The idea of green living is quickly finding its way inside our homes, and for a good reason. The trend is mostly anchored on three pillars; conserving energy, healthy living, and resource conservation.
The word ‘green’ is commonly associated with energy conservation. But when it comes to interior design, it also includes promoting the health of occupants by eliminating indoor air pollution. Additionally, green interior design calls for sparse resource use and re-use planning.
The good news is that you don’t need a lot of effort or money to turn your LA apartment green. With a creative mind and clever use of spaces, you can easily make your interior green.
In this detailed guide, we go over nine simple strategies to help you achieve your green interior design goals for your apartment, inspired by these furnished properties in LA.
Let’s dive in!
Green Interior Design Lighting
Using natural lighting is one of the easiest ways to go green in your apartment. Natural light can make a huge difference in your room’s lighting because it radiates objects in the room.
When decorating, you can strategically place brightly colored objects near the windows and doors to break the monotony of a single color and illuminate light into the room. This works even in rooms that have poor natural lighting.
You can also shift to new lighting technology that combats global warming while providing light. The new technology reduces electricity consumption and carbon dioxide emitted. LED lights offer greater environmental benefits compared to fluorescent lights.
Task lights are another example of lighting that reduces energy consumption. They illuminate only the task you’re doing, such as cooking or studying, cutting down your energy bills.
Choose Natural Fibers Over Synthetics
Have you ever bought a rug that smells bad for weeks? That’s called off-gassing and it happens when an item releases chemicals.
Since rugs are some of the biggest off-gassing culprits, you can swap them for those made of sisal, wool or jute, which add texture to your space and are environment-friendly.
You can also purchase rugs made of coir fiber. Coir is extracted from coconut husks and can be brown or white, depending on the coconuts used.
Skip the synthetic materials on other upholstery such as beddings and sofas and go for natural fibers such as cotton and wool.
Wool is also a good fire retardant compared to synthetic materials made of polymers. It’s also excellent at absorbing dust and moisture, thus creating an allergen-free atmosphere.
Go for Wood Furniture
Solid wood is an excellent material for your furniture for a few reasons. First, joining wood does not require as much adhesive as compared to MDF and particle boards. Remember, most adhesives contain compounds such as formaldehyde which causes irritation and allergic reactions to pets and children.
Also, unlike MDF and particle board furniture, wood lasts longer and can be recycled. For example, wood from old products can be reclaimed and used as flooring.
While the upfront cost of wood may be higher compared to other materials, it’s often cheaper in the long run and you’re sure to realize substantial savings over time. Besides, wood such as teak, mahogany, and oak are costly but make your space look elegant and classy.
Switch to Energy Efficient Electric Appliances
One of the key features of green interior design is energy conservation and reduced water use. Energy-efficient appliances help accomplish this.
You can conserve energy consumption by selecting low-energy rated home appliances such as TV, stereo, and kitchen gadgets.
In addition, you could drastically cut down on electric bills incurred by your air conditioner by switching to natural cooling methods. Using cross ventilation is a good place to start. This natural method entails keeping your space cool by opening two windows or a window and a door. One lets stale air out while the other lets in the fresh air.
You’re sure to save a huge chunk of air conditioning expenses using this method.
Use Space to Your Advantage
Which one would strike you as greener between a congested and well-spaced room? Most people would naturally pick the latter.
You can use spacing to your advantage. You could have a smaller but well-spaced and laid-out room. Just be sure not to create disproportion by using tiny furniture in a large room or extra-large furniture in a small room.
Besides creating room for more airflow, proper spacing also allows light to reverberate throughout the room.
Visualize different layouts that may help you get the best spacing. While at it, remove any unnecessary item that gobbles up space.
Give your Space Life with Plants
Adding live plants is the easiest way to make your living space greener. The best part is that you can incorporate plants into your space in various ways. For example, you could make a collage of hanging plants and potted plants stacked on shelves.
This YouTube video by Mix it up Marci is an excellent example of how to do it yourself at home:
Plants allow you to stretch your creativity with variety and form, which you can showcase by adding nature-inspired artificial decorations to compliment the live plants.
