They say "green" is the new black, and isn't it great when social responsibility becomes stylish? Suddenly, sustainability is in, plastic is passe, and secondhand is oh-so-savvy.
If you've been dreaming of giving your home a bit of a facelift for the new year, then you're in luck. Decorating and design are easily "greened" with a little bit of know-how and some well-placed imagination. Here are simple steps toward your very own eco-palace:
Shop secondhand new
Everyone knows secondhand means great savings, for your wallet and for Earth. But buying used doesn't have to mean buying old. You can score fabulous, in-season furniture by window-shopping retailers such as IKEA, Pottery Barn, etc. Make a note of the exact name and color of the items you like, then search sites like Craigslist and eBay to track down your own gently-used copy. It's the best of both worlds.
Scout rebuilding centers
Reclaimed building materials have the same charm and romance as more traditional antiques. Weatherworn with a story, or perfectly polished and modern, you can find something to suit every style. Look for tiles and flooring (even mismatched can be beautiful, especially in small spaces), fixtures and cabinetry, and always keep repurposing in mind. An old window makes a great wall hanging, and antique brass doorknobs can stand in as wall-mounted coat hangers. Be creative.
Upcycle old fabrics
You can use your old linens, vintage lace or even last decade's sweaters, to reupholster padded chair seats. Mismatched cushions can look quite elegant if you simply stick to one family of colors, or coordinated textures (like cable knit ribs or velvet). Or you can turn your unworn-yet-sentimental T-shirts into throw pillows or a patchwork quilt. Punk rock patchwork will put some excitement back into a boring living room.
Save those mason jars
Applesauce, marinara, or whichever large jars you buy on a regular basis: start saving them. Once you've collected four or five that match, you can use them to display grains, dried beans and other dried goods on your kitchen counter. Or, use them in the bathroom to hold cotton balls, Q-tips and other small items.
Thrift, thrift, thrift
Linens, lamps, books, art, kitchenware, toys and furniture. Secondhand is sustainable, vintage is magical and antiques are art. Used items give your home an instant sense of independence. Mix and match old with new, traditional with modern, and you will create a room that's chic, unique and totally you.