You don’t exactly have to be a rocket scientist to notice that, over the past decade, we’ve been inundated with a whole new vocabulary related to the environment… recycle, reclaim, reuse, upcycle, downsize. We’ve all figured out little ways to make ourselves feel better about how we contribute to keeping the planet the way we found it – we turn down the heat in our homes, dim the lights, sort our cups from our lids as we leave the coffee shop.
But the question that lurks when you’re in a business consumed by consumption is “how do we make a bigger difference, create a smaller footprint and still remain stylish?”
Environmentally Considerate Design
The amount of information available is daunting, yet the amount of products available is still limited. That’s an equation that leaves many of us feeling like there’s no simple way to create a beautiful home without creating a mess of the planet.
If you’re addicted to home design programs and home design magazines, you’ve undoubtedly felt like everything in the market place is all about modern, contemporary and clean lines. There seems to be a recipe being followed, and it’s become a little predictable. So, let’s consider a few ways to be environmentally considerate and individualistic at the same time: verde stylish.
One of my favorite ways to accomplish this is to rethink “antique” – and I’m not talking about a carbon copy of your grandma’s house – I’m talking about a few key pieces (possibly from grandma’s house) mixed with a thoroughly modern you!
My own home is most definitely contemporary. I love wool, linen, cotton, leather, wood and metal – basically, all natural materials. When it came time to design my own space, I decided to use two fairly ornate Regency armchairs from the early 1900’s in a new way. They’ve had several different personalities during the 30 years that I’ve owned them – from plaid, paisley and even floral tapestry – but today they’ve been done in black patent leather. It’s unexpected, edgy, and comes across as almost artful. They’re a distinct contrast to all that is modern, and they’ve become a bit of a conversation piece.
For most of my life I’ve been attracted to glass; a trip to Murano confirmed that passion. I started collecting pink Depression glass when I was 12 years old (strange, but true), and although pink isn’t a color I currently use in my home, the process of searching for the unusual and beautiful stayed with me.
The collection of amber vases below have arrived from a variety of places. Some of them are from accessory lines that we carry, but some of them have come from second hand stores or thrift stores. Though dusty, dirty and not particularly attractive until they were washed and grouped together, they’re another way of utilizing what already exists in the world and saving a bit of money while still being verde stylish.
I’m a big fan of used book stores (recycling at its finest) for really beautiful coffee table books. I know we can read almost anything on the internet, but it’s definitely not the same experience as leafing through a book filled with amazing images. There’s a certain comfort in having something to look through when there’s a lull in conversation – imagining yourself in the pages of a book about Tuscany or the garden you hope to have one day.
One of my other favorite ways to recycle, or upcycle, is in textiles: old fur coats, silk dresses, linen shirts made into accent cushions. Although any one item may not be enough fabric for an entire cushion, cut a variety of textiles into 3”or 4” wide strips and create your own amazing horizontal striped fabric (or hire a seamstress if it’s just not your thing). This is a great way to do something creative while also recycling, and to have something unique and one of a kind.
Repurposed Art Gallery
Original artwork can often be found at a reasonable price at consignment shops. Simply change the matting and framing to create an entirely new look at a fraction of the price that you’d spend at a gallery.
One of the prerequisites of successful repurposing is that the items really do need to have been of good quality to start with. Although filling your home as soon as possible sounds exciting at the time, slowing down the process and purchasing quality pieces, whether new or used, ultimately has more value – and is very verde stylish.Featured Image: Dining Room with Natural Recycled Wood Ceiling. Image via Jeremy Levine.
Patti Ransom Interior Design