To Buy or Not to Buy?
Besides the obvious financial factor in this decision, you might already have exactly what you need. Start by rearranging your room. This will soon identify that you have too much stuff for it to look the way you want it. Use willpower before adding further brick-a-brack.
If it is simply time for a change, get creative. For large furniture, take it down to size. Turn a table into shelves, a door into a table, or organize your closet with an old cabinet. Rearrange, rework, remake, reupholster. If you want to change the colour of your room, paint furniture and accessories to give it a cohesive look. If your textiles need some coordination, try dying a slip cover, duvet, bathroom towels or even curtains.
Caution: be prepared for happy accidents. If it just has to go, organize a clothing swap among friends to breathe some new life into your old drawers.
Where to Buy?
Consider buying used before new. It can often be more rewarding than bringing home those factory fresh goods. Although you don’t get the satisfaction of breathing in the chemical off-gassing of newly processed materials, you are likely to add some character to your room by finding something completely unique and unexpected.
When renovating, try calling a reconditioned building supplier for an assortment of materials and fixtures. And hey, if you need that special something to complete your new boudoir bathroom, this might be your only option for finding a pink toilet.
Another overlooked option for home décor is eBay. Never underestimate the power of eBay. Furniture, lighting, wallpaper, whatever, it is a virtual encyclopedia of everyday items and coveted collectables. Once again, exercise willpower. eBay is also a great research tool for finding out whether your stuff actually has value, which may prevent unnecessary and premature disposal.
When the time is right to buy new, consider purchasing locally-made goods. There is an abundance of trendy local designers in any city that offer competitively priced merchandise. This option offers the opportunity to specify custom orders so you get exactly what you want, resulting in greater satisfaction and product longevity. Another advantage comes from knowing that what you buy has been manufactured under your countries own environmental standards and working conditions. Local production also reduces the use of fossil fuels for shipping long distances, particularly for bulky goods.
If purchasing foreign made goods, do a little background research. Some countries obviously have higher environmental standards than others, but if they practice an ethical approach, it will often be proportional to how much, how detailed, and how accessible the information is.
What to Buy?
The early modernists began designing products for mass production with form and function in mind. Modern designs use a minimal and economical approach to materials. SUV’s and big screen TV’s aside, gone are the days of bulky mid-century extravagance. These designs celebrate excess consumption.
Less waste results from extending the working life of a product. Good style is one attribute, but universally designed products will appeal to many different tastes as well as a diverse group of users. Multifunctional designs, such as merging seating and storage, can be space efficient and prevent the need for separate and specialized items. Modular designs also fit into this category by offering different configurations for a customized range of use.
Buy products made from natural materials and fibers such as wood, textiles, and composites made with natural adhesives. Purchasing furnishings made with certified wood ensures they are coming from sustainably harvested forests. Appreciate the beauty of natural materials and avoid synthetic decorative finishes with excessive ornamentation. Product components made from glass, steel, copper, or aluminum can be recycled relatively efficiently compared to their intensive raw processing and retrieval costs.
And finally, continue the recycling process by supporting the purchase of products from green companies that incorporate recycled material. Look for products that can be deconstructed into separate material components to facilitate responsible disposal. With a little thought and effort, you can tailor your own sensible habitat. And remember, good design stands the test of time.