More than any other room in your home, your bedroom should be a sanctuary that helps you recharge; a place where your mind and body are safe from the onslaught of the outside world.
The simplicity and nature-loving of Scandinavian interior design already lends itself well to creating a peaceful environment, but why stop there?
Surrounding yourself with natural, sustainable products gives your bedroom an “all’s right with the world” vibe that will help your put your mind at ease. A comfortable, supportive mattress, luxurious sheets, cozy blankets, time-saving storage and distictive decor can all be found in environmentally friendly forms.
The Right Mattress
Few pieces of furniture raise as much contention as the humble mattress. With good reason, considering how important a good night’s sleep is to everything else in your life. The trick here to research thoroughly, so you get a mattress that will keep you comfortable for a good 10 to 20 years.
Most eco-friendly mattresses are made with some combination of organic latex, cotton and wool. On the upper end, there are the famous horsehair mattresses from Hästens’ in Sweden. More reasonably priced are Jensen Beds from Norway and Familon from Finland. And nearly every country has a local producer of sustainably made mattresses, so you can buy close to home.
Caring for your mattress correctly also helps it last longer. Use a mattress cover and pad, vacuum it at least once a month, and rotate it every three months.
Linen sheets are symbol of luxury for a reason. One of their greatest superpowers is that they get softer with every wash and can keep doing so for decades. They also regulate temperature well. And that casually rumpled look linen sheets do so well is just right for the invitingly lived-in warmth of Scandinavian style.
A word of warning while we’re on the topic. Bamboo sheets are often marketed as eco-friendly, but truth isn’t so pretty.
Bamboo is eco-friendly for flooring, furniture, and other items that require fairly minimal processing. Turning bamboo it into fabric, however, is an intensive processing that puts a lot of chemical waste into the environment. And you know what “bamboo fabric” is? Rayon. It’s just rayon.
Blankets and Duvets
For blankets, organic cotton, linen and wool are the way to go. Linen blankets are great for summer, again because they regulate temperature so well. Wool blankets are not only excellent insulators, but they also and repel dirt and oils, so they stay cleaner longer. Less washing, less water use.
Just try to avoid microfiber (artificial fleece). I know it’s cozy, but washing it puts microplastics into the water supply. No bueno.
For your duvet, down and wool are the easiest natural options to find. If you prefer down, look for products that meet the Responsible Down standard. And remember a lot of down alternatives, such as PrimaLoft, Polarguard, and Thermore are made with polyester, so they’re not necessarily the most earth friendly, although Thermore does have a recycled version.
You might be surprised how many types of eco-friendly pillow fillings there are. If you’re looking for a sustainable and healthier alternative to polyester, some of your options are:
- Recycled and responsible down
- Buckwheat hulls
- Millet hulls
- Natural latex (molded or shredded)
Because bare feet hitting a cold floor isn’t the nicest thing to wake up to, your bedroom’s rugs have a real impact on your mood. While there are a lot of synthetic rugs, there are also a lot of options for natural, environmentally friendly rugs on the market.
It’s doesn’t get much more Scandinavian-style earth-friendly than a traditional trasmatta (rag rug) made from old clothes or manufacturing remnants. Here’s more on finding a rug to go with your Nordic decor.
If you live in a cold-winter climate, cozying up your bedroom will let you turn your thermostat down at night to save energy without feeling less comfortable. In fact, most people sleep best in temperatures between 15 to 20 C (60 to 67 F). That’s assuming you have blankets available, though.
Remember to caulk and weatherstrip around your windows. You’ll keep chilly drafts out and lower your energy bill, too.
As researchers at the Technical University of Denmark found out recently, the air quality in your bedroom affects your sleep quality and your performance the next day. It also has a real impact on your health considering you spend around eight hours there every night.
Enter plants. They’re not only beautiful mood-lifters, but they also help remove toxins from the are. Some of the most effective air-cleaners are:
- Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
- Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata, )
- Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
- Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea)
Just don’t go overboard with them or you’ll end up with humidity problems. Here’s a little inspiration for incorporating plants in your Scandinavian decor to get you started.
