The green room: How to make your home more eco-friendly

Want to make your home more eco-friendly but don’t know where to start? Here’s how just a few smart – and very chic – tweaks will make all the difference.

Finding ways to go green has never been easier, says stylist and interior designer Harriet Paterson. When creating her own eco home by renovating a South London townhouse, Harriet applied sustainable thinking to every decision she made, from the way she wanted it powered right down to the bedlinen.

‘When it comes to decoration,’ she advises, ‘furnish simply and choose nontoxic paints and resin finishes for your walls. If possible, upcycle furniture that you already have as opposed to buying new items. Remember, a fresh lick of paint goes a long way, or use natural dyes to repurpose a throw or rug.’

If you do have to replace pieces, choose ones made from sustainable materials, such as bamboo, natural stone and cork. When using wood look for the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) label so you can be sure it is from a well-managed source. And, if you can, opt for vintage furniture rather than new. 

Reducing your use of harmful chemicals by swapping to eco-friendly cleaning products (try biodegradable.biz and ethicalsuperstore.com) is another small but effective change. Cut down on plastic by looking for refillable containers, too. 

‘Energy consumption can also be reduced by switching to LED lightbulbs – which use less electricity and last longer – and using natural light, as opposed to artificial, where possible,’ says Harriet. Switch to a supplier that provides 100 per cent renewable energy, and when replacing electrical goods such as fridges, opt for energy-efficient models (see beko.co.uk for a good selection). Bigger changes could include more energy-efficient heating – such as an underfloor system – and triple glazing. If you’re looking to renovate your home from scratch, check out renovategreen.co.uk for helpful tips and resources on refurbishing in a sustainable way.

James Merrell
  • Floor-to-ceiling windows flood this room with light, reducing the need for artificial lighting 
  • To reduce waste, repair or revamp and re-use where possible. This rug has been overdyed, repurposing the original piece 
  • Vintage furniture is recycling at its most stylish. Remember when updating pieces to use non toxic paints. Cassart.co.uk sells water-based spray paints

  • Use a solvent-free adhesive for your tiles. Kerakoll.com sells a wide selection
  • Using reclaimed tiles is the most eco-friendly option for your home. Space the tiles closely to use less grout
  • Underfloor heating systems are by far the best option for economically warming your home. Alternatively, switch to aluminium radiators 

From boasting natural pigments and minerals to being solvent- and chemical-free, these paints are kind not just to the environment but your health, too.

Vert de Mer emulsion, £49.50 for 2.5 litres, edwardbulmerpaint.co.uk 

Clotted Cream emulsion, £70 for 4 litres, organicnaturalpaint.co.uk 

Lulu Blue emulsion, £61.75 for 5 litres, lakelandpaints.co.uk

Straw 4 emulsion, £95 for 5 litres, bertandmay.com

Paris Grey emulsion, £39.95 for 2.5 litres, anniesloan.com

 

  • Water-based paints are naturally low in chemical fumes, making them less toxic and more environmentally friendly
  • Opt for recycled glass and porcelain from manufacturing waste destined for landfill
  • Look for the FSC label when choosing wooden flooring. FSC-certified companies tend to use every piece of the tree, so nothing is wasted

 For more information on Harriet’s work visit harrietpaterson.com

Report by Jennifer Haslam

Now let’s shop

The buys that are big on style – and sustainability

Merino wool throw, £240, oggetto.com

Recycled plastic rug (90cm x 150cm), £138, weavergreen.com

Banana fibre woven basket, £18, thefuturekept.com

Lambswool blanket, £69, thefuturekept.com

Oak trivet, around £67, superfolk.com

Organic cotton cushion cover, £3.99, Conscious H&M, hm.com

Cotton and bamboo bedding, from £118.99, urbancollective.com

Beech and linen chair, £451, materdesign.co.uk

Organic cotton tablecloth, £12.99, Conscious H&M, hm.com

Recycled glass bottle, £29.99, zarahome.com

Bamboo pendant light, £25, ikea.com

Handmade clay vase, £24, trouva.com

Recycled cotton pouffe, £185, grahamandgreen.co.uk

Birch tray, £30, maiklondon.com

Recycled cotton rug (140cm x 200cm), £69.99, Conscious H&M, hm.com

Natural soy wax and cotton wick candle, £40, urbanapothecarylondon.com

Woven-grass basket, £195, toa.st/uk

English sycamore cabinet, £6,400, sebastiancox.co.uk