As plant-based living grows in popularity and consumers become more health- and eco-conscious, it makes sense that vegan principles have reached interior design. But aside from choosing faux leather over the real thing, what does it actually mean to make your home design cruelty-free?

Deborah DiMare—the interior designer behind DiMare Design Group, a cruelty-free design firm, and the author of Vegan Interiors—says the core idea is using items that don’t originate from any living creature, aren’t an animal by-product, and aren’t tested on animals. She explains, “Compassionate design offers products, materials, and fabrics that do not contain, harm, torture or exploit any conscious living being, human and non, nor harm our planet.”

This means that products made from hemp, cotton, bamboo, linen, cork, kapok, and buckwheat replace those made from animal-based materials like leather, wool, silk, fur, and down. It also means less obvious choices like steering clear of paints that contain animal products such as casein (a protein found in milk).

To put cruelty-free design to practice in your own home, Deborah offers up a few specific choices you can make:

  • Decorative Pillows: “Covers made from linen, bamboo, and organic cotton are healthier alternatives to leather and wool. They are free from harmful chemicals, vegan, and super soft.”
  • Pillow Inserts: “Consider rubber, kapok, or buckwheat fill for your decorative pillows instead of foam. These fills, unlike foam, are completely organic and free from off-gassing (the harmful chemicals that foam releases). They are also vegan.”
  • Sofa Cushion Filling: “When a sofa, for example, is touted as faux, make sure you check the fill. The upholstery can be a faux leather or velvet. However, the foam cushions underneath can be wrapped in feathers or down.”
  • Comforters and Blankets: “How yummy to wrap yourself in a soft thick cotton, bamboo, or faux fur blanket. These are much healthier, kinder options that contain less chemicals than a wool or down-filled blanket.”
  • Rugs: “I’m a fan of cotton, hemp, jute, and sisal. They are affordable, organic, and have fewer chemicals than wool or silk rugs. Plus, there are endless styles and patterns that are non-animal based.”
  • Printed Fabrics: “Printed fabrics are beautiful and come in endless prices and styles. Try to find fabrics that use natural dyes that are either vegetable or water-based.”

Deborah believes now more than ever, it has become a priority to create a healthy and safe home environment. “The community of socially conscious and health-driven shoppers is only growing stronger, urging more and more businesses to offer vegan/safer alternatives,” she says. “Vegan design is the conduit to an ethical, positive, clean environment.”