Our 5 favourite design ideas for more sustainable living

Sustainability is on the edge of everyone’s lips. Whether it’s shopping, traveling or simply everyday living, more and more of us are opening our eyes to the importance of lowering our carbon footprint and living more sustainable lives.

Moving into a new home is the perfect time for new perspectives – and if you want to use the moment as an opportunity to reset your sustainability goals then this article is for you. Here are our five favourite design ideas to make your home more sustainable, without compromising on style.

Revel in the wonders of reclaimed wood

If you’re moving to a bigger space, you’ll probably be after some new furniture. Reclaimed wood is a great option from an environmental point of view.

Furniture made from reclaimed wood is generally really hardwearing and full of character because it’s already lived a life! You can make a statement with bigger pieces, while smaller options can blend naturally into the background. It’s very versatile too – and works beautifully with stainless steel.

Let there be (smart) lights

Our 5 favourite design ideas for more sustainable living image

At St. Modwen Homes, we build homes with higher ceilings and bigger windows than most other housebuilders. There’s no substitute for sunlight!

That said, we’re not about to claim that natural light is all you need. The government is leading a big push towards LED lights because they are better for your energy bills as well as the environment. But have you thought about smart LED lighting?

Companies like Hive, Philips Hue, Yeelight make smart lights that you can control from your phone. From a sustainability point of view, this means that you can always double-check if you’ve left lights on, then turn them off from wherever you are. Plus, you can program them to go on and off at certain times.

You can get colour-changing bulbs as well as dimmable ones so it’s really easy to create a unique atmosphere, whether you’re hosting a dinner party or having a romantic night in.

Pick a paint that’s better for the air

Giving your home a fresh lick of paint is a simple way of freshening things up and giving a place its own identity. But when you’re caught between “Elephant Breath” or “Raspberry Bellini”, there’s one more thing to consider: volatile organic compounds (or VOCs for short).

These are the gases given off by paint that contains solvents – and they’re damaging for the atmosphere. Look for paint labelled “low VOC” and always be wary of anything that claims to be completely VOC-free. It’s pretty much impossible to make paint that doesn’t give off a limited amount of VOCs.

Candles are another culprit when it comes to harming the air around you. Cheaper ones often contain VOCs so go for candles made from natural materials like beeswax.

Up the oxygen levels

Our 5 favourite design ideas for more sustainable living image

While we’re on air, you probably don’t need us to tell you about the incredible purifying power of plants. They suck up carbon dioxide and breath out oxygen making them the ultimate air fresheners.

Areca palms and rubber plants are brilliant at filtering out harsh chemicals from things like detergent and nail varnish – and did you know that peace lilies can help prevent mould?

As well as cleaning up our dirty air, plants are great for your wellbeing and can even help you sleep. They can also add a lot of style to your home, whether you want to go minimal with the odd carefully placed Bonsai – or all out Amazonian!


Don’t be tricked by the silky softness beneath your feet. Under the surface, rugs have an impact on the environment because most are made from manmade plastic, like polypropylene, which can be very toxic.

For a more planet-friendly alternative, look for rugs made from organic fibres like jute, wool, sisal and organic cotton. Keep an eye on the underlay too. Natural latex, jute, and wool are great alternatives to toxic materials.

All images are for illustrative purposes only*

That’s it! Five doable design ideas, all in the name of doing our bit for the planet (in style).
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