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A Guide to Sustainable Interior Design

A Guide to Sustainable Interior Design

Creating Beauty and Comfort: A Guide to Sustainable Interior Design

Have you ever stopped to consider the environmental footprint of your home’s interior design choices? From the flooring beneath your feet to the paint on your walls, every decision we make as homeowners and designers can either contribute to the degradation of our planet or serve as a step towards a more sustainable future. So, as you envision your ideal living space, ask yourself: how can I create beauty and comfort while also honouring the planet we call home?

Embracing Sustainable Materials and Products in Interior Design

In recent years, sustainable interior design has moved from a niche interest to a mainstream priority. As awareness about environmental impact grows, designers and homeowners are seeking ways to create beautiful, functional spaces without compromising the planet’s health. My blog this month explores some of the best sustainable materials and products for interior design, offering insights into how you can incorporate eco-friendly elements into your home.

The Importance of Sustainability in Interior Design

Sustainability in interior design is not just a trend; it’s a necessary shift towards reducing our ecological footprint. Sustainable design focuses on using materials that are renewable, recycled, or ethically sourced, and on implementing practices that minimise waste and energy consumption. This approach not only helps protect the environment but also often results in healthier living spaces.

Top Sustainable Materials for Interior Design


Bamboo is a fast-growing, renewable resource that is incredibly versatile. It can reach maturity in just 3 to 5 years, compared to hardwoods which take between 20 to 120 years. You’ll find bamboo used in flooring, furniture, and even textiles. Its natural strength and aesthetic appeal make it a popular choice for the eco-conscious.

With its distinct modern appearance, bamboo can add a contemporary touch to any space. Bamboo flooring is often more resistant to scratches and dents than many hardwood floors and generally more resistant to stains, making it a practical option. Plus, it’s typically less expensive than hardwood, offering a cost-effective choice for budget-conscious homeowners.

Compared to many hardwoods, bamboo also exhibits superior natural resistance to moisture, making it suitable for use in kitchens. However, using bamboo flooring in bathrooms is generally not recommended due to the high humidity and frequent water exposure; despite bamboo’s natural moisture resistance being superior to many hardwoods, it can still warp, swell, or become damaged when subjected to excessive moisture.

Bamboo flooring can be installed as floating floors, nailed down, or glued down, providing flexibility depending on the subfloor and installation requirements. Remember, proper sealing, installation, and maintenance are crucial to extending the life of bamboo flooring in any part of the home.

Recycled Wood:

Using reclaimed or recycled wood not only reduces the demand for new timber but also breathes new life into materials that might otherwise end up in landfills. Recycled wood adds a unique character and history to any space, whether it’s used in flooring, furniture, or accent pieces. My husband and I are enthusiastic renovators with a strong commitment to recycling. In our home projects, we’ve embraced sustainability by incorporating a diverse selection of recycled timber from the Big Red Shed ( including spotted gum, blackbutt, and tallowwood. Taking a hands-on approach, we personally installed the flooring and chose to treat the boards with an eco-friendly hard-wax oil from Whittle Wax ( This oil allows the timber to breathe by integrating with it rather than forming a skin, preventing cracking and regulating moisture. Composed of natural, sustainable raw materials such as beeswax, carnauba wax, and jojoba oil, it’s non-toxic and safe for both food and toys. After seven years, our floors retain their original colour, a testament to the durability of this treatment. You can see how our floor looks with its sheen in the feature photo of mixed hardwoods. One of the product’s standout features is its ability to facilitate spot touch-ups, sparing us the need for extensive sanding due to furniture scratches. Its classic aesthetic and ability to accentuate the timber’s grain make it a favourite of ours. While I’m a big fan of this product, it ultimately comes down to personal preferences.


