Anyone else find that all this spare time is a blessing and a curse?
We can’t visit each other or go ‘out-out’, so what else is there to do because my Netflix bank is running low?
Well, I have noticed a lot of people in my neighbourhood doing DIY on their homes. I guess we are spending so much more time indoors, that crack in the wall or peeling bit of wallpaper has become harder for us to ignore.
I can’t lie, DIY is one of my fave things and having this extra time at home has meant I have been able to get cracking with some jobs around the house. I have compiled a few simple ways to decorate during this time. These sustainable home decor ideas are fun, effective and simple so you can do them to keep yourself occupied during lockdown.
You can thank me later, I accept vegan pizzas or cake as a form of gratitude!
Watch out! Paint can be toxic.
A lick of paint is probably one of the simplest ways to give a room a new lease of life. Whether it be the whole room or just a feature wall, it’s a sure fire way of changing the dingy into delectable.
I don’t know about you but I actually love painting and find it very therapeutic. Brightening up a room, whilst singing along to some tunes really makes me feel fabuloso. What isn’t fabulous is those nasty headaches and other side effects that usually follow a good painting session.
Ever been in a freshly painted room and feel your throat itching or get lightheaded? This is because most standard paint brands are highly toxic and can contain carcinogens, known to cause cancer. These leach into the air for years after you paint. This is a huge worry not only for our bedrooms, but right now as most of us are spending a lot of time indoors, we need to make sure we are not inhaling toxic paint fumes.
Vegan & sustainable paint
As soon as I fell pregnant I wanted to make sure that any products I used around myself and my baby were toxic free and cruelty free. People tend to think that veganism is just about food, but it is much more. It is about everything you use on a daily basis, health and beauty products, cleaning products, home decor, clothing etc.
I only recently realised through research that a lot of paint ingredients are not only tested on animals but some colours are derived from animals such as ‘bone black pigment’ which is made of ground cattle bones. Gross, right?!
Now, for anyone like me, whose child uses their mouth to navigate the world and will eat every and anything, including the walls (no word of a lie, some mornings she will stand up on my bed and lick the wall. But I guess it’s my own fault for painting the wall a delicious looking truffle colour, making her think she’s licking chocolate mousse, my bad) you need to ensure everything in your home is non-toxic and as close to food grade as you can get it.
Here are a few low VOC, vegan friendly paints that I have found:
1. Graphenstone (vegan paint)
Graphenstone is a great brand that has such an extensive range of colours to choose from and it’s super helpful that on the colour cards they place choices in a palette together, so that you can create a beautiful multi-tonal space without any guess work. This is what I did in our bedroom; using the darkest of the colours for my feature wall, the second darkest for the other walls and the lightest for my lower crown molding.
They not only do interior wall paints but also exterior, ceiling wood and metal paints. Therefore you can use them throughout the whole of your home. All of their paints are delivered in recycled, recyclable materials, making it an excellent sustainable choice.
They are also all VOC free, giving you that extra peace of mind. For those that don’t know, VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. These are commonly used in paints to help aid with the flow of the paint. However, they are harsh chemicals which can linger in the air for years after painting, which then puts your family’s health at risk.
2. Earthborn (vegan paint options available)
Another product that I have used is Earthborn‘s Eco Chic, a vegan paint specifically made for furniture. As I was using it to paint my daughter’s cot, I had to make sure it was safe and I was definitely not disappointed.
Being water based, it was a little tricky to apply with a brush, so I used a sponge and this made it a lot easier. The added bonus of it being water based is that it didn’t take too long to dry. The fact that it was also VOC free, as with all of their paints, was another big win for me. However not all of their products are vegan, so double check before you buy.
I know that their furniture wax, recommended for use with their Eco Chic, contains beeswax. Therefore, to seal the paint on the cot I used their Furniture Glaze. This left a gorgeous satin sheen and created a watertight finish, perfect for teething babies who may gnaw on the cot to soothe their itchy gums.
