you From designing rooms to choosing fixtures, finishes, furniture & lighting, here are the EASIEST tips every home owner & designer can employ for eco-friendly interior design.
Meaning of Eco Friendly Interior
A contemporary green home is the one that is sensitive towards the effect it has on the environment. Such a house is intelligent enough to consider that pointless wastage of energy and resources is damaging the ecology. Turning yours into a green home is the least you can do for the planet.
This is also called sustainable design, which means that for a home uses as less natural resources as possible, creates as less waste as possible, and overall, the construction & living doesn’t affect nature in the long run. The goal of sustainable interior design is to reduce the carbon footprint, or negative effects on nature. The interiors should be designed in such a way that they improve occupant health, efficiency, all the while being eco-friendly.
8 Elements of Eco-Friendly Interior Design
Luckily, this is easier and cheaper than it sounds. Taking simple measures can contribute a lot. Here are the essential elements your house needs to convert to a greener one:
A bedroom nowadays, not only serves as a sleeping retreat, but has also become a TV room, a study, a dressing room, et al. Having all these activities in your bedroom actually contributes to lack of sleep, affecting your efficiency. An ideal bedroom should have soothing colors and a quiet, relaxing environment, without any distractions.
For eco-friendly bedroom decor, the first thing to do is to minimize electronic gadgets or white goods. Midnight lamps, air heating and unnecessary air cooling should be avoided as they create sleeping discomfort while increasing the cost of electricity.
Introducing or increasing natural ventilation is the most common advice you’ll find in eco-friendly interior design articles, as this is the easiest thing to do.
The largest amount of water and energy consumed in a house is in the bathroom. Reducing water consumption is one of the simplest ways to do eco-friendly interior design. Improving your plumbing and heating fixtures is the simplest step towards an environment-friendly bathroom.
If your geyser has crossed 15 years of age, it is time to buy a more competent model to reduce the electricity consumption. While solar water heaters are the most eco-friendly solution, you can also use automatic geysers for overheating safety and flame failure protection.
Similarly, newer models of water closets, faucets and showers can cut your water use up to 70 percent. Insulation of water heaters and hot water pipes also saves the water heating costs up to 9 percent. The use of PVC products should be avoided as they are not recyclable.
Green interior design also involves keeping bathrooms dry and clean. Bathrooms are the biggest sources of moisture in the house, making them easy targets for the growth of unhealthy micro-organisms. Adequate ventilation is essential to prevent this.
Green design is all about being environment-friendly. The healthiness of your kitchen greatly contributes to the environment of your house. A vigorous kitchen should have appropriate lighting and ventilation for good environmental interior design.
Old and cloggy faucets and pipes should be replaced with new ones. Leakage of water and gas should be checked regularly. A leaky tap could waste up to 37 liters of water per hour. And for the sake of environment, discard your refrigerator if it is more than 10 years old. Newer and more efficient models consume much lesser energy. Eco-friendly interior design is all about less energy consumption, less carbon and CFC emissions.
Trees and shrubs play a major role in reducing the heat gain. Deciduous trees have more foliage in summers and can shade the house against the harsh sun. Similarly, in winters, when the leaves shed, they can help bring in the radiations.
Greenery outside the house is especially important if the overall insulation is ineffective or old. The west side of the house is the one that receives the maximum radiations from the sun. Therefore, you can grow shady trees there, which can greatly reduce the energy-consumption for cooling that part of your house.
It would be a good idea to use recycled water for landscaping and even go in for rain water harvesting to restock the ground water levels.
Indoor plants also help improve indoor air quality, improving the health of occupants and increasing productivity. They improve oxygen levels and moisture in the air. So you can even reuse a few of your old mugs, jars or broken furniture to create planters or potted plants. But perhaps not too many, if you live in an area that attracts mosquitoes.
You should remember the properties of eco-friendly materials when choosing furniture. Things to keep in mind while choosing furniture are sustainable materials, recycled content, non-toxic coatings – you get the picture.
Ask for the eco-friendliness of the upholstery, wood and adhesives while buying new pieces. Antiques or reuse furniture are also good choices. You can also make use of your old stuff to create recycled furniture. This is a great way to do eco-friendly interior design or rather, decor, on a budget.
Avoid the use of synthetically treated materials and adhesives. Instead, go in for organically grown cotton for your upholstery. Environmentally sound furniture uses minimal glue and toxic varnish/fire-retardants.
You can use sustainable interior design products and finishes to create interior partitions. Wood is understandably the greenest option in eco-friendly interior design. Cedar or veneer wall paneling can be used. Make sure that the wood being used is certified by Forest Stewardship Council, coming from forests that are responsibly managed.
Cement board is also a sustainable and low-maintenance material. Use of glass and ceramic tiles is ideal for bathrooms and kitchens. You can also go in for low VOC or eco-friendly paints, which can be applied just like regular paints, but are green-minded at the same time. Avoid the use of acrylic sheets and toxic or fume-emitting paints.
For windows, select double glazing to protect the house from excess heat or cold. This will save on artificial heating and cooling.
Parquet flooring, again, is the most ecological choice. You can use alternatives like maple or cherry boards for adding interest to the conventional wooden finish. The installation system should ideally make minimal use of synthetic materials such as glues, adhesives and harmful coatings.
Cork planking is also a good choice as natural cork is made from regenerating tree bark and does not contain formaldehyde. Avoid vinyl flooring completely.
If you are located in hotter regions, it is best to use local materials for flooring which reduce the heat gain and keep the temperature of your house naturally cool. Using locally-sourced, naturally available materials add quality in sustainable interior design.
We should ideally plan energy efficient interior design before construction, but you can also take many steps after construction or during renovation. Decreasing energy consumption is the goal here for eco-friendly interior design. An environment friendly home is full of daylight. Big airy windows not only save you from using artificial lighting, but also create free flowing spaces, giving the illusion of openness and grandeur.
Turn your lighting into an efficient, ecological system by using appliances that consume low energy. CFL’s (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) and recessed LED lights are healthy options.
Last, but not the least, we can reduce the energy consumption can be significantly by taking simple steps such as switching off the lights when not in use, dimming them wherever possible and using automated lighting systems to avoid unnecessary wastage of power. Less energy consumption is an important aspect of sustainable space design.
Hope these tips on how to do eco-friendly interior design were helpful. Remember that this guide is just the tip of the iceberg, and the more you learn about environment-friendly and sustainable interiors, the more you’ll be able to do.
Shilpa Ahuja is a designer and editor of Decorisk Magazine. She has worked in hotel interiors at The Park Hotels, India, and has completed several home interior design projects as a freelancer.
She completed her Masters in Design Studies (MDesS) degree from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She also has a Bachelor degree in Architecture (B.Arch) from Chandigarh College of Architecture. Her work has been published in Indian Design & Interior magazine and exhibited at Harvard University and at Aroma Hotel, Chandigarh.
Shilpa is also the Editor-in-Chief of Shilpa Ahuja Digital Media, which includes ShilpaAhuja.com, one of India’s most-read digital fashion magazines. Originally from Chandigarh, she is currently based in Chennai, and can be reached at [email protected]