Sustainability | People

A Guide To Sustainable Interior Design In 2024

Feb 24, 2024 | Divya Salgiya

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the need to incorporate sustainability into various aspects of our lives. This includes the world of interior design. As we strive for more environmentally friendly practices, it becomes essential to explore alternatives to normal materials and embrace sustainable options. In this article, we will delve into the understanding of sustainable materials in interior design, the benefits they offer, and the future trends in this exciting field.

What is Sustainable Interior Design?

Sustainability in interior design means achieving a balance between old and new materials. Recycling, upcycling and reusing are key directives. They help reduce the amount of waste produced by renovation and building projects. Sustainability also ensures that the use of new materials is kept to a minimum. Interior designers are helping us realise how sustainability works.

Sustainability gives a new lease of life to unwanted components and spares sending materials such as old tiles and kitchen cupboards to landfill sites. Instead, they are reused and upcycled.

Tips for sustainable interior design

1. Design for energy efficiency.

Energy consumption is one of the major contributors to climate change, so improving a building’s energy efficiency is key. To do that, we can design with the intention of reducing the amount of heating and lighting required, and by providing renewable energy to the building. For example, since most heat comes in and escapes through windows, it’s important that windows and window coverings provide good insulation.

2. Design for low environmental impact.

It’s important to choose materials and products with a low environmental impact. Organic materials, such as wood, wool and stone, are a good choice – as long as they are responsibly sourced. Consider the environmental impact of throughout their entire life cycle, from extraction, production, transportation and processing, all the way through to how they are discarded after use.

3. Design for waste reduction.

To reduce the amount of waste, designers can look towards recycling, upcycling and repurposing in their designs. Using synthetic materials that have been made from recycled waste, or that can be recycled again at the end of their lives, is an easy way to engage in the circular loop of design.

4. Design for longevity and flexibility.

The goal of designing for longevity is to create durable and timeless spaces that will stand the test of time. The best way to achieve this is to choose quality over quantity and classics over trends. The flipside of longevity is flexibility. As people’s tastes and lifestyles change, they want their spaces to grow with them and reflect those changes. In anticipation of that, you should design flexible spaces that change and adapt to new needs, removing the need to demolish and start from scratch.

5. Design for healthy environments.

It’s important to protect the health of the people who will be living in or using your building, by considering things like the quality of the air, heating, ventilation, lighting and acoustics.

Here are two business examples where sustainability is at the core of their business: nina+co and Breathe.

What are examples of sustainable materials for interior design?

Sustainable interior design has a neutral or positive effect in the environment. Good materials include bamboo, rattan, terrazzo, polished plaster, reclaimed wood, glass, and natural stone. They are all environmentally friendly and have a low carbon footprint.


Bamboo is considered a sustainable material, as it is fast-growing (it is actually a grass, not a tree), quickly renewable and it takes less energy to produce than wood. This makes it an A+ material in terms of energy efficiency, production process and use of natural resources.

Incredibly versatile and beautiful, bamboo is a very strong material which can be used structurally and is also very flexible. Bamboo can be used in many ways such as in window treatments, flooring, walling and in decorative ways. When we think Bamboo we think relaxing spaces in Ibiza, Mykonos and Asia. To no surprise Soho House has created this natural material into something very chic and trendy in their new Mykonos Soho Roc House. Also, depending on the design, bamboo can be statement piece for residential spaces.

Mykonos Scorpios Interiors Bamboo Sustainable Design


Perhaps one of the trendiest materials at the moment also happens to be environmentally friendly. Rattan is quite similar to bamboo in terms of its sustainable benefits. It is fast growing, is produced in a low energy and low waste way (meaning it doesn’t have to be treated and processed that much),and since it is a natural material, it is recyclable and biodegradable. This versatile material can be produced in unique patterns, giving a rustic feel to any residential living room or home office. Because rattan is light and relatively flexible it is most commonly used in furniture, chair covers, wall cladding, joinery and screening.

Rattan Interior Ideas Hospitality Interior Design


If you like stone you might also consider Terrazzo; a great way to give a new life to stone and produce significantly less waste. Terrazzo has been used in Italy since the 18th century to create enticing, textured floors. By utilizing mixed marble scraps, recycled glass chips and cement – terrazzo is crafted from the waste materials of other projects. These small particles are combined to create the unique terrazzo designs we see – leaving virtually nothing to waste. As environmentally-friendly architecture becomes more and more imperative, terrazzo’s durability and long-lastingness continue to be a huge advantage in today’s world. Today it can be found on tables, walls, floors and bathroom sinks, amongst other interior items.

Terrazzo interior design ideas

Polished Plaster

Interior rendering is growing in popularity. Achieving a concrete look that doesn’t have the environmental impacts a concrete wall does is truly amazing. The 4 finishes to look out for include Lime Wash, Tadelakt, Micro Cement and Clay Plaster. These amazing finishes can really enhance a space, bringing a softness and warmth unlike any other material. They are particularly impactful in a bathroom replacing the cold feel of tiles. These finishes are naturally made and non-allergenic. They contain no toxins or gases (no VOC’s) so are a great option to replace paint.