Light and temperature control are so important in the bedroom and your window treatments play a big role in that. Heavy drapes keep out the winter chill and shades control the summer sun. Rattan, bamboo, wood reeds, sisal and sustainable cellulose fiber can all do the job in an environmentally friendly way.
If you need blackout shades, you can find them in organic cotton and linen, but probably not in the average houseware store. Check with small designers such as 3HLinen in Ukraine and Lovely Home Idea in Lithuania. These won’t give off the unpleasant smell of chemical fumes the way vinyl blackout shades do.
Flickering candlelight lends a relaxing ambiance to the bedroom, but some candles aren’t so great for your air quality. If you’re on a budget, opt for stearin candles over paraffin ones. Beesewax, rapeseed, and soy are also relatively healthy, but somewhat more expensive, options. Over in another post, I’ve collected a few eco-friendly candle companies for you.
After food production, clothing production has the highest environmental impact of any industry. By keeping your wardrobe well organized, you’ll avoid buying duplicates or more clothes than you’re ever going to wear. You’ll also save money and time getting dressed.
An open storage system, apart from being a staple of the Scandinavian-style bedroom, lets you see at a glance what you have. Cardboard/paper and bamboo storage boxes can keep sheets and blankets organized and out of the way under the bed. Felt and seagrass baskets are handy for storing blankets, pillows, kids’ toys and other things that see frequent use.
Natural Moth Repellent
That distinct odor that moth balls release is a pesticide vapor and while it won’t kill you or your pets, it won’t do your health any favors, either. For a safer way to keep hungry moths away from your wool blankets and pullovers, use lavender sachets or cedar balls, drawer liners, hangers, and boxes.
To store items during the off season, use cotton muslin garment bags, rather than plastic ones. They keep out light and dust, but let natural fibers breathe. Remember that wood, although eco-friendly, is acidic and speeds up deterioration, so line wooden drawers with paper if you plan to store textiles or leather in them long term.
Ultimately, the most eco-friendly bedroom furniture is anything that’s been preloved. Every piece of antique and vintage furniture comes with its own unique story that adds personality to your bedroom. It’s also a good way to get high quality furniture on a budget. And if you’re going for an authentic mid-century modern bedroom, vintage shopping is the ideal place to start.
If you want new furniture, though, look for pieces made with sustainably harvested FSC-Certified wood and organic fabrics. Here again, it helps to look for work from independent artisans who are committed to creating eco-friendly products. These small-scale producers often take greater care with their supplies and methods and major manufacturers.
For the most part, the best we can do now in terms of energy efficiency and minimizing dangerous waste is LED lighting.
As an extra benefit, because LED lights don’t get hot, they open up all kinds of options for imaginative lighting designs. Now you can get dressed in the light of the glowing moose head on the wall or read in the radiance of the little glowing mushrooms on your nightstand. Or if that’s not your think, maybe just stick with minimalist forms.
Because LED lights use so little energy, having the main overhead room lights on a lot isn’t really a big deal. If you want to save a little extra energy and make your life more convenient, though, make sure your bedroom has the right task lighting. That might be a lamp on the nightstand, a floor lamp next to the bed or a light in the closet.
Paint and wallpaper
While eco-friendly paints and wallpaper products still aren’t *easy* to find, more and more enter the market every day. With wallpaper, you’re looking for something that’s free from vinyl and uses water-based inks and adhesives.
Sandberg Wallpaper and Ottoson linseed oil paints, both from Sweden, are good examples. Maalermeister from Estonia is another for paints.
The blending of the beautiful and the functional is one of the founding principles of Scandinavian design and that, combined with its emphasis on minimalism, is part of what makes so eco-friendly.
Choose bedroom decor that serves a purpose. Candleholders, vases, mirrors, clocks, table lamps, and wall hooks, are all good bets. Give it some thought and you’ll see you have a lot of room to combine style and utility.
Buy only what you *love*. Spend time browsing to get an idea of what’s out there and what you really like, and don’t settle for something you feel *meh* about just because it was on sale or just there in front of you. Chances are you’ll end up throwing it out later when you find something you like better.
It’s time well spent. It takes just a few, well chose accents to give your bedroom personality.