Auro Paints (vegan options available)
Another sustainable paint brand that I have come across is Auro Paints. Their colours are just so delicious! Their smooth creamy texture just glides onto the wall with ease. Also being VOC free, it is a safe bet for your family.
The recyclable and plastic-free packaging makes them perfect for fellow eco warrioresses. Though, like Earthborn, some of their products contain beeswax, so double check before you buy.
I also suggest that you order either a tester pot or colour cards before purchasing full size pots, as a lot of colours tend to look different on the screen.
Up-cycling for your home
One of the more rewarding and fun sustainable home design activities has to be up-cycling. If you are bored at home but want to watch the pennies, this is a great way to keep things on budget. This is something that can be done with your kids to keep them entertained and also shows them how to be frugal and break them out of the throwaway mentality that this generation seems to be so fond of.
Upcycled soft furnishings
I’m sure we all have an old pair of jeans or woolly jumper that we used to love and can’t quite part with. Although some of these get sent to charity shops or clothing banks, a lot of these will end up in landfill.
Plus most of these places aren’t accepting clothing due to the pandemic right now anyway. So why not reincarnate your preloved clothes into new ones? Or, as I have been toying with doing for some time now, turn them into some new soft furnishings for the home. That way you get to keep your fave clothes whilst creating new decor for the home.
Upcycled stuffing for duvets and pillows
If you are a dab hand at sewing then go for it but for the novices out there, check YouTube where you can learn how to do almost anything. If you have loads of old socks or knickers, you could use these as stuffing for a duvet or pillow, even an old towel, a set of curtains or rug can be shredded in strips. Whatever you use, make sure you wash and dry it thoroughly beforehand.
Then if you have a thick piece of fabric, such as denim or linen, cut this into the desired size for your cushion (you can use an existing cushion as a size guide) and do the same for your old jumper, jeans or whichever material you intend to use for your cushion exterior.
Afterwards, you could create a zip fastening, which is more time consuming but creates ease when it comes to washing and drying. Here’s a great video to show you how to create a zip fastening:
Or, if you prefer, you can fully close it up. For this you will need to stitch up the edges, leaving a gap to stuff material into it. Then, once you have stuffed it fully, seal the edges by hand. Check out this video on how to do this:
Alternatively, you can also use an out of use cushion that is looking rather lackluster and measure your old garment using the cushion as a template, then cut to size. Next, you will need to stitch 3 of the 4 edges down before placing the old cushion inside and stitching the edges shut by hand. Or you may find that the zip method works better for an existing cushion.
Sustainable patchwork blanket
You can also use your unloved clothes to create a throw for your bed or patchwork blanket. Why not try creating some artwork for your wall? You could get the kids involved and get really creative. The possibilities are endless and these pieces give your home that extra little personal touch.
If that seems a bit too far out of your comfort zone, then why not give an old mirror a spruce up, like I did with this one?
When I moved house a few years ago I had an old wardrobe that would no longer screw together due to it being taken apart and put back together a couple of times, so was only fit for the skip. But the mirrored door that was a part of it was still in good nick, so I decided to keep it.
And I am super glad I did as when I had finished painting my bedroom, I had some of my Graphenstone paint left so I thought why not give this a quick makeover. It only took me about 5 minutes and it was like new.
I simply filled the holes where the door handles went and then painted it once the filler had hardened. If you are going to paint it indoors, then you can stand it up against a wipe-able surface ensuring any carpets are covered. Then simply wipe off the wipeable surface with a damp cloth as soon as you can. As it’s water based, it comes off pretty easily. If the paint you are using is oil based, then I would suggest doing this outdoors or on a plastic sheet.
Here is the original colour of the door before I painted it (it’s the back of the mirrored door which is unpainted as I didn’t have enough paint, plus I forgot to do a before and after photo – rookie error, I know).
