A Fresh Look at Furnishings that Last
Why not expand on the spring tradition of home cleaning by appraising existing home furnishings and décor to see how rearranging can freshen the whole presentation? Employing a few basic creative strategies will yield long-lasting beauty, cost savings, health benefits and utility, all adding up to enhanced sustainability.
Secondhand items readily spruce up interiors when they are thoughtfully selected. Look for gently used, new-to-you items—ranging from furniture and lamps to accent pieces like pottery and wall art—at antique and thrift shops, yard and estate sales or via online forums such as CraigsList.org and Freecycle.org. Seeking out fair trade items helps support a fair wage for artisans around the world.
Plants enliven and beautify any space while cleaning indoor air, according to a recent study by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Associated Landscape Contractors of America. Plants cited as especially effective in removing formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide from the air include bamboo palm, Chinese evergreen, English ivy, gerbera (African) daisy, chrysanthemum and peace lily. Pot them in used jars or other repurposed containers to conserve materials and add character and more personality to home décor.
Overall balance is key. “An imbalanced room has large furniture grouped together at one end and lightweight furniture and bare walls at the other,” says professional designer Norma Lehmeier Hartie, author of Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet. “The effect is like being on a tilting boat in a storm.”
Furniture arrangements are best when they allow light to flow through spaces with ample allowance for moving about the room. The ideal facilitates worktable projects and small-group conversations. Round tables help make everyone feel like they belong, according to green living expert Annie Bond.
Sustainable kitchen wares are often the classiest. Sturdy pots, pans and kettles, like Le Creuset and Picquot Ware, may offer replacement parts and lifetime guarantees; Bialetti and Bodum coffee makers and Littala glassware are durable and long-lasting. While some may cost more upfront, their longevity saves money over time. Then there’s always grandma’s iron skillet.