Create an interior design that is warming for your soul and good for the planet with our top tips for slow decorating this winter
Eco-friendly’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘going green’ are popular terms flooding our social feeds, but how does this translate to decorating our homes? This month, we’re focusing on creating a cosy home while caring for the planet with the help of interior designer Jessica van Aken, founder of Studio van Aken. From layering snug fabrics, repurposing old items or splashing your walls with warm colourways, we have everything you need to make your home the perfect sustainable place to wind down, curl up and embrace the winter months ahead.
Boost your eco-system with strategic planting
Plants aren’t just for leafy decor and to fuel a horticultural hobby, they can also act as decorative devices for reducing levels of formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide and ammonia in the air. Ferns are particularly good at reducing unwanted chemicals in the air, as are the coffee plant and bird of paradise. If you are low on light and a new plant parent then a succulent, wax or spider plant might be the best option for you, with their ability for self-sufficiency and a beautiful evergreen aesthetic.
Chromotherapy is a practice developed by the Ancient Egyptians who used colours to heal and influence emotions. Blue, for example, was used to treat pain and depression, while yellow was a symbol of youth and spirituality. Just like the Ancient Egyptians, we too can use colour to create a certain ambience within an interior. For example, Jessica suggests using paints with a warm undertone such as a nice burnt orange or pastel yellow. Alternatively, a peacock blue can ignite an inviting space with a little joyful charm. If you can, look to eco-friendly paint suppliers, Jessica’s favourite paint brands are LAB and Little Greene. “They have an incredible range of calming tones for that everlasting cosy feeling,” she says.
Simple yet effective: The power of three
If you are wondering where to start when it comes to styling your space to create a cosy yet sustainable atmosphere, then you should begin by looking at the pieces you already have. You may find that, with a little styling know-how, you will learn to love the pieces you own once again and won’t be inclined to buy things you don’t need. It’s the essence of Slow Decorating.
Jessica suggests the ‘power of 3’ should always be applied to interior styling. “For example, on a sofa place three cushions on one side and three on the other.” This also works for a mix of accessories - three pieces styled together is always the most impactful choice when it comes to arranging. Why? Well, three is the smallest number that create a pattern in our brains, while odd numbers tend to encourage our brains to explore a space more, so it instantly looks more visually inviting. Try styling “a book, candle and vase together, using what you already have at home to create the perfectly balanced space.”
Implement vintage or second-hand items
The #grannychic movement refers to the revival of old-fashioned trends being brought back to life in the present day. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 9 billion furniture pieces are thrown away yearly, so it make sense that avid furniture buyers are opting for second-hand styles. Purchasing vintage items is not only trendy but can also help lower waste.
“I'm a huge fan of vintage items,” says Jessica. “When buying timeless vintage pieces you know very few people will have the same item. You can start by browsing websites such as Catawiki and ReLiving, as well as shopping locally at your favourite vintage store or antique markets.” As the saying goes, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
Give new life to an old item
Don’t be put off by pieces that need a little restoration, it could make for a fun and mindful hobby to restore a piece or update it to suit your style. “One of my favourite things is to give new life to old items,” says Jessica. “For example, one of my clients inherited a chair, but the fabric was outdated. We covered it in a new contemporary fabric and now it is the perfect fit with a special sentiment.” How about adding tiles to a table top, replacing the handles to give your kitchen a new lease of life, or painting an old dresser with chalk paint? The options are endless.
Want a smaller project? You can also look to find a new purpose for your empty candle pots or glass bottles. Discover our tips and tricks for upcycling your Rituals products here.
Monitor your energy costs
A quick and easy cosy and sustainable tip is to look at your lighting. lThe average household saves around €226 in energy costs per year by using LED light bulbs as they use up to 90% less energy and last up to 20 times longer than traditional options. Switch all your bulbs to warm-hued lighting with a lower wattage to create a cosier atmosphere.
Another simple way to save on energy costs is to create your own candlescape, rather than relying on lamps in every corner. Opt for a mixture of stimulating woody scents such as cedar wood known to help soothe the body and mind and precious amber which when used is sweet, delicate and sensual perfect for replicating a toasty crackling fireplace.
Use natural fibres
Play with fabric textures to create a cosy home. Wool is naturally hypo-allergenic and can withstand wear and dirt, making it a great long-lasting option for floors, upholstery, and even bedding. Linen is also a great choice and, although it is often associated with summer, its heat-regulating properties make it the perfect natural thermoregulator to help warm you up in winter. Try mixing linen bedding with a cosy wool throw for a relaxing space you’ll want to curl up in. Discover our range of natural linen bedding in a variety of colours and styles.