Rustic sustainable interior design hallway

Reclaimed wood

An obvious one and definitely one of the most popular options available. Reclaimed wood creates a sense of warmth and familiarity in a space. By using reclaimed wood, you not only reduce your footprint, you are also adding sustainability to your home. A lot of these repurposed pieces of wood have a real history to them such as railway sleepers and old warehouses. Rich in history and texture, reclaimed wood is one of our favourites.

Axel Vervoodt Interior Design Ideas


Beautifully crafted, undeniably fragile and effortlessly delicate, glass also happens to be endlessly recyclable. For centuries glass has been used in interiors to create decorative form and texture as seen in places of worship.Through recent years, glass has seen great development with endless types being used in interiors including frosted, etched, tinted, laminated and our personal favourite reeded. When trying to open up a space, glass is always a great option and is perfect for cabinets, walls, splash backs and furniture.

Sustainable materials for interior design glass

The Importance of Sustainability in Interior Design

Sustainability is not just a buzzword; it is crucial for the future of our planet. Interior design has a significant impact on the environment, from the extraction of raw materials to the energy consumption during manufacturing and the eventual disposal of products. By adopting sustainable materials, interior designers can minimize their ecological footprint and promote a healthier living environment for both present and future generations.

Additionally, sustainable design can contribute to enhancing the well-being of occupants. Studies have shown that incorporating sustainable elements in interior spaces, such as using natural light and non-toxic materials, can improve air quality, reduce stress levels, and increase productivity. Natural light, for example, not only reduces the need for artificial lighting but also provides a connection to the outdoors, creating a sense of harmony and well-being.

Use of Sustainable Materials 

Designers are taking into account life-cycle and the long-term environmental impact of the materials.  The impact is well thought throughout all phases of production and later disposal of used sustainable construction materials.

Growth of Sustainable Concept

Importance of sustainable materials today play a vital role in planning a project.  Architects and interior designers are working hard to make this concept spread all over the world.  With that said the sustainability is becoming an important path for all of us.

Global Environmental and Psychological Impact

Sustainable materials age together with us while becoming a significant part of our own history. Many stories to be told through the sustainable pieces in your home. It brings the power of doing good on the next level pivoting the mindset together with the life choices we make every day.

Materials that are good for you and the environment:

  • Recycled steel - eliminates the huge amount of energy, waste and emissions when extracting the iron ore, coal and limestone used for creating the material. For example, creating a steel can from recycled material uses 75% less energy than producing items from its raw).

  • Sheep's wool - it is a sustainable and quickly renewable resource.

  • Plant-Based Polyurethane Rigid Foam - it is manufactured from materials like kelp, hemp, and bamboo and it has its use in insulation and furniture.

  • Reclaimed wood - by using reclaimed wood you decrease the demand for new source.

  • Bamboo - it grows back quickly within only 3-5 years. It is 100% biodegradable, antibacterial and Eco-friendly if not chemically processed.

  • Hempcrete or Hemplime - combines hemp shiv, lime and water to create a concrete-like material that is strong, durable, flexible, breathable, mould-proof and fire resistant. Hempcrete homes are carbon-negative, they take more CO2 out of the atmosphere than put in during both construction and the lifetime of the building.

  • Cork - the cork tree is not cut down to obtain cork, only the bark is stripped to harvest the cork and the tree continues to grow.

  • Straw bales - take little energy to manufacture and it is a renewable material. Straw is used often as bedding.

  • Organic Cotton - it is grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides or other chemical fertilisers. It has a huge benefit to your health as well as the environment.

  • Felt - is a textile material that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing fibres together. It is a low-impact and completely biodegradable material. It has its use in  making drapes and furniture.

  • Jute - it grows quickly, between 4-6 months. It is an efficient source of renewable material similarly to bamboo - jute absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen much faster than trees (used often for rugs).

Furthermore, sustainable materials often have a lower carbon footprint compared to their conventional counterparts. For instance, using reclaimed wood instead of newly harvested timber reduces deforestation and carbon emissions associated with logging and transportation. By choosing sustainable materials, interior designers can contribute to mitigating climate change and preserving natural resources.

In conclusion, sustainable materials in interior design offer numerous benefits, from reducing environmental impact to promoting well-being. By incorporating these materials into their projects, interior designers can create spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also contribute to a more sustainable and harmonious future.

Comparing Normal and Sustainable Materials

Now that we understand the significance of sustainability, let's dive deeper into the world of materials and compare normal materials with sustainable alternatives to see why the latter is gaining popularity.

Normal materials, also known as conventional or traditional materials, are often mass-produced, use non-renewable resources, and may involve harmful manufacturing processes. They have been the go-to choice for many industries due to their affordability and availability. However, the environmental impact of these materials cannot be ignored. They may contribute to deforestation, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions, leading to long-term consequences for our planet.

On the other hand, sustainable materials are sourced responsibly, have a lower carbon footprint, and prioritize ecologically sound manufacturing practices. These materials are designed to minimize negative environmental impacts and support the well-being of both people and the planet. They encourage the use of renewable resources, reduce waste generation, and promote circular economy principles.

