When it comes to home design, more people are looking for sustainable ways to furnish their living spaces. Fortunately, a number of furniture pieces offer a stylish aesthetic and help reduce waste — think of the “re-use” part of “reduce, re-use, recycle.” Adding modern furniture design to your sustainable home isn’t as difficult as you may think. Do your part to reduce your carbon footprint, and get creative as you add décor to your home. Consider these green ideas.
Reclaimed Wood Furniture
A popular trend over the past few years has been using reclaimed wood — and you aren’t limited to just wall decorations. You can fashion reclaimed wood into bedroom paneling, kitchen counters, and even furniture. Reclaimed wood in any form adds an instant dose of coziness, warmth, and rustic-chic to a home. Many people choose to pair reclaimed wood with modern metals or stones for a hybrid finish.
Of course, you don’t have to DIY in order to enjoy reclaimed wood in your home. Plenty of retailers offer professionally manufactured beds, tables, desks, bookshelves — and pretty much anything else you can think of — made from reclaimed lumber.
Shop Second Hand
A little gentle use never hurts a piece of furniture that was originally constructed from quality materials. Shop around at thrift stores, online want ads, social media marketplaces, flea markets, and yard sales for secondhand furniture. Buying secondhand is almost always less expensive than purchasing something brand new, and you’re keeping perfectly good furniture out of landfills.
You can also choose one-of-a-kind pieces created from up-cycled items. Think window shutter headboards, wine bottle table lamps, and vintage trunk coffee tables. You never know what kind of treasure you’ll find — so many furniture designers are breathing new life into otherwise unwanted pieces.
Another popular option is to purchase an item that may need a little TLC and restore it to make it look fresh and modern. A coat of paint can quickly spruce up hand-me-down furniture without a major financial investment.
Need a dose of sustainable inspiration for your home décor? Upcycling is easy when you see the beauty in an old, damaged piece of furniture. Take an old cabinet and re-purpose it for an antique bathroom vanity, and you’ve got instant charm. Use a small, damaged table for a unique nightstand; simply cut it in half and paint it a bold color, and then you’ll have the perfect addition to your bedroom. Transform an old bench into a vintage end table for your living room, and you’ll have the best party conversation starter.
In addition to using old shutters as a headboard, they also work great as wall art or even to top off a sofa table. Both ideas add a dose of cottage design to your room. And finally, one of the most popular reuse suggestions comes in the form of a mix-and-match dining set. Buy chairs in different styles, and then simply paint and upholster them in the same shade and fabric. What you get is something simultaneously unified and eclectic.
If you do decide to try your hand at a furniture project, be sure to use eco-friendly alternatives to manufactured paint so you can keep away from any toxic fumes. Natural paint is more environmentally safe and gives off no emissions. In fact, it has no odor whatsoever.
If you plan to refinish furniture, look for stains that have low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are chemicals used in things like paint, leather treatments, upholstery, plywood, and pressed wood products. VOCs can leak into the air as a form of gas and gradually build to toxic levels when doors and windows are closed. Skip the harmful products, and choose more eco-friendly versions instead.
There are organizations out there to help you when you’re on the hunt for all-natural furniture. The Sustainable Furnishings Council is a great resource for finding furniture that is manufactured and distributed in an earth-friendly manner. The Global Organic Textiles Standard certifies textile products as organic — similar to the food industry — so you can check a piece of furniture for the GOTS logo.
If you’re looking for another approach, try renting with CORT Furniture. It’s easy to furnish an entire room and when you’re ready to switch up your style, you don’t have to feel guilty! CORT will pick up the furniture when you’re finished and deliver your new pieces.