It is wonderful to write for Secondsguru once again. For those of you who do not remember, I have penned few articles for Secondsguru- my eco-friendly lifestyle experiences really. These were on Setting up an eco-kitchen from scratch, Running an eco kitchen and My big fat green wedding.
Today 6 months, countless business trips and deadlines later, I have finally set up the living room and rest of our new home- to my satisfaction. This is the journey I am taking you on today. When I started looking for the right furniture and home décor, the first thing I went through was this really confusing phase when all the glittery and shiny but plastic décor items lured me to buy them. On the other hand, there was this long-standing itch to go all green when I set up my own house. I knew it was time for me to choose between the two. Of course, I settled for the latter.
Off I went in search of handmade, eco-friendly items. Hubby turned into furniture buyer and his first question in every showroom was “Does your company have a re-forestation initiative for every wooden item you sell?” Well, it baffled some. Made some laugh. And then there were those who happily showed us their policy booklet and quoted how much percentage of the sale goes to re-forestation. For less sturdy needs, we went for engineered wood and recycled cottage industry products.
At the end of it all, my living room looked like a mix-n-match of traditional and modern patterns, albeit all eco-friendly items. Then came the décor bit. I decided upon all glass, terracotta, ceramic and wooden pieces. But that didn’t seem to be enough. So I took up some interesting DIY projects. Psst… even used up my furniture packaging in them!!
Let’s start the dime tour. Shall we?!
First thing first..This small basket on the door is for my newspaper. And guess what it is made of? Cereal box, some old newspapers & braided wool for the handle. Instructions here.
Then comes the foyer. I got these wooden cubes from an old board game. Clubbed it with a terracotta Buddha and wooden aroma sticks. The mirror you see is from the same furniture shop as the rack. Both made from engineered wood. To these, I added a ceramic lamp shade to create a serene theme near the entrance.
For the tabletop décor, I went with a terracotta vessel to float seasonal flowers and tea light candles. Throw in a couple of aroma oil dispensers and the look goes perfectly well together. The living room area was a tough one as we wanted several levels. Thanks to the fabric couch we found, the place now looks cozy with a parade of patterned cushions. My husband and I really wanted a bean bag for our new home. As leather or foam was out of the question, a raw textured cotton was our pick. For the filling, we decided to add shredded old t-shirts along with the beans. Trust me the shredding part was super fun! For a coffee table seating, we got woven jute rope stools from the local craft market. I intend to hand make one of these cute floor mats using pre-loved t-shirts in my house. Watch this space for that story! Heading over to the dining area now. Here, I opted for the bamboo table mats and heat mats made of twisted cotton rope. Added a glass bowl full of potpourri and I love it. Oh, are you wondering about the motif on the wall? That’s just a sheet of packaging material with a patterned craft paper wrapped around it. You can keep it as-is or use it as a cork board to pin up your pics & to-do lists. In fact, we are thinking of making it into a storyboard of our travels with stories and pictures to go.
Let’s go to my favorite part of the house… “The lounge area”. Got this bench along with the dining table, but decided to use it for a leisurely afternoon reading/board games instead. So, I have kept it in the best lit part of the house along with a ladder shelf to keep my favourite pieces. A wooden globe, a couple of glass bottles and candle holders. The orbs you see are again a mesh I made with glue & leftover wool. Here is an easy guide on how to do it yourself. The orb holders? Well, those are Pringle boxes. And Yellow vase is a soft drink bottle with threads around it. Now the most visible part of the décor in any home..Wall hangings.
-I created a few oils on canvas pieces myself. For the more crafty readers, I suggest going for stamping and monochrome pictures of family members. I spotted these super easy to do, yet gorgeous to look at ideas here. Just make sure to get wooden frames instead of fibre/plastic based ones. This gives a real retro look to your place.
-On my balcony, I added some tin hanging pots with my favourite herbs. Works as both décor and kitchen garden. You will find turmeric, ginger, aloe vera, basil, lemon grass in my sweet li’l haven. Throw in some flowering plants, pebbles and the look is complete. I also added here, a faux window from a Styrofoam case that came with my TV packaging. The next step will be to make it a plant creeper frame(currently work in progress). For now, I’m happy with cardboard cutouts of stars ‘n’ fairy lights.
Want to know where to source eco-friendly furniture & décor items in Singapore?
Are you open to jazz up your home with pre-loved wares? If yes there is a wide range of alternatives. To start off with, check out social networks such as condo notice boards, or Facebook groups (East Coast Preloved Sales, Free loved furniture are some of the active groups). Then there is the ubiquitous [and much useful] online marketplace Carousell– it is super easy to transact via their App on iPhone and Andriod, so do scan the furniture/ home decor used goods section on it. Second-hand seller Hock Siong is another option – follow them on Facebook for regular updates on new used furniture in the store. Have specific requirements? Just send an email on firstname.lastname@example.org, or chat up with them on Facebook along with your budget (if any).
If you have exhausted the pre-loved furniture options, and are still unable to find the right piece you had in mind, or can’t wait to set up your home, there are few eco-friendly furniture stores in Singapore you can turn to. Secondsguru loves two brands in particular- Journey East [Located at 315 Outram Road, #03-02, Tan Boon Liat Building, Singapore 169074] and Mountain Teak [Located at 315 Outram Road, #07-02,Tan Boon Liat Building, Singapore 169074]. Click the links to know more about their brand ethos and how being environmentally friendly is a core value for them both. Additionally, some of the other local brands carry sustainably produced and environmentally conscious ranges too. How does one know whether these claims are indeed true though? The best strategy is to look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, a worldwide independent, non-governmental, non-profit organization that seeks to ensure responsible management of the world’s forests. This organization guarantees that products carrying the FSC label originate from forests that are managed in a way to meet the social, economic and ecological needs of present and future generations.
I really had a blast doing up my home. Sigh. Need to find a new project to keep myself busy now!
Padmalaya Mallick is a Business Consultant at Deloitte on weekdays. She is an avid bibliophile, a rather moody writer and painter during weekends but
– more importantly, a traveller and day-dreamer! Her love for nature comes from her dad, who she credits with teaching her everything she knows about urban farming & recycling. Padmalaya aspires to change people’s perception that going green is drab. In fact, she wants to show the world how amazingly elegant ‘eco-friendly lifestyle’ can become.
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