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6 questions to answer before you buy ecofriendly furniture

One of the best principles to keep in mind if you are trying to create a greener home is to choose fewer, but higher-quality and longer-lasting, furnishings and products you love. Even when it comes to sustainably harvested wood and ecofriendly materials, more new stuff still means using more resources, and furniture that may seem a bargain could end up costing you and the earth more in the long run if it simply ends up in a landfill.

Related: More on Ecofriendly Furniture

On the other hand, by limiting your purchases to well-made pieces that will last a lifetime and cutting down on “disposable” furniture purchases you know won’t last more than a few years, you can have a more beautiful home and help conserve the planet’s precious resources at the same time. The six questions below will help guide you toward a greener home.

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Griffin Enright Architects, original photo on Houzz

1. Is it important to you? Rethink your rooms and belongings based on how you really live, and you will find your dollar stretching further and your home becoming more aligned with your lifestyle. For instance, there is no need to invest in a formal dining room and all it entails — chandelier, oversize table, fancy chairs, sideboard and so on — if you never throw dinner parties and your family always prefers to eat in the kitchen. A cushy library with just one perfect chair, a fireplace and all of your most cherished books at your fingertips may be much more suited to your life.

Punchlist1 Capoferro Design Build Group, original photo on Houzz

2. Do you really need it? Less furniture and fewer knickknacks means less to clean, less upkeep and generally a simpler and easier day-to-day existence. Minimalism and modern furniture often go hand in hand, but even if your style is traditional, that doesn’t mean you can’t also pare down a bit.

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Valerie Wills Interiors, original photo on Houzz

3. Is it versatile? By choosing highly versatile, classic furnishings you can increase the likelihood you will be able to use a piece even if you move or your tastes change.

Some versatile furnishing ideas to consider:

● Smaller-scale pieces tend to be more versatile than large ones. For instance, a settee can be used as a couch, but it can also work in an entryway or pulled up to a dining table.
● Stools and ottomans can be called into service as tables, footrests or extra seating.
● Lovely little dressers can be used for kids, grownups or even in the living room with a bar on top.
● A daybed can be comfy seating in the nursery now and a bed for your child later.

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Studio William Hefner, original photo on Houzz

4. Is it your style? Just because a magazine is touting black walls and antlers as the latest thing does not mean you should follow suit if it’s not your taste. You know what you like, so just go with it. If you are going to make a major purchase, it should only be for something you truly, madly, deeply love.

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 Retro Comedor, original photo on Houzz

5. Is it a smart investment? The glorious thing about purchasing an iconic designer piece is that, unlike most new furniture, it will hold (or even increase) its value over time. That said, there is no point in purchasing an expensive piece of designer furniture unless you truly adore it and can afford it.

Also bear in mind that upholstered and delicate pieces might not wear as well over the years, and you might be faced with costly repairs or reupholstering bills. “Hard” furnishings made from metal, molded plastic and wood are a safer bet.

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GPPhotographers, original photo on Houzz

6. Can you live with a smaller footprint? You may not be ready to swap your comfy home for something quite this small (if you are, go for it!), but even a slight downsizing can significantly cut down on your energy bills and upkeep. The beauty of living in a really small space is that once you bring your overall costs down, it can be easier to allocate some funds toward furnishings and finishes that you love.

Concerned about going smaller? You may not need as much space as you think, just a smarter space. A small home that is open, with good flow and proper furniture placement can actually feel larger than its square footage suggests, so it’s possible you just haven’t toured the right space for you.

You can also use built-ins and special architectural features to make the most of your space. Before you decide to move to a bigger home, think about what you could do to renovate your current space to make it work. There are many ingenious solutions out there if you only look.

Working with a good architect to upgrade your existing home could prove to be more rewarding and cost effective than moving.

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