Cork flooring experienced a surge in popularity during the 1970s, aligning with the growing interest in natural, eco-friendly materials. Today, it’s staging a remarkable comeback, gracing floors, walls (as seen in the centre feature photo), and even bedheads, infusing interiors with warmth and practicality. Harvested from the bark of cork oak trees, cork stands out as a highly sustainable material, allowing trees to thrive for over two centuries while facilitating multiple harvests. This sustainable practice not only preserves forests but also minimises waste, with leftover cork from industries like wine production finding new life in flooring. With its distinctive cellular structure, cork excels at absorbing sound, fostering quieter, more serene environments within homes. Its resilience and cushioning effect offer comfort underfoot, reducing fatigue and strain on joints. Additionally, cork’s natural texture provides slip resistance, enhancing safety in moisture-prone areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. However, it’s generally not recommended for bathrooms, except perhaps around vanity areas, due to high humidity and constant water exposure. Easy to clean and maintain, cork proves its durability and versatility, making it a favoured choice for flooring, wall coverings, and furniture. While not entirely waterproof, proper sealing enhances cork’s resistance to moisture, ensuring its longevity and performance in various settings.

Playful use of cork inlay by Interior Designer Jessica Ayromloo. Photo by Annie Schlechter, featured in Architectural Digest

Playful use of cork inlay by Interior Designer Jessica Ayromloo. Photo by Annie Schlechter, featured in Architectural Digest

Recycled Metal:

Incorporating recycled metal in interior design can range from using salvaged steel beams to creating decorative items from repurposed metal. This practice not only conserves resources but also adds an industrial chic aesthetic to your home.

Recycling Bricks:

Recycling bricks from interior design projects is an excellent way to embrace sustainability while adding character and history to your space. Salvaged bricks, often sourced from old buildings and demolition sites, can be cleaned and reused in various ways, such as creating exposed brick walls, fireplaces, or decorative elements. These reclaimed bricks not only reduce the demand for new materials but also divert waste from landfills. Additionally, the unique textures and weathered appearance of recycled bricks bring a sense of charm and authenticity to interiors, making them a popular choice for eco-conscious designers.

During our latest renovation, my husband and I took down a brick wall inside our home that was sectioning off a living area from the dining area. We aim to recycle these bricks for our front fence, creating a cohesive design that seamlessly integrates with the exterior of our home. If you’d love to see our brick recycling journey in action, check it out on Instagram By incorporating recycled bricks into your home, you contribute to a circular economy and celebrate the timeless beauty of repurposed materials.


When it comes to sustainable interior design, wool is a fantastic choice that ticks all the right boxes. Every year, sheep give us this wonderful, renewable resource, ensuring we always have a fresh supply without depleting nature. Wool’s ability to biodegrade naturally means it breaks down and enriches the soil, unlike synthetic fibres that linger for centuries. Plus, wool is incredibly durable, so products made from it last longer, reducing the need for frequent replacements and cutting down on waste.

One of the coolest things about wool is its natural insulating properties, which help keep your home cosy in the winter and cool in the summer, lowering your energy bills in the process. The production of wool also involves fewer chemicals compared to synthetic materials, making it a healthier option for your indoor air quality. And if that’s not enough, wool is also recyclable, meaning it can be repurposed into new products, extending its lifecycle and reducing its environmental impact even further.

So, when you’re thinking about your next interior design project, consider wool. It’s sustainable, stylish, and brings a touch of natural comfort to your home.

Wool for Sustainable Interior Design

Wool for Sustainable Interior Design

Natural Fibre Textiles:

I have a passion for integrating natural fibre textiles into my interior design projects. Organic cotton, hemp, jute, and linen stand out as exceptional choices for sustainable textiles. Not only are they biodegradable, but they’re also crafted with fewer chemicals compared to conventional fabrics, promoting a healthier environment for both our planet and its inhabitants.

When it comes to selecting sustainable materials for curtains and cushions, I prioritise hemp and linen. These eco-friendly options boast remarkable durability. Hemp’s rapid growth cycle and minimal need for pesticides make it particularly appealing, while linen, derived from the flax plant, requires less water and fewer chemicals than cotton. Both materials leave a smaller environmental footprint and contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle.

