Style with substance: sustainable home decor

Despite the climate crisis and a growing awareness of the environmental and human costs of manufacturing, we are still surrounded by fast fashion and throwaway decor items.

It can feel overwhelming. But the more we know, the better equipped we are to make good choices as consumers – and making even a few key changes in the way we shop can make a big difference.

In this post, our founder Kai Budgen shares her thoughts on sustainable home decor and the reasons she created Huxford Grove.

We’ll talk about:

  • the biggest trends in sustainable design right now
  • the many benefits of our very favourite natural materials: wool and sheepskin
  • tips for styling some of our sustainable pieces in your home.

Meet our Creative Director

Kai Budgen studied design in London and later went on to head up luxury decor brand Huxford Grove in Australia. A lover of beautiful wares who is inspired by nature, Kai wanted to provide an alternative to the fast-fashion approach to interiors.

“Huxford Grove creates products that are ethical, sustainable, eco-friendly and biodegradable,” she explains. “Our collections – primarily using sheepskin and wool – are for those who are looking for something a little more meaningful and long-lasting.”

“We have been getting many signals from nature recently to adopt a slower pace of life, but we don’t have to sacrifice design and beautiful aesthetics in order to do so,” Kai continues. “Ethical design and sustainability are absolutely at the core of everything we do at Huxford Grove.”

Sustainable home decor trends

So, what are the current trends in sustainable decor? Let’s talk through some of the key principles underpinning sustainability for interiors. (Keep in mind that these principles can be applied to fashion as well as home decor!)  

Here are four things to take into consideration when you’re shopping for pieces for your home…

1. Natural materials

Decorating with sustainable natural materials is better for the environment and has the added benefit of being better for our health.

Highly processed synthetic materials typically produce more pollution, and many that are used for flooring, textiles and wallpapers can contain harmful chemicals that we don’t want in our homes.

Since the start of the pandemic, during which most of us have spent more time than ever before confined to our homes, trends have centred increasingly on biophilic design. Never heard of biophilic design before? It’s a building industry concept that aims to improve health and wellbeing by deepening our connection to nature. Natural materials play a large part in biophilic design – think indoor plants and sustainably produced items made from timber, stone and wool.

“Not only is our ethically sourced New Zealand wool and sheepskin super-soft, beautifully natural, hypoallergenic, practical, sustainable and biodegradable,” Kai notes, “I personally love to be able to reuse and upcycle what nature gives us.”

The takeaway

Do your research on the composition of decor items you’re buying.

  • What are they made of?
  • How were they made?
  • How could having them in your space impact your health?

 

2. Ethical production

“I try to lead as sustainable a life as possible, and if in business as well as at home I can help reduce the pollution created when manufacturing manmade fibres, I will,” says Kai.

It’s no secret that unethical practices exist in manufacturing. The conditions for workers in factories still vary widely around the world, and many companies engage in practices that harm the environment significantly.

Look for brands that don’t hide anything about how they produce their wares. It’s your right to know what chemicals are used in the construction of your couch, or whether the factory that made your curtains is energy efficient.

At Huxford Grove, we ensure that the process required to create each piece is as sustainable as possible. This includes:

  • the use of solar power
  • water efficiency
  • reusing and recycling wherever possible
  • not using harsh or harmful chemicals.

At Huxford Grove, we are against the use of synthetics or plastics, and we are honest with the public about our production methods and materials. “All of our products are made from natural materials, except the bean filling in our beanbags, ottomans and floor cushions,” Kai explains. “However, we are developing eco-beans to replace the current non-natural bean filling. Our customers have the option to buy these products unfilled and fill them with their own materials, such as old clothing or fabrics.”

The takeaway

Choose locally produced decor items from companies that are transparent about their production processes.

 

3. Less waste

Inefficiencies in energy production are contributing to climate change. Excessive consumption of water in the growing of crops and the manufacture of materials is devastating the environment. And the waste that is created worldwide each day is polluting our waterways, soil and air.

For these reasons, engaging with the problem of waste has become a key concern in interior design. “At Huxford Grove, all of the sheepskins we use come from animals raised for food – repurposing unnecessary waste to make luxury products for the home,” Kai explains. “We only source from sustainability certified farms with recognised animal welfare practices.”

“Our sheepskin tannery saves energy and water, and recycles as many materials as possible during production. What’s more, our products are all-natural and biodegradable, so even when they eventually reach the end of their life, they don’t add to the world’s waste problem.”

These days, consumers are increasingly supporting companies that strive to eliminate waste from their supply chains and production methods. You can also actively reduce the amount of waste that you personally generate by:

  • buying less stuff
  • investing in quality products that will last a long time
  • opting for decor that’s versatile and classically stylish
  • choosing natural products that biodegrade or can be recycled or upcycled
  • buying second hand.
The takeaway

Do your homework on the waste reduction initiatives of interiors companies. Opt for quality and longevity when it comes to buying decor for your home. Consider the life cycle of each object you buy, and ask yourself:

  • Will it biodegrade?
  • Can it be recycled?
  • Will it end up in landfill?

 

Minimalist style

Sustainability goes hand-in-hand with minimalism. The biggest winner when it comes to minimalism is the planet, of course – the less we consume, the less waste and pollution is produced.

