Eco-Decor

It’s no secret that I enjoy home decor stuff. While I love simplifying, parenting, eco-tip, and humorous personal blogs (I’m talking about you, Roo and Christine), the DIY and home decor ones clog my daily feed.

Ha. That sounds like a personal problem. Pshaaaahaaaa! Ha! Ha.


Ahem. Anyhoo. I’m pretty sure I got the bug from my mom. While we don’t really match in taste (she’s more country traditional, although she’s veering into the simple transitional realm lately — love it), I’m more into straight, modern lines and eclectic mixes of old and new (and, yes, transitional, too). But, her general enjoyment of freshening up her spaces and buying a few new pieces here and there (not to mention a great fondness for antiques), I totally get.

Being on a budget and being of the opinion that the Earth needs looking after, I’ve had issues here and there considering my purchases and their environmental impact. We can’t all afford to look for a sustainably harvested chair with organic linen upholstery when shopping. It’s a big enough purchase as it is, right?

But, there are plenty of small ways to surround ourselves with beauty inside our dwellings with friendly consideration for the beauty outside. See if you’re already doing any of these…

Thrift and claw your way. Okay, I honestly use a lot of excuses when it comes to thrifting. We don’t have the room to buy a lot of furniture (which would need to be stored until I could refinish or upholster, then use it). We only have two thrift shops that mostly stock broken Target furniture (which is what we use for our TV console) and too-traditional stuff. I also don’t find a lot of time to visit them. 

But, when I need an emotional lift or creative boost, I stop by on a whim. The Goodwill store is literally a minute drive (I drive ‘cuz ya never know when you need to haul a big piece), and the Sally Ann’s (or Salvation Army for those not in the know) is two towns over. I find the best accessories and frames (keep an open mind; the art or filler pictures usually suck, but a frame for 50 cents? Get out!) at Goodwill. Sometimes you can even find a brand new blanket, curtains, or pillows here. Yes, seriously, unused. I used a mix of frames from Goodwill for our nursery’s wall collage.

Our Sally Ann’s is best for furniture. I don’t find the mod pieces I wish I could get, but there are super cheap, rehab-able stuff, like this bench (which I’m thinking of rehabbing again) and this chair I love for a bit of the unexpected.

Side note: I also shop these stores for my theater costumes. Our theater has a huge attic of clothes but somehow I hardly seem to find what I need. There are only so many ballgown roles, y’know? So, this is the best costume selection for the price. Same goes for DIY Halloween costumes!

Craigslist is a great alternative. Again, since our area is stuck in the land of country traditional, there aren’t always great finds to be had. But, it’s nice to check and see what’s out there. I’m not giving up hope that I’ll find some awesome pieces one of these days. And, in case you don’t notice a trend here, one of the eco-friendliest ways to furnish and decorate your space is to reuse items that might otherwise end up in the landfill.

Don’t scoff at hand-me-downs. If they’re in your style realm, or you think you could transform the piece into something you might love, go ahead and kindly accept the offers from friends or relatives. I know my stepfather has offered us many items (he has worked for tons of sweet elderly folks who don’t need their stuff anymore) for F-R-E-E! It’s how we got Hadman’s awesome dresser, which we painted a cheery yellow and changed out the hardware for something more modern…and, come to think of it, all of our dressers are current hand-me-downs. Not only is this cheaper, it keeps these pieces from ending up in a junk pile.

Oh, and if you’re not a fan of the piece, itself, don’t write it off. Dave brought his old bachelor-ish blue couch, which I’m still not in love with, but adding an inexpensive white slipcover gave me the look I craved without having to drop a buttload of money into a brand new piece of furniture.


Find a piece of history. What’s better than giving new life to an antique? Some of our favorite items were picked up at antique shops. Rustic tables, awesome accessories, cool kitschy kitchen stuff — you never know what surprise you’ll stumble over.

Our all-time favorite antique is our dining room sideboard (you can see it on display in this post). We found it while antiquing on our honeymoon in Vermont. Not only was it cheaper than any new versions we had found, it was full of art deco character and history. Oh, and that $#&! is solid. Way better than press board. Blech.

