One of my favorite childhood memories of summer is lounging on the cool red oxide flooring of my grandmother’s house, reading a book while devouring slices of freshly cut mangoes plucked straight from her garden. The large windows in the spacious living room allowed for plenty of natural light and fresh air, and it was the best place to spend almost the entire day. Our vacations there involved eating home-cooked meals using fruits and vegetables from the farm, playing outdoors, and making sun-dried snacks as a family. Clothes were always hung outside to dry, coconut husk was used as a dishwashing scrub, and all the furniture were hand-me-downs.
As I look back on those days, I realize her house was the perfect example of being earth-friendly. The house has always been an inspiration whenever I think of ideas for a greener decor. Here are a few of my favorite features:
Natural charm is all about using organic elements in your home
My grandmother’s house featured minimalistic décor like simple cane furniture, a wooden swing, lime-washed walls, foraged flowers from the garden, rugs made from upcycled fabric, and upholstery from her cotton and silk sarees. All of these elements lent the house an aesthetic quite like none other. The warm, uncluttered ambiance never failed to exude calming, positive vibes
Decades later, when I set up my own house, I looked to create a similar vibe. I upcycled a pair of old doors to make a corner side stand by adding small shelves in between. I fashioned a window frame into a center table by adding four legs. Check out Pinterest and Instagram for plenty of interesting upcycled ideas.
Choosing eco-friendly alternatives is the way forward
I have also always been a fan of all things natural, organic, and minimally processed, and try to incorporate them in almost all aspects of my life. But with sustainability becoming a buzzword, I have realized it is indeed the need of the hour. Every industry is renewing its focus on going green and being eco-friendly, and home décor is definitely not behind on this. The concept of eco-houses and zero-energy homes is slowly gaining popularity throughout the world.
While these may seem like complex transitions, you can always start small, execute simple changes like using non-toxic paints, adding air-purifying indoor plants, and choosing furnishings that are made with eco-friendly materials, all of which make the much-needed difference. And remember, you do not have to relocate to the hills or the forest to be inspired by nature; you can make your urban house earthy chic too!
Go for earthy-chic materials when decorating your space
There are plenty of opportunities to include natural elements in your home, whether it is in furniture, flooring, or even accessories. I opted for natural limestone flooring that is not only anti-skid but is foot-friendly too. Limestone is a long-lasting natural material free of toxic chemicals. There are several other beautiful and sustainable flooring options you could choose from, starting with cork, linoleum, recycled glass tiles and even reclaimed wood. While cork is highly durable and antimicrobial, linoleum is a mixture of several natural materials like tree resins, linseed, wood flour etc.
When it comes to furniture, natural materials like cane, rattan, and wicker have an appeal that is both warm and comforting. Ideal for infusing some hygge vibes, these materials are light, breathable, yet chic. Throw in a jute rug or an organic cotton throw and light a soy wax candle at dusk and you have the perfect look!
Again, when it comes to upholstery, choose fabrics that you may already have at home or even old outfits that can be recycled. Old or unused skirts can be repurposed and upcycled for the cushion covers and even tableware and kitchen napkins. I love upcycling my mother’s old sarees to create different curtain looks for each season! Check out this link on how to repurpose old fabrics effectively; the possibilities are endless and exciting!
Bring the outdoors in: you can never go wrong with plants and greens
No mention of eco-friendly home décor is complete without plants. They are the best accessories to have — they not only enhance the beauty of any space but also work wonders for indoor air quality. Ferns, philodendrons, air plants, and pothos (money plants) flourish indoors, and pairing them with jute or macramé plant hangers makes for a compelling style statement. Given that working from home is a norm in the current days of the coronavirus pandemic, palms, succulents, and snake plants have become my green colleagues in my work station! I recently started using plant-based laundry detergents, ceramics as opposed to plastic in the kitchen and even began growing my own microgreens.
So, as you can see making a home that is ecologically sensitive is not as hard as you would imagine. It is all about making the choices that are smart, green, and keep both you and the environment both healthy and happy.