You may not want recycled sheets or mattresses (since the only real way to get them is to go second-hand…ew). But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of ways to create an eco-friendly space to sleep in. Just take a look around your current bedroom and assess the contents. Is the bedding made from organic fabrics? What about the mattresses? Did you purchase your bed frame and other furnishings at a retail store that contributes to deforestation? Is your space packed with energy-guzzling electronics like a TV, digital clock, and charging station for your phone and iPod? And what about the backdrop? Your carpeting is probably non-recyclable synthetic fiber and you likely haven’t the foggiest notion of whether the paint on the walls contains harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds). In short, there is a lot of room for improvement, so if you’re looking to do a makeover, here are a few ways to make your love nest a little bit greener.
- Waste not, want not. You’ve already gone ahead and purchased furnishings that are not so eco-friendly; don’t double the damage by sending them to the dump. Either find creative ways to reuse them in your new space (going for shabby chic? Try painting and distressing your dressers) or give them a second life by selling them at a garage sale (bonus: you recoup some cost) or donating them to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill.
- Prep the palette. People simply don’t realize the harm that standard indoor paints can cause; those that contain toxic VOCs not only pollute the air as they dry, but they can continue to release harmful emissions into your interior air for years to come. And in case you didn’t know, they are thought to be responsible for all kinds of health problems, from simple headaches and nausea to more serious concerns like respiratory disease, nervous system disorders, and even cancer. So do your homework and opt for paints that are VOC-free. They’re safer for you, and the environment.
- Go for reclaimed. Instead of replacing your stained carpeting with more of the same, see if a good cleaning might not do the trick and allow you to save it. Otherwise, try to donate it before you simply throw it away. And when it comes time to put in new flooring, consider purchasing reclaimed hardwood planks. They’re a lot cheaper than new, they require no additional manufacturing, they come with the lovely patina of age, and they’re going to seriously improve your resale value (without denuding any forested lands). If it has to be carpet, at least go with natural fibers (that will biodegrade at some point down the line) and think about reclaimed wood furnishings to replace the old ones.
- Think organic. When it comes to set dressings (linens, pillows, throws, and curtains) you should make a concerted effort to go organic. This not only protects the Earth from toxic chemical fertilizers and pesticides used to grow standard crops, but some strive to use less water (bamboo) and the manufacturing process is often green, as well. Plus, there are so many soft and beautiful organic fabrics on the market these days that you should have no trouble finding a good selection.
- Green up the air. Forget installing new ductwork or springing for a filtrations system. You can improve your interior air quality with a simple and inexpensive addition to your space: plants. By bringing greenery into your bedroom, you’ll not only add the finishing touch to your décor; you’ll also improve the air you breathe with a symbiotic system that provides more oxygen and removes carbon dioxide, helping you to be healthy, energetic, and avoid the pollutants and waste that come with renovations to your HVAC system.
If you’ve ever seen the HGTV show of the same name (Design on a Dime) then you know that the whole idea is to create a space that looks like it’s been done by a designer, but at a fraction of the cost. On the show they usually have $1,000 to spend on a complete room makeover (while in the real world it could cost several thousand for virtually the same room as done by an actual designer). But you might not have even that much to play with when you decide to revamp your bedroom. But even if you only have a couple hundred dollars to play with, a little cash and a lot of creativity can leave you with a love nest that is both fashionable and fitting for your budget. Here are just a few ideas to get you on your way to the bedroom of your dreams (for less).
- Steam cleaning. Old carpets are the worst when it comes to improving the look of your space. Not only do they often feature an array of stains that you can’t seem to remove no matter how you scrub; they also harbor odors and allergens. By renting a steam cleaner (you can often find them at your local supermarket or hardware store for about $20-$30 plus the cost of cleaning solvent) you can remove dust, dander, stains, and odors and end up with a carpet that looks brand new at a fraction of the cost.
- Paint. This is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to spice up your space and create a whole new feel. For about $30 you can get a can of paint with the primer included (meaning two coats will cover just about anything). And if you want to go for a modern twist that will eliminate the need to hang art on the wall, think about adding some inexpensive wall decals. Several online retailers now carry these easy-to-apply stickers for your space (Blik Surface Graphics, Design 55, and a number of vendors on Etsy) and you can generally cover a wall with birds in flight, chandelier silhouettes, or totally Zen plant-life for less than $100.
- Sewing machine. If you splurge in one area, make it a decent sewing machine. You might spend a couple hundred bucks on this one item, but it’s the gift that keeps on giving. You will be positively shocked by how cheap it is to make bedding, pillows, and curtains on your own. You can probably do it for about 1/10th of what you’d pay for the same stuff in a department store (depending on the fabrics you choose and where you shop), so the sewing machine will quickly pay for itself in savings.
- The bed. While you can certainly get crafty with the headboard (believe it or not, there are even wall decals for that) or build a base on your own to save some money, you really should consider blowing a chunk of your budget on a good mattress. For one thing, consider how long you’re going to keep in (at least 10 years, barring mishaps). By spreading the cost out over that time, it won’t seem like such a waste of money. But you also need to think about your health. A restful night keeps you looking and feeling good, so cutting back in this area is really like selling yourself short.
- Accessories. You can easily save in this area by shopping second-hand and getting crafty. You have to be able to see the potential behind items that are slightly used, but with an eye for detail and an artsy flair, you can easily add the finishing touches to your brand new bedroom and create the space you’ve been dreaming of.
Leon Harris writes for Design 55 Bedrooms where you can find a large assortment of high end furniture to meet your decorating and budgetary needs.