5 Ways to Incorporate Nature into Your Home

Home décor often focuses heavily on the latest and greatest trends. But even the most well decorated home can feel like it’s missing a natural element. Here are five simple ways you can incorporate nature into your home to make it feel more connected to the environment it inhabits.

5 Ways to Incorporate Nature into Your Home

1. Natural Light

Natural light has the power to breathe new life into your home. Place your furniture in your living room and/or dining room to make your get-togethers feel more connected to the outdoors and orient your workspace in your home office near a window to stay productive throughout the workday. By finding ways to let the sunshine in, your home will feel refreshed and lighter. Fortunately, this doesn’t require a heavy investment. Try sheer curtains or new blinds wherever your home’s large windows are. This will help to balance the light in the larger spaces around your home, so you don’t have to rely on artificial light sources.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: TomMerton

 

2. Hardwood Floors / Wood Accents

To truly feel a connection to nature throughout your home, you’ve got to work from the ground up. Making the switch to hardwood floors will significantly impact the look and feel of your home, given the large surface area of such a project. A job of this scale is likely to require the help of a professional, and you may have to find a temporary housing solution while the remodel is being carried out. But you don’t have to go to great lengths to incorporate wood into your home.

Wood accents can deliver much of the same feeling. Experiment with different combinations of driftwood, bamboo, sculptures, and signage throughout various rooms to keep your home thematically consistent.

 

A living room with hardwood floors and various wood accents.

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: Scovad

 

3. Organic Materials

Materials like stone, marble, and fabrics will not only help to incorporate nature into your home but will make it feel relaxing and cozy as well. A small collection of rocks or stone pebbles with trickling water in the bathroom work every time to evoke a natural tranquility. Stone or marble tile designs and/or backsplashes help to ground a space by providing an earthy foundation. Natural fibers like wool, cotton, and linen can be sprinkled throughout a home to deliver warmth and comfort while reinforcing a natural theme.

 

A modern bathroom with a marble backsplash.

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: LumiNola

 

4. Decorating with Houseplants

Sometimes you don’t have to replicate nature to make your home feel more natural. You’ll be amazed at how refreshed the spaces feel by decorating with houseplants. However, there are certain rules you’ll want to follow when creating your own personal indoor ecosystem. Research the needs of each plant variety you’re interested in buying before making your final purchases. This will allow you to orient them appropriately throughout your home based on their sunlight needs. Plants that can survive with less sunlight are well suited for the darker corners of your home. If you’re not home often to tend to your plants, consider low maintenance varieties like succulents. Houseplants will add color to your home and improve the air quality while they’re at it. 

 

A man sprays water on the leaves of his houseplants.

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: svetikd

 

5. Decorate with Earth Tones

All the aforementioned ways of incorporating nature into your home—natural light, wood accents, organic materials, houseplants—have a signature color palette. Once you’ve decided how these categories can fit into your home, you can decorate around them with complimentary colors.

Fortunately, you won’t be limited for choice. Earth tones run from darker, rich colors like brown and rust to lighter, vibrant colors like light green and sunlight yellow. The use of these colors can be carried out in your remaining accent pieces, such as towels, carpets, pillows, and more.

 

A living room decorated with earth tones.

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: CreativaStudio

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5 Ways to Create a Sustainable Kitchen

In many ways, the kitchen is the heart of a home. All the time spent making delicious food, sharing recipes, and enjoying meals with loved ones gives it a central role in home life. A consequence of the time spent in the kitchen is the creation of waste. But by adopting more sustainable practices in the kitchen, you can reduce waste and make your home more eco-friendly. Here are five ways you can create a sustainable kitchen.

5 Ways to Create a Sustainable Kitchen

1. Cut Down on Food Waste

It’s no secret that a certain portion of food always seems to go to waste, but how can you avoid throwing away perfectly edible food items? It starts with being intentional about your grocery shopping. This helps to prevent overbuying and will give you a better chance of cutting down your food waste. Food preservation is key, as well. Invest in high-quality, reusable containers to prevent food from rotting, wilting, or expiring before you intend to cook it.

2. Choose Energy-Efficient Appliances

Kitchen appliances generate a significant amount of power. By using an energy-efficient refrigerator, freezer, and/or dishwasher, you can reduce the overall energy consumption of your household. When deciding on which appliance to purchase, the most sustainable choice you can make is the one you plan on sticking with for a long time. When deciding on a gas versus an electric range, know the pros and cons of each option before making a final decision.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: Pekic

 

3. Reusable Materials

Getting more uses out of the items in your kitchen will help make your household more environmentally conscious. Reusable kitchen towels are an eco-friendly replacement for paper towels when you’re cooking, wiping down your counters, or doing dishes. Using reusable grocery bags is an effective way to transport groceries sustainably. It will also help keep your kitchen organized by avoiding a plastic or paper bag pile-up under your sink. This line of reusable thinking in the kitchen can even extend to design. If you’re looking to give your kitchen a makeover while keeping sustainability in mind, consider incorporating reclaimed wood, sustainably-sourced countertops, or natural materials like bamboo. 

