The perfect sustainable shelfie shows where you come from, where you’ve been and where you’re going. Rather than filling your shelves with store bought stuff, take the opportunity to add items that reflect who you are using items you already own. In 3 easy steps, we’ll show you how to design your own Sustainable Shelfie.
Don’t use your shelf space to display mindless, cheap clutter imported to decor shops from overseas because of the latest trends. Instead, create a sustainable presentation by displaying what’s important to you.
Use it to showcase your memories in the form of antiques, photographs and what you’ve picked up on your travels. Display books full of things you’re interested in. Include accessories made of renewable resources and natural materials like pottery, plants or earthy elements.
How Can I Decorate My Home Sustainably?
Buy fewer accessories. There, we said it. But let’s be honest, we have a bad habit of buying too many things we really don’t need just to fill up houses that are too big.
We know, it’s an easy and affordable way to freshen up your space.
But this has resulted in a huge, debt problem and a vicious routine of carelessly consuming precious raw materials, polluting during production, packaging, transportation and incomprehensibly wasting valuable materials by adding these used-up products to the waste stream.
Why are Eco-Friendly Products Important?
Most accessories are made in countries where there is little or no regulation or regard for the health of workers, the consumer, or the environment. Granted, accessories can be useful and a lovely addition to any interior, so choose them wisely! Pay attention to what they are made of. How they are made, packaged, and shipped. And how they can be recycled or last for a lifetime.
Be selective when considering any accessory. Unless it truly serves a purpose, is a vision on inspiration, or will last a lifetime, don’t buy it – even if it’s green.
HOW TO DESIGN A SUSTAINABLE SHELFIE IN 3 EASY STEPS
STEP 1: INCLUDE MEMORIES
We love mixing old with new! And we love antiques because what could be more sustainable?
Antiques add history and texture to a home, and their very existence proves they can withstand the test of time!
We recently talked about all the benefits and places to Shop for Sustainable Furniture. Check out the section on how to Shop Vintage for tons of great tips on where to look in your area or online!
Collectibles from Your Travels
Because travel and global style is such an intrinsic part of our design aesthetic, we love to bring in antiques from near and far to remind us of where we’ve been and where we’re going.
We can’t resist displaying a beautiful bargain buy from a Paris flea market or trinkets from Thailand!
One of our favorite clients had a collection of tea pots that had been passed down over the generations. Displaying them on the top shelf was a perfect way to share each piece in order of historical eras. Another display option would have been to scatter them throughout the bookshelf, either on top of or next to a stack of books.
There are no rules. Play around and see what feels right to you.
Place your favorite items or smaller pieces closer to the eyeline, for easy viewing.
Of course, this one should go without saying – framed photographs of friends and family make the perfect sustainable shelfie accessory!
Fill those shelves only with things that will make you smile when you walk by them every day.
Photos don’t always have to be standing or leaning in each shelf. Feel free to hang a photo on the wall directly behind, like it’s own piece of art.
In a bedroom, we love to place photos of just the couple, to remind each other of their love and connection.
– DESIGN A SUSTAINABLE SHELFIE –
STEP 2: BOOKS
Shelves are for books, after all!
Filmmaker John Waters famously advised against engaging with anyone whose bookshelves aren’t full of books. And, while we’ve all gone digital and made great sustainable strides in doing so, there’s still something about holding the physical book in your hand.
Books, especially used books, look gorgeous on display shelves, and obviously serve a functional purpose.
Play around with how you stack your books and vary them on each shelf. Stack a few on top of each other and place a decorative item on top.
Place a couple of your favorite books so that the cover faces out. Now your books also serve as an art piece and a conversation starter.
– DESIGN A SUSTAINABLE SHELFIE –
STEP 3: ADD EARTH ELEMENTS
Pottery or Glass
Pottery and other decor made from natural materials are always going to be your best bet if you have to buy new.
They look fantastic standing alone and are useful when you need a vase.
Bonus points if it’s a ceramic vase where you can display fresh-cut flowers from your garden!
Look for pieces that have a design or texture, like a piece of art. When placed behind a contrasting color background, they really stand out!
Speaking of fresh-cut flowers . . . taking up shelf space with an indoor garden always gets the green light from us!
A collection of succulents is on trend, sustainable and increasingly easy to maintain.
Or snag some cuttings after your gardener leaves. Twigs, branches or trimmings look great casually placed into a vase.
Raise your Home’s vibe with crystal accessories!
Whether you just like them aesthetically or you’re embracing your inner woo, crystals are beautiful natural accessories.
Whether displayed on their own, in a case or hanging pendulum, in place of fireplace logs (as we did for a recent client) or as a full-blown crystal grid (A fun DIY project whether you’re into crystals for the healing properties or merely the aesthetic), we love crystals because they’re natural and decorating with them is entirely personal. Crystals are beautiful natural accessories we use to ground and set the intention of the space.
For the ultimate how to guide, check out our previous post on Decorating with Crystals.
Everyone loves a beautifully curated shelfie photo in a glossy design blog or magazine – but did you know most of those props are brought in by the photo stylist to amp up the glam specifically for the photoshoot?
Once you’re done designing and building and furnishing, stop before you go too crazy with accessorizing! It’s OK to have some empty shelf space.
In the words of Marie Kondo, be sure it “sparks joy.” If you’re going to buy, buy sustainably.
How to Achieve Style and Sustainability
Green Interior Design is the most comprehensive guide to sustainable building, designing, and decorating on the market.
This beautifully illustrated guide covers every detail of your home, from the drywall to the finial on the curtain rod. Plus how to find the most environmentally friendly versions of products and décor.
This second edition of Green Interior Design is meant as much for the budget DIYer as it is for the luxury homebuilders looking to dip their toes into sustainability.
Pick up your copy here, or your favorite local community bookstore.