Mother Earth has shifted gear and we need to adapt. The age of excess and overconsumption is moving over to embrace a more earthy aesthetic. Natural textures and upcycled materials are rapidly becoming a design trend unto their own as we all seek to achieve a more eco-friendly future. Builders, interior designers and renovators are increasingly sourcing more robust and sustainable choices to accommodate this shift of priorities. We’ve got plenty of natural and upcycled design ideas to bring the earthy look into your interiors.
1 Embrace a neutral palette
2 Select sustainable and recycled materials
3 Use natural textures like leather, cotton and seagrass
4 Amplify natural stone and timber floors
5 Upcycle old pieces of furniture or vintage finds
6 Incorporate plenty of indoor plants
One of the reasons why we love the natural look so much is our innate connection with the outdoors. Mother Nature is filled with shades of forest green, sky blue and soothing hues of snow white, timber, mushroom and earth. The colour scheme of your interior has an incredible impact on your mood and the ambience. If you’re looking to paint, consider sticking with an earthy theme of tones, like the Dulux ‘Grounded’ or ‘Cultivate’ palette.
You don’t have to paint, however, to get the natural look. Accessories like cushions, throws, artworks and lampshades in vanilla, caramel and beige can create the natural effect instantly, while leafy green prints, animals and ocean scenes also have an earthy effect.
Wherever possible, go for recycled or reclaimed timbers, which are incredibly robust and obviously more eco-friendly. “The Dawson range is one of our favourite collections and boasts a chic textured grain,” says Donna, the National Visual Merchandiser for Early Settler. “It’s environmentally friendly as it’s made from recycled timber, yet it’s also stylish and still has a natural vibe. It can fit in almost any interior.”
Choosing sustainable timber is also a great option. ‘Sustainable’ wood comes from sustainably manage forests, which is preferable to old-school logging as the land is managed to prevent damage to the eco-systems. Sustainable forests are composed of fast-growing trees like bamboo, mango and pine.
Why we love mango wood
Mango timber is a hardwood with a dense grain, so it’s very strong. Yet unlike traditional hardwood, it’s more affordable as it grows prolifically in tropical locations around the world. It’s also very sustainable as it’s a by-product of an already thriving industry: sweet, delicious mango fruit.
Natural materials like cotton and linen in neutral hues also work to amplify an organic-like ambience in interiors. “I like the Slouch sofa because it’s family friendly and there’s room for everyone — even the dog!” says Donna. “It can have modules added or removed to fit the size of the room and it’s made from canvas, which continues to look good with age but is also soft to curl up on.”
Top it with lots of cushions and throws with a natural aesthetic or incorporate vibrant pops of colour with bright florals or jungle leaf cushions.
Upcycling is a trend that’s truly gained momentum in recent years, as it’s part of the natural movement. In a nutshell, it means taking an old piece of furniture or vintage find and giving it a new lease of life. Consider, for instance, sanding back some old chairs and repainting them in a shade of tranquil sea blue. Or give your coffee table a facelift with a vibrant tiled mosaic. The opportunities for reinventing furniture and décor are endless for those who love a good crafting project.
You could also add the look without the elbow grease by adding a few premade accessories to your interior. “We love upcycling,” says Donna. “At Early Settler, we have furniture made from recycled materials — made in India — that are repurposed, as well as outdoor cushions made from recycled plastic bottles.”
A key component of the natural trend is the need for plenty of natural light. Open-plan designs with tall windows and glass doors framing the trees and sky beyond help to harness the one-with-nature atmosphere. Or use sheer curtains to create privacy without blocking the light. Tie your spaces together with plenty of indoor plants to really bring the outdoors inside.