Eco-friendly Interior Design Ideas For Your Home

Going for an eco-friendly interior design that uses eco-friendly building materials would not only cut costs but also protect nature. Read on to know how to design your own eco-friendly house.

By Rashmi Nagendran

Eco-friendly Interior Design Ideas For Your Home

Home is where the heart is! This proverb holds true for most of us. But, to make your home a better, safer and sustainable place, you need to make use of eco-friendly interior design ideas. And, in today's times of environmental degradation, designing a nature-friendly house assumes more significance.

But, what qualifies as an eco-friendly house design?

An eco-friendly interior design or green home design or sustainable interior design lays emphasis on using eco-friendly building materials to reduce the negative impact of construction on the environment.

So, by adopting eco-friendly house ideas, we help in the conservation of the environment, without compromising on our needs and requirements.

Importance of eco-friendly home design

With increasing awareness and desire to be environmentally responsible, most homeowners are opting for eco-friendly architecture. And, the following reasons make it seem like a wise decision:

  • Cost-effective building material options
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water efficiency
  • Decreased waste generation
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Reduced strain on local resources
  • Low exposure to toxic materials
  • Reduced carbon footprint
"Designing a home is an exciting and extensive task for a homeowner. Translating a vision with sound technical details and execution, while minimising time and budget, requires a fair amount of professional expertise. Knowledge of materials, and handling various contractors and vendors is imperative, but a time-consumingprocess. To enjoy the process of converting a space into a dream home, it is advisable to hire an interior designer. You can hire based on word-of-mouth recommendation,where you know someone who has availed the services of the said designer and had a good experience. It is also important that you see the work of a designer before signing the agreement." — Komal Palicha, Interior Designer

Principles of sustainable interior design

To come up with a green home design, you should follow the following principles while designing your home interiors:

  • Stress on energy efficiency: Use products and processes that save energy.
  • Use renewable resources: Procure materials that are available locally. Select materials that can be composted when their usefulness is over.
  • Create low environment impact: To evaluate the environmental impact, take into account the entire life cycle of construction materials — from extraction, production, transportation, processing, usage to how they will be discarded.
  • Reuse and recycle: To create your environmentally-friendly home design, the processes and products used should be reusable and recyclable.
  • Embrace durability: Choose products that are durable and have a long life. Also, select designs that don't go out of style after a short time. This helps in reducing consumption and wastage of resources.
  • Incorporate flexibility: Flexibility is the key to longevity. So, when designing the interiors, ensure that the design is such that it is easy to replace an individual element whenever required, without going for extensive renovation.
  • Create healthy surroundings: Home is a place where we spend most of our time. So, while designing interiors, do check how the design affects air quality, heating, lighting, ventilation, acoustics and carbon footprint. 
"It is difficult to calculate an expense range for interior designing in India, as the material, labour, transport and other ancillary costs vary from city to city. Labour cost for carpentry, civil work, plumbing and other related agencies in the larger metros like Bombay and Delhi are higher, when compared to second tier cities." — Komal Palicha, Interior Designer

Your guide to eco-friendly interior ideas:

Eco-friendly interior designs are becoming popular. With multiple options available, we can opt for eco-friendly interiors in our homes without spending too much money or effort. However, setting up an eco-friendly house requires paying attention to a few things. Here's what you can do to change your house into an environmentally-friendly home:

  • Let more sunlight in: It is always a good idea to make the most use of natural daylight. So, windows should be designed such that they allow daylight to enter the house.
  • Use energy-efficient appliances: Read the labels of electrical appliances you purchase. Buy energy-efficient ones. Not only do they consume less power and save your money but also help in conserving the environment.
  • Get furniture made from natural materials: The furniture we use takes up most of the space inside the house. So, to give the interiors a natural look and feel, it's a good idea to purchase furniture made from natural materials like wood, marble or stone.
  • Go for wood or stone for flooring: Your intention to go green needn’t necessarily be limited to furniture and fixtures. You can opt for eco-friendly flooring like marble, laminates or wooden parquets. Sustainable flooring not only looks beautiful but also enhances the feel of the home environment.
  • Choose eco-friendly wall paint: Walls are an integral part of any house. Choose natural wall paints which do not give off harmful fumes. Or, you can cover the walls with wallpaper, wooden panels, cork or ceramic tiles.
  • Opt for low volatile organic compound (VOC) products: Exposure to VOCs can harm our health and there are many sources of indoor VOCs such as wall paints, furniture, carpets and other household products. So, opt for low VOC products and keep windows open for proper ventilation.
  • Include greenery: Growing air-purifying indoor plants not only enhances the beauty of the space, but also helps in improving air quality inside the house.
  • Use energy-efficient windows: Windows with the ability to reflect heat and keep your home insulated are the best choice. They help in maintaining temperature within the house without the need for any additional equipment.
  • Go for alternative materials: Save trees by opting for more environment-friendly materials like bamboo, metal, stone or glass instead of wood. These materials are also available in plenty and need less maintenance.
  • Adopt the reduce—reuse—recycle principle: Sticking to the 3Rs goes a long way in creating a sustainable interior design. So, be mindful of what you purchase for your home. Try to maximise the usage of everything you possess, and reuse and recycle them.
  • Turn to solar energy: Make use of solar power for all or select areas of your home to reduce your electricity consumption.