4. Use Natural or Organic Cleaning Products

Creating a sustainable kitchen isn’t just about reducing food waste and choosing reusable materials. By using organic and/or natural cleaning products, you can ensure that your cleaning practices are sustainable as well. Using natural cleaners, like baking soda and vinegar, can also create less waste when you repurpose jars and bottles to create your preferred solution. Buy ingredients in bulk, then re-purpose old spray bottles and use towels instead of paper products to clean. Certain conventional cleaning products with synthetic chemicals can negatively impact the air quality in your home, which can have harmful effects on your health, especially if you have respiratory sensitivities.

5. Be Mindful About Water Usage

Neglecting to monitor your water usage is a slippery slope. Not only will using too much water increase the overall waste output of your home, but it will also increase your water bill. Be mindful about using only the required amount of water for cooking, do your best to avoid leaving the faucet running, and if there is a drip, fix it as quickly as you can. Using too much water can also strain your home’s water systems, putting your pipes at risk of bursting. Tempering your water usage can help to prevent water damage and the high costs that come with it.

Going zero waste doesn’t have to be expensive. Try first to extend the life of the things you already have like plastic bottles and textiles. For more information on how you can adopt sustainable practices at home, read our guide to going low-to-zero waste:

A Guide to Going Low-to-Zero Waste

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8 Tips for a More Energy Efficient Home

Whether they are motivated by rising energy costs or a desire to cultivate a more sustainable home, homeowners are constantly searching for ways they can go green, reduce their home’s energy waste, and save money in the process. Here are some simple methods for a more energy-efficient home.

 

1. Determine Your Energy Output

A natural first step in your energy-efficient journey is to get a gauge of how much energy your home is currently using and where it is being used. Analyze your recent bills to get a picture of your home’s energy consumption and the habits that are tied to that level of usage. From there, you can determine what kinds of cutbacks can be made to save energy. You might also consider hiring a professional energy auditor to fully inspect your home’s energy practices and identify where there’s room for improvement.

 

2. Laundry Room Best Practices

Adjusting your methods in the laundry room is an easy way to make an impact on your home’s energy output. When it’s sunny, air-dry your clothes to save energy. Most of the energy consumption generated by doing laundry comes from the heating of the water, so use cold water when possible. Wait until you have a full load before running the washer to maximize your laundry room’s efficiency.

 

3. Install Energy-Efficient Lighting

Replacing incandescent lights with newer, more energy-efficient options is a productive step towards reducing your home’s energy waste. A change of lightbulbs is a relatively cheap solution compared to more expensive energy-saving methods like replacing appliances. Because energy-efficient lightbulbs use less energy than standard bulbs, they commonly last much longer as well.

 

4. Check Your Windows

Excessive air conditioning and heating are often the culprits behind wasteful energy practices. Weatherstripping and caulking your windows help to regulate the flow of air, keeping your home warmer in the colder months and cooler in the hotter months. Old, drafty windows let in air that can increase your home’s energy usage, regardless of the season. The upfront investment in purchasing new windows will pay off in the long run and will help to reduce energy waste.

 

5. Check Your HVAC Unit

A fine-tuned HVAC system is critical to making your home as energy efficient as it can be. Maintenance of your HVAC unit periodically to make sure it’s running in tip–top shape and to avoid replacements, which can be quite expensive. The cleaner your HVAC filters, the more efficiently they can run. The filters should be swapped out a maximum of every three months, more often if you use it year-round or if you have pets at home.

 

6. Insulate Your Home

A well-insulated home can deliver significant savings on heating and cooling costs. Walls and windows are common areas where air can escape, but so are pipes and ducts. Wrapping all these areas in insulation will pave the way for saving energy throughout the house.

 

7. Turn Down Your Thermostat

Turning down your thermostat is an effective method of reducing energy consumption. Even lowering it by one degree will lower your furnace’s energy output and can make a difference in your home’s overall energy efficiency. Remember to clean your furnace filter often. A clean filter will allow your home’s heating system to run more efficiently and cost-effectively.

 

8. Set Energy Efficiency Goals

Once you’ve begun to implement some of these strategies to make your home more energy-efficient, you’ll discover new ways to reduce your home’s energy waste while saving money. Set goals for your home’s overall energy output in a given month or set a target number you’d like to see on your next energy bill. Track your home’s progress in energy efficiency and the savings you’ve generated over time to see the difference you’ve made.

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