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How to Update the Style of Your Home Sustainably

 

We all want our homes to be as comfortable and functional as possible - especially now that we all spend so much time in them. Originally, I wrote the title of this entry as "Easy Ways to Update the Style of Your Home Sustainably," before remembering that updating your home with sustainability, budget, or even solely aesthetic considerations in mind is neither easy, nor fast, nor simple. Curating a home that you love takes time and consideration. If you’re trying to integrate principles of sustainability and thoughtfulness into your decor, you need to take even more time to plan and shop before making a new purchase. Taking these steps can help organize your creative process - and avoid rushing into choices that miss the mark.

Evaluate your needs & wants.
Appreciate what you have.
Find new uses, restore and update.
Swap, borrow and buy secondhand.
Keep longevity and care in mind.
Add multi-use or adaptable items.
Hunt for vintage and antique.
Shop ethical, fair trade & sustainable brands.

Evaluate your needs and wants.

We are all looking at our spaces with new eyes. Seasonal shifts, new requirements and changing values are all having an impact on what we need and want at home. My list of needs and wants have changed greatly in the last year, and as such, so has my organization of and plans for our home. I personally love taking pen to paper to list the things that we need on a logistical level (storage, seating, workspaces) as well as how I want a space to feel (warm, comfortable, informal/formal, etc). Having specific words to reference always make it easier for me to then pull inspiration images. When I want a space to feel comfortable and accessible, keeping those words in mind keeps me from being distracted by a gorgeous formal space. It's always important to remember that you can love an image of a space, and still recognize that it might not be right for you right now. If you want your choices to have longevity and be sustainable, then this is a step you can't skip. 



Appreciate what you have.

First evaluate the art, furniture and decor that you already have. What do you love? What feels less appealing to you? How are these pieces occupying your space and fulfilling your needs? What inspires you and what feels like a relic? How does what you have already work for you? 



Find new uses, restore and update.

Once you've taken inventory, it's time to check in on what might be adapted to your plan. Dye, paint, and fabric go a very long way in giving new life to objects you already live with. Can an old dresser be repurposed as a sideboard or kitchen storage? Can you recover or repaint things to work better for your space? Can you swap out hardware for a new custom look?

Swap, borrow and buy secondhand.


I really look forward to the day when decor swaps are as common as clothing swaps. Until then, talk to friends and family members as they downsize and move.  Hunt for vintage and antique. 
There's a reason why antique and vintage furniture has such an exceptional market - these pieces were built to last. In addition to vintage and antique stores, try thrift stores, flea markets, and estate sales. Online, a quick search on Etsy or Facebook Marketplace can easily help you find just the right piece - and support a small business or family. Become a member of your local Buy Nothing Project group to see what is on offer in your neighborhood, or even ask for specific items on your list (truly my favorite local resource). 



Keep longevity and care in mind.

Certain materials, wherever they come from, simply will last longer, are easier to care for and look better as they age. Natural fabrics like cotton, linen and wool, and solid wood furniture will better age and hold up to use. Whether buying new or secondhand, keep your eye out for these materials. If you do choose furnishings or decor from less robust materials - think particle board items from Ikea, Target and other retailers - keep in mind that with proper care, they can also last you a very long time. It's more sustainable to take care of items you already have, or secondhand pieces, than you choose something new off the self, no matter how ethically or sustainably it has been produced.

Add multi-use or adaptable items.

Pieces that can have more than one use or can be adapted to change their look really extend their lifespan and your enjoyment.  Storage ottomans, modular sectionals, and other furniture that does double-duty are always great choices. Pillows with standard size covers are easily swapped out. Order one print with a frame, and then later add a single print to swap in for a new look. 



Shop ethical, fair trade & sustainable brands.

There are many mission-based companies with new furniture and decor brands that are finding ways to bring new sustainable products to market. Take a look at The Good Trade for a fantastic round up of some of the options currently available.


If all of this seems like a lot of work, it's because putting together a creative, sustainable home does take effort. I can promise that it's a rewarding pursuit, one that can engage you for the rest of your days as you craft your home throughout the ages and phases of a lifetime.

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