Besides decorative purposes, plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the room. They also absorb toxic compounds such as carbon monoxide and phenols in disinfectants, which contribute to allergies, headaches and fatigue.
Including herbs in your apartment gives you double benefits. The herb acts as an air filter while others can also be consumed. Examples of such herbs include rosemary, basil, mint, jasmine, coffee plant and lavender.
Use Water-Efficient Fixtures
Toilet cisterns, shower heads, and faucets are some of our homes’ biggest contributors to water wastage. It may seem like a small thing but a faucet that leaks single droplets of water when completely shut contributes to massive wastage.
The same is true for non-standard toilet cisterns and shower heads. You can shore up efficiency in your home by making small changes to manage water usage.
You could use gray water to irrigate your live plants. This is water collected from sinks, tubs, showers and washing machines as long as there’s no fecal contamination.
Also, use newer toilet cisterns that reduce water consumption to 1.3 gallons per flush. You can also upgrade to performance showers that lower water usage while maintaining proper pressure.
Use Low-VOC Paint
The paint on your wall can be a huge source of toxins. Ordinary house paints contain heavy metals, formaldehyde and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC).
Painting your indoors with paint containing high VOC levels could lead to respiratory problems, headaches and other metabolic disorders. And remember, some of these paints continue to emit toxins for more than a year after application.
Choose paint that is low on VOCs and if possible avoid those made from petrochemicals. Paints that don’t contain Titanium Dioxide are environment-friendly. Read the ingredients on the label carefully.
There are also natural paints known as casein paints which are made from lime, milk proteins and non-toxic pigments.
Burn Beeswax Candles for Fragrance
If you want an environmentally friendly fragrance, burning beeswax candles infused with essential oils is a decent alternative.
Air freshener sprays or plug-ins that release fragrance are almost always never good for the environment, and neither are ordinary paraffin wax candles made from petroleum. Burning paraffin candles emits carcinogenic chemicals.
Beeswax candles are excellent at eliminating odor and mold. They also positively affect people with hay fever, asthma and allergies. Beeswax candles can be used with fragrance to produce a calming effect.
Paraffin candles have added ingredients that make them burn longer, but beeswax burns three times longer without additives.
Beeswax candles burn longer, smell better, and have the best natural light among other candle types. Overall, they are a better option than paraffin candles if you’re decorating with green interior design in mind.
It’s Time to Go Green!
The green interior design focuses on so much more than the conventional energy use we are used to. It encourages healthy living through clean spaces and conservative use of available resources.
There are so many ways through which you can make your apartment green. Some of these ideas will require significant cash input, while others will only require a lifestyle change.
Choosing natural fibers over synthetics to counter offensive smells and switching to energy-efficient appliances are examples of green-designing your apartment.
Whichever direction you take, ensure the core pillars of green interior design are incorporated into your project.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I decorate my home using the green design?
Decorating your home with a green design involves a lot of things including using wood, which lasts longer and can be recycled. You can also paint your house with low-VOC paint to prevent emitting toxins to your apartment. Another idea is to burn beeswax candles instead of paraffin candles to prevent carcinogen release into the environment. Read the full guide for more on green design for your home.
How to reduce water consumption in my apartment?
To reduce water consumption, you can use water-efficient fixtures such as modern toilet cisterns and showerheads. Gray water from tubs, showers, washing machines and sinks can be collected and used to water your plants. Read the full guide to learn more about conserving water in an apartment.
What can be done to minimize power usage?
You can conserve energy consumption by using low-energy rated appliances such as TV, stereo, and kitchen gadgets. You could also drastically cut down on electric bills incurred by your air conditioner by switching to natural cooling methods such as cross ventilation. Read the full guide for more tips on conserving energy in your apartment.
How do you make use of natural light in an apartment?
Natural light is an excellent way of green designing your apartment. You can maximize your windows by opening them to let in light and using blinds or curtains that you can adjust to let more or less light in. You can also install skylights on your roof to tap in as much natural light as possible. Check out the full guide to learn more about maximizing the use of natural light in your apartment.
EPA: Greener Living
Global Stewards: Green Eco Tips for Sustainable Living
Wikipedia: Sustainable Design
U.S. G.S.A: Sustainable Design