The best thing about antiques is that they fit so many tastes. If you’re into mission-style stuff, there’s an antique for that. If you’re into mod, there’s an antique for that. If you’re into quirky, there’s definitely an antique for that. If you’re into romantic…well, you get the point. Antiques got your back.


Know whatchya like. Take quizzes and visit Pinterest, Houzz, and blogs to determine what your style is. I take outdated magazines that would otherwise end up in the trash (and that teachers or art classes overlooked) home from school; my faves are Country Living, Good Housekeeping, and Real Simple (which I, admittedly, buy), and my mom passes us This Old House from time to time.

I love that the mags get a second life, sometimes even living IN my decor, as well as helping me find what I love. The inspiration helps me think outside of my comfort zone as well as determine what fads are for me, might be a long-term thing I can get lots of mileage from, and what would just make me buy new crap which would end up being discarded sooner than later. I’m still 50/50 on chevron.

Knowing your style definitely helps you but less crap and only what you know can find a home with you for the long haul.

When buying new, try to be cognizant. Sure, not every item you fall for will be eco-friendly, and that’s okay, but the sustainable seal of approval is becoming more and more mainstream. After coming to know my style, I’ve stumbled upon some stores (mostly online) that accompany my tastes. And, what do ya know? Some of my faves happen to have some sustainable options!

I sign up to find out when sales are popping up and always keep in mind what my needs are. Just because something awesome is for sale doesn’t mean I jump at it. Ain’t nobody got time money for that.

For example, lately I’m on a hunt for rugs. Yes, plural. I know what I’m willing to spend, so when I get an email that, say, West Elm (which has a good mix of eco-friendly products), I check out the site. I also keep an eye on discount stores and remember to look at eco-friendly materials (generally wool/cotton/hemp/jute vs. poly-something-or-other).

What matters most to you? A big purchase like a fridge or bed might be more important for you to find to be Energy Star approved or organic; or not. Maybe you’d rather have all-organic sheets instead. Or eco-friendly pots and pans.

Since none of us is a Rockefeller (right? You’re not a Rockefeller?), it’s unrealistic to buy all eco products all the time. Just figure out what matters most to you, and you’ll be doing just fine. It’s not a competition, after all. Don’t stress.

Bring the outside in. Not only is it beautiful, but bringing nature into your surroundings is super zen. Rocks around candles on a plate, geodes as paperweights, plants to clean the air, flowers to add some color and texture, water features to provide a calming white noise; nothing’s off limits. Just think about what makes you happy and hook yourself up. I know I’m into the succulent trend right now, actually (although who else but moi can kill frickin’ succulents? Seriously).

If you have pets, just check into what greenery is safe for animals. Because…y’know…they like to nibble. Mine do.


If all else fails, DIY it. I haven’t got a lot of experience in building things from scratch, but I dipped my toe in with this desk. It’s not perfect, but it works for us, and was way cheaper (and more creative) than a real parsons table. 

My best suggestion for you is to check online for plans if you want to undertake this type of endeavor. Start with something simple but that you truly want around your house. My favorite site to search is Ana White, in case you’ve lived under an Internet rock. Apparently she has a new gig on HGTV, too (speaking of living under a no-cable-induced rock). Can’t wait to catch some eppies online.

And keep an eye out for sustainably farmed or reclaimed lumber, and low- or no-VOC paints and stains to keep the off-gassing to a minimum. ‘Cuz off-gassing sounds gross enough as it is without actually dealing with a gas bomb in your living room.

There are also a bunch of tutorials out there for inexpensive ways to decorate your house. If you totally adore a how-to craft project or a pillow tutorial, go for it! Use whatever materials speak to you, and add your own pride into a job well done that you love seeing everyday.

Do you think about what you fill your house with and where it comes from? What’s your decor style? Any tips you’d like to add? 

Oh, and that graphic? Not my house. Just an awesome royalty-free pic of a space I admire, just so ya know. 😉

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