If you have a bigger budget, yet want to give the up-cycling thing a go, why not have an old sofa or armchair reupholstered, saving it from going to landfill. You can have a professional do it for you. Unless of course you are willing and able do it yourself, which is even better.
When we moved into our current home, the floors in the lounge and dining room were one of the first things I wanted to tackle. The floors are a beautiful parquet in a lovely herringbone pattern (as you can see in the previous photo) but were a dark mahogany colour which was peeling off so I wanted to sand it down and stain it a lighter colour to brighten the room up. So we hired a floor sander and got to work.
Now I won’t lie to you, this isn’t for the faint of heart and we made some mistakes along the way but it was so worth it. However, if you aren’t up for the challenge then I wouldn’t tackle it as it can be disheartening if you put in a lot of sweat into it and it goes terribly wrong (like it was when I did it. I got there in the end but I almost gave up). Get a professional in instead.
Novia eco friendly varnish
The idea was to stain it a light grey, but after sanding the floors down it was a beautiful oak colour which happened to almost match the laminate that had been put down throughout the rest of the house. Plus, after spending days sanding the floor, the thought of getting on my hands and knees to stain the floor was less than appealing. So I just decided to seal it with a clear Novia varnish from Bona.
Littlefairs sustainable wood stain
If you did want to stain your own floors however, Littlefairs water based wood stain is a good bet. I used this wood stain on my pine bed frame and matching drawers, mixing 2 colours together and it came up a treat.
Why not try one of these stains or a mixture of colours to create your desired effect? If you’re not sure, then order a few small pots/testers that you can try in a small area of the floor.
How to pick a colour
When picking a colour, think about the feel you want to create in the room. Do you want your floors to be a contrast to the rest of the room or do you want it to blend in? Do you want it to be a subtle or vibrant colour?
If you’re planning on selling your home anytime soon, I’d suggest going for a neutral colour and then you can use rugs, artwork and soft furnishings to add colour and vibrancy. You can take these with you when you leave.
Russwood sustainable wood flooring
Should you not be as fortunate to find such gorgeous floors that can be restored or you preferred a different type of flooring, then you should definitely check out Russwood, a Scottish sustainable wood floor company providing top notch (see what I did there?) flooring as well as cladding and decking. All of their products are made using PEFC-certified timber so you can be sure that your flooring is sustainably sourced.
ECONYL®: Eco Friendly Carpets
Or why not have one of these eco friendly carpets from Sedna installed? Their plush carpets are made with ECONYL®, a yarn made from recycled waste material such as old carpets and abandoned fishing nets collected from the bottom of the sea.
Instead of these materials clogging up our beautiful oceans, putting our sea life at risk, they can be regenerated into this gorgeous durable nylon and laid down on your floor creating a sumptuous experience every time you walk on it.
Did you know that the average person spends a total of 33 years in bed (sleeping, trying to get to sleep, or other naughty activities)?
This equates to a whopping 12,045 days or 227,760 hours!
So, it goes without saying that we want our bedroom to be our sanctuary; a place to feel safe and comfortable. But a lot of our bedding can be made from materials which are processed and grown using toxic chemicals including formaldehyde, arsenic and mercury, to name but a few.
Our skin is the body’s largest organ and as we sleep we could be absorbing these hideous chemicals through our skin, causing side effects such as insomnia, headaches, dermatitis, sensory changes and shortness of breath. Less than ideal for anyone, especially if caused by the place you are supposed to relax in.
When we lay our heads down at night we want to sleep safe in the knowledge that we won’t be at risk, or put others at risk either. The best way to do this is to use bedding that is ethically produced, ensuring the health of the farmers and locals aren’t negatively impacted.
Loom and Last (ethically sourced bedding)
One company that uses ethically sourced materials in their bedding is Loom and Last. Their French bed linen is perfect for all weathers, as the insulation properties keep you warm in winter, yet cooler in the warmer months.