But embracing minimalism benefits us in many other ways too. Learning to live with less is a challenge for most of us, but if it’s done right, it certainly has its rewards:

  • It reduces stress. Fewer possessions make it easier to stay organised and tidy. And who doesn’t want that?!
  • It saves money. If we invest in sustainable decor products that are made to last, while initially the price tag may be more expensive, we’ll spend less on replacing inferior items in the long term.
  • It’s versatile. If we distill our interior decor so that it only includes classically styled, beautifully made items that we truly treasure, our home is less likely to date. And it’s easy and fun to make small changes (moving furniture, adding thrifted items, upcycling, incorporating greenery) to update our style and keep things interesting.

Fear not: current trends in minimalism don’t demand that we all ditch our possessions and move into tiny homes. The principles of minimalism have instead found their way into countless other decor styles; the pared-back aesthetic can be applied to many different types of homes.

A love of minimalist design underpins our Huxford Grove collections, with the timeless comfort of wool and sheepskin lending itself perfectly to neutral and luxurious interiors. “We provide pieces of soft beauty that will work in our customers’ homes regardless of their personal style,” Kai points out. Whether it’s beach-boho, Japandi, modern Mediterranean, contemporary minimalism, or mid-century modern, our sheepskin rugs, cushions and ottomans are perfect staple pieces.

The takeaway

Move towards minimalism by consciously decluttering (remember to recycle and donate what you can!) and investing in high-quality, timeless decor items that are sustainably produced.

 

Why choose sheepskin and wool?

“Sheepskin is such a wonderful material to work with, and has so many benefits,” says Kai. “I want to bring the beauty of this natural fibre to every home in Australia.”

Need further convincing before incorporating our all-natural, eco-friendly sheepskin products into your home? Consider these advantages…

Hypoallergenic

As a 100 percent natural product, wool has innately comforting properties. It’s soft and snuggly for adults, kids and pets alike. What many people don’t know is that it’s also non-allergenic. Its fibres are too coarse and long to be inhaled, so they don’t mess with our respiratory systems, and they’re also resistant to the growth of bugs or mites. Stress-free snuggling!

Cooling or warming

Newsflash: wool isn’t only for winter! “Owing to its breathability, sheep’s wool is a temperature regulator,” Kai explains. When it’s cold, the wool fibres’ cuticles close to keep heat in; when it’s hot, they open to let heat escape. Clever, no?

Resilient

Wool may be soft but it’s also super tough! Wool is also far less flammable than synthetic fabrics, and it’s springy enough to return to its natural shape even after being stretched or flattened. It’s stain and odour resistant too! “Wool’s cuticle, or outer layer, has a finely waxed surface causing dirt to sit on the surface, making it easy to remove. It’s great for busy households” says Kai.

Biodegradable

It’s worth mentioning again that wool and sheepskin are biodegradable. Our Huxford Grove pieces are made from the finest, ethically sourced New Zealand wool, and they’re handmade using natural materials. They’ll last for many years in your home and you can rest assured that, once discarded, they can decompose in as little as four months. Compare this to a faux-fur product whose plastics can take 1000 years to break down and the choice is pretty simple.

 

Styling Huxford Grove’s sustainable sheepskin pieces

“Our aesthetic is inspired by nature – when designing, we like to incorporate the natural colours and textures it gifts us,” Kai explains. “Our sophisticated-yet-simple designs encompass a neutral colour palette that perfectly complements all interior design styles.”

Here are some tips on styling some of Kai’s favourite Huxford Grove products…

Rugs

“We reimagine classic items into beautiful modern designs that evoke nostalgia and bring comfort into the home,” says Kai. This is especially true of our sheepskin rugs: an Australian classic reworked for the modern household in a range of neutral tones, from dramatically dark ‘Ash’ and delicious ‘Manuka’ to soft-pink ‘Nude’.

“The Kingston sheepskin rug is, in my opinion, a must-have in every home,” says Kai. “I have one on my office chair to add comfort to those long working days, one at the foot of my bed to step onto first thing in the morning, and each of my three pets also have their own (spoilt I know!). They didn’t start as the pets’ beds but one by one they got claimed.”

The Kingston is a small, moveable rug that can be slung over furniture or used on the floor (and it’s perfect for nurseries too). If you’re after a larger statement floor rug, our Richmond rugs and Richmond round rugs are beautiful investment pieces painstakingly handmade using a patchwork of soft wool.

Ottomans

“The Jamieson ottoman is definitely a fave,” Kai says. “I use one at my desk every day as a footrest and in my home as a design statement and to add some texture as a feature. They are also a customer fave; we tend to sell out very quickly, as we only make them in small batches.”

Styling the Jamieson is easy because its design is so simple, practical and versatile. It comes in two sizes and looks great in the bedroom, the office or the living room. And don’t fret about it getting dirty – a concealed zip and removable cover make cleaning easy, and hard-wearing suede protects its base.

Cushions

Our Hawkesbury sheepskin cushion and Hepburn sheepskin cushion are the eco-friendly, all-natural antidote to the environmentally problematic faux-fur cushion trend. They’re incredibly soft and luxurious, and our range of neutral colours makes them easy to mix and match and move around your home whenever you feel like a style change. They’re the perfect sustainable home accessory!

Moroccan floor cushions

A few of these oversized cushions can bring texture and an air of Mediterranean luxe to your living spaces. “Our Moroccan floor cushions look beautiful indoors or in undercover alfresco areas,” says Kai. “They are understated and elegant, inviting the very best in relaxed, stylish living – they’re perfect for accommodating spontaneous gatherings of friends.”

 

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