Natural materials are taking over local dwellings with sustainable style.
By Ashley Probst
As consumers continue to call for eco-conscious practices, it makes sense that this sustainable approach would make its way into the place where we spend the most time: our homes.
Genevieve Chambliss, owner of Newport Beach-based interior design studio Vieve Interiors, speculates that this increase of interest is based on more visibility, availability and a collective shift in our sociability.
“We’re spending so much more time in our house,” she notes. “… [People are] being a little bit more conscious about the things that we’re putting around us that we have to look at, touch [and] use every day.”
One of the biggest trends that interior designers like Chambliss have seen are homeowners who are moving away from synthetics and instead opting for natural materials and fabrics like bamboo, cork, cotton or rattan.
“I think that natural materials have always been a big draw in the beach communities,” Chambliss says, noting that Newport-esque furnishings and decor have a distinctly coastal vibe.
Some popular pieces among local residents include live-edge tables, woven rugs and cabinets made of sustainable wood.
An example of the latter would be the teak and white oak used by local designer Erica Bryen, owner of her eponymous design studio, in a recent Newport Beach project. She also utilized natural materials like woven seagrass and beaded cocoa shells for different light fixtures, linen for window shades, rattan barstools and more.
“I’m definitely a person that cares about layers and one of the ways to get that is with natural materials,” Bryen says. “… And I think it can be in all aspects of design.”
One thing that’s often on homeowners’ minds is the cost, since eco-friendly alternatives are known for being expensive.
“[It’s about] sharing with the client what the value is in that and the durability factor … [and having] less need for maintenance,” Chambliss says. “… Sometimes [they need to] spend a little more to get something that they’re not going to have to replace in a couple years.”
Bryen also points to furniture and decor made of synthetic leather, which often peels and falls apart because it’s made of polyurethane. “You’re saving and you’re getting this cheap [product], … but you’re also just breathing in something that’s made of horrible stuff all day long,” she says. “… Quality is what you pay for.”
It’s also worth it to know that when you focus on environmentally friendly materials and ethical sourcing, you’re supporting a sustainable business model and the future of this industry.
Chambliss also aligns these principles with her home designs by utilizing repurposed materials whenever possible, which helps reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing new products. One example is an ongoing project that will incorporate reclaimed white oak and may also include outdoor furniture that’s constructed out of recycled metal.
“Another thing that I always think about is sourcing locally and using decor or artwork from local artists or handmade stuff,” she says. “That is very popular and definitely a sustainable way to go instead of importing or shipping things, [which] … then incurs the cost on the environment from all of that travel.”
If you’ve set an intention to make your home more eco-conscious, locally sourced natural materials are an excellent way to weave these values into your sustainable space.