials are used to insulate your ceiling, walls, and floors. Insulation's main aim is to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

25% of heat is lost through windows and doors, 25% through the roof, 35% through the walls, and 15% through the floor. Installing an insulation system in your home will substantially lower your energy consumption.

  • Solar electric panels

The use of solar energy to generate power lessens our collective reliance on fossil fuels. Solar energy can help you save money on energy right away while also protecting you from escalating electricity rates. Going off the grid can be costly, but you can get started with simple solar and battery-powered choices. This will also eliminate loadshedding's inconvenient effects.

  • Energy-efficient appliances

In general, older appliances cost more to operate than newer ones. Consumer items have improved as a result of technological advancements, making modern appliances more energy efficient and requiring less electricity than those created, say, ten years ago.

As a result, a number of appliance manufacturers must comply with regulatory requirements and will be expected to include a South African Energy Efficiency Label on their products in the future. The South African Energy Efficiency Label's goal is to ensure that consumers are aware of an appliance's relative energy efficiency before making a buying decision.

Aside from the obvious financial benefits, having an energy-efficient home will give you peace of mind, knowing that you are helping a sustainable environment for future generations.

Using environmentally friendly materials

Natural decor objects are one-of-a-kind because no two trees, stones, or leaves are the same. They boast a rich texture and raw vibe which is a significant part of their attractiveness. Wood in particular, whether designed in a modern or traditional manner, is warm and rustic. Materials like jute, linen, and wool are elegant and warm options for bringing softness into your house. 

These are some of the environmentally friendly materials you should consider using in your home:

  • Reclaimed wood

Plastic-moulded chairs and tables may no longer be environmentally friendly. To make your home's interior eco-friendly, you'll need furniture made of wood or other sustainable materials.

reclaimed wood

Wooden furniture, on the other hand, is not a sustainable option because it necessitates the felling of living trees. Reclaimed wood recycles outdated materials and gives them a new, environmentally friendly life. Wood mantels, rocking chairs, coffee tables, and flooring constructed from reclaimed wood will look and feel amazing in your home, especially with a rustic theme.

  • Bamboo

Bamboo, which is grown in tropical climates, is a far more sustainable alternative to wood. It is also one of the world's fastest-growing plants, allowing it to be used within four years of planting, as opposed to the 60-70 years required by most hardwoods. It also uses relatively few pesticides and fertilizers, which makes it even more environmentally friendly.

  • Recycled metal

Metal is one of the most commonly recycled materials. Aluminium, iron, steel, copper, and brass may all be recycled and reused to create new items repeatedly.

Furniture built from recycled metal takes less processing and uses fewer resources than non-renewable materials. Furthermore, aluminium and steel can be recycled multiple times without losing their qualities.

  • Bio-glass

Bio-glass is an environmentally conscious material that provides a low-impact option without sacrificing aesthetics. It's also composed entirely of 100% recycled glass, which is pressed together into slabs from various waste streams such as bottles, old plates, and so on.

Bio-glass is a fantastic environmentally friendly option for everything from décor to bathroom sinks, countertops, and even flooring.

  • Jute fibres

Jute fibres give the area an earthy tone in more ways than one. The strong material comes from the jute plant, which grows swiftly and hence is easily renewable. As a result, carpets made of jute fibre are not only long-lasting but can also contribute to a greener home. Because jute is a strong heat insulator, rugs made of this inexpensive material are also cost-effective.

Sustainable decorating techniques allow you to limit your environmental impact while incorporating appealing design aspects into your home.

  • Sustainable interior design myths

Green living entails more than merely lowering your household's carbon footprint. It's about discovering the most inspiring ways to live in harmony with our surroundings.

Interior design is extremely significant when it comes to sustainable design. Many homeowners are put off by the phrase "sustainable" because of its many connotations. Fortunately, some fears about sustainable interior design are based on misconceptions.

Myths about sustainable interior design

  • Sustainable interior design is expensive

You might believe that having a sustainable interior design in your home will set you back a lot of money, but it's a terrific way to remain on budget. Did you know that purchasing vintage or used furniture is a sustainable option? Consider this: rather than letting antique furniture end up in a landfill, you may restore and preserve it.

Many critics feel that energy-efficient appliances are expensive, but you will save money in the long term with reduced bills. Moreover, you will have something that will last for years and not need to be replaced after only a few years of use.

  • Sustainable design sacrifices style

Not long ago, designing a sustainable house meant sacrificing your style in favour of a more environmentally friendly environment. The development of new technology and production techniques has made many products’ sustainable characteristics less obvious. 

For instance, bamboo floors come in a variety of colours and patterns and are tinted with non-toxic dyes to produce a product that is as lasting and appealing as other wood floors. Countertops made of recycled paper are replacing other materials, resulting in a surface that is 100% certified post-consumer recycled paper and also highly elegant.

The reuse of materials, whether in new buildings or renovations, is a sustainable manner of planning. You are being sustainable by not tossing them and finding a home for them.

  • Green design is solely concerned with the environment

It's not just about the environment when it comes to sustainable interior design. You should also consider how to make your home healthier and how to improve your family's well-being. 

Identifying your top priorities in terms of sustainable design is your first step in the process. Are you concerned about purchasing environmentally friendly things, for example? Do you want to give your family better indoor air quality? Are you looking for zero VOC paints and human-friendly upholstery and carpets? Perhaps it's a combination of many things. 

After you've established your priorities, you'll be able to choose the decor elements you desire. 

  • Only new homes can have sustainable elements

Sustainable interior design does not have to be limited to new developments. You can also incorporate a wonderful eco-friendly design into your renovation ideas. Even if older properties were not built with sustainability in mind, you can still achieve your eco-friendly goals. 

Despite many hurdles, you may find ways to improve your home or hospitality project with the help of research or an expert. For example, if your living room faces the wrong way, it may require more energy to cool the space, but a draping system can alleviate this issue.

One of the most significant themes that will have a long-term impact in the next years is sustainability in the new age. Contrary to popular opinion, sustainability encompasses not just technical breakthroughs, but also basic design concepts that result in a larger impact.

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