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Eco-Friendly Decorating

Jacy Meyer · Jun 19, 2014
iStock_000005808926SmallEverything is going green these days. Concerns for the environment abound in all areas of work, life and leisure and home decorating is no exception. And luckily for those decorating on a budget, it’s easy to love Mother Earth without breaking the bank.

Recycle

Thrift stores and yard sales are some of a frugal designer’s best ‘shops.’ Not only can you find some decent furniture, you can also find quirky decorating pieces that add a flair of originality to your place. Let you mind run wild…a storage chest can become a coffee or end of the bed table; wooden boxes can be made into storage shelves. Enlist friends and family to do their part by cleaning out basements of dusty furniture they no longer use. Utilizing their old kitchen table in your apartment is much better than it decorating a landfill. The best pieces to pick up at thrift stores or yard sales include original art (who cares who the artist is if you love it); mirrors (fabulous for giving the illusion of space and light to a small dark room) and lamps (be sure to have a professional check the wiring). Two other tips for yard sales – start early, and don’t be afraid to negotiate (bring cash).

But what if you find a piece that has some not so likeable qualities? No worries, you can always…

Upcycle

Upcycling is when you take an old anything and transform it into a new or better product. Basically, you are repurposing it for your own use. If you are looking for furniture, focus on the structure of the piece, not its current condition. If it’s sturdy and you like the lines, go for it. A new couch cover or a little bit of sanding and staining will make that not so pretty piece pretty darn good looking in no time. Knobs are also cheap and can really give a dresser a signature look. Watermarks on furniture can be hidden with a glossy spray paint. Another aspect of upcycling is the ability to repurpose the function of the piece. This also is an ideal tip for those also looking to maximize every inch of space. Can your dining table double as a prep area or desk? Add rollers to a table to relocate it from room to room (desk in the daytime, table in the evening).

Green cycle

Energy efficient light bulbs and appliances are a must these days, and luckily they aren’t as expensive as they once were. Choose organic or natural materials whenever possible for sheets and towels (wool stuffed blankets and pillows will prevent dust mites) and don’t forget about environmentally friendly cleaning products (baking soda, vinegar, etc.). Recycled wood and furniture made from sustainable choices are better than plastic. If you are refurbishing furniture, go for paints that are low or no VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) which have been connected to health problems. Whenever possible choose from local manufacturers when buying new; saves on fuel costs needed for transporting.

Simply adopting a mantra of repair, refinish and reuse will put your home on the path to eco-friendly bliss.

Jacy is a freelance journalist specializing in art, design and culture. When not writing, reading or traveling she enjoys torturing her husband and dog with extremely long walks. Follow her on Google+.

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