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Eco-friendly Eco-Chic Home Décor Tips and Resources

Updated on December 21, 2014
chezchazz profile image

Chazz is an Interior Decorator/Consultant/Retailer, amateur photographer, cook, gardener, handyman, currently restoring an 1880 Victorian.


Re-Use, Re-Cycle, and Re-Create When You Decorate

Home Decorating trends do not just happen. They reflect the times. Today, with the increasing and much needed focus on the environment and the economy, eco- friendly products are being made and used more and more in home building, remodeling, and interior decorating.

Fabrics, colors, and budgets are also reflecting a “down to earth” sensibility — and not just in materials and colors, but also in cost.

For many, this means making the most of what they already have – recycling that sofa with a slipcover or new upholstery, giving new life to old pieces (whether a piece of furniture you already have or a thrift shop or eBay find) with a splash of color or by using old favorites in innovative ways.

Think about using fabrics made from natural materials or from synthetics made from renewable resources. (You can find out more about many fibers made from sustainable resources in The Green Truth About Fabrics.)

Consider the environmental effects of the products you use in interior decorating as well as in cleaning and caring for your home. Many products, including paints and fabrics, are now available in environmentally (and people and pet) friendly formulations. Look for Mineral and vegetable dyed home décor fabrics and carpeting (make sure carpeting is also formaldehyde free).

Bring the outdoors inside and not just for holiday decorations or special occasions. Live plants not only look great indoors — they help keep the air in your home healthy. (If you have young children or pets, be sure the plants are not poisonous.)

Green is a decorating style to suit all tastes – from the spare sandy desert to the opulent rain forest. Think about your favorite outdoor spot and take your home decorating cues from Mother Nature – and take care of her in return.

10 Easy Eco-Chic Decorating Tips

1. Shop locally. Not only do you support your local merchants, you save gas by shopping closer to home. Or shop on-line for some great bargains on decorating essentials and fabulous finds.

2. Re-purpose (aka "upcycle") items. A plain hollow-core door propped up by a couple of old cabinets, a pair of short bookcases, or two workshop horses makes a great desk or table. Stack a set of old luggage to use as an end table (and for extra storage!). Think outside the box.

3. Often simply sanding and re-painting an old plain piece of furniture can transform it into just what you need in that new guest room or for the porch you just enclosed (with windows from your local salvage yard, of course!). Polish the old hardware or add some new knobs and be proud of yourself. You not only kept that old dresser out of the garbage dump, you've saved a tree or two in the process.

4. Recycle glass jars as vases or fill with small collectibles, such as shells, buttons, small stones, or marbles and display as small grouping.

5. Wrap leftover yarn around defunct tennis balls and place in an old wooden bowl or basket for a colorful decorating accent.

6. Old ties make great quilts. So do a lot of other fabric items. (But you knew that!) Just have a few? Make a throw pillow instead.


7. Window shutters not only help with window energy efficiency. They make wonderful cabinet doors (easy to attach to the front of that yard sale bookcase for hidden storage) and three or four larger ones hinged together can be used for a screen or room divider or even a headboard.

8. Broken cups and dishes can be broken into even smaller pieces and used for drainage in a flower pot or, if you're crafty, in lieu of mosaic tiles to decorate a table top to an entire piece of furniture or even a wall, birdbath, or garden bench.

9. Stand old wooden fruit crates on their sides and stack for a modular bookcase or storage unit. Or hang an old wooden ladder horizontally on a wall to hold books, media, or other items.

10. Use leftover wallpaper to wrap gifts, cover empty cereal boxes to use as periodical holders on a shelf, line drawers or closet shelves or (one of my favorites) ask a local ice cream store for an empty cardboard ice cream "tub" and turn it into a custom wastebasket by covering it with wallpaper or decoupage it with leftovers from your scrapbooking projects.

More Ideas for Green Home Decorating

Take a look at our picks and feel free to submit your own suggestions for eco-chic home decorating tips. You can also vote the books on the list up or down, so if you have read any of these, please let us know what you thought of them by doing that.

There are more resources below this section, so be sure to scroll down for more ideas and finds!

Inspiring Ideas and DIY How-to Advice - For Recycling and Re-purposing Furniture

There are many books that provide home décor ideas for recycling and using existing furnishings in creative yet practical ways. This is one of my favorites. A good basic reference you'll turn to again and again.

A little ingenuity and time can not only save your financial resouces, it can help save forests and the planet.

Please take note, though, that re-finishing antique furniture can substantially lower its value as original finishes, whether stained or painted, are more desirable even if they are in less-than-perfect condition.

Have You Decorated by Re-Using, Recycling or Repurposing ?

What is your experience with eco-chic decorating? Have you come up with a new and creative use for something you already have or used an older item in a new way?

What do you think of eco-chic decorating? Have you re-used, recycled or repurposed one or more items in your home?

See results

Recommended Resource for DIY Upholstery & Slipcovers

This is the most popular and highly rated instructionals for DIY upholstery.

You will be surprised at how easy it is to re-upholster your own furniture.

You not only save money on labor costs, you help save the planet by recycling -- and you wind up with a custom one-of-kind item too!

Do You Dream in Green? - Comfortable & Affordable Organic Cotton Mattresses


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© 2009 Chazz

Share Your Favorite Eco-Chic Decorating Tip - Have an idea you're proud of?