Following these principles can guide you towards coming up with a green home design. However, your home wouldn't be complete without eco-friendly home decor. Here are some interesting eco-friendly interior design ideas to deck up your home interiors.

Eco-friendly living room ideas:

  • Reuse existing furniture instead of purchasing new ones.
  • To cover furniture, and for carpeting and upholstery, use earth-friendly fabrics.
  • Use air-purifying indoor plants as part of interior decor.
  • Make use of natural aromatic diffusers instead of synthetic fragrances which are harmful to health.
  • Use old, torn or unused clothes to stitch cushion covers. These would be of different colours and give a trendy look to the space.
  • Use your creativity to design your own decor items, such as using old jars as lampshades, or creating artwork on the walls with items on hand. You can also hang pastel artwork on the walls which draw the attention of everyone.

Eco-friendly kitchen ideas:

  • Use storage boxes and utensils made of eco-friendly materials like ceramic, stainless steel and clay.
  • Replace plastic dustbins with cane or stainless steel ones.
  • Get kitchen counter-tops made from recycled glass slab, plastic, salvaged wood or steel.
  • Choose refrigerators with top–down units instead of side-by-side ones.
  • Instead of a conventional oven, get a convection oven, as these cook 25% faster.
  • Get dining furniture that is eco-friendly. Nowadays, eco-friendly covers for dining tables and chairs are also available.
  • Grow your own kitchen garden in small eco-friendly planters or utensils.
  • Use dish scrubbers made of natural materials instead of sponges or plastic scrubbers.
  • Make use of bamboo cutlery instead of those made of plastic.
"Generally, products are purchased directly by the client under the guidance of the interior designer. White goods such as refrigerator, microwave, geyser and air-conditioner come with warranties based on the brands that you are buying. Sanitaryware and plumbing fittings may come with a warranty depending on the brand. Wooden flooring and certain plywood types also come with a warranty. Marble and tiles generally have no warranty, but a good working relationship with the vendor may assure better after-sales service." — Komal Palicha, Interior Designer

Eco-friendly bedroom ideas:

  • Fix lampshades made of glass or terracotta.
  • Use materials like old wood, ice cream and bamboo sticks, pista shells to make DIY decor items like photo frames and pen stands.
  • Opt for a mattress made from natural latex, organic cotton or bamboo fabric.
  • Instead of going for a new bed and furniture, you can buy used ones. Buying used furniture not only saves trees, but they also emit lower levels of VOCs since the paint and varnish would have dried up long ago.
  • Instead of using wood flooring for your bedroom, you can opt for bamboo tiles and organic, nontoxic rugs made of jute or hemp or sisal or organic cotton.
  • Choose window screens that allow light natural light to pass through but prevent dust and UV rays from entering the room. You can buy eco-friendly cellular or honeycomb shades, faux wood blinds or bamboo roll-down blinds.
  • Instead of synthetic fragrances, you can use eco-friendly, sustainable ones that help you relax and promote sleep.

Eco-friendly kid’s room ideas:

  • Keep minimal but cosy and colourful furniture in kids' room.
  • Make DIY bookshelves or get those made from eco-friendly materials such as unused old wooden planks or old cardboard boxes decorated with colourful fabrics.
  • Use storage boxes made of eco-friendly materials like fabric, cork, natural fibre or wood to store your kids' toys, craft-work, books and supplies.
  • Pick wooden shades that would allow natural light but do not collect much dust.
  • Make fluffy pillows as a fun activity with your kids using old fabrics, clothes and other organic materials. Not only would it keep the kids busy but it would also give them the opportunity of using what they make.
  • Use wallpaper and artwork that emit very less or no VOC.
  • While choosing items for kids' room, look for things that can be used in more ways than one, save space and have gender-neutral colours. 

Eco-friendly bathroom ideas:

  • Buy tubs, buckets, soap trays and other bathroom accessories made from natural and recyclable materials instead of plastic.
  • Ensure the pipes and faucets do not leak.
  • Install low-flow toilets to cut down on water usage. Similarly, you can also install low-flow shower-head.
  • A vent fan is an important part of the bathroom as it keeps moisture and odour away. Get an electricity-saving vent fan.
  • Choose bath products that are certified as green and non-toxic.
  • Similarly, use cleaning products that are organic.

Eco-friendly balcony ideas:

  • Plant ornamental herbs in small flowerpots in your balcony. In case of space restriction, you can use vertical flowerpots to grow the plants.
  • Use energy-efficient lights like LED strips or solar lamps to light up your balcony.
  • Make or use wind chimes made of bamboo, metal, old bottle caps, tins or terracotta.

While planting a balcony garden, check the floor for waterproofing and leakage. Also, take into consideration the structure of the balcony to design the best balcony garden.

Creating eco-friendly homes and following environmentally-friendly practices are simple and effective ways of saving Mother Earth. Adopting to a greener and sustainable way of life will benefit not only our environment, but also our families and future generations.

Towards a greener world, we take our own small steps!

About the author:

Written by Rashmi Nagendran on 22 August 2019; updated on 5 October 2019

Rashmi is a Civil Engineer and a Young India Fellow (Liberal Arts Graduate) who finds joy in learning and adding a creative touch to anything she wishes to do. She loves working with people and believes in collaborative action and change. She is a mentor for rural girls,helping them with their education and career. She loves to read, write, cook and do art! 

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