Natural materials are not just eco-friendly, they are also pocket-friendly

How the pendulum has swung! Once upon a time, not too long ago, homeowners used to opt for decorating ideas that leaned heavily towards materials like chrome, glass and even plastic to create that oh-so-modern look. Now the ‘woke’, the refined and the ultra-modern are embracing nature and opting for natural materials while building their homes. And such a great trend that is! For natural materials tick all those right boxes—they are durable, eco-friendly, recyclable, easy on the pocket and can even be used creatively.

Spoilt for choice…

The most commonly used natural materials in home design and décor are natural stones, brick, natural wood, leather, jute, bamboo, cane and wicker.

How to use natural materials in your home decor

·   Natural stone: Stone adds solidity, beauty and charm into your home and, most importantly, stone is also durable. Natural stones like imported and Indian marbles, slate stones, limestones, and some granites are versatile too as they can be used in flooring, tiling, wall-cladding and countertops. Slate stones, marbles and granites are best used for wall cladding and backsplashes. Best of all, natural stone can be used both in interiors as well as exteriors. What’s more, you will find natural stones that suit all budgets and tastes.

Wardrobe interior

Brick: Think of some of the cosiest abodes you have seen. Chances are they feature brick quite heavily. Brick, in its natural form or painted in colours, brings warmth and beauty to any home interior design scheme. It is used for building walls, wall cladding, flooring patterns and planters. Considering how warm most parts of India can get, the cooling property of brick and its local variant, laterite, are is the icing on the cake.

Wood: Don’t we all love this material. Which Indian home doesn’t feature some amount of wood at least? Wood is highly versatile as it is found in many colours, grain patterns and textures. Natural wood, from the more expensive classics like teak, mahogany and rosewood to newer options like rubber wood, pine, beech, mango wood and sheesham, is still among the most preferred home decor materials in India.

Bedroom interior design

Leather: If you want your home to exude an aura of sophistication and opulence then it is best to opt for leather. Be warned, though, leather can be quite injurious to your wallet. For those on a tight budget, faux leather or leatherette is a cheaper alternative that offers more textures, colours and patterns as compared to its original counterpart.

Wicker: Wicker can look quite wicked in your home. I just couldn’t resist that pun! Wicker furniture is made of woven natural or synthetic vine or grass. Natural materials used to make wicker furniture include cane, rattan and bamboo among others, while synthetic materials used to make such furniture are vinyl and resin. Again a great material for our hot and humid tropical climate and can be used both indoors and outdoors—its biggest advantage. Add plush cushions and fillers to make them modern and comfortable. It is lightweight, airy and is usually preferred by homeowners for patio, verandah, terrace and balcony  furniture. It lends a very organic and earthy feel to the decor. Considering its adaptable nature, wicker is commonly used as chairs, swings, seaters, tables, rugs, baskets and even plant holders and lamps for home decor.

Balcony interior design

Bamboo: Want to give your home interiors a rustic and earthy touch? Then bamboo is your best bet. One of the most sustainable natural elements, bamboo has many advantages. It can be used in a variety of ways inside homes like flooring mats, ceiling rafters, wall coverings and window screens and also for furniture and decor.

How they stack up

The advantages, not surprisingly, outnumber the disadvantages when it comes to natural materials.

The pluses:

  • Eco-friendly: Natural materials fit perfectly into the ‘Go-Green’ trend that is gaining popularity and acceptance today.
  • Reusable and durable: Materials like wood and metals can be reused and tend to have a longer lifespan if properly cared for.
  • Reduction of carbon footprint: Natural materials sourced locally and used in their pure forms help in reducing the carbon footprint of your home.
  • Natural beauty: Such materials help you get the beauty of nature inside your home. That in turn adds to the charm and appeal of your interiors.
  • Cost-effective: Natural stones and wicker are more economical alternatives and you won’t have to compromise on aesthetics.

The minuses:

  • Maintenance: Natural material like wood needs regular polishing and maintenance for smooth functioning.
  • Expensive: Many natural materials like marble and teak wood are heavy on the pocket.

Living room interior design

Natural materials are versatile

There is a misconception that natural materials cannot be customised and do not lend themselves to creative uses in homes. Nothing could be further from the truth. Would you have ever thought that natural stone is used nowadays as shutters?

A very interesting trend is fast gaining ground in the world of home décor and that’s a little something called ‘live-edge’ furniture. In this, the natural texture and original edges of wood are kept intact and used in their natural state. The most popular usage of this style are tables, chairs, benches and sometimes even art. It adds an edgy, rustic and wholesome feel to your home interior. At Design Cafe, we have even used these as shutters for wardrobes.

At one point of time you would see leather in a home only for the sofa sets. That’s no longer the case. Now, you will find leather being used as tiles, which are available in different designs that make it a creative and convenient idea for wall-cladding.

Wicker furniture is also going through a makeover. Modern and edgy wicker baskets are used in open shelved furniture to store toys and soft furnishings as smart and aesthetically pleasing alternatives to regular storage methods.

Distressed or reclaimed (sleeper) wood and container or pallet-box wood are also very popular in home cladding, design and decor.

What to keep in mind when opting to go natural

Any good interior designer or architect in Bangalore will tell you how best to incorporate various types of materials in your home. At Design Café, for instance, we give a variety of combinations for each interior design element for homeowners to choose from. We also guide them on what cleaning materials to use and how often should surfaces and pieces be cleaned according to the material used.

However, here’s a quick checklist if you are opting for natural materials.

The Dos

    • Natural materials require maintenance from time to time to increase their life. Follow the care instructions and you will be thrilled with the results.
    • Let the décor and furniture made of natural materials be the showstoppers in your home; complement them with neutral or contrast furniture and other décor to create that all important balance.

The Don’ts

    • Natural material should be chosen keeping in mind the decor style. Not all materials work well with all styles.
    • Moderation is the key—use too much and your interiors might end up looking gaudy, instead of elegant and chic.

Furniture and décor made of natural materials are timeless. Use the right accessories and change them every now and then to endlessly refresh the look and feel of your ‘all natural’ home.