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    • GonnaFly profile image


      7 years ago from Australia

      Wonderful ideas. And congratulations for being featured in 50 Creative Upcycling/Recycling Lenses.

    • AshleySears LM profile image

      AshleySears LM 

      7 years ago

      I absolutely love this lense. I decorate my home with items that I find at garage sales. It's less expensive and keeps things out of landfills. Plus my home gets a unique look.

    • TheWhimsicalPea profile image


      7 years ago

      hi, great article! love love love to recycle and preserve items of the past! just got done working on a huge 7 ft piece of recycled art for my daughters school where the entire school had a part in making it, we raised $1200 on just the one piece of recycled art (bottle caps, water bottles, old jewelry, playing cards, game pieces, etc.) plus it taught the kids that almost anything can be re-used, and art is not always just paint and crayons! Thanks again for all the extra tips

    • julescorriere profile image

      Jules Corriere 

      7 years ago from Jonesborough TN

      Congratulations on being featured in the Best of Squidoo 2012 Earth Day lenses.

    • oxfordian profile image


      7 years ago

      I was shocked when I went to get an estimate on getting a sofa I have reupholstered and decided then and there that I was going to learn how to do it myself. Alas, the sofa is still sitting in my shed where I keep my queue of projects. You have inspired me (as you always do every time I read one of your lenses) to get at it! Thanks for the nudge!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I use the inside brown cardboard from gift wrap and make gift tags and cards from them.

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 

      7 years ago

      Use old ties to weave a new seat for a broken wicker chair.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have a bulletin board made of old wine corks!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I watched my mother re-use items, old clothing made into quilts and rugs. Nothing was wasted by those who lived through the Depression. Now we just throw things away. Great ideas for re-cycling while still being "chic."

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love finding "previously loved" items in resale and at garage sales. So much more interesting than "new." I've learned a lot about upcycling here on Squidoo, especially form lensmasters like veryirie.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love finding new ways to reuse items around the house. Paint and fabric are my best friends. Thanks for sharing!

    • peggygallyot profile image


      7 years ago

      I use my old cupboard as a pantry in the kitchen.

    • kerilovesadeal profile image


      7 years ago

      Good tips. I want to learn how to reupholster a chair. I'm going to have to use some seashells to decorate now as well. :)

    • TeakShowerBenches profile image


      7 years ago

      good lens, very useful.

    • pangaloon profile image


      7 years ago

      I turned some school chairs into shelves by hanging them on the wall.

    • suzy-t profile image


      7 years ago

      Great ideas... I practice this all the time when I decorate...I head up to the attic and see what I can "repurpose" before even thinking about heading out to the store. My latest project was a set of louvred closet doors collecting dust that I refinished and made into a room divider. Blessed by a Squid Angel...

    • dariameister profile image


      7 years ago

      An old rake head nailed to the kitchen wall as a wine glass holder

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 

      7 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Over the years, we have collected quite a few shells and pretty, small stones from our beach walks. I have put them in big, clear, jars and placed them on our decks near plants. The lid keeps them clean. I am pleasantly surprised how many visitors stop to have a look at these. They make wonderful conversation pieces.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for sharing such useful tips. I do recycle old bottles at home and jars. I paint them with different colors and make them as decorations :D

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 

      7 years ago from Topeka, KS

      Wonderful article! I've recovered, reused, rescued and recycled for as long as I can remember. :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I like to bring the outdoors in. Once I found a jar out in the woods that had over the years become a natural terrarium and enjoyed it for years in my home.

    • Lauriej1 profile image


      7 years ago

      Awesome lens!!!! :D

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Awesome lens. thanks for sharing Eco-friendly tips..

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great tips

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens.

    • KateHonebrink profile image


      7 years ago

      One weapon in my design arsenal is RubnBuff, a tinted paste wax in metallic tones. I've used it on lamp bases, etageres, cabinet hardware, mirror frames, and picture frames. It's available at craft stores and is under $5 a tube. You don't need much, so a tube lasts a long time, unless you're covering a large area.

    • Senora M profile image

      Senora M 

      7 years ago

      Cool lens.

    • RUUnique profile image


      8 years ago

      There is a new compound out called CompoClay. It is used to make home décor products and building materials. Both CompoClay and the manufacturing process that is used to make products out of it are environmentally friendly. Recycling is great but we also have to change existing manufacturing processes.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have recycled glass jars that had tops that didn't seal anymore. Have filled one with silk flowers, and a couple with shells. Love your Eco-Chic decorating tips!

    • Gerald McConway profile image

      Gerald McConway 

      8 years ago

      Not sure if counts as an eco decorating tip, but I use solar lights outside of my house to light up my deck and flags. It looks completely different from everyone else on the block and I get plenty of comments about them. Nice lens, thanks!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Re-Use, Re-Cycle, and Re-Create: Very well said and very well illustrated. Thanks much. :)

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      A friend of mine had a collection of gorgeous silk scarves her mother had worn. She used them to decorate the walls of her office. (I believe she used ball-headed sewing pins to affix them to the wall without tearing the silk.) Her office was light, airy, colorful, and ever-changing.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 

      8 years ago from Washington KS

      I'm the world's worst decorater. No style whatsoever. But I love seeing what other folks can do.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I made some lens of how to fold and cut alphabet using recycle papers. I deal for home decorating like making a happy birthday sign, names and more.

    • sheriangell profile image


      8 years ago

      I don't, but I recently met a lady who "canes" old chairs with neckties. They were so beautiful.


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