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Creating Green Living: The Lounge

Modern buyers are seeking eco-conscious homes. Explore these green living room ideas that extend beyond the basics of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’.

It’s clear: Today’s clients and communities are showing a growing interest in sustainability. In a survey conducted in 2022, 63% of real estate professionals acknowledged the value of mentioning energy efficiency in listings. A Zillow report from the same year also revealed that eco-friendly homes tend to sell faster.

The presence of green features significantly enhances a home’s marketability. Real estate professionals can play a crucial role in educating sellers on how to highlight a property’s sustainability aspects. By showcasing eco-friendly features, particularly those that contribute to lower utility costs, agents can help buyers recognize the value of a property.

Enhancing the sustainability of an entire building might seem daunting, but why not start with one room at a time? Below, Brooke Moore, an interior designer at Freemodel, a California-based presale home renovation company, shares insights on creating a sustainable living room design.

Sustainable Living Room Design

What makes a room sustainable? A combination of several factors, from recycled objects to furnishings made from sustainable materials such as bamboo, reclaimed wood or organic cotton.

Here are Moore’s tips for designing a living room with sustainability in mind:

Shop Secondhand

At one point, shopping secondhand came with a stigma. Now? It’s recycling and reusing at their chicest. From antique pine bookshelves to vintage curved sectional sofas, secondhand furniture adds a one-of-a-kind design flair that is also sustainable.

“Whether it is shopping at an antique store, vintage shop or estate sale, you can find some amazing pieces,” says Moore. “Not only is it sustainable because it is secondhand, but usually things that were made a while ago were more sustainable due to the time period they were created [in].”

In today’s world of mass production, furniture is often more cheaply made and has a much shorter lifespan than in decades past. More than 12 million tons of furniture and furnishings waste were produced in 2018 alone—and about 18 percent of that waste ended up in landfills or disposal centers, according to Environmental Protection Agency data(link is external). Buying pre-owned helps homeowners get great quality items without contributing to the waste problem.

Choose Retailers Wisely

Vintage furniture is great, but what about living room items like sofa blankets and throw pillows? Or what if a client prefers to buy new?

“Shop at retailers that are committed to sustainability standards,” Moore says. “A company that is committed to sustainability means they are taking steps towards reducing their carbon footprint by taking steps like partnering with resources that are also committed to sustainability.”

One of the best ways to furnish and decorate a living room sustainably is to buy items with third-party stamps of sustainability approval. Here are a few:

Restyle Existing Pieces

“Taking an old piece of furniture you already have but that you don’t love and turning it into something you do is not only sustainable but can be so fun and rewarding to create,” Moore says. “Think of new paint or hardware, restaining, restyling, etcetera.”

For example, Moore has a living room side table that is the perfect size for her space. The problem is that the glass-top aesthetic no longer fits her style. So, she plans to cut scrap stone into the correct dimensions to replace the glass with natural stone.

Renovate with Sustainable Materials

Do you know a client who is renovating before listing? Or perhaps a buyer loves most of a listing but wants ideas for renovating the main living space? Renovations are the perfect time to incorporate more sustainable materials into the room design.

For eco-friendly living room flooring, consider reclaimed woodbamboo, or cork beneath a large recycled cotton rug.

For eco-friendly living room wall treatments, try reclaimed wood bark panels or sisal grasscloth wallpaper.

For eco-friendly living room textiles, opt for fabrics made with natural fibers such as wool, silk, or organic cotton.

Consider a Pellet Stove

Fireplaces are often chosen for aesthetic reasons, but some owners also use living room fireplaces as a heat source in winter. Clients interested in the most sustainable solution should check out Pellet Fuel Institute’s fuel costs calculator(link is external) (a resource recommended by the EPA(link is external)). As of January 2024, air-dried hardwood is the most cost-efficient fuel. But wood pellets—an eco-friendly solution because the pellets are made from recycled pallets—come in at a close second.

Opt for Energy-efficient Electronics and Lighting

Energy efficiency is a hot topic these days. Buyers want accurate monthly estimates of what they’ll pay, including utility bills. When considering energy efficiency, you might imagine the kitchen and bathroom first. But living spaces also offer an opportunity for energy efficiency. Even televisions can have Energy Star certification(link is external).

Whenever possible, highlight the energy efficiency of lighting and built-in electronics in your listings. According to the Department of Energy, switching to LED lightbulbs saves households an average of $225 per year.

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