After moving 11 times in eight years, I vowed to live out the rest of my 20s in one place. But when I finally found that place, and hauled all my stuff up dozens of stairs into the two-bedroom apartment, I still couldn’t believe that some sequence of events wouldn’t send me packing again.
I knew I had to do something about this uneasiness I feel at home, where, as a freelancer, I would spend most of my time. I couldn’t fix the misaligned cupboards or shatter the smoke alarm that screams every time I turn on the oven, so I turned my attention to the empty wood floors in my bedroom. Laying down a rug wouldn’t erase the scratches left behind by decades of young tenants moving in and out, but it could mask them and make the space feel a little more like mine.
The hunt for an attractive, affordable, sustainably made sweater for my floors was on. I spent weeks scrolling through gorgeous textiles on Etsy that didn’t speak to me and looking longingly at Matisse-inspired rugs with up to four-digit price tags.
Synthetic rugs are more budget-friendly, but the chemicals and materials that go into making them can be toxic. I upcycle abandoned furniture, salvage glass jars, and use bar soap to avoid throwing out empty bottles; unrolling a rug that smelled like formaldehyde would feel like a betrayal of my efforts to reduce my environmental footprint.
I was about to give up the search when Justina Blakeney, the interior designer known for her plant-filled, maximalist style (and whom I interviewed last year), answered my prayers. Scoping out her online home decor shop, Jungalow, I was immediately drawn to the company’s commitment to designing with recyclable or compostable materials and cutting back on packaging waste wherever possible, as well as sponsoring a nonprofit to plant at least two trees with every purchase.
Perusing the rug selection, one whimsical design caught my eye right away. The Mountains rug is 100 percent wool and features pops of blush, charcoal, olive, and cerulean, hand-woven into rows of triangles. The pattern is loud, but I knew it would blend well into the jewel-toned landscape of my bedroom. Plus, a discount at the time dropped the price of the 4-by-6-foot version to $225, which was marvelously affordable compared to other options I’ve considered.
The rug fills my bedroom and brightens my mood whenever I look up from staring at the computer for hours on end. I love the way the colors mirror the sunset as it falls over the Manhattan skyline. And against all odds, I found an eco-conscious way to make this little apartment feel like home.
Emily Shwake is a freelance writer who lives and works out of her tiny Brooklyn apartment. She has written for BuzzFeed, Apartment Therapy, Forbes, Gothamist, and Martha Stewart.