Living green: re-re-decorating | Upland Current
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I’ve never been particularly good at or interested in decorating. My style could be described as a hodgepodge of farmhouse, French country, apartment furniture we bought in our late twenties, and antiques given to us by the family.
But after spending a lot of time at home for the past few years – like everyone else – I was ready for a change. The last thing I wanted to do was buy something new online, have it shipped, spend an hour assembling and dealing with all the packaging waste, only to have the item fall apart.
Oh, and yes – climate change.
In a 2020 study, buying property in Philipstown ranked fifth in terms of the carbon it creates and contributes to climate change, accounting for 12.9% of consumption-related emissions. This includes furniture, clothing and appliances. The best way to reduce these emissions is to not buy new things.
Every item produced overseas and sold in a big box store or online retail giant is imbued with carbon emissions. And really, does the world need more things? We need to improve a lot in repair, reuse and repurposing.
We have a “fast furniture” problem. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 9 million tonnes of furniture is thrown away each year, or around 5% of everything that is transported to landfills, where it is buried. Not only is it wasteful, but it’s not a good investment.
If you’ve applied a circular economy lens to home decor, you might want to start with recycling or repair. For example, I covered my comfy and beloved sage green sofa (with a small tear) with a white sofa cover. I also took an off-white enamel table from the 1950s and converted it into a coffee table by purchasing hairpin legs. If you end up with broken furniture or torn upholstery, try finding a repair cafe. Discover the Repair Café Hudson Valley (repaircafehv.org) to see when they happen.
The other option is to acquire previously loved (aka “used”) items. I discovered and became a bit obsessed with buying and selling furniture and decor on Facebook Marketplace. Whether you love Facebook or hate it, its marketplace is incredibly useful for buying and selling just about anything you can think of. Craigslist is also an option, but I prefer Facebook because I find it easier to search for items and communicate with sellers.
Using Facebook Marketplace, I can search for items, select local pickup, and set the radius I’m willing to travel. I also use the Marketplace to sell. Alternatively, you can use Facebook to find or donate items through a “freecycle” group. See the Facebook group on bit.ly/philipstown-freecycle (which has nearly 3,000 members) or search on freecycle.org/find-cities.
I also used AptDeco, an online store specializing in the sale of second-hand furniture and decoration. I bought a chest of drawers, a sofa and a chair and I was happy with them. While the prices aren’t quite the bargains you’ll find on Facebook Marketplace, you can find decent brands and they deliver, which makes a huge difference if you want to buy used but don’t have the time or ability to transport the furniture.
I’ve never bought anything from Renovation Angel, but I think it’s worth checking out. Its motto is to “renovate responsibly” and it sells luxury kitchens, bathroom accessories, home furnishings and furniture.
A little more time-consuming, but fun: garage sales, real estate and antique sales. There is no shortage in the Highlands.
Over the past year, I’ve discovered that the interior design that resonates with me (and my husband) is Scandinavian. Now, every time I walk into a space that I have redone, I feel great, like the space is right for me, and I feel relaxed. I also don’t feel like I’ve added to the world’s landfills or contributed to carbon, which is priceless.