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Creating with a Conscience

Healthy and humane design practices for every home

When most people hear the word vegan, they usually just think of the food aspect. But, being vegan is a whole lifestyle. Risha Walden, of Walden Interiors in Millburn, successfully and beautifully incorporates her vegan beliefs into her designs.

“The biggest issue with interior design is that it’s not something people think about every day,” she says. “Most only think about those decisions maybe once every five to 10 years when they need to, say, buy a sofa.”

Using vegan interior design strategies, explains Risha, does not diminish the aesthetic or how you want the room to manifest. And, these design elements can be as luxurious as any other. “Luxury is about rejoicing in this paradise we’re in and to have that appreciation in your home. Your home should reflect the abundance you created for yourself.”

As a vegan interior designer, she has never felt that she’s compromised a client’s design. “There’s so much available and it’s about being aware of it,” she says. “I’m always researching and finding new and innovative products.”

Alternatives to leather, wool and other animal products

Alternatives didn’t come to be because they’re vegan, but because people are demanding high-performing, durable, stain-resistant, and fade-resistant fabrics. They want to be able to purchase something that they can put in their home that looks and feels good and that they don’t have to constantly maintain.

The importance of sustainability

I’m always looking for durable fabrics for my clients such as polyesters and nylons. I understand that my clients want their homes to look as beautiful as possible for as long as possible and man-made fibers have that resistance and durability that frankly a lot of natural products don’t.

Natural is not always the healthiest choice

Even though leather is natural and should therefore be compostable, it really isn’t because it’s treated with chemicals. Those chemicals are actually toxic and there is some off-gassing.

Mixing the old with the new

I love to repurpose what people already have. When I go into a client’s home, we talk about creating the vision they want, and if I can reuse a piece – that can be reupholstering it, repainting it, or fitting it out for another use – I’m going to do it if it fits into the vision they want. I love old furniture because it’s usually better made or it’s something that’s important to them, maybe passed down from their grandmother, so there are many ways of reincorporated these pieces into the design.

To find out more about how Risha can create a luxurious, comfortable and healthy home for you and your family, go to

Alternative materials

Plant-based products such as leather made from apples, mushrooms, pineapples and cacti will be used much more in the future.

How demand creates supply

If we stop demanding animal products in home design, and start using more  alternatives, there will be a switch in thinking.

If it doesn’t work in your home, get rid of it

If a piece isn’t right for a room, or isn’t needed anymore, sell it or donate it.