Grown in Normandy, the flax used for this linen gives a sumptuously soft smooth place for you to rest at night. They also do curtains so you can create a coordinating look.
Nour Luxury (ethical and organic cotton bedding)
Another brand to look at is Nour Luxury, who manufacture certified organic cotton bedding. All of their cotton is ethically sourced and systematically labelled, guaranteeing the traceability of the cotton, so you know where the sheets you sleep on have come from.
Devon Duvets (vegan and sustainable duvets)
Now, it’s all well and good having eco friendly bedding, but if your duvet underneath it isn’t, then you’re only halfway there.
I recently came across Devon Duvets, who create vegan, sustainable duvets made using Lyocell for both the filling and the outer casing. Their botanic range of duvets come in varied weights for different seasons, including lightweight, ultralight and medium.
These botanic duvets have been certified as vegan by the Vegan Society. They have also been tried and tested by the Good Housekeeping Institute and won an award as ‘Best Summer Duvet’ in the national media.
Devon Duvets make a great sustainable choice as they are biodegradable, meaning that, unlike their polyester counterparts, they won’t clog up landfill or harm our beautiful environment.
I love to watch a lot of property and home design shows, including Property Brothers, Fixer Upper and Homes Under The Hammer, but they don’t always feature sustainable home decor companies (well, not that I am immediately aware of anyway).
Because of this, I also watch shows such as Money For Nothing, where they rescue and upcycle items destined for landfill. They showcase the companies they use to help breathe new life into these pieces and I’ve always got my eyes wide open to see what the finished product looks like.
Forge Creative (sustainable home design and furniture)
When I watched it the other day, I came across a company named Forge Creative, a Sussex based workshop established by two best friends with a passion for creating bespoke home design pieces.
Their main expertise is in woodwork, using ethically sourced wood to give their clients the highest quality one of a kind furniture. However, they do also create metal, concrete and glass. What they produce aren’t just pieces of furniture, they are truly works of art that will transform any space, whether it be an office or home.
Wearth London (ethical superstore and sustainable home design)
Another place to find sustainable home design items is a brand I have been a fan of for a while, Wearth London, an all round ethical superstore featuring various furniture companies, all of which use reclaimed/recycled or accredited sustainably sourced wood in all of their pieces.
Other than that, they also feature zero waste bottles, cleaning and beauty products as well as fashion items, jewellery and pretty much anything that you could need around the home, all from ethical, sustainable establishments.
Sustainable home accessories
After you have painted, furnished and dressed your room/s to create your desired sustainable home design look, the last step is to add accessories to finish off the look.
Just like yourself, once you put on makeup and get dressed, accessories are what complete the look. And the same goes for your home.
Boostology (sustainable home accessories)
Wearth actually sells accessories for the home too such as candles, decorative plates and plant pots. But I want to talk to you about this innovative new product from Boostology. It’s a reusable pot pourri made from Lava & Obsidian stones and housed in a beautiful matt black glass vessel. Simply add a few drops of your favourite essential oil onto the stones to create a calming aroma that will waft throughout whatever room you place it in.
You can purchase oils from them or create your own desired scent using a mixture of oils. I use their Bloom oil, which has a yummy citrusy summery smell. I have this placed on my bedroom desk and when I get a whiff of this every morning, I feel so invigorated.
Not only do they create these gorgeous pot pourri pots, they also make a necklace using the same volcanic lava, so you can carry your desired scent around with you! Oh, and they make solid onyx, fossil or marble tea light holders with a choice of essential oil tea lights. They even do the new essential part of daily life, the face mask.
All of their products are delivered in plastic free, recyclable and compostable packaging. Plus, for every purchase they will plant a tree, so you are not only making your home beautiful but keeping our planet beautiful as well.
A final note from me
I could actually talk all day about sustainable items I have found for the home, but I won’t as you’ve given me enough of your time.
Thank you for reading and drop a comment with any brands that you know and love that you think we should check out, ’cause sharing is caring, right?!