However, it’s crucial to be mindful of their placement. Direct sunlight can weaken and fade hemp and linen over time, diminishing their lifespan and aesthetic allure. By situating them in shaded or less sun-exposed areas, we can ensure their longevity while preserving their sustainable qualities. Additionally, I make it a practice to periodically move cushions placed in sunny positions to protect them from prolonged exposure, thus extending their lifespan and maintaining their pristine condition.

My personal experiences with these textiles have not only deepened my appreciation for sustainable design but also reinforced the importance of mindful choices in creating spaces that are both beautiful and environmentally conscious.

Recycled Glass:

Recycled glass can be used in countertops, tiles, and decorative elements. It offers a unique aesthetic and significantly reduces the need for new raw materials.

Low-VOC Paints and Finishes:

Traditional paints and finishes can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are harmful to indoor air quality. Low-VOC and zero-VOC alternatives are available, providing a healthier environment without sacrificing quality or durability.

I absolutely adore using Porter’s Paints ( because of their stunning variety of finishes, ranging from the soft sheen of eggshell to the rich, textured beauty of fresco. I’ve been using Porter’s Paints on different projects since the 1990’s. Each finish offers a unique touch that can transform any space, adding depth and character. Whether you’re aiming for a sleek, modern look or a warm, rustic feel, Porter’s Paints provides the perfect solution with its exceptional quality and captivating aesthetic. Their commitment to low toxicity and eco-friendly formulations means you can enjoy a healthier home environment without sacrificing style. You can elevate your interior design projects to new heights.

Porter’s Paints is renowned for its commitment to producing less toxic and environmentally friendly paints, making them a preferred choice for health-conscious homeowners and eco-conscious designers. Unlike conventional paints that often contain high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), Porter’s Paints are formulated with natural ingredients and low-VOC content. This significantly reduces the emission of harmful chemicals into the air, contributing to better indoor air quality and a healthier living environment.

Eco-Friendly Products to Consider

  1. Energy-Efficient Lighting:  LED lights use a fraction of the energy of traditional bulbs and last much longer. Look for fixtures that are made from sustainable materials like bamboo or recycled metal.
  2. Sustainable Furniture:  Invest in furniture from companies that prioritise sustainability. This can include using reclaimed wood, non-toxic finishes, and upholstery made from organic or recycled materials.
  3. Eco-Friendly Flooring:  Options like reclaimed wood, bamboo, cork, and natural linoleum (made from linseed oil, wood flour, and cork dust) are great alternatives to conventional flooring.
  4. Water-Saving Fixtures:  Install low-flow faucets, showerheads, and toilets to reduce water consumption. Many of these fixtures are designed to provide the same level of performance while using significantly less water.
  5. Eco-Conscious Décor: Decorate with items made from natural or recycled materials. This includes things like organic cotton rugs, recycled glass vases, and natural fibre baskets.


Incorporating sustainable materials and products into your interior design not only helps protect the environment but also creates a healthier and often more aesthetically pleasing living space. By choosing renewable, recycled, and ethically sourced materials, you can make a positive impact while enjoying a beautiful, functional home. Sustainable design is about making mindful choices that contribute to a better future for our planet, one room at a time.

Whether you’re starting a new project or looking to update your current space, consider these sustainable options and be part of the movement towards a greener, more sustainable world.




For more in-depth assistance, explore our full-interior design service at, where we can turn your dreams into reality. Whether you’re planning a complete home makeover or simply looking to refresh a single room, our full-interior design service and interior decorating service are here to bring your vision to life.


Author: Melissa Ots

Feature Photo Credits:  Porter’s Paints, Middle Photo with Cork Wall – Wewood Portuguese Joinery, Mixed Timber Floor with Whittle Waxes Finish – Melissa Ots.