A quickly growing segment of the interior design industry is rethinking it’s supply chain and making shifts towards more sustainable and ethical practices. Ami McKay, the owner of Vancouver based PURE Design, has built her company with a focus on sustainable interior design. Her vision is to create a positive environmental and social impact. The design industry starts with you, and includes engineers, architects, designers, suppliers, builders, artisans and craftspeople. We can all ask questions, look for alternatives, and make choices. The goal is to have beautiful, healthy homes that are in harmony with the environment and here are some of our top tips to attain that!

Upcycle and Repurpose

Try to sell or donate items you are ready to part with that still have life in them. Buy preloved furniture for its character. Aged leather and wood have a patina that becomes more beautiful over time. Perhaps you found a gem during the demolition phase of your project that could be repurposed? Try a new finish on old doors, or a German schmear (overgrouting) on a tired brick hearth. A beloved dresser could be used for a bathroom vanity, and an old trunk as a table (and storage). Vintage textiles can be used for cushions, and vintage carpets add a magical touch. There are many creative ways to have pieces you love incorporated into new designs. Plus, that makes less waste!

Upcycled Bathroom Vanity Sustainable Interior Design Vancouver

Shop Local Vintage

Most cities and towns have vintage furniture and antique shops. Grab a coffee and ask your local dealer what their favourite pieces are. Craftsmanship and history tell a story. Craigslist and Marketplace are good local sources. For high end furniture options, also check out Chairish and 1st Dibs.

A vintage rug is upcycled as a stair runner

Natural Fibers

Choose natural fibers, such as organic cotton, linen (it doesn’t require pesticides) ethical wool, and tencel from renewable forests. More and more companies are making healthier choices for their products, and will provide certifications. Natural fibres are better for the longevity of the planet as they don’t shed microfibres like synthetic options do. In addition, natural fibres have a gorgeous hand and age beautifully. When making furniture choices, consider natural latex, and wood from sustainable forests (FSC certified). Reclaimed wood is a beautiful option for furniture, and often smaller local carpenters will use this option.

A sofa and pillows using healthy natural fibers

Non Toxic and Sustainable Choices

When renovating, there are more options for non-toxic building practices. Ask questions! The more we ask for alternatives, the more the word spreads that there is a demand for environmentally friendly design. Your designer can specify non formaldehyde emitting millwork, with low off-gassing. There are new and exciting advancements with insulation, flooring, roofing, windows, energy efficiency, and the list goes on. Environmentally friendlier materials include cement, glass, stone, recycled steel, and sustainable wood. Choose non-toxic sealers and paint, they are better for your family and for the environment. Do some homework, you have more power than you think you do! We can all make a difference.

Vintage dresser and ethical artisan goods

Invest in Heirloom Pieces

When building new furniture, invest in pieces that will last a lifetime, and have a say in how they are made. Support local companies that believe in reducing their environmental footprint such as a Vancouver’s Lock and Mortice. Our own PURE Shoppe stocks beautiful artisan goods from all over the globe that have been made sustainably and ethically.

Get Involved, Do Some Research, Get Excited About Change

The effort it takes to make change can be overwhelming but start with tiny steps. Each question and piece of information we gather helps to create a new vocabulary and knowledge bank that we can draw from when working on our homes. There are alternatives out there with more being created every day, and by asking questions you show the industry that change for the better is important to you.