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Six tips for styling your home with sustainability in mind


If you've built a sustainable home, it's safe to say you will also want your home decor to reflect your eco-friendly principles. The good news is there are plenty of furniture and homeware options, both new and second hand, that will help bring your new home to life.

The fundamental design principles of sustainable décor are keeping quality furniture and accessories for the long-term and sourcing them ethically. This means moving away from mass-produced items, often found in large department stores, which have a short life cycle.

Here are six tips to help you make more sustainable choices when decorating your new, eco-friendly home.

Look to vintage or second-hand decorative items

No longer reserved for university students or retro beach shacks, many interior designers celebrate second-hand furniture for its quality, sustainability and uniqueness.

While Australian op shops and garage sales can be hit and miss, there are plenty of diamonds in the rough. Meanwhile, Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, eBay and Etsy are the online treasure troves for second-hand items.

To guide your search and avoid a dog's breakfast of furniture in your home, try sticking to one artistic movement (like art deco) or one era (like mid-century) per room when hunting down the perfect item. Of course, your options will be even more plentiful if you have plans to do some DIY and upcycle an old furniture piece by giving it a modern update.

When you need to find everyday items, like baskets and tubs for storage, charity shops will always be your affordable, sustainable living best friend.

If op-shops aren't your thing, head out to local art and craft markets

These markets are full of local art, homemade goods, candles, soaps and other goodies, often made from sustainable materials. You'll be supporting your local craftspeople, and get to take home a high-quality piece you can't find in regular furniture stores.

If you have furniture you love, but it's in the wrong colour or fabric, don't throw it out.

There are plenty of ways to reuse furniture and other household décor items, like giving them a fresh coat of paint, a new stain, or replacing their upholstery. If you choose to paint, look for low or zero VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, as they have a smaller environmental impact.

Use real plants inside the home.

Not only do real, living plants look fantastic, but they also help to freshen up the air and bring nature inside. There are plenty of plants that thrive in indoor environments, including succulents, peace lilies, spider and snake plants, aloe vera and other low water use species. Plus, watering plants is a fun activity for young kids in the family home.

If you do buy something new, buy something for life

Prioritising new items built with good quality, ethically sourced materials is a worthy investment to make, as they will last longer and lessen your impact on landfill and the environment. Choosing items in minimalist shapes, natural tones and organic form will mean they are less likely to date. If the furniture has an electrical component, buying better quality usually results in more energy-efficient appliances, too.

Reuse glass jars for storage purposes

Rather than throwing out the old jars every time they're empty, use them to store other items around the house. You can even paint the lids to match the existing décor in your home or use them as vases. Less waste is the backbone of a sustainable house.

Following the above tips will reduce the number of items that we send off to landfill each year. While trends can change rapidly, there's no reason that we can't update our homes to be in style while keeping sustainability top of mind. Building a sustainable home isn't just about solar panels and renewable energy - what goes into your new home matters too!

If you’re interested in sustainable home design and sustainable features, check out Metricon’s Zero Net Carbon Home in Victoria.