All about Sustainable Interior Design – The Test of Time, and Island Life

Sustainable interior design can mean so many things.  It’s creatively repurposing older items. It’s making beautiful things from materials that would otherwise be discarded.  It’s so many things.

A few years ago, Baker Furniture was using an ad slogan, “Things chosen well rather than often.”  That has always stuck with me.  It is one of our core values to offer clients things which will stand the test of time…and the test of ‘island life’.

sustainable interior design materials were used to build a wooden bathroom vanity
Solid wood construction ensures a long lasting final product.

A few decades ago, everything was made to last. Shoes, clothes, vehicles, and telecommunication devices could be kept like new for years and things could be repaired. Today, items are made cheaply because consumers want more and newer items, and using sustainable building materials is not as important as the price.

Like in the fashion industry, sustainable interior design and home furnishings is important for many reasons. ‘Fast fashion’ in clothing and the home has become popular in the recent decades, because people purchase cheap clothes, throw out the old, and keep buying new. 

Fact: The average person in 2014 owned 60% more clothing items compared to the average consumer in 2000 whilst wearing those clothes for only half as long. Americans bought five times the amount of clothes in 2014 as they did in 1980.

EkoEnergy
A Handmade bathroom vanity is made with with sustainable interior design in mind
The bathroom vanity is assembled before painted to ensure everything fits perfectly.

The concept of furnishings and clothing being disposable is no longer one any of us can afford on many levels. I still wear clothes handed to me from my Grandmother, and still have many of her furnishing pieces. 

Before shopping for clothes, fashion industry icon, Sarah Jessica Parker, asks herself  “Is this a piece I want to have 10 or 15 years from now?” When furnishing spaces for myself and my clients, I ask the same questions.

 

Making Sustainable Interior Design Decisions

We make decisions for our own spaces with these values in mind.  When it was time to choose a bath vanity for our new studio space, we chose one was made by one of our favorite furniture makers, modeling a style of one of their nightstands. All their pieces are made by hand, by real American people in West Virginia. Each piece is signed by the person who made it. The wood they use is sustainably harvested in America.

This vanity was built custom to our office needs. We adored the style, and appreciated the well-made design, and quality materials of the company’s nightstand. They fulfilled our wish by turning this design into a bath vanity which will last in our USVI office for decades to come.

Cheap furniture and pieces may save money initially, but are costly in the long run. Having to replace items every few years rather than every few decades becomes expensive -not to mention, it can’t be a very frustrating and time-consuming process!

blue painted bathroom vanity made with sustainable interior design in mind
The sustainable bathroom vanity gets spray before reassembled.

Why sustainable interior design, makes so much sense:

  1. Living on an island where everything is shipped in via ocean freight, the cost of freight adds a significant expense and time to the item once it arrives.

    The cost of buying quality materials helps to offset the price of the services to replace it. When clients design or update a vacation home, they pay so much in freight costs, that it doesn’t make sense to keep buying new furniture every few years. It costs the same to ship a cheap Ikea dresser as it does a beautiful, custom-built vanity.

  2. In addition to the freight costs, handling fees, and other services clients who rent will lose income from blocking off time to do renovations to their villa.

    It’s an interruption of business. In the rental market especially; you need to consider that furniture endures a lot more ‘wear and tear’ than a private residential home.  Materials, furniture and décor selected for a Caribbean 

  3. Disposing of and replacing furniture is not only costly, but it is harmful to the environment.

    After the Hurricanes of 2017 a tremendous about of waste was generated from building materials, furniture, yard debris, cars, appliances, everything which were destroyed left our dumps with mountains piled high. Our government struggled to remove waste and debris from the islands.

The finished bathroom vanity hand painted with a matte cobalt blue color.
The finished bathroom vanity hand painted with a matte cobalt blue color.

Even when there are not tropical storms or hurricanes, the amount of garbage and waste in the Caribbean islands is an issue. If everyone chose sustainable interior design materials and furnishings for their homes, we’d have much less of a problem. Think about the Carbon Footprint we are leaving in our precious islands.

 

Sustainable Interior Design Misconceptions

A common misconception is that when choosing quality furniture and materials, there will be less of a selection. Here at Lagnappe, we work with a variety of vendors, and can customize almost any piece of furniture in any style to match what our clients are searching for. We take time to discuss options with both our clients and vendors.

The process may be lengthier searching through an online catalogue, but the end results give for our clients truly special and unique. In the end, we save them time, because what we’ve chosen for them is made to stay looking fresh and last!

I am passionate about people, passionate about interior design, and also, passionate about the beautiful islands where we live. By preaching sustainability in interior design, we at Lagnappe Custom Interiors seek to achieve the best, and most beautiful results for all three.


Lagnappe Custom Interiors is a full-service interior design firm, specializing in bringing the small niceties to a home or commercial space that make it memorable, functional and yours. Based out of St. Thomas, Lagnappe [LAN-YAP] is led by Tiffany Cassidy who enjoys working with clients to create a home that reflects their style and needs. Tiffany marries her artistic and scientific sides together to bring the residents of the Virgin Islands and continental U.S. an interior decorating service that manages the complex and turns it into beauty. Her goal is to not only make a home prettier, but in doing so, make your life better. Visit www.Lagnappe.com for more information.