Vintage Décor: The Eco-Friendly Choice December 29 2014
Many household items of the past were made to last multiple lifetimes and why shouldn't one of those lives be spent in your home. By shopping at garage sales, estate sales and antique fairs, you are choosing to reuse and recycle the distinctive furnishings and accessories of the past, saving them from the dreaded landfill. Mixing a collection of fabulous found items and new sustainable furnishings, can make your home a real unique expression of your personality and life that also helps the world around you. Stylish responsibility gives these items a new life and makes them a part of your home.
Choosing vintage and antique furniture can have very positive effect on the environment; it not only saves landfill space, but also saves trees and gives beautiful old wood a longer life. A majority of fine old growth hardwood has already been deforested and turned into furniture decades ago so refurbishing irreplaceable old pieces is a responsible substitute for continuing to destroy any more mature hardwood trees in endangered forests.
Reusing old items also reduces your personal carbon footprint while potentially saving some cash and making your home a bit cooler — not to mention, old stuff is better quality stuff. Objects produced in an era when everyone had a tool kit means it was built to last through a few dents and scratches. Making repairs on things around the house was a way of life for previous generations. Owning something you can easily maintain is a step in an eco-friendly direction since it is always the green choice to repair what you have rather than throwing things away just because they broke.
Buying Vintage Furniture
Vintage and antique furniture are excellent eco-friendly choices to can make when furnishing a home. There are no strict, steadfast definitions for when furniture becomes vintage; some say anything “old” is vintage while others argue that objects must be at least 20 years old. Antique furniture is technically anything that is 100 years old or more. The prevalent mindset is that antique furniture it that made around the turn of the 20th century and before. Whether it is vintage or antique, if it is old it is not creating any additional energy or water costs related to manufacturing and is, therefore, an eco-friendly choice.
If you choose vintage or antique furniture, keep the following in mind:
- For safety, cribs and children’s furniture should meet current safety standards.
- Painted furniture made before 1978 might contain lead. Lead paint is a problem if it is chipping off; a sealant can be used but doing so may affect the appearance and the value of the item. If there are small children around, it may be wise to think twice about these pieces until the children are older. Antiques from the 19th century and earlier are most likely safe.
- Refinishing and restoring antique furniture is best left to experts and a when repainting 20th-century pieces the wisest approach is to assume that all paint contains lead, and the appropriate precautions should be taken.
Call it salvage-chic or dumpster-chic but creatively reusing or redesigning everyday household objects for entirely different purposes is a great way to update furniture and accessories into truly one-of-a-kind items. Creatively giving new life to old items can also reduce the amount of material in landfills; according to the American Society of Interior Designers, 90% of everything made in the United States ends up in landfills within a year of production.