Our Favorite Ideas for Eco-Friendly Home Decor

Think renewable, recyclable, and reclaimed as you strive to create an eco-friendly home. These earth-conscious design ideas show you how to make your home earth-friendly, lovely, and livable.

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    Lay Eco-Friendly Wood Floors

    When opting for wood floors, choose living-green flooring, such as bamboo, cork, or reclaimed wood floors. Bamboo flooring is formed from the stalks of sustainable bamboo plants; the surface is easily maintained, moderately priced, and highly durable. Sound-absorbent, moisture-resistant, and cushy, cork flooring is crafted from a renewable resource; only the outer bark of cork trees is used in its production, which means trees are left standing for future harvests.

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    Cultivate Greenery Indoors

    Houseplants displayed in public areas and private quarters make eco-friendly statements that are both eye-pleasing and practical. Houseplants -- whether hanging in a window, set atop a table, or standing tall in a corner -- perform as living sculptures that filter out airborne toxins, add welcome humidity to heated rooms, emit oxygen, and improve a home's overall air quality.

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    Remodel Wisely

    Updating a kitchen or a bath? Eco-friendly surfaces and furnishings bring contemporary vibes and timeless character to every space. Shop for cabinets constructed of sustainable woods, such as bamboo or eucalyptus, or keep your old cabinets out of the landfill by "upcyling" them with paint. Check out living-green countertops that are crafted of recycled glass or paper (set into a base of resin or a cement/resin mix), concrete, quartz, and butcher-block types made from reclaimed wood or bamboo.

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    Smartly Cover Your Walls

    Perk up a room with paints and wallpapers that won't adversely affect your home's interior air quality. Shop for zero- or low-VOC-emission paints (volatile organic compounds), wallpapers, stains, caulks, and adhesives. Look for wallpaper crafted from recycled paper and printed with water-base ink. Or simply add pattern to your perimeters using stencils and low-VOC paints.

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    Support Local Talent

    Check the phone book, Craigslist, and social media sites for nearby artisans, woodworkers, potters, and other artistic souls who offer eco-friendly home decor like furnishings, artworks, and accessories. By shopping locally for handcrafted items, you eliminate energy expenditures involved in long-distance shipping. It also means you are able to buy distinctive green home decor and strengthen your town's economy.

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    Create an Energy-Efficient Home

    Don't be a drain on Earth's energy sources. Replace outdated appliances with Energy Star-labeled models, which are up to 50 percent more energy efficient than standard versions. Switch out incandescent light bulbs (which emit heat along with light) with LED (light-emitting diodes) or CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs to cut utility bills. Install motion sensors and programmable thermostats that turn on lights and heating systems as needed.

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    6 Energy Ideas to Steal

    Technology can help make your home more efficient and reduce your energy bills. Here are six ideas from our Innovation Home that you can implement in your own abode.

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    Go Natural

    Instead of synthetic textiles manufactured with nongreen processes, opt for window treatment and upholstery fabrics woven from renewable resources or recycled fibers and colored with natural dyes. Good eco-friendly fabric choices include organic cotton, wool, linen, bamboo, and hemp. Area rugs woven from wool, jute, sisal, seagrass, and recycled plastics supply attractive anchors for an array of furniture styles.

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    Reclaim Architectural Elements

    One of the tenets of eco-friendly decorating revolves around keeping landfills free of reusable things. Contact purveyors of reclaimed lumber, visit "reuse-it" centers, and wander through salvage yards and flea markets to find floorboards, beams, columns, windows, doors, corbels, and other architectural home decor you can repurpose to bring old-world substance to remodeling projects and newly constructed homes.

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    Get Artistic

    Give new life to home decor you already have. Update and personalize wood and metal furnishings (think headboards, tables, chairs, dressers, mirror frames, and bookcases) with colorful coats of paint, new or recycled hardware, decoupaged images, or fancy faux finishes.

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    Buy Gently Used

    One person's trash could be your finest going-green treasure. Shop thrift stores, estate sales, and online auctions for eco-friendly home decor, including midcentury modern seats, retro cabinets, antique accessories, or claw-foot tubs. Relying on existing objects to flush out your decor can ease the strain on landfills and the energy sources required to create and ship new furnishings.

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    Build a Better Backsplash

    Glass, ceramic, and metal tiles crafted from recycled materials make fetching backsplashes that live green and look gorgeous. Ask experts at your local home center or tile store to show you eco-friendly backsplash options. Want to stretch your budget? Mix pricier recycled tiles with inexpensive ceramic tiles to fashion focal-point backsplashes that won't break the bank.

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    Start Surfing

    Type "eco-friendly home decor" in your browser to kick-start a journey of discovery. You'll visit an array of retailers selling novel things (and fun projects to replicate!) made of recycled stuff or earth-loving materials that will contribute conversation-starting profiles to your home. You may find frames embellished with computer keys or board game tiles, welcome mats woven from fire hoses, or bowls and trays crafted from reclaimed wine barrels.

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    Repurpose Fabrics

    Whether it's 1940s bark cloth, a 1960s psychedelic print, or a century-old Pendleton blanket, vintage textiles provide the material for a wealth of eco-friendly home decor. Use well-preserved yardage to upholster furniture or create style-apt slipcovers, draperies, and pillow covers. Sew lighter-weight cottons into perky pillowcases and retro-cool cafe curtains. Frame embroidered tea towels as nostalgic artworks. Wrap lampshades in prettily patterned chintz for stylish light fixtures with one-of-a-kind appeal.

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    Take Eco-Friendly Decor Outside

    If you're a green-living enthusiast, it's only natural that you want to protect your natural surroundings. Happily, there's a wealth of eco-friendly furnishings available for decks, patios, and gardens. Choose wooden furniture and planter boxes built from woods approved by the Forest Stewardship Council, lay down natural coir doormats, display solar lights and bird feeders crafted from recycled glass, and anchor seating and dining furniture groupings with area rugs woven from recycled plastic.

  • Next Slideshow Eco-Friendly Makeover for a Living Room

    Eco-Friendly Makeover for a Living Room

    A down-to-earth young family set a lofty goal: remodel and decorate their living room in the most eco-friendly way possible, without giving up comfort or blowing the budget.
    Begin Slideshow »
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