When evaluating the performance of sustainable materials, one common concern raised is their ability to match up to normal materials. However, the advancements in technology have led to the development of high-performance sustainable materials that can rival or even outperform their traditional counterparts. For example, engineered bamboo flooring offers superior durability and stability compared to hardwood flooring. This innovation not only provides a sustainable alternative but also ensures that quality and performance are not compromised.

Furthermore, many sustainable materials come with additional benefits beyond their environmental impact. They can be naturally resistant to pests, mold, and mildew, improving the longevity and maintenance requirements of interior design elements. By carefully selecting the right sustainable materials, designers can ensure that their projects are both eco-friendly and visually appealing, creating spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also contribute to a healthier environment.

It is important to note that the shift towards sustainable materials is not just a trend but a necessary step towards a more sustainable future. As consumers become more conscious of the impact their choices have on the environment, the demand for sustainable materials continues to grow. Industries are recognizing the need to adapt and embrace sustainable practices, not only to meet consumer demand but also to contribute to a greener and more sustainable world.

Future Trends in Sustainable Interior Design

The future of sustainable interior design holds immense promise, with developments and trends shaping the industry. Let's explore some of the predicted advancements in sustainable materials.

  1. Upcycling and Repurposing

Upcycling and repurposing have become increasingly popular in sustainable interior design. Instead of throwing away old or unused items, they are given new life by transforming them into something new and useful. For example, old wooden pallets can be transformed into stylish and functional furniture, and discarded glass bottles can be turned into decorative vases.

Upcycling involves taking an object and creatively transforming it into something of higher value and function, while repurposing involves using an object for a purpose other than its original intended use. Here are some examples of upcycling and repurposing.

  1. Natural and Sustainable Materials

Using natural and sustainable materials is another sustainable interior design trend that is gaining popularity. Natural materials like bamboo, cork, and hemp are not only eco-friendly but also aesthetically pleasing. They are renewable, biodegradable, and non-toxic, making them a great choice for homeowners who want to reduce their carbon footprint. Natural and sustainable materials are materials that are derived from renewable sources and have minimal negative impact on the environment. These materials are often preferred in sustainable interior design because they are biodegradable, non-toxic, and have a low carbon footprint.

  1. Energy-Efficient Lighting

Energy-efficient lighting is another trend that is becoming more popular in sustainable interior design. LED lights, for example, consume less energy and last longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. They also come in a variety of colors and can be used to create different moods and atmospheres in a room.

  1. Water-Saving Fixtures

Water-saving fixtures are another sustainable interior design trend that is becoming more popular. Low-flow toilets, showerheads, and faucets are all examples of water-saving fixtures that can help conserve water and reduce your utility bills. They are designed to use less water while still providing the same level of performance as traditional fixtures.

  1. Smart Home Technology

Smart home technology is an innovative way to make your home more sustainable. With smart thermostats, you can control the temperature of your home remotely and reduce your energy consumption. Smart lighting systems can also be controlled remotely, allowing you to turn off lights when they are not in use.

5.   Predicted Developments in Sustainable Materials

One area of ongoing research and development is bioplastics. These materials are made using renewable sources, such as corn or sugarcane, and offer a viable alternative to petroleum-based plastics.

Additionally, nanotechnology is being applied to create materials with enhanced properties. Nanomaterials can improve the strength, fire resistance, and self-cleaning capabilities of sustainable materials, expanding their range of applications.

The Role of Technology in Promoting Sustainable Design

AR and VR

Technology plays a crucial role in promoting sustainable interior design. Building information modeling (BIM) software allows designers to simulate and optimize energy performance, material efficiency, and waste reduction during the design phase.

Moreover, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies enable clients to visualize sustainable design concepts in real-time, fostering greater engagement and understanding of the potential benefits.

In conclusion, the use of sustainable materials in interior design not only benefits the environment but also enhances the well-being of occupants and offers economic advantages. While transitioning from normal to sustainable materials may present challenges, those can be overcome through research, collaboration, and effective communication. With a vast array of sustainable options available, interior designers can create beautiful spaces that prioritize sustainability without compromising on aesthetics or performance. As the industry continues to evolve, embracing technology and staying updated with future trends will be key to realizing the full potential of sustainable interior design.


Sustainable interior design is reshaping how we view and create our living spaces. It's a movement that transcends mere aesthetics, embedding eco-consciousness into the heart of our homes. From biophilic designs and sustainable materials to vintage upcycling, energy efficiency, local craftsmanship, and circular economy principles, these trends are defining a new era of interior design where sustainability and style go hand in hand.

This shift towards eco-friendly interiors is not just about individual choices; it's a social movement towards a more sustainable future. By embracing these trends, homeowners improve their living spaces and contribute to a healthier planet. This commitment to sustainability extends beyond interior design into real estate practices like having an executor sell your home or participating in a buy-before-you-sell program, showcasing a holistic approach to sustainable living.

In conclusion, as we continue to explore and adopt these sustainable interior design trends, we are paving the way for a future where our homes are visually appealing and environmentally responsible. This journey towards sustainable living is not just about creating beautiful spaces; it's about making choices that positively impact our world, reflecting our commitment to preserving the planet for future generations

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